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Creatures of the Current

F-DATA-V for Zer01ne 2022 | Seoul

IS-08 | 2022 | Data Visualisation

Seoul is among the most digitally sensed cities in the world, with realtime IOT sensors capturing and publishing public data on environmental and urban phenomena. Polluted dust drifting in the air currents above and around Seoul has been the source of growing geopolitical, health, and environmental concerns over the past decade. Every hour, Seoul reports levels of Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Ozone, PM10 and PM2.5 particulates from a monitoring station in each of the city’s 25 districts.  


However data such as these, when encountered as tables of numerical values, can be difficult to emote with, or relate to over time. In the field of ecology - researchers turn to indicator species; lifeforms whose presence and behavior evidence specific environmental conditions. Massive algae blooms emerge in waters with high levels of nitrogen and phosphate. In Britain, black soot in the air from excessive coal burning prompted the Peppered Moth to evolve darker wing pigmentation. Such phenomena are compelling events in the natural world that provoke us to look more closely at our environmental impacts.

We were commissioned by F-Data-V & IVAAIU City in Seoul to produce an original artwork for their contribution to the Zer01ne 2022 exhibition in Seoul.  

‘Creatures of the Current’ imagines a digital indicator species that responds to changes in air quality across Seoul’s 25 districts. Each district is represented by one creature of this species; whose form and behaviour is driven by real time air quality sensor data. The installation acts as a virtual window connecting us to these creatures. Every hour, we spend 2 minutes and 24 seconds with each one, cycling through all districts. Just as we learn to read the subtleties of shifting expressions across faces, and to associate autumnal colors with changing seasons, over time we might come to associate the creatures’ patterns and forms with different atmospheric conditions. One day, digital creatures such as these might allow us to form enduring emotional bonds with aspects of our world that are undeniably real but otherwise difficult to perceive.


Creative Direction

Bethany Edgoose + Nathan Su 

Data Visualisation

Nathan Su

Research Assistance + Programming

Reina Mun

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