Commando Jugendstil was born in 2011 in Milano, during a series of intense brainstorming sessions.
Our aim was to solve the problem of energy production and distribution in urban contexts and at the same time that of the progressive loss of meaning of public, collective spaces, which often turn into non-places through dynamics of commodification and abandonment, while refusing top-down solutions that often ignore local realities.
Emerging green technologies that were being developed in Italy at the time lit the spark: by using new off-grid solar technologies such as OPVs and DSSCs we would be able to empower local communities, and enable them to self-affirm in full cultural and energetic autonomy by instigating the collaborative production of artefacts, that are at the same time beautiful and useful, in this specific case huge solar “affiches” that would cover the empty sides of buildings, a bit like murals.
All of these ideas coalesced into a MA thesis for which the real-life Loopy produced a series to test affiches and a video-scenario to present the project, an attempt to imagine a possible world.
This short animation, which you can find at http://cargocollective.com/mikeoloopie/Commando-Jugendstil, has been presented at the Urban Centre of the Comune di Milano and at the DESIS Philosophy Talk 2014: Storytelling & Social Innovation of Eindhoven Design Academy, and has won a special jury mention for outstanding and original project at the Talent Almanack Prize 2013.
Galvanised by those results, we set out to participate in various contests for tech incubation and to obtain collaborations with academics who were developing those technologies, however we eventually realised that the technologies we sought to use, even though they are being developed and improved at breakneck pace, are not yet ready for extensive use in the field.
It was then that we realised that what we had been doing for some 7 years had a name, that its name was solarpunk, and that, like us, a lot of other folks out there were busy imagining possible worlds based on green tech and an optimistic outlook on the ability of people to change our world and society for the better.
The casual discovery of World Weaver Press’ Kickstarter campaign for the translation of the Brazilian solarpunk anthology “Solarpunk – Histórias ecológicas e fantásticas em um mundo sustentável” was like a clarion call for us, even though we caught it too late to contribute.
We then decided to get in touch with the folks from Tales from the EV Studio, another small collective of creatives, specialising in comics and creative writing, and asked them to imagine how an action of the Commando could unfold. We provided them with the background and the technology, and gave them carte blanche for the rest. But let’s hear it from them.
Tales From the EV Studio usually specialises in historical fantasy and archanepunk, but as soon as we realised how much punk you can put in solarpunk, and how much social justice, we immediately jumped to the occasion. The folks from Commando care about marrying green technology to progressive politics that benefit urban communities. We decided to immerse their action in contemporary Italian politics, making them tackle the debate on ius soli citizenship for second generation migrant minors, one of the issues closest to our heart.
For the atmosphere we took inspiration from some of our favourite movies, the “Smetto Quando Voglio” trilogy, because of the setup of night-time, daring actions and the central role of broke academics, and from Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, because of the oniric and almost surreal quality of the incidents.
It was a great adventure for all of us, from start to finish. We almost couldn’t believe it when we were shortlisted, but this amazing result has pushed us to continue this joint venture to write more stories about a greener, fairer Italy, and to seek more collaborations with academics and architects to finally make our solarpunk visions real.
So stay tuned, because this ain’t over yet!
Tales From the EV is a posse of emigrant Italian writers who specialise in historical fantasy, archanepunk and scriptwriting for comics. This is their first foray in the realms of solarpunk.