Area's Immediate Reading (AIR)

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The Project
From 2001-2002, the Environmental Protection Agency collected extensive environmental data from the World Trade Center site and nearby areas in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. The EPA no longer publishes daily summaries. For their Social Sculpture Commission, Preemptive Media, a collective of artists, activists, and technologists, will develop portable AIR (Area’s Immediate Reading) kits designed to measure and record exposure to pollutants over the course of a day. These kits will collect data on major pollutants in the area such as carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen dioxide, lead and noise. The resulting data and creative visualizations will be accessible and free to the public through a website and visitor center in Lower Manhattan. Preemptive Media’s AIR kits, and resulting website and visitor center, will be an alternative and self-monitoring system created to be maintained and used by the people who live, work and visit the area.

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and Eyebeam announce the arts collaborative Preemptive Media as recipients of the 2005 Social Sculpture Commission (SSC). Through the upcoming year, Preemptive Media will prototype portable air quality measurement kits and work with the community to build and deploy the kits, monitor various air pollutants in Lower Manhattan, as well as create data visualizations of their findings. This project and the SSC are intended to develop a new process oriented, socially based artwork that integrates the community into the creation and presentation of the work and affects the world around them. This is the inaugural Social Sculpture Commission, offered jointly by LMCC and Eyebeam.

The Social Sculpture Commission
The Social Sculpture Commission was created to support interdisciplinary, socially engaged art works that feature creative practitioners working collaboratively with the community.  The concept of Social Sculpture was coined in the 1970's by Joseph Beuys to refer to creative acts that engage with the community and respond to the world around them. Thinking of the artistic practice as participatory, these ideas were rooted in the belief in the collective versus the individual and the engagement of a larger community into the creation and presentation of the work. Eyebeam and LMCC conceived of this commission to explore how contemporary artists/ collectives are exploring and translating this concept through contemporary technologies and means of communication.

Project Created: 
April 2006