PARTICLE FALLS Opens in Charlotte

Feb 29, 2016

Clean Air Carolina is pleased to announce the dynamic presentation, PARTICLE FALLS, an animated light projection of real-time air quality data designed by artist and scientist Andrea Polli, from March 4th to April 23rd in Charlotte on the west side of UNC Charlotte Center City, 320 E. 9th Street.

Clean Air Carolina launched PARTICLE FALLS with a private opening reception at a remote viewing site on Friday, March 4 with special remarks by artist Andrea Polli and UNC Charlotte’s Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Brian Magi.

“What if we could see invisible particulate pollution in the air around you? Particle Falls does that,” stated artist Andrea Polli. “Particle Falls is a work that helps to more effectively connect the complexities of air pollution and climate change to policy makers and the general public. Particle Falls uses media to make cold scientific data touch the emotions of a variety of audiences. People need to feel and understand the importance of air pollution. Particle Falls makes the invisible visible in an extraordinary way.”

Co-sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s College of Art + Architecture along with the Arts & Science Council, and presented in partnership with the UNC Charlotte’s “KEEPING WATCH on AIR” initiative, the eight week event will raise public awareness of the presence and impact of particle pollution in North Carolina communities. PARTICLE FALLS has been demonstrated in several cities across the US, and most recently in Paris during the United Nations Climate Conference.

Clean Air Carolina’s Program Director Terry Lansdell noted, “We have worked for a year to bring this important science and art display to Charlotte and North Carolina. It is an attempt to make real what we take for granted. We struggle to test and clean the air we breathe. We ignore its impacts until it is too late. Particle Falls forces us in a most beautiful way, to see the air we breathe and to make the connection to the life we live. We are thankful to our partners at the UNC Charlotte College of Arts and Architecture, KEEPING WATCH on AIR and the Arts and Science Council for making it happen.”

Fine particulate matter is a form of air pollution that occurs year-round and is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets. Linked to a long list of serious health problems, fine particle pollution can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, enter the bloodstream and cross the blood brain barrier. Charlotte traditionally ranks above the national average of US cities for average annual particle pollution. Some sources of particle pollution in the metro area include cars, trucks, diesel buses, and construction equipment.

Projected onto the west wall of the UNC Charlotte Center City building (320 E. 9th Street), PARTICLE FALLS can be seen from many remote locations in uptown Charlotte beginning at sunset each night, rain or shine. The animation is generated by translating real-time particulate matter data from the surrounding air into imagery using specialized computer software created by the artist.  The sensing is done using a nephelometer, a scientific instrument that takes in air samples and gathers data about the concentration of particle pollution. When particle pollution is present, visual bursts of bright color illuminate over a background of “falling” blue light onto the building. The more dots of color seen, the more particles detected in the air. The visualization updates with new air data in real time.

Onsite and remote presentations will be offered and open to the public most nights throughout the eight week event by partnering organizations such as Mecklenburg County Air Quality and others.

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