Back to the Interactivos? Garage Science series. If you have missed the previous episodes (Interactivos? Garage Science: Interactivos? Garage Astrobiology - Microbes and EMF and the Fruit Computer Laboratory), here's a little blurb:
Garage Science is one of Medialab Prado's latest Interactivos? workshops. It took place in Madrid in early February and was inspired by those home laboratory-type experiments that rely on web-based communications to give rise to real and virtual communities of amateur scientists.
Interactivos? Garage Science explored the practices, where art, science and technology meet. During two weeks, Medialab was turned into a temporary garage laboratory where low-cost, accessible materials were used to develop objects and installations that combine software, hardware and biology.
One of the projects i found most interesting was re:farm the city by Hernani Dias (in collaboration with Belén Illana, Tiago Henriques, Eduardo Meléndez, Gabriela Troncoso, Dani Quilez, Mar Canet and Varvara Guljajeva.)
The project aimed at developing a series of tools that would enable city-dwellers to grow and monitor an urban garden using open-software and as much recycled materials as possible (mostly city waste that may include computers, printers, traffic lights or plastic bottles.)
re:farm also brings on a series of important aspects: attention to biodiversity and to finding the native fruits, herbs and vegetable species that are best suitable for each city; visualization of the network of beneficial associations among plants and other species depending on geography, time and size of the garden; etc.
Your project re:farm aims to 'develop tools to manage/monitor/research an urban garden with open-software and open-hardware'. How did you come up with this idea? Why was it important to you?
I first started to think that I should know where my food comes from, so I built a garden in our terrace in Barcelona to have a local production. My older sister that long lives on eco-educational projects helped me with the first seeds and knowledge. Then came the Summer, and we went on holidays. Everything was ok when we left, but when we returned our farm was the driest -urban-farm-cemetery in all city. And this was the turning point.
To make a urban farm possible you must have the tools to design, manage and monitor a farm. At the end we, those who live in the city, are now urban animals not farmers. In the last century we lost almost all the farm knowledge, centuries of sustainable agriculture, thousands of years on vegetable domestication and food quality research. I've learned a lot during the research for this project: 4 months ago I didn't know which were the best tomatoes for a gazpacho soap and neither how or when are they planted or even how the photons are collected on nano-antennas to produce energy on a leaf.
Why would anyone need software to cultivate a garden?
Hehe, we shouldn't :) but if you ask to someone next to you in the street what is the best vegetable to plant or eat today, now, this week? Or what is the fruit of this season? Where did it came from? What are our local resources? What are our local varieties? What is the name of cucumber in other languages? How is it cooked in different cultures? What are best refreshing tea herbs for a hot summer day? Which fruits have a specific vitamins group? Software could give some help on this ;)
re:farm was already started before you applied to the Medialab Prado workshop if i understood correctly. Which part exactly did you develop during the Interactivos? workshop?
In Medialab we dug a lot and the subject started to spread complexity. I've started in Hangar with the idea of building a urban farm made of city trash and with a watering system based on open software and open hardware. When I applied to Medialab I had almost the big picture of the project in my head, and during the 15 days of the workshop in Madrid despite the fact that we were 7 persons working day and night with some beers also I realised that what we didn't had, was time. During the 15 days we built a DIY low budget hydroponic system and we designed 2 farms on botanical garden. One is a gazpacho farm made with local varieties and on the other are the vegetables ingredients to make a recipe of a Spanish cook, Rodrigo de la Calle. We also started to make the software application but we didn't finish the 0.000047 beta version :)
You live in Barcelona. Is there an existing or growing culture of growing urban garden in that city?
In the city there are some urban gardens and they are forming a growing community. There are some amazing squat initiatives, some city-council farms and also small home farming. But what is the most impressive thing around here is the local biodiversity. There are like 8 different kinds of tomatoes for 8 different recipes. The Catalans are very connected to the land and to cooperative social movements; and this is a good starting point.
