PIAO Interdisciplinary Atmospheric Observatory began in 2015 as a collective of anthropologists, philosophers, architects, and friends drawn together by shared concern over air. Gathered together in this medium with each other and many others, we develop collaborations, concepts, and attunements for life in shared air.

Our primary goal is to develop a platform for experimenting with and understanding air as a powerful historical, material, and symbolic medium. We aim to develop new ways of thinking about atmospheric events, especially in the air-conditions that define the present moment. In doing so, we seek not only to develop approaches for confronting atmospheric problems in the social sciences and humanities, but also to work through atmospheric phenomena to develop new ways of asking into human sociality, politics, and aesthetics. Our turn toward the atmosphere is not a way of escaping worldly problems, but rather, a way of exploring them differently. Our approach is generative, collaborative, serious, and playful. It seeks to open new ways of considering our environmental contemporary as well as to speculate on better atmospheric futures.

PIAO takes its name from the Chinese. It means to flutter or to lilt, to be carried by the gentle or riotous force of the air. PIAO draws attention not only to air as material condition for earthly existence, but also to the subtle powers of its massings and movements.