Pop-up exhibition turns poisoned air into ink to send a powerful message

If you live in a big city like London, then you might be aware that the air is slowly poisoning you.

One of the biggest contributors to toxic emissions are vehicles. So an Indian startup is approaching the problem from the rear end. Literally.

It blocks diesel emissions at the point of contact with the atmosphere, recycles the leftover carbon and uses it to make art.

Anirudh Sharma pictured with his Kaalink device.

Image: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Graviky Labs has developed a device called Kaalink which attaches to diesel exhaust pipes and can capture up to 95 percent of carbon soot, stopping it from entering the atmosphere. 

The soot is then recycled into ink and transformed into marker pens, called Air-Ink.

This is what ink made from car exhaust pipes looks like.

According to Graviky Labs co-founder Anirudh Sharma, the simple plugin tech could provide up to 30 trillion litres of cleaner air for Londoners annually. And a whole load of pens – one pen is filled with ink extracted from approximately 50 minutes of diesel car pollution.

It’s not the first time they have used the ink to paint a powerful picture about the issue in polluted cities. Previously, they teamed up with street artists in Hong Kong to paint the street with its condensed polluted air. 

Mr Doodle (left) and Anirudh Sharma join forces for some air pollution art in London.

Mr Doodle (left) and Anirudh Sharma join forces for some air pollution art in London.

Now they’re in London hosting the world’s first Clean Art Gallery in Brixton. The pop-up exhibition features five artists from the UK’s most polluted cities. Coincidently, Brixton has already surpassed its 2017 air pollution limit. And it’s not even halfway through the year. 

Artist Kristopher Ho turns London's air pollution into a wild animal.

Artist Kristopher Ho turns London’s air pollution into a wild animal.

The pop-up exhibition coincides with what is described as a ‘unique’ clean air initiative unveiled by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan, working alongside Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, wants to introduce restrictions on vehicle emissions and upgrades on public transport, urging a swift shift to tackle a pressing problem. Clearing the air we breathe, they say, is an urgent priority that requires transforming how cities flow. 

For Sharma, too, that is the main priority. Creating art using his soot-capturing technology is just one side of the coin. He is now looking to collaborate with other disciplines, and with people like London’s Mayor, to scale up the technology and make a larger-scale impact.

One of most important developments for Air-Ink is improving its quality so that it’s suitable for printing. For the moment, though, turning air pollution into safe and rather decent art supplies is no small feat.

Inside the Tiger Beer ‘Clean Air Gallery’ in Brixton

Inside the Tiger Beer ‘Clean Air Gallery’ in Brixton

Image: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

WATCH: These artists are painting with ink made from air pollution

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