Into Thin Air – A public art project

Calm Realities by Nhung Nguyen & Christian Grothe © Manzi

A public space is a space that does not belong to anyone, but at the same time, to all. It is a site that doesn’t just hold its inhabitants’ history and memory, but also reflects their personal and collective identity. It is a place that is often neglected or forgotten, but has the potential to become a zone for creativity and freedom.

"Into Thin Air" is a long-term public art project, initiated and curated by Manzi Art Space with a view to building awareness and appreciation for art – particularly contemporary art – among the public to help artists develop independent practices whilst encouraging their involvement in social development within the current context of Vietnam.

"Into Thin Air" takes art and creativity outside of its conventional comfort zones (i.e. the museum, gallery, art space etc.) and into public spaces.

For the project, all participating artists were asked to consider their everyday urban spaces, or places in Hanoi that are significant to them and their community, and create artistic interventions for the spaces. The artists were also asked to take into consideration the city’s historical, political and social characteristics, to be more open and socially engaging, and to make works which encourage the public to participate or interact with it.

The first edition of Into Thin Air took place successfully from 9 to 19 April 2016 in Hanoi. Ten artworks and projects in the form of site-specific/context-responsive installations, interactive video works and sound installations were placed around Hanoi. A smartphone app was created, functioning as a “treasure map” to aid the audience in “hunting” for and getting information about the works.

Following the success of the first edition of Into Thin Air, the second instalment continues to explore the core format of the project. It also furthers and broadens its scope by tackling a different type of public space: the Internet. Into Thin Air’s 2nd edition includes a series of virtual artworks (virtual installations, performances, soundwalks and video arts) which will exist permanently in 10 of Hanoi’s public spaces.
Audience can view/ interact with a given artwork through a free online application using augmented reality (AR) technology which can be downloaded to their phone or tablet. All artworks exist virtually yet are only accessible at a particular site.
This 2nd edition looks to promote the diversity of cultural expression to reiterate the importance of creating an enabling an environment that encourages individuals and society as a whole to get access to and enjoy a wide range of cultural activities.