Geezer Power, Active Energy
A collaboration between SPACE and artist Loraine Leeson.
25th November 2009
Download a copy of the Active Energy Report here
Imagination, digital technology, engineering and the spirit of invention brings together a group comprised of older men and younger boys.
Older people are often marginalised by technology. Younger people are not. Active Energy aims to employ a range of approaches in new media and design to bridge rather than divide a group of older men and younger boys.
Students at Bow Boys Secondary School have been working alongside a group of senior men from Tower Hamlets, The Geezers Club, with support from an artist, engineer and ex-rocket scientist to create designs for wind and water turbines. Through a series of workshops, small scale working prototypes were developed under expert guidance.
The most successful design was chosen to drive a temporary public light-work aimed at drawing attention to potential applications of renewable energy sources. The older people are in turn developing ideas they have for a water turbine that will drive a temporary lightwork, harnessing the tidal power of the Thames and using facilities at University of East London’s MAGICbox.
In addition to its technological and artistic outputs, the Active Energy project takes an intergenerational approach to addressing a number of key issues facing local communities in one of London’s poorest boroughs. Underachievement amongst boys has been addressed in two ways that would otherwise not be on offer through the school curriculum. Firstly, participating young people were mentored by senior men from their own community, who were keen for their voices to be heard on issues that mattered to them, using their lifetime experiences to feed back into society. At the same time master classes at the university with one of the country’s leading control engineers and an artist provided inspiration and fostered skills, creativity and innovation.
Renewable energy is often seen as the remit of statutory institutions or those wealthy enough to afford the significant cost of the equipment involved. However, there is growing interest in the technologies involved amongst ordinary people living in East London. In focusing public attention on these issues, Active Energy aims to address local authorities and housing developers to encourage greater incorporation of renewable energy into residential accommodation in this area.
SPACE drew on its history of community engagement to manage the project which has involved a collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson, Stephen Dodds, Professor of Control Engineering and Toby Borland, design engineer and manager of the MAGICbox prototype lab at the University of East London.
Wind powered temporary public
Monday 22nd March to Monday 5th April 2010
Appian Court, Parnell Road, Bow,
London E3 2RS
Tidal powered temporary public light-work
Active Energy is funded by:
Arts Council, England,
Leaside Regeneration Ltd
The Woodland Trust.
With thanks for their kind support:
Gateway Housing Association
Age Concern Tower Hamlets
University of East London SMARTlab
Environmental Sustainability Team,
London Borough of Tower Hamlets