Energy Bank 2010 – 2012

By | October 20, 2010

Pro_sq_EBEnergy Bank 2010 – 2012
Public artwork/facility.
Target audience: Random pedestrians; tourists, city dwellers, commuters, etc.

Energy Bank is a special type of bank; an altruistic public power dispensing machine that generates, stores and dispenses electricity derived from kinetic energy (muscle power) and solar power for recharging electronic mobile devices. It functions when pedestrians (clients) interact (transact) with its moving parts. While there are already prototype ideas for related facilities in circulation as well as similar commercial products, my version aims to be fully functional, fun and communicative by playing with actualities and metaphors of the production, consumption and distribution of power and energy (think Geothe’s Faust!).

Energy Bank re-invents the fast-fading public facility through the concept of a chain of electricity banks. From minibanks, to retro-fitted petrol stations and new bank designs, it envisions and investigates what forms and aesthetics such banks could take on in different locations and environments. Current models include:

  • The Retrofit, based on a Russian petrol pump station (designed in collaboration with Roman Minaev).
  • The Pioneer, based on the idea of a free-standing revolving door.
  • The Transactor, an anthropomorphic dispensing machine for festivals, shopping malls, etc.
  • Plug in to me, where people become mobile agents or mini-banks with energy generating and dispensing devices embedded in their clothes.
  • Crank and Go! a hand cranked generator with audio feedback worn as a back pack. The only model to be built and tested on a public.

03_sketch_RussianRetro 01_sketch 02_sketch_minibank pluginsketch_web Crank and Go!

An Energy Bank is thought of both as a physical object or a human, and a conceptual container for collaborations with an audience that are meaningful as they relate to/investigate the public’s immediate social and cultural environment. On the one hand is the idea of an Energy Bank as an altruistic utilitarian machine that proposes a solution to pollution and provides a public service. On the other, an artwork that celebrates natural resources and commemorates (ab)use of the urban landscape by proposing an alternative one. In resonance with events that have occurred or are occurring, it generates new events. It works that works experientially, proposing a potential for becoming a focal point of discussion concerning real events and experiences of the place it occupies. Whether people choose to use the bank as a game, competing on how much energy they can deposit, a meditative experience, or simply to withdraw energy, an Energy Bank can become not only an attraction in the city, but a powerful instrument for the imagination that can work beyond the scope of its parts.

External site:
Energy Bank sketches on flickr

Status report:
Funding and support: Public Art Norway, Arts Council Norway, PNEK (Production network for electronic art in Norway), Atelier Nord, Oslo.

Energy Bank. Crank and Go! took part in Piskel X festival for free art and technology, Bergen, 22 -25 November 2012.