Kodama: Light Race
In the current political and environmental context, how does the future of carbon dioxide (and climate change) look like?
A new scientific vision is gaining much momentum, whereby CO2 is no longer seen as a waste by-product but as feedstock for chemicals, fuels and polymers.
Scientists* around the world are working on all-carbon photovoltaics made from graphene (a type of extremely strong carbon) and carbon nanotubes. When their technology is perfected, “all-carbon cells could be inexpensive, printable, flexible, and tough enough to withstand extreme environments and weather”. It will become possible to compress carbon photovoltaics into small particles that can be “sprayed on the sides of buildings, or rolled up and taken into the desert”.
It is predicted that in the year 2032, certain parts of the world will obtain at least 50% of their energy needs from all carbon solar panels (Cho 2010). Carbon photovoltaics will be sprayed onto most building exteriors in large, well developed cities such as New York and London. This practice will become the new normal and most large surfaces in these cities will be covered with carbon solar photovoltaics.
Graffiti art today faces many problems from the millions spent on removing them from public places to the lack of a unified system for dealing with graffiti artists. There is a fine line between what gets to stay and what gets removed almost instantly. In 2034, the UK government will finally come to a decision to make all graffiti legal if it is done using carbon light spray.
Carbon light spray is the offspring of all-carbon photovoltaics and the already existing electroluminescence (EL) technology. Electroluminescence is a characteristic of a material that enables it to emit light in response to an electrical field (i.e. when it is ‘switched on’). The new spray will be invisible during the day but will illuminate during the night. The decision will ease the pressure on local councils dealing with graffiti art complaints without completely abolishing this form of art.
To celebrate this new-born freedom, the Kodama: Light Race will be founded in 2034. The Light Race is an annual race between graffiti art crews to create the most visually stunning artwork in an extremely short timeframe using light spray drones operated remotely by the crew members. The bigger and more illuminescent the artwork, the louder its impact. The race is a celebration of the excess light the country is able to afford while not having to worry about its contribution to global warming. It is a bold colourful event, a type of ritual, but also a means to distinguish the wealth of a country from another.
This project’s aim is to draw people’s attention to the increasing inequality between nations in their access to new technologies that are able to alleviate the effect of global warming. The technology to build self sufficient cities already exists, so why are nations like the USA refusing to even acknowledge climate change let alone share their technology, while the poorest countries in the world continue to suffer from the consequences of severe air pollution.
*Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University and Jun Lou from Rice University