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Art doubles as Renewable energy source

Posted by: Gareth Dinnage | Nov 18, 2015

What happens when renewable energy meets public art? The Land Art Generator Initiative, or Lagi, founded by Pittsburgh-based artists Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry, is trying to find the answer with several proposed public art structures designed to generate power while inspiring and educating their viewers.

The initiative has collected hundreds of designs from competitions held in Abu Dhabi, New York City and Copenhagen. At the 2016 competition, which will be held in Santa Monica, California, entrants will design structures that harvest clean energy or generate clean drinking water.

“Public art can contribute to the solutions we need to steer us away from the effects of climate change,” Monoian said at October’s SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas.

One of the initiative’s structures, WindNest, is designed to generate wind and solar energy from four overhead pods that rotate in response to wind currents. The initiative is currently working to install the WindNest in Pittsburgh. If it succeeds, it will be the first of the competition’s designs to be constructed.

“It takes a long time for new ideas like this to make their way into the mainstream,” Ferry said. “There are great precedents for ambitious works of public art at the same scale.”

Several cities, including Glasgow, have asked Monoian and Ferry to help them install a regenerative public art structure. The two artists are matching three teams that entered Lagi’s past competitions with Glasgow, which will hold a design discussion next month.

In the meantime, Ferry said he believes Lagi is changing the way people are thinking about solutions to renewable energy and climate change.

“If we are serious about attaining 100% renewable energy infrastructure, then it will have a profound influence on the visual environment of our cities and rural landscapes,” he said.

“There is an opportunity to generate site-specific solutions that respond to the needs of the community that lives and works within these new energy landscapes.”