| For the past few years, Joseph Smolinski has been inspired by cellular communication towers disguised as trees, which can be found through out the New England landscape. He found these gigantic fake trees to be interesting sculptural forms that may offer a glimpse into our biotech future.
Inspired by an article in the New York Times about wind power in New England, Mr. Smolinski began the Tree Turbine project. His research clearly showed that wind generated electricity is a clean sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. The loudest argument against wind turbines is from people who are afraid the turbines will mar the landscape. This objection was raised by the same groups that disguised their cell phone towers as trees. The solution: use the aesthetic of the common cell tower tree to build a spinning Tree Turbine that would generate usable electricity and camouflage into the landscape.
Mr. Smolinski enlisted the help of the University of New Haven's Tagliatela College of Engineering to create a functioning prototype from a concept video. Professors Ali Montazer and Konstantine Lambrakas along with several students aided in the creation of the final prototype. He also enlisted the help of the University of New Haven's College of Arts and Sciences for aesthetic design and promotion. Laura Cote and Jill Latella of the Visual Arts Department designed the project website, www.treeturbine.blogspot.com, and assisted with the final scale model design.
In May of 2008, a 20-foot tall functioning Tree Turbine was installed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art with the support of UNH's College of Arts and Sciences and Mixed Greens Gallery in New York. The Tree Turbine sculpture was commissioned for and exhibition titled Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape curated by Denise Markonish.