6 Oct 2010
Last Sunday I went on a pedal power workshop run by ‘Magnificent Revolution’. It was brilliant— a primer on how to hook appliances to renewable power, anything from laptops to sound systems. As an electronically challenged ‘flatlander’, this was the perfect introduction into the occult word of: amps, dump loads, training stands, motors, multimeters and inverters.
As you can see from the image, harvesting the body’s energy is not easy. It requires stuff; a network of CO2-heavy bits and bobs, an assemblage of industrial age kit to leach the ‘righteous’ green juice. Such are the acts of translation and compromise in the age of transition.
The workshop raises some interesting points, pedal power becomes gleaning, it utilises industrial societies standing reserve and re-arranges the patterns. It hacks electrical ensembles and inserts itself into the circuits— motors are (quite literally) reversed and re-appropriated as dynamos.
In the UK, this approach to energy generation is slightly unnecessary. There are other more efficient approaches. However, as pointed out, pedal power is as much about the performance and the participation. Hence the beauty of the workshop format or the 8-bike rig— there is an additional communication component, these things speak.
What I like about this is that it chimes with conversations I’ve had with ‘retired futurist’ Matt Ward. At the time,
So these workshops provide a pragmatic foothold in the complex nightmare that is ‘sustain-ability’. We live amongst immanent networks that tend to promote circular thought and inertia. As many people have said, we just have to ‘muck-in’ and get started. There is no place for ‘beautiful soul syndrome’ in the age of transition. We have to dig where we stand. This is a brilliant way to explore a less destructive energy source, a way of keeping open the space of making and beginning to bolt together a network of communication methods and practices that support sustainment. For me, it is the beginning of ecosophical praxis.