UNKNOWN FIELDS: FROM THE ATOMIC TO THE COSMIC
SUMMER 2011 TRAJECTORY PUBLIC FORUM
CHERNOBYL EXCULSION ZONE to BAIKONUR COSMODROME
ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION GALLERY, JULY 11th 11AM – 4PM
36 Bedford Square, London. Free for all. Download programme pdf here.
This year, on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight and the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, we will pack our Geiger counters and space Suits and chart a course from the atomic to the cosmic to investigate the strange natures that stretch from the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in the Ukraine and Gagarin’s launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Before we leave on our research trip we will be joined in London by an ensemble of artists, authors, scientists and designers to present a series of projects and thoughts motivated by the sites we will be visiting. Through the lens of these 2 events we will re-examine our contemporary attitudes toward the natural world and discuss our cross section through the haunting landscapes of the ecologically fragile and the technologically obsolete. We will explore the ‘Unknown Fields’ between cultivation and nature, between utopian projections and dystopian ruins as we spin cautionary tales of a new kind of wilderness.
“To be the first to enter the cosmos, to engage, single-handed, in an unprecedented duel with nature-could one dream of anything more!”
UNKNOWN FIELDS INTRO By LIAM YOUNG and KATE DAVIES
T H E A T O M I C
MICHAEL MADSEN [FILM MAKER]
Film maker Michael Madsen will be traveling with the Unknown Fields Division on our Chenobyl to Baikonur project. Michael is the Director of the recent documentary Into Eternity. The film tells the story of the Onkolo Nuclear Waste Repository in Finland, a facility that must remain intact for 100,000 years even though no structure in human history has even stood for such a long period of time. The film addresses an audience in the remote future and questions Onkolo’s eternal existence and its legacy as a reminder of this toxic energy source.
MARIO PETRUCCI [POET]
Originally a Natural Sciences graduate with a PhD in optoelectronics, Mario Petrucci works as a freelance creative writing tutor, broadcaster and educator. Mario has publishes a book length poem on the Chernobyl didaster titled Heavy Water. Petrucci takes up the challenge confronting society in every age: to attempt the difficult task of exploring its most terrible events. His poem unites the concerns of artist, humanitarian and historian at a common source: the desire not to forget. Heavy Water stands to remind us that those who have been exposed to the invisible should never become so.
CORNELIA HESSE HONEGGER [SCIENTIFIC ILLUSTRATOR]
Cornelia Hesse Honegger is a scientific illustrator and science artist. For 25 years she worked as a scientific illustrator for the scientific department of the Natural History Museum at the University of Zurich. Her watercolors are exhibited internationally at museums and galleries. Her work is an interface between art and science; it plays witness to a beautiful but endangered nature. Since the catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986, she has collected, studied and painted morphologically disturbed insects, which she finds in the fallout areas of Chernobyl as well as near nuclear installations.
PETER WYNN KIRBY [ENVIRONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGIST]
Peter Wynn Kirby is an ‘environmental anthropologist’ and researcher with the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford. His latest book is “Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan.“ In it he considers experiences of nuclear risk and national/cultural constructions of energy, power, pollution, and waste in Japan and in France – the two major nations that depend most on nuclear power, yet where the risks and benefits of nuclear power play out over vastly different sociocultural topographies.
WILL WILES [AUTHOR/JOURNALIST]
Will WIles is deputy editor of the architecture and design journal Icon and has recently completed his debut novel ‘Care of Wooden Floors’ a black comedy about a man being driven insane by minimalist interior decoration. Through the Unknown Fields project Will’s is developing a new book titled ‘Toxic Tourism’ which be published by Haperpress in mid 2012
OLIVIER GOODHALL [Designer]
Oliver’s background, interests and practice is in architecture. He holds a Masters Degree from the Royal College of Art in Design Interactions, having previously graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture in 2005, and co-founded the architecture practice We Made That. He is interested in developing projects that expand engagement between strategic thinking and creative practice in the public realm. His express intent is to be logically utopian and playfully analytical; project outcomes may be informative, revealing, outlandish – or hopefully all of these. Recent projects include the provocative ‘Nuclear is Good. What will it take to convince you?’, a series of speculative urban newspapers commissioned by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, a collaboration with UCL Urban Laboratory’s Creative City Limits programme, and an upcoming project on synthetic gemology due to be published this autumn.
