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5 digital photographs printed on aluminum panels
outer panels 12”x24” | inner panel 10”x10”
total size as arranged 38”x38”
AQI 151, or Air Quality Index 151, represents a level of pollution that is unhealthy for everyone. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that at AQI 151, “everyone may begin to experience health effects, and members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects”. These photographs were made during the night of December 4, 2019, when Salt Lake City's AQI measured the highest in the nation.
Five digital photographs are arranged in a pinwheel pattern that illustrates the cyclical relationship between transportation, industry, and growth. Composed in the shadow of freeway ramps in Salt Lake's urban-industrial core, the photographs depict various forms of infrastructure illuminated by the glow of electric lights reflecting off heavy smog. A digital processing technique that amplifies the noise generated by shooting with a high ISO setting visualizes the microscopic particulate matter in the air. In addition, the high ISO allowed for the use of a relatively fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur on the vehicles, highlighting each one as an individual contributor to the poor air quality.
Salt Lake City is a large transportation hub with converging freeways, sprawling rail yards, an international airport, and a soon-to-be-built inland port. Emissions from the vehicles that frequent these systems, especially cars and trucks, are biggest source of air pollution in the valley. The area's geography contributes to the propensity for pollution to gather, especially in the winter when a weather pattern known as inversion traps cold air and smog in the valley. As we continue to increase our industrial and transportation infrastructure, filling the roads and tracks with more polluting vehicles, we can only expect the air quality index to increase with it.
AQI 151 will be on display at 2006: space oddity (2006 S 900 E, Salt Lake City, UT), from December 9 2022 to January 28 2023.
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