- The interactive installation, Nexus, by British-Chinese designer, Elaine Yan Ling Ng reveals UBS Evidence Lab big data on a human scale visualizing global findings on air quality across major cities
- UBS Evidence Lab data feeding Nexus shows that on average London experiences moderate pollution levels, unhealthy to sensitive groups, and double the average pollution levels of Berlin
- The installation will be presented as part of 2019's London Design Festival and the designer, Elaine Yan Ling Ng, will participate in the festival's Global Design Forum at the V&A Museum
London, 3 September 2019 – Coinciding with the launch of its inaugural ESG and Sustainability Symposium on 2 September, UBS presents an interactive installation by British-Chinese designer, Elaine Yan Ling Ng, which explores global air quality. Inspired by nature and technology, Nexus, is powered by a feed of big data from a set of more than 8,000 air quality monitoring stations around the world analyzed by UBS Evidence Lab, a specialist alternative data provider within UBS.
"Visualization is key to data because it helps the human mind to process large numbers more easily. An interactive design installation like this can help people to see, in a very meaningful way, the impact of data on the decisions that they're making," said Barry Hurewitz, Global Head, UBS Evidence Lab.
The World Health Organisation has identified air pollution as a "public health emergency" and, as international awareness of the issue has increased, air quality is becoming more regulated to alleviate the situation, UBS Evidence Lab has analyzed data from the World Air Quality Index to highlight its potential effects at an industry level. By inviting the public to interact with the information, Nexus presents the data on a human scale.
"There’s mounting evidence of the damaging long-term effects of air pollution. Whereas most would see air pollution as a local problem, we see it as also having global connotations, and thus is of relevance to markets. Elaine Ng's installation represents both exquisite design work and a form of communication, turning invisible data into something visual and highlighting an important issue," said Julie Hudson, Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) analyst at UBS.
"Global air quality is such an important topic. We are breathing the same air, but in different cities it smells and tastes different. If you break it down and look into it big data represents numbers and figures that can inform design and help us to improve the way that we can live," said Elaine Yan Ling Ng.
Ng's work follows the principles of biomimicry, inspired by the form and behaviors of networks of forest trees and their roots. The organic forms of the installation evoke how data communicates, much like a colony of plants, as a flow of information through a multitude of interconnected unseen networks and models.
Through the interactive presentations, visitors will be prompted to select air quality data from different cities and countries which will create unique light and kinetic performances akin to the composition of a piece of music. Lights along the body of the work will display the movement of accumulated data, translated through individually programmed LEDs into an organic flow of light visuals, which illustrate how the air quality has changed in the selected locations over the past three years.
Building on Ng’s practice of kinetic and often interactive design pieces, the modular installation employs innovative craftsmanship with bespoke handwoven digital jacquard textiles built over a 3D printed frame to complement the lighting display. Nexus employs organic materials including paper pulp, bamboo weave, and copper yarn. The form of the forest network is mimicked through the texture and intricate details of both handmade and digitally produced elements.
After touring to Shanghai, Taipei, and most recently Art Basel in Hong Kong (29 – 31 March 2019), the latest iteration of Nexus sees the installation re-programmed for display at UBS' office in Broadgate, London with enhanced AQI data from additional locations worldwide including new cities across Europe.
The data analyzed by the UBS Evidence Lab shows that London experienced an average AQI of 76 over the period from November 2016 to May 2019, indicating 'moderate' air pollution levels in the city; meaning that the air quality may be a health concern for individuals sensitive to air pollution. Whilst London did not rank amongst the worst cities for air pollution globally in Europe, London's AQI over the period registered higher than many cities with twice the average of Berlin.
Nexus launched on 2 September 2019 at the UBS ESG and Sustainability Symposium with select tours of the installation by the designer available to public on 17 September. Pre-registration is essential via email@example.com and https://www.ubs.com/global/en/about_ubs/art/2019/global-air-quality.html. Elaine Yan Ling Ng will also participate in a related public talk titled: Digital Resonance as part of the London Design Festival's Global Design Forum. The talk will be held on 18 September at London's V&A Museum and will explore how digital design innovation is shaping the way we design, live, connect and work. For tickets visit: http://globaldesignforum.com/event/digital-resonance-0