Pollution: Real Time Data Visualization

Particle Falls by Andrea Polli and Chuck Varga

Particle Falls is a public artwork that provides a real time visualization of particulate pollution in the San Fernando Corridor in the form of a large-scale projection on the side of the AT&T Building in San Jose California and on mobile devices.

Particle Falls a night time projection, allows viewers to see current levels of fine particulates cascading down the facade of the AT&T building in San Jose using the large-scale projection technology.  The project includes a nephelometer, which measures the smallest particle, PM2.5.  The global monitoring of this particle is one of the most recent developments in aeronomy. Fewer bright particles over the waterfall mean fewer particles in the air.

A large-scale public art installation acts as a monitor, an alarm and a thing of beauty all at the same time by using particulate air pollution as a basis for a cascading waterfall flowing down the side of a building.

Although air is invisible, it has a major impact on public health. Santa Clara County received a failing grade for air quality in the American Lung Association’s 2009 State of the Air Report and currently surpasses unhealthy short-term pollution particles a yearly average of 11 days, the 24th highest level in the US.  The number of people that airborne particulate pollution kills each year has tripled in California. Despite the invisibility of air, modern sensors can detect tiny particulate pollution levels in real time.  

Signage on site and particlefalls.org have been designed as companions to the public work.  The signage provides information about local particulate pollution levels and their effects. A simple particulate pollution visualization designed for android mobile devices at particlefalls.org provides real time animation of current levels at the site.  The number of ‘drops’ landing on the mobile screen is linked to current particulate levels, as if drops from the waterfall are landing on the viewer’s hand.  Particlefalls.org also provides links to air quality monitoring information from the local Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the national AirNOW program.

Andrea Polli is an artist, Associate Professor in Fine Arts and Engineering and Mesa Del Sol Chair of Digital Media at The University of New Mexico.  Polli’s work has been presented widely in venues including the Whitney Museum’s Artport and The Field Museum and has been reviewed by the LA Times, Art in America, Art News and others.

Acknowledgements: Particle Falls was created for the City of San Jose Public Art Program in conjunction with ZER01’s 01SJ Build Your Own World Biennial with the assistance of AirNow, Sonoma Technology, Inc., and Met One Instruments. Particle Falls can be customized for sites around the world.

Andrea Polli: www.andreapolli.com; Video: http://andreapolli.blip.tv/file/4314996/

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China Blue

China Blue is an internationally exhibiting artist and the Founding Director of The Engine Institute. She is the recipient of a 2012 RISCA Fellowship in New Genres and her exhibition "Firefly Trees" was nominated for 2012 Best Monographic Museum Show Nationally by the International Association of Art Critics.Her in depth worked in sound was what drove her to be the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris and through a NASA/Rhode Island Space Grant she was invited to do a pilot studyto record nature in an innovative way.She has shown her works in museums, galleries and non-profit institutions for over 20 years.Her work has been widely covered in web, television and print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.
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About China Blue

China Blue is an internationally exhibiting artist and the Founding Director of The Engine Institute. She is the recipient of a 2012 RISCA Fellowship in New Genres and her exhibition "Firefly Trees" was nominated for 2012 Best Monographic Museum Show Nationally by the International Association of Art Critics. Her in depth worked in sound was what drove her to be the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris and through a NASA/Rhode Island Space Grant she was invited to do a pilot study to record nature in an innovative way. She has shown her works in museums, galleries and non-profit institutions for over 20 years. Her work has been widely covered in web, television and print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.
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