Ponder a fossil fuel-free world, then think art

Disappearing ozone, rising seas and a world of environmental strife have forced all of the globe’s citizens to great underground cities – powered by renewable energy. It’s quite the fictional vision.

For Cornell’s 2017 Imagining Energy Futures: Undergraduate Science, Art and Design competition, the fictional short story “Underground: Project Gaia” by Reade Otto-Moudry ’17, Kayla Aulenbach ‘19 and Ashley Herzig ’18 won the $500 top prize.

“With the exception of the solar, wind and hydroelectric plants necessary to power the underground communities and the agricultural space needed to feed them, the land would be left untouched, giving nature time to heal without human interference,” wrote the students in their first-place story, available in a digital chapbook.

All of the competing students – from a variety of academic disciplines –contemplated a world free of fossil fuels, with their inventive work taking the forms of painting, audio, performance, video, photography and writing.

Other submissions making it into the chapbook include: “Black Hole Power Plant” by Scott Bollt ’19 and Dalton Price ‘20; “Lake House Stories” by Charisse Foo ‘18; “le carim” by Madeline Ugarte ‘19 and Sarah Dickerman ‘19; “The Nuclear Millenium: Collection of Journal Entries about the Nuclear World” by Laura Cvetkovski ‘20, Akira Shindo ’20 and Jia Yi Wang ‘20; “Exploding Horizons” by Gregory Kaiser ’20 and Tianmu Yu ‘20; and “When Skies are Gray” by Victoria Louison ‘17.

The contest was organized by Anindita Banerjee, associate professor of comparative literature; Debra Castillo, the Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies; and Albert George, the John F. Carr Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus. It was supported by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Keep those artistic and creative ideas flowing, as the next contest deadline looms Nov. 27, 2017.

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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