Isn't pollution a problem if one wants to grow a garden in a city?
Pollution? What can I say about that... pollution is bringing vegetables from the other side of the planet on a large scale. Pollution is when you go to the supermarket and buy the same tomato here, in Madrid, in Andalucia, in England, in Holland, in Germany or in NY... Pollution could be producing vegetables that are designed to be beautiful, bright, round, cold resistant, and hold 4 weeks on a supermarket display and are environmentally expensive. Pollution is also the rain that grabs all the atmospheric contaminants and brings then to soil that in most cities is already heavily contaminated. We can't escape it. But there are some oasis in every cities and it is easy to create many more. that's also one of the goals of re:farm.
re:farm the city is global knowledge to local problems at the end we are all humans with more or less the same nutrient needs. One of our biggest "problem" is that we are raising the number of humans but we can´t call that pollution :)
One of the objectives of re:farm is the creation of "instructables" on how to build an open-hardware watering and illumination system with city waste: computers, printers, traffic lights, large plastic bottles, etc. Can you give us an example of this?
One example is the low budget hydroponic system that we built: a plastic tube found on the street (we went hunting for materials:) a water pump from a car (a repair car store gave us an old one for free), a big bottle of water 20L some wires and an arduino. We are also testing some re:farm boxes and soon there will be more instructables on our web.
You are going to work on THE ALLOTMENT PLOT in Sweden. Can you tell us what your plans about it are exactly?
Yep, we are refarming on Sweden. Annika from The Allotment Plot invited us to design some farms and we have proposed 4 ideas for 6 farms.
swedish husmanskost (traditional food)
global gastronomy / local production
Any other upcoming steps for the project?
The project is on his spring time! lets see how it grows and what can we have In Autumn. We are now applying for grants to continue the development and the community is also growing. So spread the word: any help is welcome :)
All images re:farm.
Been slacking a bit with my reports on the work in progress show i saw wow! months ago at the Royal College of Art in London. As you might guess i'll keep on focusing on the works from the students of the Design Interactions department.
Meet Cesar Harada!
Together with , Hiromi Ozaki, Martin Gautron, Nasser Moustakim, Adrien Lecuru, Valérie Pirson and the help of a whole range of collaborators and experts, Cesar is currently busy developing the Open Sailing project, a floating architecture that evolves like a living organism, a laboratory for techno-social experiments.
The aim of Open Sailing is not to fashion new kinds of entertainment for your holidays but to propose a way to cope with impending natural and man-made disaster, while stimulating people's ingenuity, fostering hyper-connectivity and sense of solidarity. To make the project all the more relevant, a map has been compiled that visualizes areas of looming crisis: overpopulation, tsunami risk, violent conflict, nuclear fallout, pandemics, global warming, etc. No place on Earth appears to be safe. Except maybe a few large spots above the ocean. And that's the area where Open_Sailing villagers would drift and live. Each village unit is made of comfortable shelters surrounded by ocean farming modules : reconfigurable, sustainable, pluggable, organic and instinctive. The Open_Sailing_01 is about 50 m in diameter, for 6 persons.
Open_Sailing aims to ask questions about the way we currently inhabit our planet. Can we reach a harmonious dynamic state of interdependence with each other and the earth? Is this the next step for civilization? Will we disassociate our concept of progress with rigid infrastructure and metropolis?
The prototype Open_Sailing_01, currently under construction, will set sail in May 2009, attempting to drift from London to the Netherlands. If the first journey goes well, Open_Sailing_02 will embark on a trip around the Mediterranean with enhanced fleet operating and hardware system, then Open_Sailing_03 will head to the Azores Islands (Portugal). Finally Open_Sailing_04 will set sail from The Azores and drift to Brazil.
I was fascinated by the mix of Archigram-esque vision, the gutsy ambition behind the idea, the sheer beauty of the installation at the London show, and that hint of micronation ambition i thought i could smell (but how wrong i was!) around the project. So, as usual, i had to ask a few questions...
Why 2012? Does it have to come so soon? Do you want to spoil the London Olympics euphoria?
Ollie: We're not particularly in the market for disrupting athletics events!
Instead of seeing this doom and gloom as something negative, we have taken the fears and used them as design constraints, designing for the apocalypse. By compiling a list of the fears surrounding 2012, and overlaying these onto a series of maps, we have created a series of safe_zones where you can be assured to be free of pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis, pole shifts, nuclear disasters, violent conflicts, etc. The recurrent safest places are in the middle of oceans : open_sailing aims to make the ability to live there comfortably a reality.
Cesar: I hope the open_sailing is going to continue long after 2012, and actually by 2012 we may have a series of serious prototypes ready for a real sport challenge, steading an ocean for good for example!
Detail of solar oven
Is it a project you plan to pursue as your final project at RCA? Can we expect to see a more advanced version of it come June?
Cesar: This is just the beginning of the project. The bigger picture is to develop technologies and everyday life solutions for a future International Ocean Station. We have an International Space Station, we need an International Ocean Station, there is so much to discover about the blue planet! At the 25th of June 2009 at the Royal College of Art SHOW in London, we want to show prototypes of the tested shelter, energetic modules, aquaculture facilities etc. We are working on the design of the prototype at the center for the study and practice of survival technics in Lorient France. In April we are building it, in May we will depart from London river Thames and attempt to drift across the north sea escorted by a regular boat for safety. Follow us on the blog. We are still looking for scientists, partners, sponsors, funders : please contact anyone you think could be interested by this project.
I suspect that your project might have given way to feedbacks, questions and reflections during the work in progress show/ How did people react to your project so far?
Abigail: One big difficulty we've had so far is creating an explanation of what the project's about, simply because there are so many different parts to it. There are a lot of people working on this project, a lot of new ideas. Some people seem to have misinterpreted Open_Sailing as being some kind of crazy 'Apocalypse Boat,' but it's not like that at all. This is a very real, very exciting project where we're developing a lot of innovative technology. Non-sustainable living; overpopulation; global warming... The way we've been doing life so far could do with a rethink, don't you agree?
Cesar: Most people are very excited by the idea to live on the sea, most of them think it is impossible. The people who started to dig and understand a little bit more about our project were fascinated, there are so many different perspectives! The Open_Sailing is a floating laboratory in the first place, we are attempting to address many issues in "labs":
Abigail: Instinctive_architecture behaves a bit like a sunflower. It opens out when there's lots of light and nutrients, and closes in on itself when weather is bad, stretches to move quickly.
Cesar: There is a lot to do, we address many real problems and people are interested because we are developing all these hardware and software technologies open-source.
Can you describe and explain the vessel prototype you were showing at the RCA work in progress exhibition a few weeks ago?
Cesar: What we showed was a 1/20 model, one open_sailing "family" facility, for 4 to 6 people. From afar, it looks like a "floating bunker" surrounded by a large ocean farm (~50m diameter), lines of algae, inflatable fish nets, plankton basins, floating gardens, underwater sea-shells pods, energy_animals...
Cesar: I don't shun the work of Tomas Saraceno at all, I think it is beautiful and visionary. We are sharing a very similar perspective about the transformation of the society with technology.
We are trying to make the open_sailing exist as soon as possible, so we'd rather show shorter term objectives and use a simpler vocabulary to appeal both general public and partners. Please find more details in the pdf on our website.
Have you thought about the status of Open Sailing villages, would they have some sort of sovereign independence similar to one of the micronations?
Abigail: That's a really interesting question. In short, we're not interested in establishing any sort of sovereignty. We don't have a political agenda.
Cesar: We are trying to avoid problems. Sovereignty is a problem, as it implies that you're being recognised by other states, we are people, we are not a competitive group, our perspective is more practical. Maybe our status is closer to the one of the International Space Station...
Ollie: We're a floating socio-technological experiment. We're part of many disciplines (art, architecture, science, etc) but not really bound by any. We're an international team, and we don't feel allegiance to any country or political stance - at least within the framework of this project.
Cesar: When you develop a technology, you can't predict how people will use and modify it. We don't want to determine how Open_Sailing is used by other people, that's the openness of it, or a form of respect, an invitation. There must be something more advanced than "nation". Nation is constitution, hierarchy, pride, it is slow, inefficient - we don't have the time to be a nation!
Hiromi: We have a sort of operating system, the "swarm search engine", it is an object oriented politic computer program, managing in real-time weather, available resources (food, water, energy etc.), people's desires and fears (threats, attractors), moving the fleet into its optimum geographical positions and proposes a general arrangement of the structure.
Ollie: A country by definition has an intrinsic value - in the form of minerals, farming space, infrastructure, buildings, etc. Open_Sailing doesn't. Open_Sailing is more like an organism. The whole thing is alive - it moves, it reacts to its environment, it evolves, it grows. The people onboard are its source of energy - if you take the people away, it would be like starving an animal of food. In this way we're different to a country, we are neutral and don't want to become involved with unnecessary legal issues... for now.
All images Cesar Harada.
Setting up an exhibition about today's ecological and economical crisis is a delicate exercise: it seems that everybody has done one such exhibition before you and invited the same artists as you. This year's edition of The Game Is Up! , a festival organized by one of my favourite art centers, the Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium, was brazenly titled How To Save the World in 10 Days.
The press material warns you right from the start that the festival is not going to provide fail-proof recipes to get us out of this mess. From small interventions to grand utopian visions, from ecological labs to socio-political dystopias. It's a given that this festival won't save the world. But as Marge Simpson once said to her husband Homer : "I do not hate you for failing, I love you for trying."
As written above, The Game is Up! chose challenging themes, it set out to embark on much trodden tracks and was conscious of it at every step. Yet, the festival's clever mix of low tech, no-tech and high-tech installations, performances, graffiti, workshops and debates managed to amaze and inspire me, even if i only managed to spend two hours there to see the exhibition. There was something likely to appeal to anyone: children, the usual art and tech crowd, the crowd that likes art but doesn't get tech so much, the cynical and the hopeful, passersby who actually never step inside Vooruit, etc. The design of the exhibition was lovely (the fact that Vooruit building is spectacular helps), it was distributed over several floors and featured wooden panels indicating the titles of the works, seats to peruse documentation and watch videos but most of all, there was a fantastic selection of projects:
First there were the cars. A pair of wooden SUVs, the monstrous polluters still popular around Europe, that had crashed into each other right inside the Vooruit cafe. Since 1998 (thus way before ideas of sustainability and recycling became buzz-worthy), Martin Kaltwasser and Folke Köberling have been throwing works made of recycled materials at the face of consumer culture.
Called Crushed Cayenne, the sculpture mocks the omnipresent car. And so does the other work Kaltwasser & Köberling were showing in the festival exhibition: Autos zu Fahrrädern, two bicycles made out of the material recuperated from one car in one of Graz' squares. The artists brought the vehicles to Ghent by train and rode around the city with the quirky-looking bikes.
The street performances of the German duo didn't stop there. They even distributed car condoms in the street. The condom were to be placed on the exhaust pipe of your car to catch exhaust fumes. Video!
There ware more cars and bikes stories in the exhibition rooms upstairs where videos documented several of Michel de Broin's projects. Shared Propulsion Car is an '86 Buick Regal stripped of its engine, suspension, transmission and electrical system and outfitted with 4 independent pedal and gear mechanisms for passengers to act as self-propulsion motor. The vehicle retains the illusion of the mass-produced luxury automobile, but is reduced to a shell that now has a top speed of 15km per hour.
