Chinese Artist Vacuums Beijing’s Polluted Air, Creates Solid Brick from It

Have you ever imagined air so thick that you could literally vacuum the dirt out of it? Well, believe it or not, a Chinese artist has actually gone and done that in a bid to raise awareness about environmental protection. He used an industrial vacuum cleaner outdoors during smoggy days in Beijing and eventually made a brick out of all the dust he collected.

The man, who goes by the name ‘Brother Nut’, said he came up with the idea after he was shocked to read news reports about the quality of air in China’s capital city. So he started a 100-day ‘Dust Plan’, just to show people how dust is affecting their daily lives. He got a 1,000-watt vacuum cleaner that absorbed 100 grams of a mixture of “dust and smog” from the amount of air inhaled by about 62 people in four days.

Photo: video caption

Brother Nut then took the mixture to a factory in Tangshan city in Hebei province, where it was mixed with clay and converted into a brick that weighs “several kilograms”. He now plans to install the brick at a building construction site in Beijing, hoping that it will inspire people to think about how they use natural resources.

“Our cities have become congested cities and chemical sieges,” he wrote. “The more we pursue and dig for resources, the more dust we will produce. When all the world’s resources were exhausted one day, we will end up with becoming real dust ourselves (helpless and living on nothing).”

Photo: Nut Brother’s Weibo

It seems that Brother Nut’s little project has had the intended effect on social media. Netizens are alarmed at the idea that so much dust could be vacuumed out of breathable air. “Does that mean my lung is filled with bricks,” a worried Twitter user wrote.

“To those who complain about smog, have you ever thought that you may have also contributed to what causes smog today,” another questioned. “To combat it, it’s not only about some laws and regulations, but also about the awareness of all people in the country.”

Photo: Nut Brother’s Weibo

But not everyone is convinced that Brother Nut’s smog brick is entirely authentic. “What can be collected to make a brick is by no means PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter that hangs in the air), but PM 250,” a Weibo user wrote. “Performance art shouldn’t be a gimmick.”

In response, Brother Nut said that while the brick is not very different from ordinary ones, people should consider it a symbol of pollution. “I’m not doing any scientific research,” he explained. “I want to magnify the air pollution problem so people cannot ignore it, and then take actions to change it.” 

Sources: Quartz, CCTV News