Mark

AiryLight




AiryLight is a kinetic light sculpture that expresses realtime local air quality data in a domestic object: a living room light. The work seeks to make the invisible visible and celebrate the minute changes of our everyday environment.

AiryLight’s visualization is designed to provoke curiosity about air quality as a broader environmental issue. The light passes through a lens that moves in accordance with realtime data, projecting different patterns on the ceiling above. Small, simple light patterns represent the best air quality, focused patterns represent the midway between good and unhealthy, and the haziest patterns represent the worst air quality. Miniscule changes in particulate matter outside are mapped to the subtle changes in the form of the light pattern. The continuous function creates an ambiance, indoors, make us aware of the environment, outdoors.

AiryLight’s software tracks the amount of particulate matter in the air (PM2.5) by scraping various well-regulated local realtime sensors that provide consistent air quality data. That data is interpreted in a range - from 0 PPM, very little particulate matter (measured in parts per million) to 100 PPM, considered unhealthy. Above 100, we get into ranges deemed hazardous. These data ranges are represented through a spectrum of 3 patterns.


Air Quality from 0 to 40 ppm: A simple, small light pattern - things are good - nothing out of the usual.


Air Quality shifting from 40 to 60: More defined, focused patterns call your attention to the transitional midway between good and unhealthy air quality.

Air Quality shifting from 80 to 100: Large, complex pattern - we are nearing unhealthy air quality - the historical maximum of 100.

Small multiples: AiryLight can also be installed as two or three lighting pieces side by side, representing air quality that is scraped from different cities or parts of the country.

This piece combines research and development into two fields: considering environmental data that is seemingly invisible - air quality - and creating a cohesive object with a dynamic display of information that is ambient and yet meaningful, one that invites its viewers to discuss it and share what they learn.

In my research, I considered what environmental data might be relevant to our daily life, and might lend itself to a physical display. After looking into various possibilities, I narrowed in on air quality as an issue that is both regionally relevant as well as internationally impactful. 

I used R and Processing to analyze the EPA's dataset. Here we see the daily mean value of PM2.5 in New York City, for all years recorded, for 2012, for the month of April over several past years.

The moving pieces work together to display an overall process: 1. machines changing air quality (gears), 2. examining that changing air quality (the lamp and its magnifying lens), and 3. visualizing the differences between good and bad air (projected patterns). The lamps' changes create an ambiance, indoors, that informs you as to the outdoor environment.

Date: 2013-2015
Details: Project site

Role: Designer, developer
Technologies: web technologies, Arduino

Awards: Honored for Built Environment in Core77 Design Awards 2015
Acquired by Georgia Museum of Art (further exhibitions listed in CV)