Look! Up in the sky. It’s a pair of giant lungs

Who: The Canadian Lung Association, with McCann Canada for strategy and creative, Performance Art for digital, and Edery & Lord Communications for PR.

What: “Lungs in the Air,” a travelling art installation created to mark World Lung Day (Sept. 25), with a large floating version of the organs meant to illustrate that “what’s happening in the air is also happening in our lungs.”

When & Where: The art installation is currently on a small cross-Canada tour, starting in Calgary on Saturday, followed by a Toronto stop on Wednesday, and a final stop at the Halifax waterfront on Monday. In addition to the exhibit, there is also a dedicated site, LungsInTheAir.ca.

Why: The exhibit is intended to bring attention to the link between air pollution and lung health, which the Canadian Lung Association says is a leading but often hidden cause of lung disease. Poor air can also worsen existing lung diseases such as asthma and COPD. The organization says that more than 15,000 Canadians die every year as a result of poor air quality. According to the World Health Organization, that number is seven million people globally, with the organization saying that 99% of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds its guideline limits.

How: McCann’s creative team worked with Fezz Stenton, a creative director with Occupied VR, to create a pair of four-storey tall lungs. Stenton, who specializes in 3D, extended reality, live visuals and stage design, has previously worked with brands including Red Bull and Budweiser.

In addition to the display, representatives from the Canadian Lung Association are also on-site at each stop to answer questions about lung health. Signage and social posts are also encouraging people to use the hashtag #LungsInTheAir on social posts about the exhibit.

McCann also tapped into the data and technology expertise of its sister IPG agency Performance Art to co-create the LungsInTheAir.ca website, an interactive experience—complete with the sound of someone steadily breathing in and out—that uses real-time air quality data from 12 cities across Canada to create a visual representation of lungs reflecting that city’s air quality. Coloured particles inside the visualization of the lungs change colour and density to reflect the levels of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide within a particular city.

And we quote: “Now more than ever, it is crucial to take action to improve air quality and reduce the impact on lung health today and for future generations. For more than 120 years, the Canadian Lung Association has been a resource for education and support of lung health and with this travelling installation it is our hope that Canadians will be moved to learn more and seek protective measures against the crisis we are facing.” —Terry Dean, president and CEO, Canadian Lung Association

Chris Powell