Project: - Speculative Design -

Exploring possible futures around the theme of uncertainty

RIAT in Ars Electronica

Day 1, I discovered what seemed to be a bookshop dedicated to research in art and technology. In fact, this space was Ars’ home to the Research Institute in Art and Technology. RIAT is a newly independent research institute based in Vienna interested in developing and improving literacy in crypto-economics, blockchain, open hardware and experimental artistic technologies. In short, the artists and researchers present shared at least two interests of mine: poetry (or “poietry”) and blockchain ; a recent obsession.   The following days I returned three times, twice by chance because the talks I picked out from the… More

Knowledge: The Recursive Game

I watched this fascinating talk by David Kelly (2006) about what he thought science would be like in the next 100 years. For him science is the process of changing how we know. Knowing is a constructive and creative act. He refers to the evolution of science as ‘The recursive game’ meaning the way science evolves is sustainable because it provided instructions on how to changes the rule allowing to for the process of acquiring knowledge to evolve infinitely. Building on that idea he takes us through the origins, future and meaning of science.   Origins Until the 1700s knowledge… More

Axiomatic Earth

The Axiomatic Earth is a seminar by Susana Calo, Adrien Lahoud and Godofredo Pereira with Mateo Pasquinelli and Susan Schuppli hosted within The Anthropocene Curriculum.   In the prologue Godofredo Pereira introduces the concept of technosphere through which the panel decided to approach the Anthropocene. The term technosphere is particularly difficult to understand. It seems there is no consensus or clarity on what this term represents. From what I understand, A technosphere is an ecosystem created by technologies that interacts with the biosphere by triggering natural processes. In other words, our technology impacts the biosphere and sets in motion… More

Are monuments meant to die?

The Library of Pulau Saigon An “un-forgetting” machine attempts to “resurrect” archaeological ambiguities from a list of artefacts recovered from the site of a former island in the Singapore River. Studying representations of objects via Google Images, the machine performs cultural craftsmanship on our behalf, using shape interpolation and generative CAD modelling to produce a library of mutating cultural objects.   As I am interested in ways of knowing, Debbie Ding’s project is interesting because it depicts a way to relate to artefacts only through their form. It questions the meaning of abstraction processes as the computer looks for patterns… More

Photographers gallery. Collecting, permanence and ownership.

Last week I went to a talk called Trafficking of cultural goods: 3D modelling and digital colonialism held in the Photographer’s gallery, a venue on Oxford Street I had not yet heard of. The gallery currently hosts the work of artist Morehshin Allahyari. Her work is inspired by the recent trend of the destruction of ancient artefacts by ISIS. In response, our western countries have invested money in the digital construction of these artefacts through modelling and 3D printing. She questions the real motives behind this ambition, suggesting it has more to do with profit than preservation, questioning how we… More

Pleas for the preservation of colonial decaying monuments abroad

In 2106, Philip Davies, an expert in British conservation and heritage, asked the British government for funding to help preserve colonial empire heritage in a number its ex colonies. This comes at a time when the UK seeks to vote on leaving the EU and capitalising on trading with the Commonwealth. In his view, the state of these historical monuments tarnish the international reputation of Britain, speculating that their revival would stimulate economic growth and the host country’s desire to make deals with the UK.   “Prominent public buildings and monuments, which symbolise Britain’s shared history with a host country… More

Colour as the unknowable

I found this article that provides an example of our western legacies and how they have affected our aesthetic preferences.   This article (2013) interrogates our moderate and controlled use of colour in general. Western trends and consensus favour discreet dabs of colour in a sea of white. There are exceptions but unless your colour association talents are recognised your new outfit, acquisition or home could be dismissed as eccentric or tacky.   Carolyn Purnell reminds us that historically, the East India trade Company could only import brightly coloured fabric to Britain if it was to… More

Architecture of the extremes

How would extremist ideology manifest through architecture? When I asked myself this question I quickly realised it wasn’t really speculative. We have seen, and still see extremist governments and the associated aesthetics. Think of Soviet or Nazi architecture, imposing monuments, castles, great walls and propaganda.   What may be new today is the wave of populist movements who manifest incomprehensible nostalgia about lost colonial empire times. I really struggled to understand what that means for people who have never lived at that time. I was watching the French news channel the day Erdogan organised the referendum that would grant him… More

Agonistic Architecture

In parallel to Foucault I have been reading a text by Teresa Hoskyns from the book Making Things Public, Atmospheres of Democracy (p798). This large book investigates how democracy manifests outside of the general political sphere. In her text Designing the Agon, Teresa is interested in spatial politics. Her assumption is that space can reflect social relations but in turn it can determine them. With that in mind, determining what the European parliament should look like is both a political and spatial question.   Both she and Chantal Mouffe agree that a space for democracy must allow balanced conflict and… More

Thoughts on Foucault’s power/knowledge and Architecture

Michel Foucault produced one of the most influential bodies of work on the subject power and knowledge. Power is often viewed as a negative and oppressive force but he was one of the first to discuss power as a potent means of production and positivity in society. Foucault famously uses the term “power” together with “knowledge” to signify that the most powerful are those who warrant scientific understanding, current norms of knowledge and accepted truths. These truths are reinforced by scientific discourse, institutions, education, through the media and political ideologies. Here power produces narratives, truths and boundaries within which we… More