And Now For Something Completely Different

Tolstoy, in War and Peace, wrote that, “Among the innumerable subdivisions that can be made in the phenomena of life, one can subdivide them all into those in which content predominates and those in which form predominates.” One group attempting to meld form and function is the Land Art Generator Initiative, a group attempting to “bring together artists, architects, scientists, and engineers in a first of its kind collaboration. The goal of the Land Art Generator Initiative is to design and construct a series of land art installations across the UAE that uniquely combine aesthetic intrigue with clean energy generation. The LAGI viewing platforms will be tourist destinations that draw people from around the world to experience the beauty of the collaborative art creations here in the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, the art itself will continuously distribute clean energy into the electrical grid with each land art sculpture having the potential to provide power to thousands of homes in the UAE.”

Besides taking pride in their homeland, the developers of the Initiative produce a fascinating blog, which includes combinations of form and function that even those of us who think of aerodynamics and electricity as being entwined might see as a bit odd. On further inspection, the oddity has purpose, and combines form and function in a unique way. Take the solar-powered camel, for instance. This high-tech beast of burden transports medicine to the far reaches of the Arabian Penninsula, and the solar panels power a refrigerator pack.

Solar-powered camel

Another application uses Nanosolar thin film solar cells to power a statue that is a homage to an earlier Jean Arp, non-generating, work of art, but which in this concept, provides beauty and electricity in its setting. The artist sees a new application, but finds practical outcomes. Form and function combine to make life better in several ways.

Homage to Jean Arp's Silencieux, "Solarcieux"

The blog includes references to wind power, wave power, and other forms of power generation, all in an aesthetic surrounding.

The Initiative provides several posters that show artistically the factual bases for having both hope and trepidation for our future as a planet. One shows the era of anthropogenic climate change brought on by the use of fossil fuels. It’s an incredibly small sliver in the larger frame of human history. Another shows the land area required to provide all electrical energy through with zero carbon emission and with captured solar energy. It’s an incredibly small area compared to the total surface area of the planet. Another shows the surface area required to continuously offset anthropogenic CO2 emissions by reforestation alone. That requires an incredibly large portion of the land area of the planet, and on reflection, should give one pause.

Finally, the organization is promoting a competition that will go live on January 18. Competitors will design artworks that will be placed at three pre-determined sites in the UAE, and which will provide beauty, be significant enough to become destinations in themselves, and provide electricity that can power at least that site, and possibly surrounding areas.

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