DUST | Āi | 埃 | VR Tryptich | Environmental Open Data

Exhibit at St Maria Kirche Stuttgart

Dust Clouds

Particulate matter, also known as airborne dust, is universally familiar. Volcanic ashes, sea spray, sandstorms, forest fires, construction residue, vehicle and industrial emissions are among the largest contributors today, but the origins of the planet, all known species and the universe itself derive from dust borne by interstellar dust clouds.

Data Clouds

The singularity and omnipresence of dust is no longer unrivaled. In the new world, interstellar dust clouds may be overshadowed by virtual data clouds. Data has become the new essential building block. Much like dust, data is amorphous: sometimes filtered, sometimes free flowing, sometimes segmented into layers of formation and information. Like dust, data passes through us and all around us; data may be visible or invisible to the eye; we are dependent on data, but we fear invidious consequences for our health and wellbeing.

Sensors and Sovereignty

People have long understood dust may be harmful and have sought to avoid undue exposure. But until recently the definition and monitoring of the threat level depended on governments and institutions and the biases they bring to their assessment of costs and benefits.

Curiously, data now empowers people to do their own cost-benefit analysis: individuals can carry out environmental tests privately with low cost sensors and distribute the results on the internet, bringing about a culture of “citizen science”. Data, which enabled this environmental revolution, is increasingly the source of new kinds of environmental concerns, triggering policy debate on how data is collected, stored and used; and on how much exposure to data is too much.

Dust to Data – Data to Dust

While electronic sensors provide us with accurate data, the numbers and units of measurement remain abstract and intangible. The burgeoning efforts to understand and measure data transmission leave us similarly perplexed.

Our work DUST uses virtual reality (VR) to represent and investigate the invisible sphere of urban particulate matter. We give representation to these developments and chip away at popular incognizance of just how much dust, and now data, may impact our private lives.

Exhibit at Schauspielhaus Bochum, curated by Tobias Staab

Exhibit at St Maria Chuch, Stuttgart, curated by Benjamin Heidersberger

Photo by Frank Kleinbach


  • Co-produced with Drehmoment – KulturRegion Stuttgart curated by Benjamin Heidersberger
  • with the help of Dietmar Offenhuber, Andrea Winter, Andreas Erhart, St Maria Kirche Stuttgart, Höchstleistungsrechenzentrum Stuttgart (HLRS), C++, Meshlab, QGIS and openframeworks
  • data feeds by