Engaging with air quality in new ways


A game that tangibly connects you to sources and signs of air pollution in a framework for collective expression


It's difficult to understand something that you can't see.

Air pollution is a wicked problem that's difficult to tackle because of it is largely invisible and its effects are long-term. 
Air pollution comes in all shapes and sizes. It's created by everything from desert winds to clothing factories. Simply put, it's anything that takes up space and reduces our access to healthy air. And not so simple is knowing what that is without high tech monitoring equipment that, at the moment exists minimally in cities.
Poor air quality causes long-term health effects like asthma, lung cancer and chronic respiratory disease and has a disproportionate effect on low-income communities. 

 Improvements in air quality have been shown are to decrease health costs, increase productivity and raise life expectancy around the world.


Air pollution is a global problem that requires local-level action. Many activities affect air quality. In NYC, one of the largest contributors are trucks traveling in and around, bringing resources in and waste out from our communities. As it is designed today, without trucks, the city would be inhabitable.  But is that the problem?

Can we make air pollution more concrete and provide people with a way to share their observations of it in their community?


Xintong, Yuka and I thought no. Designing a new system isn't the first step to addressing the poor health outcomes in communities afflicted by air pollution from trucks.  In NYC, neighborhoods that lie on truck routes are neighborhoods with high rates of asthma and respiratory disease. They're neighborhoods where people don't have the power to manage the feedback of the system that disproportionately afflicts 

Yuka, Xintong and I were surprised to learn these facts. So, we took to the streets where dominate to better understand the situation.  hanging the ways the city operates isn't a small task. more so if you don't feel like you have a voice. Air pollution is largely invisible and this makes it difficult to hold anyone accountable for producing it. We have relied on high-tech sensing equipment to understand where it is.  Most cities have a few air quality monitors stationed in them, but they aren't able to paint a thorough picture of the air. And certain communities are disproportionately affected by it. Xintong, Yuka and I set out to create a user-friendly tool that engages people of all ages around the number one emitter of air pollution: diesel trucks.

The air quality index isn't actionable because it's not contextual.


Air Prints fosters a tangible connection to your local environment through friendly competition and collaboration. I created and prototyped the game with two friends, Yuka and Xintong, while completing my MFA. Our goal was to communicate the complicated and opaque issue of urban air pollution in a simple way.
In developing the game, we set out to discover how we could connect air pollution to its sources. We wandered around Brooklyn, observing the different spaces. We wanted to incorporate trucks into our final design—there were so many! And they were so dirty, loud and unpleasant to be around. 

We incorporated poetic and visual elements into it