Day 1 of Luminous Green in Linz
Luminous Green in Linz is organised by Time's Up, a member of the Guild for Reality Integrators and Generators (http://fo.am/grig/), FoAM's long term partners and friends. The workshop started with a delicious dinner, prepared by a modest, but silently wonderful cuisiniere Marie, using local ingredients, from a village on the outskirts of Linz, that supplies our coffees and teas with delicious fresh milk as well.
The first morning session began with setting the context for the days to come. Andi Mayrhofer described his personal motivation for organising Luminous Green - “looking deeper into my simple life”, going beyond merely separating waste and examining the artistic and technological practice of Time's Up under the lens of envrionmental friendliness. Even though the artistic practice of Time's Up has not had renewable energy at its focus, many of their experimental situations (such as for example the “Hyperfitness studio”) use human power to activate their devices. At this moment, they are looking at new solutions that can both “work properly and be fun”, as well as changing some of the ingrained “weird behaviours” that are inherent in media art practices.
The content of this Luminous Green workshop grew out of Twixtville, a proposal for a fictional, lived-in & living village environment, embedded in a city of Linz. Tim Boykett gave an overview of the relationship between Twixtville and Luminous Green. As a village in a city, Twixtville was supposed to play with the various edges end tensions of its location. One of them was the prefix “green-”, that would incorporate real conflicts currently present in urban environments. When does it help to be green, and when is it too much of a hindrance? The topic of “urban greenness” was adopted, as a strategy to break through the monoliths of steel, glass and concrete that dominate our city-landscapes. It became truly personal, when Time's up met their new neighbours, who cleared an unused road and are now racing cars through their front garden; both the ecological and the social pleasure of having a small garden at the edge of an industrial zone were destroyed. Now Time's up is finding new ways to reclaim some of their lost paradise…
Twixtville, although planned as a whole village, was not an isolated, off-the-grid hamlet in the middle of nowhere, where solar or wind power were the only feasible sources of energy. It was entangled with the urban infrastructure around it, so Time's Up were questioning the feasibility & sustainability of covering a whole peninsula with solar cells, when a simpler, and possibly more environmentally friendly grid solutions existed. Twixtville was designed as a neighbourhood in a city, and as such, wanted to offer the inhabitants of Linz (and beyond) a variety of cultural events, of which many use electrical power – concerts, performances, mechatronic devices, etc. In terms of the RRR strategy, it didn't make sense to reduce activities in Twixtville, but to reinforce the already existing philosophy of Time's Up to reuse and recycle materials and structures that can be found in an industrial environment like Linz. In this situation, they asked themselves how much production of excess is truly necessary? This question answered itself indirectly when, due to various unexpected and unfortunate circumstances, Twixtville was sent on its last journey by burning a boat with the concept document in it… Several interesting trajectories related to Luminous Green were abandoned in the process (at least for the time-being), such as looking at village level energy systems & energy autonomy, isolation & self-sustenance, solar cooling, or issues of permanence & compostability.
After Twixtville was definitely departed, several projects that originated within it were resurected, in order to improve the quality of the lifestyle at the Time's Up HQ. Instead of building a whole new temporary village, they decided to use existing environments – the water of the harbour, the well-equipped workshop, kitchen and various labs, the sun & wind. At this point a Luminous Green workshop was organised, to help both with building stuff, as well as “looking over the rims of individual tea cups” - by bringing a few groups together who “organise their individual interests in order to change their immediate environments strongly”.
Every morning is reserved for sitting inside the warm rooms, listening & talking to each other. The first morning we heard four people - Andi, Tim, Maja & Strauss. Andi talked about the workshop at hand, Tim about Twixtville - both their presentations are sumarised above. Maja put the workshop in the broader context of Luminous Green and gave an example of one of the organisations whose work inspired many LG participants - the Barefoot college. As a bridge to the practical afternoon sessions, Strauss talked about his 'people jockeying', interest in bathing culture as communication tool, participatory food spaces and other wonderful projects.
Afternoons take place outdoors & in the steel wonderland of the Time's up workshop. What happens there is an experiment to extend the pleasures of the short Austrian summers & the long warm evenings of watching movies outdoors. How? By reusing and recycling the materials & resources of the harbour to make an urban steam-bath, from which an audience of about 10 people can comfortably watch movies outdoors in mid-winter. Water from the Danube will be pumped up by an Archimedean screw pump (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes_screw), powered by a windmill based on an African rural design. The water will then be filtered (we will learn how to do this tomorrow) and poured into a large bath, made out of a leftover of a cargo container, discarded mattresses & tarpolin. The water will be warmed using an ingenious steam-engine, powered by washed-up pallets of wood. The surplus steam can also be used for teas and capuccinos… Bringing back the moments of beauty, using what's discarded and what's plentiful in the context of Linz.
At the end of the day, after we gorged ourselves on delicious topfen knoedel, a summary of the progress was made - the windmill propellers are getting there, but need another four hours of work tomorrow morning. The hot tub is nearly ready, needing about two hours of fine tuning. The ovens needed to be tested (which is happening while this is being written with a lot of steam being blown off into the cold night…) and the pump still needs several parts to be made… Plenty of work for another day, or two, or three…