Every time I return to New York after a brief absence, the first thing that really tells me I'm back is the smell. It's that perfectly putrid mixture of garbage, street halal, and exhaust pipe fumes that gives me a welcoming hug and makes it abundantly clear that the air outside of mega-metropolises is much cleaner. Though the scent is a personal-yet-widely understood reality of city life, one artist has created a device that allows us to measure exactly how polluted our urban homes actually are.
:vtol:, aka Dmitry Morozov, has previously turned tattoos into experimental instruments and highlighted the beauty of barcodes. Now, with Digioxide, the Russian artist is turning pollution recognition into tangible artwork. The portable device is equipped with sensors that measure air pollution gases and dust particles. It's connected to a computer via bluetooth and turns information about the concentration of dust and harmful gases such as CO, CO2, HCHO, CH4 and C3H8 into generative graphics, forming an abstract image.
Digioxide has a mobile printer that allows the pollution data to be turned into physical prints of the digitized images—pixilated, colored graphics that offer a "snapshot" of the surrounding air. :vtol: explains that the tool allows users to "freely move around a city, seek out ecologically problematic places, and turn their data into digital artworks."
Digioxide's tech components include arduino nano, a hc-o6 bluetooh module, gas and dust sensors, a printer, plus software like Max/MSP Jitter and Applescript. Say you spot a particularly nefarious hummer double-parked, spewing the type of chemicals into the air that leads to problems like smog, this art project offers the chance to send a simple message. Just "sniff" the exhaust pipe, print out a pixilated warning sign, and slip it under their windshield wipers. The toxic scent of your city may be part of its charm, but now you can preserve its aromatic essence through a nuanced art project that is both clever and sends a clear message.
See some photos of Digioxide below:
Images and video via :vtol: