John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
An artist spent three months sucking up city air with a vacuum, and here’s the nasty result.
Smog "blocks"! Man spent 100 days in Beijing collecting smog, compressed dust into “brick” to raise public awareness pic.twitter.com/bmPkh0whXb— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 1, 2015
The air pollution in China is so bad it’s thought that some 4,400 people die prematurely every day from breathing it. And now it can kill you by landing on your head, too, as a man has found a way to transform Beijing’s infamous smog into an actual brick.
The 30s-something artist who goes by “Nut Brother” spent three months sucking up foul air in Beijing with an industrial vacuum cleaner. By late November, he’d accumulated enough particulate matter to make a hefty, presumably horrible-smelling building block. Here’s more from Shanghaiist:
According to NetEase, Nut Brother's industrial vacuum has 1,000 watts of maximum power and can suck up as much air as 62 people can breath in a day. It lasts for four days on just a single charge and is great at cleaning large spills on the go.
Each day, Nut Brother had someone take a photo of him walking around Beijing and then posted it on his Weibo account.
Yesterday, Nut Brother visited a brick factory and had all the particles he collected smushed into a single brick. He says that he hopes the brick will be used to help build something in the city.
Until this smog-brick is verified by scientists or a major art museum I’ll harbor a few lingering doubts about Nut Brother’s project. But to judge from this NASA image from Monday, the dirty air in China does seem to have a heavy, almost moldable quality: