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FLOAT Beijing is a participatory design, mapping and open source data visualization project using air quality sensing kites.
FLOAT Beijing is a participatory design, mapping and open source data visualization project using air quality sensing kites.
89 backers pledged $4,559 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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What?

FLOAT Beijing is an interactive, community driven art project that uses kite making and kite flying to activate dialogue, map and record air quality in Beijing, China. FLOAT uses local knowledge sharing, public kite flying and creativity to address an urgent ecological, environmental and social urban issue. 

Why?

Urban air quality is a serious issue that affects rapidly industrializing cities globally, and within Beijing as the capital of China, it is an issue kept quiet by the government under fear of criticism and protest from the public. At the same time, there is ample opportunity to use cheap, easily accessible microcontroller technology for grassroots air quality mapping. We see the traditional art of kite flying as an immense opportunity to pair it with microcontroller technology in order to give agency to local residents in understanding urban air quality.

Our project has two components: a workshop and a group kite flight that uses a special module developed, which detects carbon monoxide, VOC and particulate matter. The modules are attached to homemade kites and flown into the air. Detection levels are displayed through LED lights that change in color, creating a constellation of air quality indicating lights in the night sky.

Through a series of workshops, FLOAT empowers and enables local residents to take air quality monitoring into their own hands, as well as establish new relationships and networks within the community through the act of group kite making and flying.

How?

A series of 3 workshops + group kite flights will be held in Beijing, with outreach to Beijing neighborhood groups and organizations. Together, the community will be able to design and make kites in which the sensing modules are attached, learn more about air quality monitoring, and the technology behind it. After the workshops, a group night time kite flight will take place. Due to light and air pollution, it is extremely difficult to see stars in the Beijing night sky. These kites will appear not only as indicators of urban air pollution, but also a strong visual and sensory experience.  As our project is public art, it also brings together people from all walks of life -- from old kite masters in Beijing, to young environmentalists, to participate and make the final public art piece together.

So far...

We have received funding for project materials from the Black Rock Arts Foundation and we've come a long way with the kite prototype, finding an old kitemaster from Henan who has been making kites in Beijing for the past 15 years, establishing locations for workshops and kite flights. We're excited for the upcoming workshops in August, but we need a bit more help to allow  for more local residents to partake in the project. For more info please check www.f-l-o-a-t.com

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    thanks! you will receive a postcard with an image from the project to send to anyone you would like!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    thank you! We will send you a postcard and a handmade traditional kite from Chinese kite master Old He.

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    39 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    thanks! We'll send you a postcard, kite, and an instructional video about kite making and a short documentary about the project (DVD).

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    6 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    thanks! You'll get a compiled book about the project, with data visualizations, how to build the air sensing module, mappings and information about urban health and air quality, as well as a handmade kite.

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    4 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    thanks! You'll get a compiled book about the project, with data visualizations, how to build the air sensing module, mappings and information about urban health and air quality, as well as a handmade kite and a short documentary about the project (DVD).

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    5 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    All of the above, and your kite will have an air quality module on it. You too can fly it around and measure air quality, or just leave it in a corner and see how the AQ is in your house.

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    8 backers
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Funding period

- (20 days)