Seven Days In Beijing

Digital Photography + Data Visualization, 2015
Digital Print <> size: 14in x 10in

This project documents the weeklong trip the author took in Beijing during summer 2015. Each photo shows a landmark in the city, visited by the author during the day, along with the hourly changes of the air quality condition of the day. The air quality is visualized by the hourly AQI (Air Quality Index) and PM2.5 data over the twenty-four hours of the day. The hourly AQI and PM2.5 data were retrieved from the U.S. Embassy’s twitter account @beijingair.The hourly AQI and PM2.5 are visualized using graphs with different length, size, and color. The length is proportional to the value of the daily AQI. The size is proportional to the circulation amount of the PM2.5 (μg/m3). And the color scale is based on the color code-chart developed by the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). It shows the level of health risk – the more green the healthier and the more red the unhealthier.The highest and lowest points of AQI and PM2.5 are marked in each photo. Blue sky was visible on two days 6/2 and 6/6. Not surprisingly, the graphs in these two days are relatively shorter and smaller, and become partially green during the days.

The objective of the project is to make the air pollution visible – by imaging it. Two realities – tourist attractions recorded by digital photography and air pollution by graphic visualization – are overlapped in the same image. It is intended to subliminally raise awareness of this air pollution issue. The last photo shows a slogan, on a red banner and in the iconic Chinese style, hanging outside of the track field of Beihang University. It reads, “Exercise outside one hour a day – Be health for fifty years - Live happily for a life-time”. All is possible only when the air people breathe becomes clean.