Wake Up
Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Henry Moll, Mary Carroll-Coelho
Artist Location: Philadelphia, USA
Energy Technologies: Wave Energy Converter (similar to “Salter’s Duck” invented in the 1970s by Steven Salter)
Annual Capacity: 1,400 MWh

The Santa Monica Pier—once a means of transporting waste out to the sea and now a place for social enjoyment—has a history of turning trash into treasure. Wake Up brings this tradition into the era of sustainability by transforming retired swan boats into contemporary energy generating pieces of water art.

The technology behind Wake Up utilizes the most abundant and local force at the pier, the wake of the ocean. Wave energy converters are devices that use the natural motion of wave movements to generate usable power. One such system was developed in the 1970s by Professor Stephen Salter at the University of Edinburgh and dubbed “Salter’s Duck.” The “ducks” consist of a series of wedge-shaped devices located at the ocean’s surface with a central axis throughout, housing the mechanics to generate power. As a wave encounters the underside of the wedges, the force pushes the wedges upwards, causing rotation at the central axis. This rotation creates electrical power through hydraulic generators.

Wake Up reuses retired swan boats to function as Salter’s Ducks, generating offshore energy and helping to power the pier’s amusement park. The swan boat’s body is modified, creating the necessary wedge shape, and a central axis links multiple boats together in staggered rows.

The system is dubbed the “Salt Swan” in reference to Mr. Salter and the atypical presence of swans in salt water. The “Salt Swans” are deployed just beyond the existing breakwater line to capture the most wave energy. When waves hit the swans, they emit a celebratory honking sound as a spectacle for the public to enjoy, and as a reminder of how the system works.

The “Salt Swans” are linked to the shore by a series of lit buoys that display the level of charge, much like a gas gauge in a car. As the onshore battery fills up, the buoys begin to light up in a suspenseful sequence. At full capacity, a dedicated, swan-inspired high striker on the pier rings its bell. Moments later, a light show ripples through the amusement park in celebration.