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Have you ever had a picnic at a power station? Meet the Land Art Generator Initiative.

By Jodi Newcombe, Carbon Arts (and Regional LAGI2018 Director)

The great energy transition underway this century, towards a 100% renewable world, has the potential to transform the character of our rural and urban landscapes. In 2017 two exciting announcements were made by the Victorian Government, setting high expectations for energy generation and cutting edge design: the ambitious Renewable Energy Action Plan would aim for net-zero carbon by 2025, and the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), one of the world’s most popular sustainable design competitions, would come to Melbourne in 2018.

Operating now for almost 10 years, the LAGI biennial ideas competition has been challenging creative minds to imagine public art installations in Copenhagen, New York, Dubai/Abu Dhabi and Santa Monica that double as renewable energy generators, powering local neighborhoods. In 2018, the site is the St Kilda Triangle and the theme is energy overlays: the superimposition of energy and art onto an emerging master plan for urban regeneration.

During the early days of electrification it was not easy to transmit electricity over long distances. For this reason, and because at the time we little understood the dangerous health impacts of burning coal we located power stations in the hearts of our cities. They were impressive, iconic buildings that added to urban cultural heritage and later became, for example, the Tate Modern. When we moved these installations out of town, we lost the local air pollution, but we also lost a cultural connection with our energy systems.

Out of sight and out of mind for many, the location of the heavily polluting industry of coal-fired generation in rural Victoria keeps us disconnected from the urgency of the transition to renewables. By placing clean, renewable energy generation back in our cities, we embrace the future and all its possibilities. And also, by embracing the beauty and potential of large-scale renewable energy installations in rural areas to be ‘land art’ we reposition these spaces as desirable destinations and places of recreation.

At this critical juncture in time, the Land Art Generator Initiative provides us with the opportunity to dream into all of these possibilities, to weave these new, sustainable infrastructures into our urban and rural landscapes in culturally sensitive, imaginative and beautiful ways. The people at LAGI recognise the powerful role that creativity and inter-disciplinarity play in innovation, and like collaborators, Carbon Arts, they use public art as a vehicle to explore this.

RMIT, long an entrant to the competition, is partnering with LAGI in 2018 with a dedicated studio, an exhibition and a series of talks and events towards the end of the year. Along with sponsor: the Victorian Government, and partners: City of Port Phillip, FedSquare, Carbon Arts, Climarte and the Regional Centre for Culture, we are looking forward to a year of envisioning and working towards the beauty and promise of a post-carbon world.

Join us at the Sustainable Living Festival to hear the partners present the project and their roles within it. Learn more about how you can get involved in community voting, educational workshops, exhibitions and speaking events. Or learn more at www.landartgenerator.org and www.carbonarts.org.