Sep 20, 2010

AIDS3D - Ideal Work (Creative Solutions)

Solar panels whisper sweet promises of a cheap, painless and sustainable solution to the energy/climate crises. At the same time, they reinforce the eschatological fear of impending doom which could follow a peak-oil or global warming disaster. Solar technologies are improving quickly, but currently they are without a doubt, overly expensive and inefficient. Many critics claim that solar panel installations have a negative EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested); that is, they require more energy and capital to produce than they will ever give back during their lifetime of operation. However, the solar cells on display here generate no electricity, instead they access an alternative energy source.

Ideal Work, a synonym of the term "exergy," is the total amount of useful work available in a closed thermodynamic system during its inevitable trip towards equilibrium and ruin. Originally, it was a concept utilized by physicists, ecologists, economists and systems theorists. With Ideal Work, we propose a possible universal (albeit capitalistic and anthropocentric) philosophical concept of value or utility compatible with the laws of thermodynamics. The energy flow of the sun has been exchanged with the energy flow of the art world. But are the negentropic dreams of an ever-accruing aura and value of a Great Work within the art market reconcilable with the second law?

These pieces are a lazy attempt at building a free-energy 'generator'. Instead of absorbing sunlight, they transform one form of energy into an another, becoming what Nikola Tesla proposed in a 1901 patent application as a "self-acting… engine… capable… of deriving energy from the Medium—the ideal way [of generating power]” The perpetual oscillation between their status as a thing and their status as a sign generates its own force. This uncertainty fuels an energy conversion device which collects and accumulates the contextual vibrations of its own 'medium'—non-functional photovoltaic cells, aluminum and glass
In a subjectively materialist analysis, does the passive surface of our decorative panel generate more 'energy' than the real thing? If we can reduce the main aspects of the art system into currencies of attention, aura and capital and equate them with thrermodynamic energy then the answer may be yes. As long as people discuss the work, collectors decide to buy the work for more money than it cost to make it, and they manage to resell it later on for a profit, this underlying faith in eternal growth, which fuels the market, could be sustained. Compared to a functional solar panel which eventually becomes obsolete or suffers mechanical failure, the Ideal Work we present could curve eternally upwards on its graph of surplus energy production values — at least until the end of civilization.
Ideal Work (Creative Solutions)