Another video showed De Broin pedaling around a park in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on a bicycle that transforms kinetic energy produced by the cyclist into smoke. As the artist explained, It's the reverse of how ecology is used normally, the smoke produced is not polluting. It's the sign without the effect. Video.
De Broin created a new work for The Game is Up! Shelter is a post-catastrophe shelter crafted with 36 old Vooruit tables. The legs of the tables point outwards to guard the impenetrable interior of the sculpture against the continuous threat of the outside world. Video of the making, plus interview of the artist.
Because saving the world is best done out there in the streets than between the walls of an art center, the festival had also invited Moose to do some "reverse graffiti" on the backside of the Vooruit building (with the help of Mathias Timmermans and Reinout Hiel.) The patterns drawn into the pollution are both incredibly poetical and alarming as they show the extent of the dirtiness of our streets. Video interview of Moose.
Perhaps the most meaningful project for me was the hands-on Seedballing workshop that FoAM Brussels & Foamlab Amsterdam had organized for children and families during the festival. Seedballing is a practice that aims to return native and often vanished flora species to cities and suburbia. The most eco-friendly version of seedball, developed by Masanobu Fukuoka, consists in mud-and-clay balls that contain a mixture of organic compost and different seed species meant to complement each other.
After the workshop, seedballs containing seeds of plants that used to grow around Ghent, but have died out were scattered on appropriate sites during a guerrilla gardening walk. When the rains come, the mud and clay break apart, exposing the seeds to elements that lead to their growth. In each location whichever seeds are best suited thrive in their protected mud starter-home.
The seedballed sites were then mapped and added to google maps of urban edibles.
Natalie Jeremijenko installed her Environmental Health Clinic in the middle of a noisy and very polluted roundabout in Ghent. Anyone could take an appointment and tell her about their environmental anxieties during the consultation. She'd listen and instead of handing out a prescription, she will advise concrete actions to improve the environmental factors in patients' own neighbourhood. Check out Vooruit's video:
And if you speak dutch, you might want to watch the video of two patients explaining their environmental concern and the suggestion that Natalie gave them over' the consultation.
Annemie Maes, from the So-on collective, covered a wall with pictures, texts, magazines (which you can download as PDF), videos, and interviews that documented her field research at Barefoot College. In this Indian community, illiterate grown-up women are technically trained so they can take their fate in their own hands and provide their village with sustainable energy. The collective believes that their knowledge and experience could inspire the rest of the world to find solutions for climate and environmental issues.
After their visit at Vooruit, members of the public and artists alike could take a taxifiets (taxibike) to be driven home safely.
Ah! also worth noting, Antoine Schmitt had installed an LED version of Time Slip in the cafe. The news ticker manipulates incoming news by transferring it to the future. Thus, "A plane crash in Madrid killed 153 people" becomes the even more direful "A plane crash in Madrid will kill 153 people". Schmitt confronts the viewer with the control - or lack thereof - over his own fate in a universe where time and cause have become unstable concepts.
All my images:
Credit photo on the homepage: Reinout Hiel for Vooruit
The 2009 edition of Transmediale has been by very far the gloomiest i've ever lived. Nothing to do with the quality of the programme, the works selected for the exhibition or anything that could be blamed on the organization. I just didn't manage to make it to Berlin until the last day of the festival. Transmediale was the event where, 5 years ago, i discovered new media art, it's the place where i meet the new media art crowd of Europe, that's where we talk, exchange views about the new direction taken by each edition, disagree and sometimes change our minds. Transmediale is not the biggest new media art festival but, in my experience, it's the one where the most meaningful discussions take place. So here i was on a Sunday, last day of the festival, arriving at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, looking for friends who had all vanished from the premise and feeling immensely stupid. The conference was over, the artists were busy enjoying their last day in the city before dismounting their installation and because my mind was still completely wrapped up in the workshop i had just left, over there in sunny Alicante, i felt disconnected. I did my duty, i visited the exhibition, walked through some presentations and left for some new adventures.
Then something happened. You know when you go and see a movie, walk out unconvinced but over time that movie grows on you and you catch yourself talking about with other people? Something similar happened with Transmediale. I just flipped through my notes, photos and the catalogue and realized that that damn Sunday had to be re-appraised.
This year's exhibition, titled, Survival and Utopia: Visions of Balance in Transformation, was all about climate change, its symptoms, contexts and possible outcome. And because Transmediale is a festival about new media art the delicate and sometimes absurd relationship between nature and technology was at the heart of the reflection.
I've seen a fair number of exhibitions that engaged with a similar theme over the past few years. Issues of climate change and other eco-conscious topics have been explored time and time again and although there were some good projects at Transmediale, how can the sum of them compare to exhibitions where the medium, new or old, did not play such a key role? That said, i know i had a very partial view of the event, i missed the performances, the lectures and, as i mentioned above, the discussions that they never fail to generate, so don't mind me too much, ok?
Post Global Warming Survival Kit by Petko Dourmana propels visitors into nuclear winter. A nuclear war, it is predicted, would prompt extremely cold weather and reduced sunlight for a period of months or years as large amounts of smoke and soot would be injected into the Earth's stratosphere.
Post Global Warming Survival Kit is a two-channel-projection but because you supposed to walk through a space covered in ash, you have to wear night vision goggles if you want to see it. The images shows pictures of the North Sea as an apocalyptic scene.
What you can almost distinguish with your naked eyes though is a 1930s caravan. You will need to don the night vision goggles to see that it contains basic living goods, and technical equipment so that contact can be made with any other survivors who might be out there somewhere.
The artist 'provides the viewer with the opportunity to experience other visual worlds or parts of our reality which would remain invisible without technical aids. Without technology, we would be blind in an ash-covered world. Dourmana ironically perceives the "nuclear winter" as the only concept which man has come up with to prevent global warming: a dystopic look at politics and our future.'
Jana Linke's Click & Glue was the absolute crowd-pleaser of the show. A big white balloon filled with helium moves and floats through the air and within the perimeter of a small room. The balloon is connected to a nylon thread and a mechanism that distributes glue. As the balloon moves and bounces against the walls, it leaves a small deposit of glue that momentarily functions as an anchor before the balloon continues its movement through the space. Thread by thread, the installation generates a web that eventually entangles the balloon and prevents it from moving. In this way, Click & Glue becomes responsible for creating a network that locks itself in. I didn't get what all that was about but, Lord, was it lovely to witness it.
Urs Dubacher's performance Specialità di Silicio, melted-down hardware is turned into almost edible-looking food. In his mobile kitchen, similar to the one of a takeaway vendor, the artist melts bits of computer hardware into realistic-looking culinary meals. His work reflects on our so-called 'throwaway society', commenting on recycling, the exploitation of electronic products, and technology's seemingly unstoppable development.
In Trilogy, Marco Evaristti travels to various parts of the world to comment on the themes of territorial boundaries and environmental pollution. Using fruit color and fabric, Evaristti spray-painted red an iceberg in Greenland in 2004. In June last year he was arrested while trying to perform a similar trick on the peak of Mont Blanc which didn't prevent him to head off to the Sahara and turn a dune red.
Oh! was about to forget: I did get to see some results of the Climate Hack workshop that playfully reframe the issues at stake using methods outside the traditional political rhetoric. One of the projects developed proposed visitors to make and bake candy based on their own carbon footprint. The impact of your country is symbolized by spoonfuls of sugar. One spoonful can be removed or added to the total amount based on the estimation of your life style. The more you use the earth resources the bigger the candy you have to face.
Hop! My picture set on flickr. Image on the homepage is 5VOLTCORE / Christian Gützer (at) - Grow - Fruits of Kronos (2007.)
