Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
The line between art and activism is nebulous and often disputed. This article by Hyperallergic opens by referring to the long history of artists campaigning for environmental change. The article points out that many have called for change and focused on raising awareness rather than creating change itself, but the organization Land Art Generator Initiative strives to do both.
LAGI encourages artists to participate in a ‘solution based practice’ and to collaborate with engineers, scientists, and architects in order to create proposals for a clean energy design for a site in Copenhagen. Citing complaints from the public that power plants, both clean and ‘dirty’, are often an eyesore, LAGI prompted these interdisciplinary teams to create power plants that are both functional and artistic, that fulfill a role as an actual public art work as well as an energy source.
The article features photos of several of the solutions, and they are really interesting to look at and read about. Each has the same goal, yet conveys different messages and captures different kinds of energy in their designs. A winner was just chosen last Friday, but all of the submissions are really incredible.
LAGI also has a huge educational component as part of its mission. For free on their site, they offer a “Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies” to download as a PDF, as well as a flash card kit in both Danish and English. They have also developed the program READ, which “intersects art, science, and technology with the objective of educating a broad audience about the concepts of aesthetic clean energy generation.”
Whatever your view on the future of energy in the world, I think this project is a very inspiring on numerous levels. I’m a huge fan of interdisciplinary research, and to see an organization that supports the collaboration of artists, scientists, and architects is very exciting. There is also the way that LAGI interacts with both the government and private artists and architects, and serves as a platform for these teams to brainstorm and devise solutions for problems that affect the entire world. I also appreciated that LAGI is focused on both creation and education in its mission. And finally, the fact that they have decided that power plants can become public artworks is very exciting. The aesthetics of these plants can really do a lot to sway public opinion and interest in clean energy.