Design E2 Documentary Series

“Could it be that we are connected to all things in the universe and not the centre of it?”

Last night I saw two episodes of E2 Design on TVO. The shows are incredibly well-done, the cinematography style alone would have been enough to have me watch an hour worth of television on nearly any topic, but the fact that the show focuses on our current/historical energy crisis/solutions made it that much better. The website for the show offers downloads of each episode in podcast form, which is highly recommended. The introduction to the show, which you should immediately hear/see playing when you go to their website is inspiring and describes a mindset that I hope becomes more widespread—that we are continually making decisions that effect more people and more things than we could ever have imagined. 

Making Energy Consumption Visible via Pasta and Vinegar

A quick entry from the always good Pasta & Vinegar highlights an instance of “revealing the invisible” in France where this large sign shows the real-time energy production of roof-top solar panels and the saved greenhouse gases. We need to be able to see, to understand, what it is we are doing by following the same consumption patterns we have for the last 25 years.

Nuage Vert

Nuage Vert - an environmental visualization project

Nuage Vert was a multi-year project that was first conceived in 2003 and eventually realized on Friday 29th February, 2008, between 7-8pm in Helsinki, Finland by the artist duo,HeHe (Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen). During this time 4,000 local residents reduced their energy consumption by 800 kVA, the equivalent of the power generated by one windmill running for one hour. Using a laser animation, data describing the power consumption of the coal power plant, was projected as an outline of the cloud onto the exhaust from the coal power plant, which grew as power consumption went down. The project was massive in scale, not only physical logistics, but also in creating partnerships between the artists, government, and business.

From HeHe’s website:

“Nuage Vert is based on the idea that public forms can embody an ecological project, materialising environmental issues so that they become a subject within our collective daily lives … Nuage Vert is ambiguous, as it doesn’t offer a simple moralistic message, but rather tries to confront the city dweller with an evocative and aesthetic spectacle, which is open to interpretation and challenges ordinary perception .. [it] alerts the public, generates discussion and can persuade people to change patterns of consumption. ”

The scope of the project is incredible in that they were able to secure the permission necessary to do the projection, as well as having access to the data of energy consumption, and the chance to make this a public event. Not that any of those things should be incredible to achieve… 

Another project that visualizes energy use: Aerophile’s Air Pollution Helium Balloon.

Visualizing Pollution + Making Nature Move

Amateur Human, visualizing pollution

Visualizations have the potential to be incredibly powerful, helping us to understand issues and see potentially hidden connections between things. Bruce Sterling wrote as part of his Viridian Design Principles, that one should try to “make the invisible visible.”

Amateur Human is a group and/or single individual artist/designer who is making a variety of accessories to help to visualize and understand our energy consumption and effects thereof. The project pictured above is called Puff, and attempts to give the driver feedback on the amount of pollution coming from their tailpipe. Other projects include a fuel tracker and energy bank. Apparently these projects may also be made available as instructions to re-create them. 

Wildlife by Karolina Sobecka

The person behind this is Karolina Sobecka, and I came across her site through another link to this other project she did, called Wildlife. From her website: “At night projections from moving cars are shone on the buildings downtown. Each car projects a video of a wild animal. The animal’s movements are programmed to correspond to the speed of the car: as the car moves, the animal runs along it speeding up and slowing down with the car, as the car stops, the animal stops also.”

Watch the video.