If we're thinking about the intersections between art, sustainability and technology, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is definitely something to check out!
What exactly is LAGI you might ask? A short description of LAGI as stated on their website is:
"The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), provides a platform for artists, architects, landscape architects, and other creatives working with engineers and scientists to bring forward human-centered solutions for sustainable energy infrastructures that enhance the city as works of public art while cleanly powering thousands of homes."
A closer look into their theoretical background shows that LAGI is largely found on the notion of "solution-based art practice". After acknowledging that art has the ability to create critical and constructive dialogue and "open[ing] the public eye to the severity of the problems facing us", art/artists can move beyond that and "take an active role in solving the problem through their own work". This is where design comes in. To build creative, human-centered solutions for sustainable energy infrastructures that enhance the city and the communities of people in it.
Every year, LAGI hosts a free and open international design competition. The competition "invited creatives, scientists, engineers, and others from around the world to submit ideas for large-scale and site-specific public art installations that generate carbon-neutral electricity and/or drinking water for the City of Santa Monica, California". Its location in Southern California points to its special focus on energy and water, especially to the context of California's severe water shortage in the coming years. Unfortunately, if you're planning to submit the deadline has already past (May 15, 2016). Nonetheless, what we can still be excited about are the results to be announced this October 6, 2016! On the ground there will also be community events held in collaboration with project partners in October. And of course, future LAGI competitions and initiatives. LAGI is hosted every two years so the next one would be in 2018.
According to their website, community collaboration is fundamental to LAGI. Here is an excerpt from their project description:
"LAGI uses a variety of project delivery models to arrive at context-specific design solutions, including: a biennial design competition, invited competitions, commissions and RFPs, and facilitating participatory design processes within communities. From design through construction and operations, LAGI provides project management and owner representation, leading the coordination between stakeholders, consultants, community groups, and local authorities."
All of these are meant to get you thinking creatively and pragmatically about ways of using technology in innovative ways that benefit and integrate well into communities. Be sure to check out these great resources! For those that teach, this might be a good exercise for your students.
In this video, the former European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard calls for creativity in the conception of renewable energy infrastructure.
Really, discussing climate change and sustainability can feel like "doom and gloom" and Hedegaard puts it. But she reminds us that it does not have to be that way. We humans are social and creative beings. And the issue of energy and energy infrastructure has long been removed from us, literally, out of sight. LAGI does not only tell us that it is time that we integrate renewable energy into our societies. LAGI's vision shows us that the public and communities should also be able to engage with energy infrastructures and be part of sustainability initiatives. And to do that, art is key. After all, it is art that has the power to bridge the gaps, to stimulate critical and constructive dialogues, and create solutions.
"What is needed in order to bridge the gap—between the larger desire for a renewable future and the community level negative reactions to the application of the systems required for it—is an artistic movement that can set a course towards aesthetic considerations in sustainable infrastructure.
Because, after all, sustainability in communities is not only about resources, it is also about harmony."