Wednesday, April 20, 2011

pollution visualization and neutralization (EAT)

Pollution in the city is something that people often think of as an abstract idea, rather than something that directly and immediately affects them. While many urban dwellers become greatly concerned about certain toxins, or worry about the larger effects of pollution on the planet, they will often expose themselves to potentially deadly levels of pollution on a daily basis without giving it much thought. Diesel powered buses, for example, leave a
cloud of particulate matter and toxic gasses in their wake; people walking down a sidewalk or waiting at a bus stop might be put off by the smell, but not consider that they are breathing air that would kill them if it didn't
drift away.

This project is a response to these local, everyday exposures to pollution in the city. A number of objects are scattered throughout the city, along sidewalks and in public parks. Conspicuous but innocuous looking, they house sensors that track the level of pollution at their location. When the sensors in one of these objects senses that the environment has become too polluted - say from a passing car - they take action. The machine opens and
spreads out over the sidewalk, exposing a surface of CO2-removing greenery concealed within, symbolically cleaning the air. Audible warnings and flashing lights let people know that the air is unsafe to breath, while the spreading legs force people to walk around the site, or wait for the air to clear before entering. By providing a conspicuous signal to passerbys that something is wrong, the project raises awareness of the levels of pollution exposure within the urban environment. With numerous devices spread throughout the city, moving sources of heavy pollution can be tracked and mapped in real space, and differences between neighborhoods can potentially
be mapped in real time.