Painting with Pollution

Painting with Pollution

This is a fascinating initiative from Tiger, long time producers of Singapore’s most popular beer, and is designed to create art ‘from the streets, for the streets’.

This particular artwork, packed with local landmarks in the general shape of our island state, is currently in progress on Orchard Road.

Its USP is that it is being painted with ink made from air pollution, specifically exhaust fumes, and this is a continuation of a project which has already been carried out in Hong Kong with great success.

In Singapore it all comes under the umbrella of #uncageideas, a direct reference to recent Tiger advertising campaigns, and is all about ‘ideas that are so bold they stop you in your tracks’. Here they are trying ‘to turn the ugliness in our air into something beautiful’ whilst pointing out the damage that industrial growth is doing to the region.

Modern technology is all very well, but a lot of it depends on burning fossil fuels, the by-products of which are thought to be responsible for untold health problems and premature deaths each year. One of the most obvious examples is the traffic on our roads, which plays a huge role in polluting the atmosphere.

This whole project is a collaboration with scientists at Graviky Labs in India, an MIT Spinoff that builds high impact technologies, and it focusses on a ‘Kaalink’ designed to capture the fine particle matter from exhaust fumes before it reaches the air.

The devices were fitted to trucks, generators and ferries across Asia, and over a period of months they captured billions of these particles.  Trace heavy metals and carcinogens were removed before the purified soot that remained was converted into different types of inks and paints.

For example, the artists have been working with tools which include a range of marker pens, the smallest of which being a fine tip which holds the output of 40 minutes of diesel car pollution, to a 600ml spray can which contains the soot from almost 3 days. It’s all pollution which hasn’t ended up in the air and in your lungs.

There’s no clear link to beer, except that Tiger have always been an innovative company. This is a great idea bound to keep raising awareness of a big problem, and I wish it every success.