A planned new waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen will feature an art installation that will blow 30-metre smoke rings out of its chimney as a reminder of the pollution it is emitting
BIG VORTEX is the idea of Berlin-based artists realities:united. Waste gases will leave the chimney of the plant (which will turn waste into energy) as revolving gas clouds in the shape of smoke rings. The rings become visible due to the condensation of water in the flue gases as they slowly rise and cool, before resolving into the air. The rings produced in this way will, the artists estimate, be 30 metres in diameter and three metres thick and “constitute exactly one ton of fossil carbon dioxide, which is added to the atmosphere”. “[In] this way the rather abstract pollution aspect gets somewhat more graspable and understandable, something you can see and relate to,” the artists say.
Each should be visible for around 45 seconds. At night they will be lit by lasers and there are even plans to project pie charts of pollution data onto them.
The installation is part of the Amagerforbraending Denmark state of the art waste-to-energy processing plant to be created by BIG architects following an international competition. Its roof will be double as a ski slope, thereby “mobilizing the architecture and redefining the relationship between the waste plant and the city,” according to the press blurb.
The smoke rings are seemingly meant as a reminder that, although the plant’s work in turning waste into energy is generally seen as a good thing, it too produces pollution, so it would be better to produce less waste in the first place. “We admit, that we are an industrial plant. But with smoke rings we signal, that we are also something else. Many believe, that if you throw something away, it is gone, but it is actually not. And by sending smoke rings we’d like to make it noticeable, that we are here, and that we’re solving a problem that the city has when it’s getting rid of its waste,” says Ulla Röttger, Director of Amagerforbraending.
Perhaps if all pollution-emitting buildings and vehicles were required to make the fact visible in this way, it would prompt more urgent action but the whole thing does sound somewhat ominous.