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Raising public awareness of air pollution with new ways of visualising data

Yellow Dust

An innovative installation developed by Dr Nerea Calvillo (Warwick Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies) to visualise air pollution was displayed at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017.

The installation, Yellow Dust, aims to change public attitudes towards the environment by presenting information about air pollution in a more meaningful and evocative way than traditional means. Visitors to the exhibit walk through a giant water vapour cloud which changes in density and humidity to represent differing levels of air pollution. At the same time, a data projector helps to decode the information by displaying the same air quality data that the cloud is visualising.

Yellow Dust is based on research conducted by Dr Calvillo which demonstrated that visualisation is more effective than standard methods in conveying information about air pollution, as it evokes stronger reactions that are more likely to lead to positive behaviour change such as cycling instead of taking the car.

An ethnographer observed people’s reactions to Yellow Dust during the Biennale, as well as conducting face-to-face interviews, in order to understand how it made them think differently about air pollution. The results of the ethnography will be presented to policymakers and urban planners to encourage them to use visualisation as a more effective way of raising public awareness of the issue.

The installation was supported by the Warwick ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (grant reference ES/M500434/1).