It's been a bumpy 2 weeks period of non-stop trips and commitments, my reports of several of the events i've attended recently are somewhat chaotic and delayed. Apologies for that. Back to the work in progress show i visited a couple of weeks ago at the Royal College of Art in London. I mentioned The Toaster Project, now's the turn of another project by a student of the Design Interactions department: the shrewd and speculative Golden Institute, by Sascha Pohflepp.
The Golden Institute for Energy is a think tank from an alternative reality where Jimmy Carter, instead of losing the 1981 presidential election, had defeated his Republican opponent Ronald Reagan. According to this scenario, a think thank would have been formed to pursue Carter's energy policies (Carter it might be reminded had created the United States Department of Energy to respond to the 1973 energy crisis.) Located in Golden, Colorado, the think thank focused heavily on devising alternative sources of power for the United States. What would have happened if Carter had been able to pursue his environmentally-friendly policy? If money and resources had been poured into geo-engineering rather than into space programs?
An independent corporation but equipped with virtually unlimited government funding, Golden quickly grew to be the earthbound equivalent of NASA, promising a future of national wealth through an abundance of energy. Research and development programs ranged in scale from manipulating the planet and its climate to the national economy and consumer products.
Their proposals ranged from planetary-scale geoengineering like manipulating the rotation of the Earth or the abolition of night (or even 'better' hacking planet Earth so that nights would be much longer in the Soviet Union than in the States) to domestic experiments like the declaration of Nevada into giant lightning-field. The strategists carefully designed the experiments and observed the reaction of the local population. For example the way that Las Vegas embraced the weather, offering Lightning Bingo or the lightning rod-trailer parks that were set up by people hoping to make a fortune through electricity. Further projects were centered around the car as an object which uniquely embodies energy and many American values.
The Institute's senior strategist was the prolific Douglas 'Doug' Arnd who regularly put forward his grand visions and became somewhat of a public figure. Often called megalomaniac by his contemporaries, the projects that Arnd and his colleagues at Golden pursued had significant impact on the 1980s and beyond in this alternative past.
Originating in research about the relationship of technology and idealism in Silicon Valley, this project takes the technique of future scenarios and attempts to turn it towards the past. This appears to be an interesting experiment, not only because technology-related art and design usually focus on the future. It also offers the opportunity of imagining what the present and its challenges would be like if different decisions had been made in the past. For example a radical focus on the promises of renewable energy instead of Reagan's choice for defense and communication technologies.
It also implies that securing our future might require similar devices and asks how a Western society like the US could be transformed into one that regards the pursuit of alternative sources of energy as a visionary yet profitable endeavor. The vast scale of some proposals echo the Cold War, but are in fact surprisingly similar to what environmentalists like Saul Griffith are demanding today in order to combat global warming.
Lastly, the project reflects on the method of scenario-making itself, which was in fact invented by think tank RAND Corporation and Herman Kahn, and the way that designers are increasingly employing it today to forecast technological futures.
All images courtesy Sascha Pohflepp.
Related: Christina Hemauer's and Roman Keller's video and installation work, A Moral Equivalent of War: A Curiosity, a Museum Piece and an Example of a Road not Taken (2006-7) as mentioned in Ecological Strategies in Today's Art (part 1.)
The South London Gallery in London is currently showing a brilliant video by Danish collective Superflex. Damn! did i have to walk to find that gallery! (thanks Gunnar for pointing me in the right direction.) Little did i know at the time that the artists had uploaded the film online:
As deeply rooted into economic and political awareness as ever, Superflex' latest opus, Flooded McDonald's is a 20 minute video that shows the model of a typical but empty McDonald's gradually being submerged with (collected than recycled) water.
The work is both intensely dramatic and irresistibly funny. Flooded McDonald's goes beyond the usual fast food suspect. It hints at the consumer-driven power and influence, but also impotence, of large multinationals in the face of climate change. Unlike some documentaries on the same subject, the movie doesn't point an angry finger, it doesn't give lessons nor does it make you feel as guilty as sin. Instead, the film elegantly and comically allows you to draw your own conclusions.