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Growing the Grid

Growing the Grid focuses on the infrastructural failure of Texas’ electrical grid during the Power Crisis of 2021 and how it disseminated environmental, political, and social damage throughout the neighborhood of East Austin. Continually marginalized by infrastructures of scale, my project works to amplify the silence and darkness that have blanketed East Austin. “Growing the Grid” generates a new, organic energy grid – centered around harvesting microalgae as biofuel – that serves as an energy bank for members of East Austin. This multiscalar grid emerges above ground in the form of photobioreactor algae tubes at four sites of past infrastructural damage. The grid reframes the relationship with the ground plane and with microalgae (a “parasite” to most Texans), pushing against structures and creating tensions while simultaneously producing renewable energy. My project attempts to connect the scale of the neighborhood with the scale of the body to spark volume and visibility amongst East Austin. The algae grid grows with the social climate and adapts to season changes, regenerating urban infrastructure around the photosynthetic life cycle of microalgae. Growing the Grid works to bring volume back to East Austin voices and make visible urban infrastructural damage that has resulted in a fractured social infrastructure.