The Art of Breathing Exploring the Aesthetic Aspects of Spirometry


Breathing is a fundamental aspect of human existence, allowing us to sustain life and engage with the world around us. However, the act of breathing also holds hidden depths that extend beyond its physiological function. In recent years an intriguing relationship has emerged between the art world and the science of spirometry technique used to measure lung capacity and function. This article delves into the fascinating intersection of art and spirometry exploring the aesthetic aspects that emerge from this unlikely pairing.

The Science of Spirometry

It is a diagnostic tool commonly employed in the field of respiratory medicine. It measures various lung volumes and capacities, providing valuable insights into respiratory health. During a spirometry test, an individual breathes into a device called a spirometer, which records the volume and flow of air. The resulting graphical representation, known as a spirogram, offers a visual depiction of the respiratory system’s performance.

The Emergence of Artistic Spirometry

While it is primarily utilized in clinical settings, its visual output has captured the attention of artists and creative minds. The unique patterns and shapes generated by spirometry tests possess an intrinsic beauty that transcends their medical purpose. Artists have recognized the potential of spirograms as a medium for artistic expression and have incorporated them into their works, blurring the lines between science, medicine, and art.

What is a normal spirometry level?

Spirometry measures several lung volumes and capacities to assess lung function. Normal spirometry levels can vary depending on factors such as age sex height weight and ethnicity. To evaluate spirometry results accurately, healthcare professionals compare them to reference values based on a healthy population.

The most common spirometry measurements include:

  • Forced Vital Capacity (FVC):

 This refers to the maximum volume of air forcefully exhaled after taking a deep breath.

  • Forced Expiratory Volume in one second (FEV1):

 This represents the volume of air forcefully exhaled in the first second of the FVC maneuver.

  • FEV1/FVC Ratio: 

This ratio indicates the percentage of the FVC that is exhaled in the first second, providing information about airflow limitation.

  • Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF):

This measurement represents the maximum flow rate achieved during a forceful exhalation.

To determine if spirometry results are normal, healthcare professionals compare them to predicted or reference values. These predicted values are typically calculated based on large population studies and take into account factors such as age, sex, height, and ethnicity. For example, reference values can be obtained from equations like the Global Lung Function Initiative (GLI) reference equations or other population-specific equations.

Spirometry results are generally considered normal when they fall within a certain percentage (usually 80-120%) of the predicted values. However, it is important to note that interpretation of spirometry results should be done by a qualified healthcare professional, as they consider other clinical factors, individual patient characteristics, and medical history.

Spirometry as a Medium

The integration of spirometry into art involves transforming the spirogram from a diagnostic tool into a medium of artistic creation. Artists experiment with different techniques to manipulate and enhance spirograms, incorporating elements of color, texture, and composition. By utilizing various artistic mediums such as painting, sculpture, and digital art, they amplify the aesthetic qualities of the spirogram, allowing it to convey deeper emotional and conceptual meanings.

Breathing and Identity

Breathing is an inherently personal and intimate experience, intimately connected to one’s sense of self and identity. Artists who explore the aesthetic aspects of spirometry often delve into the themes of breath, embodiment, and identity. Through their creations, they capture the nuances of human existence and highlight the universal significance of breath as a shared experience among individuals.

Exploring Respiratory Disorders

It is primarily used as a diagnostic tool for respiratory disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis. However, artistic spirometry provides an opportunity to shed light on these conditions from a different perspective. Artists working with spirometry often create pieces that challenge societal perceptions of respiratory disorders, fostering empathy and understanding for those living with these conditions.

The Intersection of Art, Science and Medicine

The collaboration between artists, scientists, and healthcare professionals has led to exciting advancements in the field of artistic spirometry. By merging the domains of art, science, and medicine, new possibilities arise for interdisciplinary dialogue and creative problem-solving. This collaboration facilitates a deeper appreciation of the human body, its complexities, and the importance of respiratory health.

Spirometry in Public Spaces

In recent years spirogram-inspired artworks have found their way into public spaces, transforming sterile medical environments into visually stimulating and thought-provoking areas. By incorporating spirometry-based installations into public art projects cities and communities encourage public engagement, education and awareness regarding respiratory health issues. These installations serve as a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the human respiratory system.


The art of breathing, as explored through spirometry, unveils a new dimension of aesthetic appreciation and emotional resonance. The integration of spirometry into the artistic realm has the power to captivate, educate, and inspire individuals across disciplines. Through the collaboration between artists, scientists, and healthcare professionals, the art of breathing can lead to a deeper understanding of respiratory health and foster empathy for those affected by respiratory disorders. As the fields of art and science continue to converge, spirometry offers an exciting avenue for exploring the complex relationship between human biology, artistic expression, and the beauty that lies within the act of breathing.