AND veterans revisit the North West

Tue 02 Jul 2013

Image credit: HeHe, Fracking Futures, 2013, installation at FACT

You may remember artist-engineers HeHe (Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen) from Abandon Normal Devices in 2012 when they brought M:Blem – most recent in their series of experimental, autonomous vehicles – to the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester:

We’re excited to see them back in the North West to work with our friends at FACT, Liverpool on a new project, Fracking Futures, part of the Turning FACT Inside Out exhibition ending 15 Sep.

Fracking is short for ‘hydraulic fracturing’, a process of extracting gas by pumping a highly pressurised mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground.

In Fracking Futures, HeHe have turned Gallery 1 at FACT into an experimental drilling site. Having identified Holywell shale beneath FACT that might hold at least 20 trillion cubic feet of gas, the artist duo have proposed these deposits could be used to ensure both the energy security of the FACT building and the surrounding Ropewalks area.

Merseyside is no stranger to fracking controversy with sites in Banks (near Southport) and St Annes (across the Ribble estuary in Lancashire) earmarked for shale gas extraction. Both sites have attracted protest, and an appeal by two protesters convicted of aggravated trespass was heard in May 2013 at Liverpool Crown Court.

HeHe’s installation leaves it to the viewer to weigh the health and environmental concerns over fracking against the economic benefits. Most intriguing is the spotlight it shines on ideas such as autonomous (‘off-grid’) architecture and decentralised, micro-scale urban power generation: could FACT one day self-powering? Could a borough once styled the People’s Republic of Liverpool gain energy independence?

Heiko Hansen discusses Fracking Futures in this short video:

Friends of the Earth member and writer Val Walsh has also taken the opportunity to discuss some of the issues in a piece she has written for the FACT blog.

As an aside, we’ll be presenting a spiritual successor to HeHe’s M:Blem at AND 2013 in the form of SEFT-1. An autonomous rail and road vehicle created by Mexican art duo Los Ferronautas, you can learn more about SEFT-1 here.

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