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Follies and Fog a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Nik Klahre, Brooke Campbell-Johnston
Artist Location: London, UK and Copenhagen, Denmark
Energy Technologies: Wave Energy Converter
Annual Capacity: 13,000 MWh, less the energy required to power fog generation

Renewable energy of the future does not need to be a blot on the landscape, or an affliction on local ecosystems, but can instead float harmlessly and almost invisibly just below the ocean’s surface. Follies and Fog celebrates the notion that today’s renewable energy sources do not require exterior cladding or to be fashioned into interesting forms, but instead can remain hidden and out of sight, while providing sustainable energy for the city.

The artwork makes visible the hidden wave energy production units below the surface of the ocean, but also uses a small amount of wave energy to conceal itself in a fog mist. As the amount of renewable energy produced nears the target of powering 1,280 homes, the amount of artificial fog is so great that it completely engulfs the artwork in a cloud of mist, obscuring it from view. It is only when the renewable energy source begins to wane as the waves become less powerful that the viewer is able to perceive the work of art within the cloud of artificial fog.

The design proposes 128 floating follies, each symbolizing the archetypal Santa Monica dwelling and its need for energy. Each of the bright red follies is an abstraction of a house type found in a district of Santa Monica. The follies are connected to a floating grid of buoy-type wave energy converters. Each folly is directly responsible for powering 10 homes within the City of Santa Monica.

A walkway invites visitors to follow the line of the original Santa Monica Pier—a train line that extended out into the sea. There they can walk along this floating path surrounded by the abstract floating houses, as if walking along Santa Monica Boulevard.

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Solar Biennale

Ross Hamilton
Designed for Site #1 in Dubai, near Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.


Design Submission for the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative Design Competition

Artist’s descriptive text:
Dubai owes much of its current success to the discovery of oil offshore in the late 1960’s. A spike in oil prices during the 1970’s was the spark that ignited Dubai’s economic boom. Today, global oil consumption has risen steadily as more and more people gain access to new technologies. Developing countries are becoming industrialized and are demanding their share of the global oil reserves, while long time users are increasing their demands daily. Because of this the world’s oil reserves are being depleted at a fantastic rate. It is believed that peak oil production will occur in 2020. From this point on, oil production will steadily decline; and oil consumption must eventually do the same.

Dubai is already turning the focus away from its oil history and toward its global future. Oil now accounts for only 6% of its total revenue. Dubai’s desire for a global presence has been the cause for an almost manic development. A desert oasis has grown out of nothing to host some of the world’s most astounding monuments and most advanced technological achievements. Designed as a tourist destination, Dubai has no problem drawing people in, but there is still a missing sense of legitimacy. The U.A.E. is becoming an arts and culture center through the use of boutique museums and cultural icons.

This is Dubai’s opportunity to create a new arts center just outside the city. Following the model of the Venice Biennale, this project proposes a biennial exhibition be created in Dubai. However, this exhibition will not be a limited participation biennale that is overly focused on western culture, but an open art exhibition where global artists can be exhibited and discovered. Artists are beginning to test the different ways in which art can be defined and because of this, new forms of art are emerging. These exhibition spaces will be set up to display new forms of multimedia art and solar art rather than traditional forms. There is an overall rethinking of the relationship between art and energy taking place, and this is the moment when a Solar Biennale would be a welcome addition.

This proposal implements a system of nodes derived from a mapping of the top 100 oil consuming countries in the world. This map will provide a basis for both the biennial pavilions at ground level, and the solar canopy that powers the spaces. The ground-level pavilions will compose the Solar Biennale, and will serve to house the multimedia presentations on the site. The overhead solar canopy will provide shade for the pavilions and event spaces while producing energy to be redistributed to the grid or used on-site. The pavilions and installations will be able to plug directly into the surface for power. The surface will be composed of four different types of solar panels: a “traditional” blue solar panel, opaque and monolithic; red solar film, transparent and flexible; grey solar fabric, opaque and flexible; and light blue solar units, transparent and modular.

Over time, as the oil use throughout the world changes, the map will have to be redrawn. As the world oil supply begins to dwindle; alternative fuels will become more common, and countries will begin to move away from the use of crude oil. The solar network that exists on the site will shrink gradually as oil consumption is reduced. This will invest the site with a sense of dynamism which will encourage people to come visit again and again as time passes, especially as oil use nears zero. When oil consumption finally dwindles to zero and the last solar panel is removed from the site, the world will celebrate its long awaited freedom from oil. With the removal of the last pavilion, media art is fully integrated into society, and the next land-art generator initiative is born.

low-res version PDF of submitted boards

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This New York Times video highlights the growing issues related to wind turbines that are in close enough proximity to residential neighborhoods as to be visible and audible. What is interesting to us from this story in Maine is not the particular decibel level at two miles (and why people’s bedroom windows are apparently so badly insulated in such a cold climate so as to allow 40db outside to disturb their slumber), but rather the underlying fact that public acceptance of renewable energy technologies greatly depends on the cultural pride that is associated with them. When citizens are encouraged to see value beyond the clean energy, they may be less inclined to react negatively against power generation in their neighborhoods.

Artists have an important role to play in this discussion. How can sound be mitigated through other means or creative uses of technology? Can the sound generated be made to be pleasant (sound art)? Can artists help power companies succeed in convincing the public to embrace renewable energy and thereby contribute directly to greater proliferation of ecological solutions?

Some more commentary with which we agree can be found at treehugger.com‘s posting of this video.

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Gizmag features an article on the Almeisan Tower here.

My original post on the project.

Update on Tuesday, July 14: Many other blogs have picked up on the project such as inhabitat, greendiary, and ecofriend. Thanks to all.

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