in collaboration with Brian Lonsway
Funded by New York State Council on the Arts
(prototype at http://www.prudentavoidance.org)
The project Prudent Avoidance consists of a wearable electro-magnetic sensing device, and a web-based data modeling system. It explores the ironic complexity of the World Health Organization's admonition to "use prudent avoidance" with Extremely Low Frequencies, (ELF’s) emanating from electronic devices. ELF's are a form of electro-magnetic radiation that have been suspected of having harmful effects on human life, although their specific health effects have not been proven to be either benign or dangerous. Our project represents the irony of the health organization's admonition to the public: that somehow we should use prudence in avoiding something that cannot be seen and is not easily detectable.
The sensing device is worn for a period of 6 - 16 hours by participants. It also captures their geographic location, ambient imagery at regular time intervals, and textual journal entries made by the participant. This data is uploaded to a website and superimposed on all data that has been collected to date. A map view overlays participants' daily paths and exposure levels, correlating their points of origin rather than their unique geographic locations so as to highlight the omnipresence of daily ELF exposure. A histogram displays exposure levels correlated to international standards of avoidance (prudent or otherwise). And text and image panels display captured imagery and journal text from multiple participants based on a web user's interactions with the map and histogram, forming a place for the interactive construction of exposure narratives.