PHILIPS DESIGN PROBES [TECHNOLOGY DESIGNERS]
Philips Design Probes is a dedicated ‘far-future’ research initiative to track trends and developments across the realms of politics, economics, culture, environments and technology.With the aim of understanding ‘lifestyle’ post 2020, the program aims to identify probable systemic shifts and challenges conventional ways of thinking about technology to come up with concepts, products and narratives to stimulate debate. Phillips is a primary project sponsor and has provided a number of scholarships for emerging artists to join the Unknown Fields Chernobyl to Baikonur Cosmodrome studio.
T H E C O S M I C
ALICIA FRAMIS [ARTIST]
Director of Moon Life Foundation, Alicia Framis speculates on the possibility that humans will live in space in the future. The project acts as a stimulus for artists, designers, architects to create futuristic radical political but humane concepts for an extreme lunar environment. Alicia Framis is also exploring the potentialities of living on the moon through the ironical activities and fictional character of a woman astronaut. Left on earth like all women who were never part of the moon race, she settles in to BaseCamp, in which she lived for the two weeks in a customized astronaut suit, among drawings and prototypes that aim to both parody and demand women’s presence on the moon.
REGINA PLEDSZUS [SPACE HUMAN FACTORS DESIGNER]
Regina’s research investigates the emotional and environmental implications of manned spaceflight and particularly the psychological challenges of isolation and monotony for crew during extended exploration missions to Mars or Near Earth Asteroids. Her research has developed into conceptual and applied input into the habitability design aspects of ground-based mission simulations like the Mars 500 experiment and the generation of mission ideas with the European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team. Recently Regina has recently been based in the Stanley Kubrick archive exploring speculative design in science fiction and the real-world applicability of sci-fi film sets as scenarios for psychological habitability.
PAUL DUFFIELD [COMIC CREATOR/ILLUSTRATOR]
Paul Duffield is a comic book creator, animator and illustrator. He collaborates wit hauthor Warren Ellis on the webcomic Freakangels and the visual poem ‘Signal’. Signal is an experiment in visual storytelling that attempts to use comicbook visual language to explore the the theme of the human search for knowledge and other life, inspired by SETI, and Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos. After countless decades scanning the skies, listening to the beep beep beep from alien worlds there is just one man left in the SETI institute, still waiting…
LOUISE K WILSON [SOUND ARTIST]
Louise K Wilson is a visual artist who makes installations, live works, sound works and single channel videos. Her current research uses the medium of sound to ask philosophical and material questions about the spatio-temporal physicality of certain sites and our perceptions of them. She has travelled to numerous military and scientific sites including the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training facility, nuclear submarines, US listening stations, university halls, rocket launch sites and disused RAF bases in pursuit of the acoustics of resonant spaces. She has explored the ways in which technologies of the audible create new ways of engaging with the lost traces of institutional places.
NELLY BEN HAYOUN [EXPERIENCE DESIGNER]
Nelly Ben Hayoun has designed experiences for you to become an astronaut in the living room, generating dark energy from pigeons’ eggs in the kitchen and colliding atoms in the bathroom. She is interested in how we can use design and science in our everyday lives to make them more thrilling, creative and passionate.. Often science seems to be reserved for scientists – expert practitioners who alone have the privilege of experiencing the fringes of human knowledge and the extremes of nature. Her work aims to combat this aspect of science, by enlisting willing scientists in experiences that mix the creativity with technology, science with fiction, factual with artistic and amateur with expert.
MARK PILKINGTON [UFO FOLKLORIST]
Mark Pilkington is a writer, publisher, curator and musician with particular interest in the fringes of knowledge, culture and belief. On a journey through the badlands and backwaters of America, Mark Pilkington uncovered a 60 year-old story stranger than any conspiracy thriller. Through the fascinating account of his travels Pilkington reveals the long history of UFOria and its origins in the murky worlds of espionage, psychological warfare and UFO hunters, Pilkington soon discovers that the truth about flying saucers is stranger and more complex than either the ufologists or debunkers would have us believe: instead of covering-up stories of crashed spacecraft, alien contacts and secret underground bases, the US intelligence agencies
THE UNKNOWN FIELDS DIVISION IS SUPPORTED BY
ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION [VISITING SCHOOL PROGRAMME]
PHILIPS DESIGN PROBES [TECHNOLOGY DESIGNERS]
KUMUKA WORLDWIDE [ADVENTURE TRAVEL CONSULTANTS]
UKRAINE INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES [PROJECT CARRIER]
VOLUME [RESEARCH LAB]
NEASDEN CONTROL CENTRE [GRAPHIC ARTIST]