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Particle Falls: Large-scale Public Visualization of Real-time Particulate Pollution
Andrea Polli and Chuck Varga

Particle Falls was a large-scale public artwork sponsored by the City of San Jose that provided a near real-time visualization of particulate pollution in the San Fernando Corridor for six months in the form of a large-scale projection on the side of the AT&T Building in San Jose California and on mobile devices.

A nighttime projection allowed viewers to see current levels of fine particulates cascading down the facade of the AT&T building in San Jose. The project included a nephelometer, which measures the smallest particle, PM2.5. Fewer bright particles over the waterfall meant fewer particles in the air. This public artwork acted as a monitor, an alarm and a neighborhood revitalization project.

Signage on site and were designed as companions to the public work. The signage provided information about local particulate pollution levels and their effects. provided a simple, near real-time animation of current particulate pollution levels at the site designed for viewing online and on android cellular phones. The number of 'drops' landing on the mobile screen was linked to current particulate levels, as if drops from the waterfall were landing on the viewer's hand.

Particle Falls was created for the City of San Jose Public Art Program in conjunction with ZER01's 01SJ Build Your Own World Biennial with the assistance of AirNow, Sonoma Technology, Inc., and Met One Instruments.

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Andrea Polli is an artist, Associate Professor in Fine Arts and Engineering and Mesa Del Sol Chair of Digital Media at The University of New Mexico. Polli's work has been presented widely in venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art Artport and The Field Museum of Natural History and has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art News and others. In 2007/2008, she spent seven weeks living in Antarctica.

Chuck Varga co-founded the international theatrical rock band GWAR. Varga starred in eight major productions of GWAR that toured the US and Europe in over 1000 shows and wrote scripts, designed and built costumes and sets, authored over a dozen graphic stories, and co-authored two feature-length films including the Grammy-nominated Phallus in Wonderland. He has since created sculpture, painting, puppets and effects for various commercial productions for Broadway, Hollywood and television, including Blue Man Group in Vegas, and Julie Taymor's Lion King and film 'The Tempest'.

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