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Artworks offer glimpse into emotional impact of energy use in the near future

Two of the tarot cards in Aude Nasr's 'Powerful Emotions' series which feature in the Electric Feels commissionPETRAS/Aude Nasr

'Control Rooms' by Mary Flora Hart

Press release issued: 5 September 2023

An art commission led by a University of Bristol academic designed to ask important questions about the potential mental and emotional impacts of future energy use will go on display at the V&A Museum in London later this month.

‘Electric Feels’ has been commissioned by Dr Ola Michalec from the University of Bristol School of Computer Science, alongside Joe Bourne from the University of Lancaster, on behalf of the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence. PETRAS is a UK research consortium focused on the future implementation of the Internet of Things.

Four talented illustrators were chosen to create pieces exploring the intersection of energy, digital technology, and emotions.

The thought-provoking pieces include Liz Ormian’s Smart Living, which uses a single page comic book format to look at how small changes to domestic energy use could be felt by human users, while Control Rooms by Bristol-based Mary Flora Hart shows a shared flat in the not so distant future which shows how data screens, dials, and interfaces have crept into living spaces so much that they start to look like power station control rooms.

The ‘Electric Feels’ commission also includes Powerful Emotions by Aude Nasr, which features a series of tarot cards based on the ways smart appliances cause a wide range of emotions, meanwhile Bristol-based artist Jordan Collver’s comic illustration Gone With The Wind tells the story of a manager decommissioning wind turbines in the Scottish Highlands in 2047 using AI from a control room.

Dr Ola Michalec from the University of Bristol said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase University of Bristol research and galvanise conversations about the role of digital technologies in climate action.

“Issues around climate are often portrayed in extremes in the media – either everything is very doom and gloom, or a new technological advance will save us. However the reality of the situation is a lot more nuanced. These artworks allow people to consider innovations that may be coming, and make up their own minds on how they feel about those potential changes.”

The ‘Electric Feels’ artworks will be displayed at the Digital Design Weekend Showcase being held at the V&A Museum from 22nd to 24th September, and will then feature as part of the FUTURES Festival of Discovery being held on the SS Great Britain on September 29.


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