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Plastic Air: an interactive experience on the problem of microplastics in the air

The digital project, curated by Giorgia Lupi and her Pentagram team, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, shows the problem of invisible plastic that we breathe. 

11 May 2021

In collaboration with Google Arts & Culture and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Giorgia Lupi with Talia Cotton and Phil Cox of Pentagram presented the Plastic Air project. This is a digital project that stresses the issue of microplastics in the air, which are the result of global plastic production and consumption, in continuous and worrying increase. 

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What happens to plastic objects when we throw them away? What happens to them and how are they dismantled? They degrade into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics: granules, fibres, fragments, microspheres and films that end up not only in water and soil, but also in the air we breathe

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Plastic Air therefore takes the form of a web experience which starts by asking the user a question: do you want to see the problem or not? 
If the user decides not to see the problem, the site shows a series of objects, in their full form, floating in the air. If the user decides to see the problem, the same objects are broken down into a multitude of microscopic coloured pieces, which tell us which plastic they are made of, from which product and disposed object they most probably derive, how far they have travelled, what geographical factors and climatic conditions (such as wind, rain and snow) may influence their dispersion. An abstract visualisation of the problem and its consequences, but based on absolutely real data and studies.

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Of course, the website also includes a "What can I do?" section which, with a concise and sincere approach, invites us to reduce, if not stop, our daily use of plastic, reminding us that only a small portion of the plastic we throw away can realistically be recycled, due to various factors. We must therefore reduce our dependence on this material as soon as possible. 

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