Artist Andrea Polli and images of her environmental sustainability projects

The Making of Energy Flow on the Rachel Carson Bridge

CMOA Theater

Free, Registration recommended as seating is limited

Artist Andrea Polli offers a behind-the-scenes look at Energy Flow, a large-scale public light artwork and wind power nano-grid on Pittsburgh's Rachel Carson debuting at dusk on Light Up Night, November 18.

Over 27,000 multicolored LED lights positioned along the bridge’s vertical cables will show a real-time visualization of wind speed and direction as captured by a weather station located on the bridge. The electricity needed to power Energy Flow will be generated by sixteen wind turbines attached to the catenary arches of the bridge. The environmental aspects of the project are compelling given the bridge’s connection to Pittsburgh environmental pioneer Rachel Carson for whom the bridge is named. Energy Flow also features local technology and innovation from Pittsburgh-based wind turbine manufacturer WindStax.

Andrea Polli is a Professor of Art & Ecology with appointments in the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico. She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and directs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab at the University’s Center for Advanced Research Computing. Polli is an artist working at the intersection of art, science, and technology whose practice includes media installation, public interventions, curating and directing art and community projects, and writing. She has been creating media and technology artworks related to climate change since 1999, when she first began collaborating with atmospheric scientists on sound and data sonification projects. Among other organizations, she has worked with the NASA/Goddard Institute Climate Research Group in New York City, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and AirNow. She holds a doctorate in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth in the UK. Her most recent book is Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change, and the Poles (Intellect Press).

Polli will be leading a series of tours and workshops on environmental data for CMOA’s Hillman Photography Initiative, an incubator for investigating the rapidly shifting field of photography and its impact in the world today. As photography moves from paper prints, to digital images, to a future that we can only imagine, what remains fundamentally “photographic”? At its essence—and since its beginnings—photography measures light and time. The four artist projects unfolding in 2016–17 expand upon and perhaps explode this notion, using it as a springboard to investigate contemporary social issues.

Energy Flow Lighting Team

  • Chris Clavio, ClaviOn Unlimited, LED Infrastructure and Hardware Design
  • Eric Geusz, The Social Media Workgroup, Programming and Design
  • Jared Rendon Trompak, The Social Media Workgroup, Technical Assistance

With additional support from The UNM Mesa Del Sol Endowment and the Compton Foundation.


Energy Flow is presented by Covestro. Electric infrastructure and fiber optics provided by Duquesne Light Company and DQE Communications and logistical support provided by Allegheny County. Additional partnership support provided by City of Pittsburgh, Riverlife and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.