Last year, I posted about the City of Berkeley's shut-down of The Shipyard, a fantastic maker collective where the residents build out their own workshops inside shipping containers. According to the city, The Shipyard violated many building codes. I'm thrilled to report that after a year of debate, discussion, and compromise, the Shipyard 2.0 reopened this weekend. The Shipyard has always been a hub of alternative energy innovation, even building its own off-the-grid power system several years ago when the city yanked them off the grid. Now, alt.energy will become The Shipyard's main focus. From The Shipyard founder Jim Mason:
It seems to me that the Geek-Fabricators-Make-Massive-Scale-Mechanical-Electronic-and-Kinetic-Art-in-a-Container-Camp model is well explored. Though there is certainly more good stuff ahead on this road. The mash up of art and tech, as it has propagated in both directions across the fabricating and digital arts, is mature and well known. From the DIY grassroots to the carillions of academia, the art/tech cross-fertilization is fully accepted, well institutionalized, and pretty much a given at this point. I'm wondering if there might be new recombinatory mojo out across junctures as of yet uncombined.
It seems possible to me that the next "art/tech like" cross-fertilization is going to happen between art and energy. I think energy is going to become, or at least has the potential to become, a creative idiom of pleasurable hacking, creativity and self-expression. I think it is going to follow a similar transformation from raw technical/commodity problem to an idiom for social and creative expression- the same progress we have witnessed in computing, cars, organic farming, food/cuisine, and many other technical idioms ultimately rerolled into more anthropological idioms.
We don't yet know what the desktop pc and internet is for current mainframe energy economy, but it seems very plausible, and quite likely, that there are similar dynamics ahead for energy. Energy, like so much else, seems destined to move away from a centralized, top down, commodity economy, towards a more distributed, bottom up, participatory and expressive economy. Intentionally adding art to this process, understood in the broadest sense as "creative self-expression", is likely to accelerate and better identify the opportunities and good ahead.
Thus for the Shipyard V2.0, we are going to add to the current creative endeavors and formalize the creative power hacking by recasting the yard as a "Center for Art and Energy". A facility, information resource and gathering of people engaged broadly in the endeavor of creative power hacking. A place to experiment with power generation and conversion as an idiom and medium of art- in all its social, sensual, conceptual and existential dimensions.
What would power look like if it was art?