Core Industry’s MacMurray on ‘Garden Electric’ and making the invisible visible

25 05 2009

Thank you to Daniel Schutzsmith for this fabulous tip.

Green Printer has interviewed rockstar interactive and strategic marketing, design and development firm Core Industries before (who clients include Live Earth, Pepsi and 1% for the Planet) and has been in touch with Megan MacMurray, Production Designer at the agency.

So, we were excited to learn that the Brooklyn-based MacMurray, along with fellow artist Angela Pablo, showcased her Garden Electric exhibit at the Futuresonic Festival and Conference in Manchester, England.

In an interview, MacMurray says that Garden Electric was created as a means to find “tangible way[s] to represent electricity without using electricity (outside of what we were measuring of course). We loved the purpose of bringing the abstract lifeblood of all our technologies into a physical analog form.”

In an essence, the found objects unveil electricity usage in real time, to make energy consumption visible and palpable. This is a provocative piece that can potentially do more to ‘connect the dots’ than a Google pitch for smart meter, although those can help too.

The Garden’s flowers, constructed from recycled plastic bags, are connected to a lamp through a current sensor which reads the amount of power being consumed. This value triggers fans which inflate and deflate the garden as a whole. When the lamp is turned off and energy is conserved, the garden thrives and stays inflated; when the lamp is on, the garden is placed in a dying state. The Garden Electric invites visitors to interact with it by turning appliances on and off, allowing electricity to take on a tactile form.
“Within that process we also focused on using materials that had the least amount of impact in their creation. When trying the find used materials which were in excess in NYC and we didn’t need to look past the plastic grocery bag. This overwhelming excess is represented by the number of projects we’ve seen made from these 3 min products! (3 mins being the time it takes for you to walk from the store to your home or office with the plastic bag, only to throw it away)”

“Both Angela Pablo and I love making beauty from trash, finding use in waste and the creative re-purpose of everyday objects. This became the focus of the project, with a parallel goal of making the invisible negative effects of sources of energy tangible. The colors, structure and setup of the project is simple, interactive and fun.”
When speaking about something that everyone can do to be more aware of exactly how much energy they consume, MacMuray says that, “I think the act of trying to be aware of the invisible is a huge task in and of itself! Once people make that effort their behavior follows.”

“The tricky thing in our and recent generations is that the convenience of civilization has created a huge disconnect with the negative effects of energy consumption. It takes effort to take a close look at where products and utilities come from and the energy it takes to get them into your hands or home.”

MacMurray speaks about about her own involvement in a community garden in NYC and how the ‘reclaiming’ of seeds to food in growing your own food is a lot about making the invisible, invisible.

Reminds me a lot of Thom Hartmann’s book The Last Hours of Sunlight and lawyer-gone-artist, Chris Jordan in his latest exhibit, Running the Numbers II Portraits of Global Mass Culture.

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3 responses to “Core Industry’s MacMurray on ‘Garden Electric’ and making the invisible visible”

3 06 2009
Green Printer Blog » Ads Made of Sea Water: Three reasons to re-imagine your design (14:21:26) :

[…] Transparency. As simple of a concept as it is (we’ve covered ‘visible electricity’ in NYC‘ before), transparency in design is as beautiful as it is smart and ethical when applied in a […]

3 06 2009
Ads Made of Sea Water: Three reasons to re-imagine your design : Save a Tree - Print Green - Green Options (14:31:23) :

[…] Transparency. As simple of a concept as it is (we’ve covered ‘visible electricity’ in NYC‘ before), transparency in design is as beautiful as it is smart and ethical when applied in a […]

26 08 2009
Manhattan (07:59:26) :

I love how the flowers are made from plastic bags. They’re total opposites in my mind. It’s like making an ice sculpture out of fire.

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