Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Turning waves into power

Some smart person was sitting looking at the water, watching the undulations and reflections and was smart enough to realize that if they harnessed that energy...

I'm not that smart person, but I am glad they are out there. Instead, I tend to lend my brain to creative pursuits. Albeit hopefully creative pursuits that have a goal, or actionable outcome. So lately, as the High Water Line project continues along (just finished Lower Manhattan - so its back to Brooklyn!), I have been contemplating a couple of things.

First, what to do next. I have a lot of ideas I am playing with, which I will outline below.

And second, how to capitalize on all the media attention around the High Water Line. An artist whom I admire, Chris Doyle, speaks of his first big public art project, Commutable, and he was asked, "Are you ready?" by one of his presenting organizations. When he asked what they meant, they said "Are you ready for all of the attention you will get around this, and will you be able to use that to continue to build your career?"

So I was very conscious of that going into this project, particularly as the attention continued to grow. And I have to ask myself? Am I ready? I thought I was. I have concepts for the next project, I am definitely making use of the fantastic network of people that I have met over the course of the project. But how, realistically does one turn that attention into funding or other types of support for the next project? I'm not sure that I know. So now what?

Well, what I am doing now is working on the next thing... hopefully I can take it a little slower and ensure more up front funding and get all of the ducks in a row earlier in the process. So here is the roster of projects (all with *working* titles and there fore subject to change).

Green Seeds
Background: This project builds off the history of gardening in NYC as well as the connections to food which are long established in the Lower East Side and Chinatown. It also examines the heat island effect, and the mitigation which even a small portion of something like a green roof can play on the temperature of the city. Finally it utilizes social networking to generate siting the project.
Green roof: I have been gathering information on green roofing and have found a modular and lightweight system which can be used without a lot of retrofitting or heavy construction etc. My idea is to take one or two of the modular pillows and place them on roofs. They then act as a *seed* of a green roof. They might (I'm working on this) housed in a sculptural element (the seed pod?) that could also contain instruments for measuring temperature (which could be sent back to an online map), a solar panel to power the instrumentation, provide some weight and protection for the green roof and perhaps provide some visual cues about the green roof.

Social networking: The social networking is accomplished as follows. 1. I find the first person on whose roof I place the first green seed pod. I then get the necessary approval from the landlord, and ask the resident to meet or find one or two people in a neighboring building that are also interested in having the project installed. Again I go through the necessary approvals and install the second green seed pod, asking those residents to again find the next set of interested participants. I would also like to install them in some more public spaces like schools and public rooftop areas. From these locations people could inquire and request green seed pods.

How to make it public: Here's one of the tricky parts. How to make the project *more* public. Since the roofs might be a majority privately owned, access isn't really a possibility. The mapping and temperature taking will be publicly accessible, but how else can I do it? Do I literally run string from one green seed pod to the next, showing the network as it grows? (But what does that really have to do with green roofs?) Do I create little plaques (like historical markers) that can be affixed to the front of the buildings? Do I recreate George Bliss' Purple Footprints (once used to lead to Adam Purple's community garden, and then later to protest the Bowery Bar) - but that's illegal...

Okay, I was supposed to write them all up, but now I am going to be late for work, so I will add the rest (Coffee Cup Reduction Project, Real Cost Cafe and What a Waste - Disposable Culture) later...

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