Think Global: Act Bristol. Data visualisation collaboration

This collaboration with Dave Webb is for Bristol Museum’s M Shed. It forms part of Think Global: Act Bristol.

This 6 month long exhibition addresses Bristol’s role in and response to the climate and ecological crises.

The exhibition draws on the city’s collections going back to the 1700s to explore what’s led to this point, through the themes Power, Technology, Consumption, Health, Nature and Justice. A small selection of key – and sometimes unexpected – objects act as symbols for a set of complex and intersectional topics, augmented and interpreted through creative commissions.

Our involvement is a projected data visualisation that is fed from 8 pollution sensors spread across the city. We have used sparrows in various degrees of sootiness to communicate the amount of pollution in each sensor area throughout a 24 hour day. I didn’t realise  that the sparrow population is falling until I noticed the lack of birds in my garden. The Mshed have a small collection of sad sooty sparrows from the days before the clean air act, so it made perfect sense to use sparrows as the main theme. Each line the sparrows land on corresponds to a time frame and at the bottom the shadows of the sensor locations rise and fall with the average amount of pollution in each area. The red line at the bottom is the legal limit for pollution. We are not doing well.

My role was consultation and drawings, I wanted a loose, free scratchy and messy look to the display so I used pen and the blackest Japanese ink to draw sparrows in different positions for Dave to animate. Some of the location drawings were challenging, one of them has no landmark at all apart from a lot of traffic lights, others, like the Fishponds fish were a lot easier.

The heavy coding and functionality of the projection was all down to Dave who has pulled it out of the bag. You can see his other work on his Instagram – @crispysmokedweb




The Tiny Art Gallery Manual

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print