Head in the clouds: innovative data installation chosen for Seoul Biennale

An innovative installation developed by Dr Nerea Calvillo of the University of Warwick’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (CIM) is one of the pieces chosen for display at the 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.

The installation, Yellow Dust, aims to change public attitudes towards the environment by presenting information about air pollution through a sensuous experience.

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 air quality data that the cloud is visualising.

Dr Calvillo said: "Setting up the installation in Seoul has been a practical challenge and an amazing opportunity to explore how people from different cultures react to alternative visualisations of air pollution.

"Its reception has been very good so far: visitors, local activists and urban planners have demonstrated interest in Yellow Dust and have contributed to our questionnaires and interviews, which we are now analysing with the ethnographer."

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. Visualisation evokes stronger reactions that are more likely to lead to 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 ethnographic study 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).

The Seoul Biennale runs until 5 November