Paper Organ is a visual experiment that deals with data visualization in form of a physical object. Through mechanisms like the changing of color and movement the object becomes a three-dimensional display for any kind of information.


Air pollution in german cities continues to harm people’s health and the environment. Long- and short-term exposures to particulate matter caused by traffic and industry, can lead to premature death.

According to estimates made with adults over the age of 30, approximately 11 to 14 percent of all deaths caused by cardiopulmonary diseases and approximately 16 to 20 percent of all deaths due to lung cancer are traced back to the environmental stressfactor of air pollution.

Also interior spaces are affected by emissions. Depending on location the places where we spend most of our time - working, sleeping, living with our familys - can suffer from bad air quality. Paper Organs should raise awareness in our personal spaces as well as in public.


Paper Organ communicates with an air quality sensor via wireless microcontrollers. The sensor box can be placed anywhere (the window, another room, the other side of the world) and sends the data to the Paper Organ where the information is displayed. Through mechanisms like the changing of color and movement the object becomes a three-dimensional display. If everything is fine in „breaths“ calmly, while if the air quality is bad it starts to move faster and the color is turning to red to rise the attention.


We experimented with different shapes, colors and motions to create a status system, that would evoke peoples interest. We built several functioning prototypes using Arduino boards and wireless microcontrollers by Particle. Our aim was to trigger associations with a living creature, that responds to it’s environment. So the viewer evolves a relationship to the digital technology and is able to transfer the visual feedback to signs or warnings from his or her own body.


Paper Organ was developed in Matthias Edler-Golla’s course called „Open Web of Sensory Data“ in collaboration with Katja Niggl. The task was to think about a way how to make environmental data accessible to a broader audience. .


April 2016 - June 2016

© Verena Pues 2018