“Breathing” art installation warns about dire global air pollution risks

Oct 6 2022, 11:38 pm

A group of BC engineers are building a sculpture to educate people about the global air quality challenges. 

The project from Activism Through Technology and Art (ATTA) Society is called When Air Takes Shape.

The Vancouver-based non-profit is raising money through a Kickstarter campaign to support the material fabrication and construction costs, so it can start building a kinetic sculpture that guides people to breathe. 

The first edition of the installation is expected to be deployed next summer at different locations around the province. 

Here is how it works: people will be able to scan a QR code near the structure and select a city or town anywhere around the world on their phone or tablet. 

“The audience will be instructed to follow the breathing pattern of the structure, breathing in with every expansion, and out with every contraction to embody another person’s experience,” a description of the installation reads. 

People will be guided to breathe based on real-time data from local sensors and global data from an open-source API.

So, if the air quality is poor, the audience will be instructed to breathe faster. If the pollution is low, the structure will move slower.

The installation will also direct audience members to a website where they can find educational information on air pollution and provide feedback on the installation.

“We’re bridging the gap between the public and scientific data, making it understandable and personal,” said a project member. 

So far, the group has raised $5,305 as of Thursday afternoon through its Kickstarter.

The group has already received funding from the Government of Canada.

“We hope that this project will be a gateway to empathy for the people who live with the greatest consequences of our contributions to global air pollution.”

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