Telstra office energy use becomes video art

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Telstra office energy use becomes video art

One of five buildings to visualise electricity use.

An office tower leased by Telstra is one of five Sydney CBD buildings participating in an art installation that will visualise the way city buildings use electricity.

The installation, called Building Run, is powered by a commercial dataset from benchmarking firm BuildingsAlive, which provides daily weather-normalised feedback about energy use to building operators.

"It's always great in these kind of artworks to actually have a commercial engine and modelling [behind it]," artist Keith Deverell told iTnews.

"I think it gives it a little bit more strength."

Deverell said the dataset contained energy usage in 15 minute increments, which was represented in the art installation every 50 seconds.

The work consists of a bank of five screens in Deutsche Bank Place, each of which shows a "virtual athlete" that runs a race based on the energy usage data of its assigned CBD building.

"Low energy use in the buildings will make the virtual athletes run a more efficient race," City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

"As energy levels ramp up, the buildings' runners will become visibly exhausted – their cheeks will go red, their breathing will get heavier and they will sweat."

Behind the scenes is a small array of networked Mac Minis running programs found in "VJing, multimedia and visual art," Deverell said.

The idea of the installation is not a race between the five buildings per se.

"It's playing with the metaphor of personal bests more than a race against each other, so they can all win, which I think is a nice thing," he said.

"At the end of the race if they get a personal best [for energy usage] the video is happy, it's celebratory, and if it's not [a personal best] then they're a bit more forlorn. There's a humour and a poetics to the whole work.

"But just seeing them all running together [side-by-side] shows you how different buildings operate during the day."

Apart from the Investa-owned 400 George Street, which counts Telstra among its major tenants, other buildings to participate are 255 Elizabeth Street, the BT Tower, Customs House and Deutsche Bank Place itself.

The installation runs from September 20 through October 19 as part of the Art & About Sydney festival.

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