Just the other day, new research called air pollution "the world’s single largest environment and human health threat." And it doesn't seem to be getting much better, particularly in some of the world's most populous cities. This innovation from India-based Graviky Labs—founded by Anirudh Sharma—doesn't do anything to solve the problem, but it does find a small silver lining in finding a way to put all that muck floating through our atmosphere to creative use.
Now the company has teamed with Tiger Beer and agency Marcel Sydney to brand its innovation as Air-Ink, a range of pens, markers, and spray cans made from air pollution, through a Graviky Labs-made gadget that attaches to the exhaust of cars, boats, and more. So far, they've made 150 liters of Air-Ink by collecting the equivalent of more than 2,500 hours' worth of diesel emissions from trucks, ferries, chimneys, and cranes around Hong Kong and India. Just one of their Sharpie-like pens is filled with ink made from 40 to 50 minutes of diesel car pollution.
Marcel founder and creative chairman David Nobay says the project came about more by chance than strategy. "I'd love to tell you that the process behind discovering Graviky Labs was as brilliantly scientific as Anirudh's invention, but in reality it has more to do with the good old chaos theory!" says Nobay. "One of our senior art director's on Tiger, Les Sharpe, is a chronic insomniac and was up early in Sydney trawling through online TED films when he spotted Anirudh's presentation. Somehow he managed to connect with him in Bangalore via Facebook and the two shared a manic 3 a.m. chat on science/creativity/environment."
Tiger gave Air-Ink to a group of Asian street artists to give this health threat a creative outlet, and the results are pretty cool. Of course, it'd be a lot nicer to check out all the new street art without choking on the smog that helped make it.
"We'd been talking with our Tiger client for months about doing something positive around air pollution because our beer was created in Asia to drink outside on the street, and, for many cities in Asia, that's frankly becoming harder because of the chronic air pollution," says Nobay. "Tiger has always seen creativity as a core part of the brand, so working to create Air-Ink with Graviky—an Asian innovator themselves—was a no-brainer."
A previous version of this post was much shorter and probably not as insightful.