Air Testing by Kite in Chinese Cities


F-L-O-A-T

Air pollution has been an undeniable crisis in China, with the stars hidden by layers of tainted smog in many cities. Government officials, however, have always dodged the issue. They cite the developing status of the nation as an excuse for the environmental contamination. What’s worse, they refuse to release quantified data on the air quality, and prevent other nations from meddling. Without this, a solution cannot even begin to be formed. A group of students, however, have taken it into their own hands. More specifically, a small organization called FLOAT plans on compensating for the lack of information.

FLOAT’s website describes themselves as thus:

FLOAT IS A PARTICIPATORY ART/DESIGN/MAPPING PROJECT USING AIR QUALITY SENSING KITES. THROUGH THE POETICS + PLAYFULNESS OF KITE FLYING, FLOAT SPARKS AND INITIATES DIALOGUE ON URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, AND GIVES AGENCY TO CITY DWELLERS TO MAP, RECORD AND ENGAGE ACTIVELY IN THE MONITORING OF THEIR ENVIRONMENT.

Through the traditional and innocuous use of kites, FLOAT makes activism into an art project. Beginning with Beijing, the community sponsors free kite-building workshops and flying sessions where they promote creativity and awareness of environmentalist issues. Each kite is attached with a quality sensing unit that relates information with colored lights and logging data. While the kites boast an accuracy that can be compared to U.S. Embassy stats, the point is not just the numbers but the message.

As founding member Deren has said,

 I think it’s more about having the power of collecting data yourself and being able to compare it to official figures. It’s also about seeing what the air quality is like in your neighborhood, as opposed to official data for the entire city.

FLOAT started small. It was the brainchild of a band of U.S. Chinese-American college students who wanted to address what the government wouldn’t. Using an initial research grant to initiate the project, they assembled the first few prototypes before making a formal proposal on kickstarter.com. 89 backers and $4,559 out of a total goal of $2,500 later, the scheme fell together. F-l-o-a-t.com is starting to take off, along with new kites made every day.

Some facts about China that has necessitated this project:

It was November 2010 when China’s environmental protection ministry published a report showing a tremendous third of 113 cities surveyed failed to meet national air standards. Furthermore, the World Bank has ranked 16 of China’s cities in the top 20 of the world’s cities with the worst air. Figures briefly improved for the Olympics in Beijing, but don’t look likely to hold up thanks to the reliance on coal as the primary source of electricity. Industrialization depends on burning coal as it is cheap, but the byproducts are far more deadly. It has become so bad that the factory-based town of Benxi no longer appears on satellites due to the fumes, and the rate of lung disease is at its highest. Most of the country is concerned, but the government puts an appearance of nonchalance in order to remain free of UN Environmental committees and criticism. (Source: factsanddetails.com)

While the rest of the urbanized world may be a testing ground for Chinese manufacturing and development, there is no recovery for contaminated air. A quick and immediate step, air testing will help bring the issue to greater light. Chinese citizens have already flown kites with Christmas lights attached to simulate the clear, starry skies that used to be. Now they are flying them to make more than a symbolic difference.

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Comments

  1. Nicky Piechocki says:

    kite flying has been my hobby and past time ever since last year, it is really a great past time.^

    Our blog site
    http://www.beautyfashiondigest.com/why-satin-panties/

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