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Floating LED art illustrates the quality of NYC's water

Plus POOL Light shows whether or not it's safe to swim.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 5, 2019
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You don't have to check a website to find out whether or not New York City's water is healthy -- for the next few months, you just have to take a look at some art in the water itself. Playlab, Family New York and Floating Point have debuted a floating art installation, + POOL Light, that displays the water quality in NYC's East River using LED lights. The 50x50 feet sculpture glows blue if all is well, but it turns teal if a sensor detects pathogens and pink when those levels venture beyond safe swimming standards. The brightness, frequency and sharpness of the lights respectively indicate the oxygen, turbidity (the cloudiness based on particulates) and pH levels, while the light animation changes to reflect the current's direction.

A public website both provides the installation's water data and explains its meaning to relative newcomers.

It's a commentary on the environment, but a "positive" one. The creators see it as a marker of the progress made in boosting water quality since 1972's Clean Water Act. It's also a reminder that water is a shared resource, and indirectly a criticism of those who would seek to undo water quality regulations.

You'll find the art project at the Seaport District at Pier 17 in lower Manhattan, although you don't have to travel across town just to see it. You can see it from the bridges linking Brooklyn and Manhattan as well as the Brooklyn waterfront. It'll only be in action until January 3rd, 2020, so you'll have to move quickly if you want a look. This isn't the end, though. It's part of a larger effort to create a self-filtering pool in the East River, and it's easy to imagine systems like this providing at-a-glance water quality elsewhere.

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