Citizen Sense (UK)


Frackbox, 2014-2016

Converted mailbox; electronics; sensing equipment. Dimensions: 48 x 15 x 28cm


Dustbox, 2016 - 2017

Ceramic structure; electronics; sensing equipment. Dimensions: 15cm diameter


Sensors are a vital part of environmental monitoring within scientific study. The Citizen Sense project democratises these technologies through instruments for mass observation, enabling engagement with environmental issues, both locally and further afield.

Frackbox was designed to be covertly placed at the intersections between Pennsylvanian citizens’ homes and nearby fracking sites in the United States. These structures (which at first glance appear to be the standard road-side US mailbox) contain a kit which monitors air pollutants and volatile organic compounds. Members of the Pennsylvanian community, working with the kits in 2014, were able to collect enough evidence to unlock an additional $1.6 million of state funding towards further environmental monitoring.


The Dustboxes are a series of low-tech air pollution data collectors, housed in a ceramic case resembling an air pollutant particle. Residents of Deptford in London were able to borrow these devices for free from their local library to measure air pollution in their own areas. Each Dustbox streamed real-time data to an online platform, available for all to view at: 

Courtesy of the artist. Citizen Sense is a research and practice group based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Citizen Sense is led by Jennifer Gabrys, working in collaboration with Helen Pritchard and Lara Houston, along with community members, creative practitioners and scientific consultants. Citizen Sense is currently funded by the European Research Council (ERC).