Winnowing Phase

Winnowing Phase was a community-led research project exploring air quality in Bootle, with artist Gregory Herbert and Ivan Gee is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University.

Over a few informal meet ups, we speculated about air quality in the area using lichens as a bio-indicator on the streets and in green spaces, before using simple air quality monitors to track and understand local air quality and test our assumptions.

Air quality monitors were given to local people to take on their daily travels and collect data. As a means of visualising and understanding the data Gregory Herbert created Augmented Reality projections to allow the group to see the air quality particles enlarged, helping local people to understand what the data meant.

Gregory is now working with creative coder Varvara Shvetsova to create a air quality channel, so local people can access what the air quality is like on a day by day basis.

This project grew from conversations initiated during our project A Field of Flax, where community members voiced their concerns about the air quality in Bootle. “Winnowing” is the process of using a gentle breeze to naturally blow away and separate any husk particles from seeds. As we collected our flax seeds, we started thinking about the other particles in the air, how they affect us, and our natural environment as an indictor for air quality.

Special thanks to Hannah Rose for coding support.