The wearable microcontroller, trigger and particulate sensor assembly.
What do the picture captions mean? Each picture is captioned with a reading of the amount of PM2.5 particles at the time the image was made measured in micrograms per cubic metre. PM2.5 stands for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in width which is the size that are hazardous to human health.
The 2012 United States Environment Protection Agency air quality index is a widely used scale that gives a standard for PM2.5 pollution.
Good micrograms/m3 24-hour mean
0 - 12
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
12.1 - 35.4
35.5 - 55.4
55.5 - 150.4
150.5 - 250.4
250.5 - 350.4
350.5 - 500
Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.
Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.
flashing on is controlled by the level of pollution. So the more pollution there is the more they will flicker on, and the more dots that will appear in the final image. It’s as if the air was put under a microscope and lit up so that you could see the pollution particles, that’s the idea.
A landscape photographer might be concerned with the more formal aspects of the picture making. How do you balance picture making with the scientific aspect of the work?
Robin: I would try and find backdrops that were dark enough, or were flat enough colourwise, that you could see the dots rather than being distracted by what was behind it, they were the ones that I was happier with generally.
Francis, when you look at the images, how do you think about them?
Francis: The scientific side of my brain is comparing the density of dots with the apparent visibility of pollution there. On the artistic side it’s getting a sense of the place, does it look like a dusty polluted place? The Mexico ones were very clean which was bit of a surprise for me but I think not unfounded. In the Dehli ones, which is kind of the poster child of air pollution at the moment, you have this great density of dots whereas in the other countries it is significantally less...
Robin, you worked in a number of different countries, how did that come about?
Robin: The first opportunity came because there was a conference for early career researchers in Dehli. I am not an early career researcher in environmental science, but having a PhD helped, and having Francis co-sign the application noting, this is coming out of a residency and a project about environmental issues. I learned a lot in Dehli because I attended the conference for three days before starting the photography. Half of your brain was trying to listen for where would be good places to go in the city and the other half was trying to fill in your general knowledge of the subject area. I then went to Port Talbot in Wales where my initial interest in doing a project around air pollution had started. It came out of a conversation with the editor at the newspaper there who was getting all these whistleblowers coming to her saying ‘the Tata steel air pollution levels had been massaged down’ so she wanted to do some kind of citizen science project around taking air pollution data and then making it more accessible by turning it into a public installation. And Francis had refered me to another researcher at the University of Birmingham who had done a whole PhD on air pollution in Port Talbot. Then there were was a similar conference to Delhi in Mexico City, luckily some of the scientists organising it knew about the project by then and were able to support me attending.
Nairobi was because Francis had a trip planned to go to the United Nations Environment Assembly there. He had been doing a field monitoring campaign over the
Robin Price will be exhibiting ‘this is not a table’ as part of Dublin Tech Week at the Digital Hub, 16th April - 28th April and at Millennium Court Arts Centre 2nd November to 19 December.
Air of the Anthropocene, will be exhibited at the Arts & Disability Forum Gallery Belfast, 8 June – 20 July as part of Belfast Photo Festival.