November 17th 2015. Minnesota. St. Paul. District Energy St. Paul, a nonprofit heating and cooling utility. The billowing steam’s plume coming from the plant becomes an artist’s canvas. The world’s very first Plume Project will add a dose of color to the downtown chilly night sky over the next few months. That is energy generation and contemporary art at the same time.
Last week, the artists behind the project – Aaron Dysart, Emily Stover e Asia Ward – gathered at the Science Museum of Minnesota plaza, near the plant, for a test run. Among those gathered was Nina Axelson, vice president of public affairs for District Energy St. Paul, who explained how she approached Public Art in 2013, collaborating on an art project that would spark community conversations about energy. A group of artists and scientists met and, eventually, the Plume Project has been created. The project includes three public art installations that use the plant’s steam plume from its cooling tower; that vapor remains after they use local biomass to generate electricity and heat (cogeneration).
Tuesday is Stover’s “Rumblings”, which combines theatrical lighting on the plume with poetry. The famous artist’s poems are synchronized with lights projected onto the plume and it looks like that “the plume almost speaks their words”. The other projects include Dysart’s piece using NASA data to create an ever-changing light show starting on December 22 2015 and Ward’s drawings from the community that will be projected on the plume during the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
Could this idea be a reason in order to talk about energy? District Energy St. Paul’s thinks YES. They know not everyone who sees the colorful plume will dig deeper, but they hope some people will start talking about Energy along with science and technology and how that could intersect with art. Not bad at all.