Created by Julian Oliver and commissioned by the Konstmuseet i Skövde, HARVEST is a work of critical engineering and computational climate art. It uses wind-energy to mine cryptocurrency, the earnings of which are used as a source of funding for climate-change research.
The project takes the form of a 2m wind turbine with environmental sensors, weatherproof computer and 4G uplink, HARVEST ‘feeds’ from two primary symptoms of our changing climate: wind gusts and storms. It does this by transforming wind energy into the electricity required to meet the demanding task of mining cryptocurrency (here Zcash), a decentralised process where computers are financially rewarded for their work maintaining and verifying a public transaction ledger known as the blockchain. Rather than making money for the artist, the rewards are paid out as donations to non-profit climate change research organisations such that they can better study this planetary-scale challenge.
The installation uses a 700W 24V horizontal axis wind turbine with 2x 12V 150Ah batteries connected in series. The hardware also includes Mini-ITX mainboard with Intel i3 CPU (Sockel 1151) and NVIDIA GTX 1080 ti GPU with 250Gb SSD / 4G USB dongle/’surfstick’ and Arduino, 4Gb DDR 4 RAM. Software is running on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with shell scripts, EWBF miner – mining on nanopool.
Julian envisages hundreds of such HARVEST nodes could be deployed in the windiest parts of the world, together generating large sums of supplementary funding for climate-change NGOs in a time where climate science itself is under siege from the fossil-fuelled interests of governments and corporations.
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