In an effort to free itself of its unfortunate reputation for polluted skies, Beijing officials recently launched a program to get rid of its smog by 2017. But this effort may not be limited to mundane details like controlling the number of cars on the road. Others, like Dutch artist and "social designer" Daan Roosegaarde believe that art has a role to play in shifting people's ideas about how pollution can be part of the solution; he proposes that Beijing's smog be collected and actually re-used -- by transforming it into gems for rings.
In collaboration with ENS Europe and professor Bob Ursem, Roosegaarde's Smog Free Project would use "patented and energy friendly ion technology," in what will apparently be the world's largest air purifier. This would be a larger and more portable version of technology that is already used in hospitals, and will be used to capture PM2.5 smog (ie. particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns) in a park in Beijing. Due to this intervention, which is slated to happen next year, this park will have the cleanest air in the city.
Here's the awesome paradigm shift: these dirty, black particles from the air will then be transformed into gems, set into rings. It's about getting everyone to re-imagine what it takes to clean Beijing's air, explains Roosegaarde on FastCoExist:
Making tangible and wearable material of the smog is a way of creating awareness. By buying or sharing the smog ring you donate 1,000 cubic meters of clean air to the city.
By creating the cleanest park in Beijing, you create an experience of how the future will look, what it will feel like. People will see all the differences in between the old and the new air. They can feel it, smell it, and breathe it. This will create an incentive to update the whole city such as electric cars, clean industry, cycling. Our smog project stands as a springboard for other initiatives, to update reality.
It's a bold proposal that speaks to modern Beijingers' sense of style, yet also reflects on everyone's human desire to have a decent and healthy environment to live in. Roosegaarde hopes to inspire other artists and creatives to come up with innovative ways to tackle smog; you can keep track of this project's progress via Studio Roosegaarde.