Air pollution transformed into live sound and music while you ride, wherever you ride, with invisible ‘Air Reporters’ accompanying you on your route
From the cleanest of air to occasional extreme spikes of pollution wafting through the town centre, these Enviro Bikes provide a super chilled sonic ride with occasional moments of terror
Riders could explore any location, road, street or park, riding to hear the changing levels of air pollution around them, due to the specialist Enviro Bikes fitted with air pollution sensors and speakers. Voices of 'Air Reporters', future human pollution specialists, spoke to riders in various places across the town sharing an unfolding futuristic narrative where pollution was palpable and human bodies had evolved.
The Enviro Bike is a tool to connect the rider to imagined beings from the future who have evolved to live on our now polluted Earth. Beings who can sense and see the pollution in the air that is now harmful. Through the bike these Air Reporters emit a world of new sound that they make by reading the passing levels of particulate matter. It surrounds the rider in a sonic bubble and informs them about the air they breathe as they ride.
While the Air Reporters generate these sounds, they also take the opportunity to talk to these humans of the past. They relay a potential future in an attempt to help avoid it. They describe the contents of the invisible air – the dangerous particulate matter that wafts around the globe and along the streets, or the clean air that billows in from the remaining clean spaces. They talk of the last surviving towns and rural spaces that upheld clean air until the end. They tell the riders about their own evolved bodies that have grown defensive attributes to survive the hostilities that ultimately prevail from the global pollution. And they invite the rider to engage in their passing environment, in a way they might not yet have done.
Enviro Bikes also record the air pollution data from each ride so that a growing database of site-specific figures for Middlesbrough is gathered. Data is available on the BRI website in visualisations and spreadsheets.
Each ride is also visualized to riders on return to the lab, to see the pollution levels heard along that route, adding an extraordinarily tangible addition to any riders experience. We have developed a 3d mapping system to visualise the pollution on interactive google maps.
The development of this project was blogged throughout - read about the process of sonification, air pollution research, site-as-air, PureData compositions, and more on the BRI Blog: Air pollution composition development, Air pollution composition development II, Clouds, moss and birds falling from the sky, Whats in Middlesbrough’s air?, Pi vs pd, Mapping the air, Air reporters speak, Davu, Lili, Neysa… disaster zones and ‘big rains’, Launch night – Enviro Bikes meet Sonic Sweepers, No scent or colour, Day one and the air sounds squeaky clean, Huge Pollution spikes?!, Air pollution map builds, The invisible Air Reporters, Hearing the huge change in air pollution, River ride and Lidl’s air and The week in air
Enviro Bikes are made by the Bicrophonic Research Institute (BRI), read more about how these bikes work. Sound for this project was by Kaffe Matthews and Lisa Hall, hardware by Sukandar Kartadinata, Pure Data development by Federico Visi with consultation with FoAM-Kernow and data visualisations by Lisa Hall.
The Sonic Arts Week team was led by curator Liam Slevin including dynamic support with on-the-ground production team Jennie and Georgia (the wonderful Birco HQ leaders), JJ, Connor, Jamie and more.