Arts and Culture

A newly installed public art project in downtown Louisville seeks to make air pollution visible in a new way.

Visitors to the orange steel kiosk, called Air Bare, on the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets will be able to see a real-time representation of Louisville’s air quality. Air sensors have been placed in four Louisville neighborhoods to measure levels of carbon monoxide and particulate matter, and the data from those sensors will be displayed as bubbles on a touch screen.

The project is a collaboration between several nonprofit organizations focused on health data and public information, including the Louisville-based Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil. The installation itself was created by Brooklyn-based design firm Urban Matter.

Shagun Singh, a principal partner for Urban Matter, said the project aims to draw people’s attention to a usually invisible phenomenon.

“It could get a little bit creepy when people are like, oh, this is all the dust? It’s amplified, it’s literally gigantic, but I think that’s important as a project, to get people to stop and notice,” Singh said.

Air Bare is also intended to be fun and interactive. In addition to the display, visitors can touch and pop the bubbles on the screen, and get facts and information about air pollution.

Photo Mar 19, 9 34 11 AMSubmitted photo


Rick Lin, also with Urban Matter, is the creative technologist behind the piece. He said he hopes Air Bare’s visitors will think differently about their behavior after looking at the kiosk.

“A big part of the component of this piece is educational, so once we grab people’s attention, we want—without being too preachy—to give them some information to help them make better decisions every day,” Lin said.

The exhibit will officially be opened and dedicated on Thursday afternoon, and will be live for the next six to eight months.