Atmosphere as a theme has, in my opinion, been the hardest challenge yet.
Because what is atmosphere really?
The technical meaning aside, it is a subtle term.
Atmosphere mainly has to do with people and the interaction between them. Well, or the lack of interaction ofcourse...
Atmosphere can also be a surrounding that immediately influences your mood. But if that's a good mood, that usually makes you think: "This would be a real good atmosphere to be in with other people". So in that case it boils down to human interaction again.
Sadly though, atmosphere becomes more and more a thing of the past. At least here in the rich part of the world it does. The main cause seems to be the increase of wealth.
If you compare life to how it was some decades ago, some things seem noticeable. The grown wealth means people aren't dependant on each other anymore. They are self sufficient in their basic needs. Alas, not needing someone else leads to not reaching out when the other needs you, not swallowing your pride when someone does something you don't like. As a result of it, there seems to be a lot more lonelyness around lately.
The economy driven way of life also seems to have it's influences. Work related stress takes its toll on the mind. After a hard day of work it's oh so tempting to just drop on the couch and do nothing. And because you have to look fresh and eager in the morning, you'd better be in bed in time.
To add to that there is the era of entertainment. There is lots of stuff to help you escape reality. Hundreds of TV channels, DVD, the Internet, gaming consoles, magazines, the works. Just what one needs to tranquillize the mind during the hours between work and sleep. It saves you from having bad thoughts or from having to be in bad atmospheres. Too bad it also prohibits you from having real great experiences in truly atmospheric surroundings. Or to engage in a in-depth conversation.
Depicted in the panorama is an example of lack of atmosphere. Two people sitting on the same couch, but being in totally different worlds.
Numb faces hypnotized by entertainment.