Power||Energy: Mapping the Thickened Ground of Labor

The definition of energy is dominated by a western logic of energy as a resource. This understanding was focused on the primary objective of putting energy to effective use that was then translated into power objectives and governance schemes for putting the planet to work in service of fossil-fuel empires. Subsequently this defined concepts of labour, society, and the environment through power struggles for vast territories of natural resources, land claims, the growth of economies, and development of urbanised areas.

The now outmoded and failing US electrical network of energy production, distribution, and consumption have shaped the patterns and territorial infrastructure of our urbanized landscapes. This vast infrastructure network describes a complex, dynamic exchange between human beings and the landscape over an extensive period of time. Emerging from these tensions is a thickened ground of multiple heterogeneous parts and networks intertwined with less tangible metabolic and material processes that describe the ‘natures’ of the urbanised landscape through its indeterminable characteristics.

The ubiquitous and relentless exploitation of the earth as a resource for energy production to be plundered and commodified continues to disrupt the deep complex processes of nature leading to major environmental and health ramifications. Consequently racial, social, and economic disparities that are imminently present and inherently linked to the environment are further exacerbated. The climate crisis is symptomatic of this prejudice where the power of a select few humans rises above others and their non-human counterparts, corralled into disciplinary regimes of work valued through distinct economic imperatives.

The seminar reckons with the immediate need to upgrade and expand the US electrical power grid system to meet the demands of growing urban communities and recognizes the obligation to engage with the climate crisis. In it, we envision energy systems that inherently hold a capacity for adaptation and simultaneously serve as the formative catalyst of the urban landscape.

The seminar introduces and explores new value systems for the environment and alternative definitions of power, work, and energy to tackle this complex systemic suite of crises. This project-based seminar is structured around two phases; Phase One: Energy and Power and Phase Two: Energy and Ecology, . The teaching and learning schedule includes a series of guest lectures focused on articulating the relationship between the different positions and definitions of energy and the implications of their territorial and spatial formations.  A range of critical mapping and representation techniques will be explored in order to generate an understanding and future speculations of a thickened ground of energy. The aim is to question who are the actors and agencies involved, what are the forms of governance, their territorial demarcations and land use,  ecosystems, historical events and material flows and processes that determine the shape of the ever evolving form of ground and its planetary effects.