“The Carboniferous Room Portable forms a part of the Extreme Environment Love Hotel. Here couples can share intimate moments in the environmental and atmospheric conditions of unreachable places. In the Carboniferous Room Portable, couples are thrust back three hundred million years to a period in Earth’s history of high oxygen and bearable carbon dioxide levels. The device also releases smells and aromas of that period into the shared bubble that couple inhabit.”—
The future weird is never a particular era. It is not a Now, but the feeling of foreboding that accompanies the unstoppable unfolding of history. It is the extreme likelihood of losing a game, the rules of which are going to be invented tomorrow.
Space travel, finance and what we are calling ‘big design’ are the emerging themes this year. As well as continuing to explore digital and science-related themes — especially their social and ethical implications — students are beginning to explore how designers can get involved with large systems and contexts such as global finance and geopolitics. Some projects explore alternative financial and economic models such as investment funds driven by superstitious algorithms, and 24/7 banking ships staffed by genetically enhanced traders. A few explore more existential themes such as what it would mean if we could choose to take a one-way trip into space. Who would benefit from it, what kind of person would be sent, what would they do on the journey and would it be voluntary? Several students are reconsidering our relationship to nature, which is not what it used to be. They are looking at new uses for human reproductive capacity, new family structures arising from extended lifespans, insect colonies designed to carry out domestic chores, and new dating strategies for a world where you might fall in love with an unknown sibling due to increasing anonymous sperm donation.
Their mission, which is expected to last at least 10 days, is China’s fourth manned mission. Shenzhou 9 launched 16 June from the Jiuquan centre on the edge of the Gobi desert in northern China.
China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit. It is already one of just three nations to have launched manned spacecraft on their own.
“Most likely, Beijing wouldn’t try to claim the entire moon, just part of it. For one thing, the cost of demonstrating complete occupation would simply be too high. The moon’s surface is, after all, 14.6 million square miles. Second, leaving some of the moon’s surface for other powers to claim would legitimize the Chinese annexation”—Red Moon Rising - By John Hickman | Foreign Policy (via iamdanw)
This timeline is the culmination of research into the history of power in whatever form it takes. Starting with the end of the Roman Empire, we can see how power fractured and spread throughout history right up to the early 22nd century. The repeating booms and crashes of finance and the wars and revolutions of nations that drove change are largely noted as are some of the more minor events that might take decades to manifest themselves into something more noticeable. In this way, we can build a picture of how the power structures of today came to be and how important our understanding of historical precedent is.
"Proposal for resuscitating prehistoric creatures" sets up the rebirth of cloned creatures, their wandering and their sound epic. They are seeking to evolve in our contemporary era. The designer, who became the heroine of a quasi-mystic epic journey, aims at resuscitating the sound of prehistoric creatures by reconstructing their vocal tract. This is problematic from the scientific point of view: since the vocal tract is made of soft tissue, it does not fossilise. The only things that have been preserved through time are the surrounding bones. The inner parts have to be redesigned. For more than a year Marguerite Humeau has been discussing with palaeontologists, zoologists, veterinarians, engineers, explorers, surgeons, ear and throat specialists, and radiologists. Humeau had to overcome the difficulty of telling history, and prehistory; and also to create a work from non-existent, inaccessible, or lost data. Design, fiction, science, speculations and phantasms serve the project ambition. Advices from experts as well as predictions are used to craft the roars of the new creatures. The epic, as real as fantasised, gives birth to three semi-real roaring creatures: a Mammoth Imperator (-4,5 MYA), an Entelodont aka Terminator Pig (-25 MYA), and an Ambulocetus "Walking whale" (-50MYA).
“Yes, it is more accepted now, although it seems to be used more to describe provocative design than design as a form of critique. Most interestingly for us, it is tangled up with several other related terms — adversarial design, discursive design, conceptual design, speculative design and design fiction — that together are setting out a broader role for design firmly located in a cultural, social and political context, rather than a purely business one.”—Information – di12
The zeitgeist was chewy with space-flavored nuggets, morsels of futuristic design, precursors of a Tomorrow whose confident glow was visible beyond the horizon of all that was less wonderful, provided one had eyes to see it.
I was a native, I felt unquestioningly, of Tomorrow.
But somewhere along the way, during the decade after my argument with the Air Force man, Tomorrow went lowercase.
Time Inventors’ Kabinet [TIK] is a collaborative experiment with time. For the last three years, a series of artists and thinkers have made an attempt to devise the future of an alternative and ecological time. This transdisciplinary project focuses on non-linearity and parallelism. All kinds of environmental information; be it a city, a field or beehive, can be transformed into sound and vision. Wind time maintains a distributed network that connects gardens in rural areas and cities, bringing them together in non-conventional relational databases, forming one long open green that has its own notion of time.
While the Saturn V made headlines shuttling US astronauts to the moon, the Soviet N1 rocket was made famous for a slightly different reason — when it blew up on takeoff it resulted in the largest, non-nuclear, man-made explosion of all time.
And at the end I said something about my current dilemma, summarised in the title quote above (which was said to me by a curator quitting her job), that opinions are no longer a useful or appropriate organising principle, that reckoning is no longer a scarcity, that the network now so obviously and explicitly extends beyond the bounds of any individual being able to say anything useful or conclusive on or about it in isolation, that telling someone your opinion is like telling them about your dreams.
In 1927, the Soviet Association of Inventors decided to hold an exhibition dedicated to the possibility of space flight. In spite of some financial and bureaucratic difficulties — the government claimed that the subject of spaceflight was “still premature and problematical” and would only serve to “stir up the masses” — an extensive display of Russian and foreign inventions was arranged for public viewing.
The overall exhibition was divided into four general historic periods: the scientific-fantastic, scientific-realistic, planning and invention (theoretical), and invention and design (practical). The organizers assessed the various types of rockets and the methods for launching them, and expressed confidence in the eventual use of nuclear energy in space exploration.
A colony in space will not share all of the same challenges as one in 19th century New Zealand. However, the approaches that the Victorians took to mitigate these risks are worth considering. They give us some basic pointers as to how these things worked then and, therefore, how they may be able to work now.
“In this sense, ruined places are temporal heterotopias, containing complex interminglings of past, present, and future as well as of both objective existence (always assuming, for our purposes, that there is such a thing) and imagined constructions of how things were, are, and will be.”—The Atemporality of “Ruin Porn” – Part I: The Carcass » Cyborgology
In connection with our editorial of this month, we show on this page a monument dedicated to the age in which we are living. Electricity, more than anything else, has made our present civilization what it is, and if this civilization should be wiped out by war or some other cataclysm, nothing would remain to tell what Electricity did for the race during the past century.
Old postcards from the early 20th century, compared to the same view shown on Google Street View today. The postcards come from my own collection. Almost all of them are from England, mainly showing West London, Middlesex, Surrey, Berks and Bucks. Click on the postcards to see enlarged versions. There are also links to the modern equivalent on Street View.