The Power Station | Latai Taumoepeau

One person is energetic; a collective body is a power station. 

The Power Station is an adaptation of Latai’s work Hg57 urban heat island effect, commissioned by Arts House and presented in REFUGE 2017.

About The Power Station

The Power Station (TPS) is an interactive artwork, imagined as an outdoor public installation, this choreographed exercise circuit enables participants to understand the urban heat island effect, through a 40 minute guided exercise workout.

It helps communities understand energy consumption and production, through methods of generating (clean) energy using the human body. Through the embodiment of these ideas, TPS creates a context for the complex issue of global warming, relatable to everyday rituals of fitness and well-being.

The project is designed to build community resilience and capacity:

  • Urgency and action toward shifting to renewable energy
  • Preparedness in the urban heat island effect
  • Generating personal responsibility in emergency events
  • Ideas & aesthetics in sustainable practice

TPS looks like an oversized board game and obstacle course, comprising two sections HOT & COOL, for up to 20 people to train at a time. There is a collective goal for the participants to produce a target amount of energy, with the output of calories converted to kilojoules displayed on a large screen.

The circuit is a series of demarcated lanes similar to that of an athletic track and road lanes. Inside the lanes are familiar objects such as green grocery bags, jerry-cans full of water, and bicycles linked to power generation gadgets.

  • Walk 5 laps briskly carrying 2 x 5kg shopping bags
  • Lunge deeply for 6 laps
  • Ride a bike to make a single ice cube for the cooling station
  • Run 10 laps of the fast track at high speed

Participants experience the heating & cooling of their bodies & have choices to cool themselves or assist others by operating a mechanical fan. They may also sit down with a wet towel on the head or feet. This is largely an autonomous experience partially facilitated by the artists.

Target participants include CBD workers, invited to swap their usual lunchtime or after work gym workout for the TPS workout. Sports teams & social groups can also participate, adding an element of performativity, spectacle, & creating a buzz about the event. We endeavour to transform the hard, hot open space into an active green space with cooling plants & public actions, a space for collective action & shared understanding.

The Power Station and Hg57 urban heat island effect, commissioned by Arts House

The Power Station is an adaptation of a work Hg57 urban heat island effect, made by Latai in REFUGE commissioned by Arts House, with major stakeholders City of Melbourne, Emergency Management Victoria, Melbourne University, & emergency agencies such as Red Cross & SES. Latai is one of the lead artists in the 5 year project over 2016-20. Arts House’s venue, North Melbourne Town Hall is designated as able to be activated as a relief centre. The premise of this project is an artist-led exercise in community preparedness in collaboration with emergency services to explore new possibilities of responding to increasing emergency events.

REFUGE enabled Latai to access Emergency Management Victoria for research, which has extended her climate change artworks focussed on the Pacific Islands to works like TPS, acknowledging the vulnerability of urban communities in the face of extreme weather events.

Latai and Intimate Spectacle now seek to remount this visceral & fun performative work for a Sydney context & audience with scale, new input of emergency content & materials – and potentially high profile participants such as NRL teams. We’re looking to revise work for outdoor spaces, but also seeking partners to present either the indoor or outdoor version.