A Vision of Pollution


Creative water quality visualisation is behind 'Floating Point,' a project undertaken by multimedia artist Tiffany Holmes during a residency at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's Computational/Collaborational Laboratory (CoLab). Holmes used data gathered by water scientists in shockwave animations to illustrate the effects of water pollution. Factors such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and flow are altered by moving sliders, and the changes are reflected in images--human faces, photographs of water and geometric shapes. The resulting animations are simple yet powerful, and are accompanied by explanatory texts that blend scientific and environmental facts with artistic motivation. Says Holmes, 'When developing 'Floating Point,' I started with a small, pixel sized square. Water is the basic unit of life, the pixel is the basic unit of the screen environment. Data gathered over time can create complexity out of very simple things.' Her objective is to render pollution data accessible through art and performance, thereby encouraging more responsible and sustainable attitudes towards the precious resource that is water. - Helen Varley Jamieson