Ball Showing Levels of Carbon Monoxide in Air
Student Artist: Elmer Blaikie
Course: Data Visualization with Lucy HG Solomon
Sustainability Focus: Clean Air
Data Source: Environmental Protection Agency (2017) CO Air Quality 1996-2016
Media: acrylic on paper-maché
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This piece reveals how many parts per million of CO1 are in the air. The levels over a period of years are reflected through light: 1 light equals 1 part per million. There is a simple one-to-one ratio, based on OSHA’s sequential data of the past nine years, as follows: 5.965, 5.842, 5.382, 4.996, 5.304, 4.681, 4.327, 4.028, 3.968
The completed piece shows the levels of carbon monoxide in the United States from 1990-2016. The piece is a paper-maché globe that has small LED lights covering it. The lights light up as the amount of carbon monoxide changes. I wanted to make people aware of the amount of carbon monoxide that is currently in the air. I used green and blue lights to represent the ocean and the plants. The body of the piece is painted blue-green to have a springtime feel to it, and it resembles an old-school science fiction prop.
I discovered that the data shows that the amount of carbon monoxide has actually decreased beginning in 1980. I did want to show all the data going back that far but it just wasn’t physically possible at this level. When the lights initially go on they are all illuminated. As time goes on the lights start to go out, showing the decrease in carbon monoxide.
The piece itself is made of junk mail flyers and glue. There is a layer of water based lacquer covering the body. The lights are standard LED lights controlled by a raspberry pi computer that runs off a small battery. This was a piece that I have wanted to do for about a year. Originally it was going to be much more complicated but I decided to simplify it. I would like to develop a similar sculpture that uses solar to power it.