Adjacent Possibilities in art+energy: Creative solutions for energy systems.

Photo: marsdd.com

Photo: marsdd.com

...arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward enabling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.
— Albert Einstein

Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed a variety of subject areas - history, science, languages, as well as music and art. I didn’t feel like there was one subject area I excelled at more than another. So when the time came to choose what I wanted to study in university, I was torn. I didn't see a way for me to combine my favourite courses in the sciences and the arts. After many years of trying to do one or the other, I feel like I have successfully found a balance in the environmental sector that allows me to explore both my passions: communicating science and innovation through artistic and creative means. I am in the process of completing my Masters degree in Resource and Environmental Management, and I have found that more and more, these two subjects are intertwined.

August 26, 2014, marked the launch of Adjacent Possibilities in art+energy, a 2 week, one-of-a-kind exhibit, housed within the MaRS Discovery District Heritage Atrium, Downtown Toronto. This engagement was the result of teamwork between artists with innovators to convey inspiration, determination, and human innovation to address climate change. This exhibit not only showcased the possibilities being developed to address climate disruption, but boldly addressed what can emerge from collaborative thinking.

Adjacent Possibilities is artistically representing scientific technological advancement, providing a visual and emotional message to the innovative solutions that many companies are implementing to solve global climate issues. As they put it: “Against the vastness and complexity of climate disruption, non-­experts can struggle to derive meaning and importance from technically complicated cleantech solutions, leading to pessimism about our capacity to transition our energy economy. By engaging creative minds from the worlds of arts, science and business, Adjacent Possibilities in art+energy leans into the challenge of climate change, inspiring boldness in the face of the daunting energy transitions to come”.

Photo: marsdd.com

Photo: marsdd.com

Three artistic teams were teamed up with three energy entrepreneurs: Aaron Li-Hill, a mix-media visual artist was partnered with solar energy entrepreneur John Paul Morgan of Morgan Solar; Artists Christine Leu and Alan Webb of LeuWebb Projects worked with Cameron Lewis of Hydrostor, underwater compressed air energy storage systems; and Jonathan Moneta of MakeLab was teamed with his brother Daniel Moneta of MMB Networks. Combined, these projects represent energy generation, energy storage, and energy networks, the three pillars of this exhibition.

At the opening of the exhibit, Jesika Briones, co-founder of Adjacent Possibilities, told us why she’s bringing the venture to Toronto. “We are sharing this with you today because it is not easy to speak about climate change. It is very heavy. To put the climate change coat on every day is not easy… We need to make a cultural change to steer our way toward a greater future, and I strongly believe that we have the solutions that are needed to make a difference in the world. I don’t want to see future generations telling us that we had the power to make a difference and we didn’t do anything about it.”

The means and methods to address issues and innovation need to be communicated in a fashion that will drive home a message, evoke an emotional response, and spark that need to make a difference. That is what art can bring to the world of science. As Briones mentioned, this exhibit and this art “will serve as a beacon off in the distance to hold our gaze and lift our spirit.”

The name Adjacent Possibilities, which comes from a theory by theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman, describes that the realm of possibility can only be accessed by becoming adjacent to it. Therefore in order to truly understand and access the will and drive to implement change, there needs to be an interconnectedness between the art, the innovation and the science. 

The modern naturalist must realize that in some of its branches his profession, while more than ever a science, has also become an art.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Want to hear more about the Adjacent Possibilities teams? See videos on their collaborative efforts below.