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Liam Young, 29 05 14


Sign Up Here! Applications close June 6th. Open to All.

The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth to explore peripheral landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness. These distant landscapes – the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine – are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives. Each year we navigate a different global supply chain and seek to map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. Past journeys have traversed the mines of Madagascar and the Australian outback, the faded nuclear futures of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the black military technologies and conspiracy theorists of the Nevada desert and Burning Man Festival.

This year we travel East to ride the waves of massive container ships and trace the shadows of the world’s desires along supply chains and cargo routes, to explore the dispersed choreographies and atomised geographies that global sea trade brings into being. These are the contours of our distributed city, stretched around the earth from the hole in the ground to the high street shelf. Consignments of the precious and industrial, raw and refined, mechanical and alive, drift across infrastructural seas on vast Panamax, Aframax and Suezmax from cavernous factory floors via huge ports like Shanghai, Singapore and Busan and through the bottleneck excavations of Panama and Suez. Our journey to Asia will take us behind the scenes of our modern world, cutting a cross section through the secret lives of products, where intense pockets of activity in wildly unexpected places supply cultures far removed with the fulfilment of their every need and desire. Joining us on our journey will be international collaborators and specialists from the worlds of design, technology, science, art and fiction, and together we will form a travelling circus of research visits, field reportage, rolling discussions and impromptu tutorials that will be chronicled in a publication and film.

Eligibility- The Unknown Fields summer expedition is open to all architects, designers, artists, writers and interested parties, students or professionals. A portfolio or CV is not required, only the online application form and payment.

Fees- All inclusive Expedition fee: £1600, which includes flights from London, all internal transport, accommodation, entrance fees, meetings, consultants, workshops and all other group costs (excludes meals). Please note: If you are based in Asia you can meet Unknown Fields on location and we can arrange a reduced fee that excludes return flights from London.

+ £60 Architectural Association Membership. If you are already a member of the AA, this is not required.

contact info(at)unknownfieldsdivision.com with any questions.

 

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Liam Young, 20 03 14


On April 4 +5 Liam Young will be hosting  Data Drama: Crunching, Chunking and other Novel Data Technologies to Better Help us Escape From the Present at Princeton University School of Architecture. Across 2 days 20 speakers will be discussing the spatial possibilities and consequences of big data and the network. To accompany the presentations Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: A Journey to the Centre of the Internet, will be coordinating a field trip through the wilds of New Jersey to visit a series of local data centres and critical engineer Julian Oliver will be running a workshop on the tools and tactics for asserting and defending civil liberties in the networked domain. For details head over here where the event will also be live streamed. Use #datadrama to contribute to the conversation.

James Bridle [Artist and founder Of Dronestagram and the New Aesthetic]

Kevin Slavin [Founder of the Playful Systems group at MIT's Media Lab]

Tim Maughan [Science Fiction Author]

Ivan Poupyrev [Project leader at Google’s Advance Technologies and Projects Division]

Ben Lewis [Director of Google and the World Brain]

Kate Crawford [Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research and Visiting Professor, MIT Center for Civic Media]

Metahaven [Designers and Editors of Black Transparency: The right to know in the age of Mass Surveillance]

Joanne McNeil [Techno political Writer and Researcher]

Scanlab [Specialists in Large scale 3D laser scanning]

Benjamin Bratton [Director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics]

Carlo Ratti [Director of Senseable City Lab at MIT]

Usman Hasque [Founder of internet of things data infrastructure Pachube]

Adam Harvey [Countersurveillance fashion designer]

Mario Carpo [Architectural Historian]

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Liam Young, 10 02 14


At EYEO’s 2013 festival in Minneapolis Liam Young gave one of the closing kenote lectures. In a multimedia performance he takes the audience on a storytelling walking tour through the Brave New Now, an imaginary city, extrapolated from the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research. A place found somewhere between the real and the imagined, both achingly familiar and exceedingly strange, stitched together from fragments of distant landscapes and speculative designed fictions.

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Liam Young, 17 04 13


For VOLUME issue 35 Everything Under Control: Building with Biology scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford sat down with speculative architect LiamYoung in the basement recording studio of the journal Nature to discuss the mythical beasts of synthetic biology. Rutherford recently worked with the BBC on a series called ‘The Gene Code’ which explored the consequences of decoding the human genome. Recognizing the potential externalities of communicating science poorly, Rutherford works at conveying the misunderstood field of synthetic biology to a broader audience. Download the pdf here or read the pages below.  (more…)

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Liam Young, 17 03 13


Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young has been interviewed by We Made Money Not Art’s Regine Debatty for her ‘Artists in Laboratories’ radio programme on ResonanceFM. Each week Regine is in conversation with an artist, a hacker, a designer or a scientist discussing new art practices made possible by advances in science and technologies. Liam discusses his fictional city project Under Tomorrows Sky, the extreme landscapes of Unknown Field’s research expeditions and his upcoming Future Perfect exhibition at the Lisbon Architecture Trienal. You can listen to the interview here on sound cloud.

Liam has also been interviewed in Vienna by SpaceCuriosities’ Sandra Häuplik-Meusburger and Verena Holzgethan for Orange FM and the Cultural Broadcasting Archive. They discuss the value of the speculative project and the necessity for new forms of architectural culture to engage with the complexity of an anthropocentric world. Listen to the podcast here.

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Liam Young, 03 02 13


Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young is one of the curators of the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Liam is developing the exhibition Future Perfect , a fictional future city that will open for visitors in September 2013. Future Perfect zooms into the fictional city developed for Under Tomorrow’s Sky and develops fragments of the future city at a 1:1 scale.

In a time of crisis architects need to be exploring big visions and bold gestures. It is not the time to retreat. The future must become a project again. Future Perfect brings together an ensemble of scientists, technologists, futurists, science fiction authors and designers to collectively develop the props, spaces, machines, cultures and narratives of their own brave new future city – an imaginary urbanism, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.

Emerging in the shadows of the decaying towers of a post oil Dubai, Future Perfect is imagined as a new terraformed urban island. It is a city that is grown rather than built, a computed territory, faceted and abstracted, endlessly reprinting itself as demand requires. Buildings tessellate down the landscape as an inhabited geology of crevice rooms, and public valleys. Its material fabric has evolved as a complex endemic ecology where nature and technology intertwine and where biology becomes an economy. The city has developed in a near future heavily influenced by the imminent boom of the Indian subcontinent, an emerging technology and economic superpower- a hybrid culture, part Bollywood call center, part European cultural capital.  It is an imaginary landscape extrapolated from the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research.

In future Perfect project collaborations are forged between designers and technologists to develop a collection of commissioned works that can be inhabited as large scale fragments of the future city. Inhabit these moments of the from the future, sit within its pharmaceutical gardens, listen to the drone infrastructures drifting in the skies above, watch as the city endlessly remakes itself. These strategies bring the architect closer to the technologies that are increasingly shaping the urban realm and the public closer to the scientific research that is changing their world. The Future Perfect think tank includes Bruce Sterling, Warren Ellis, Rachel Armstrong, Daniel Dociu, Paul Duffield, ARC magazine, Centre For Science and Imagination, BLDGBLOG and many more. Artists and designers for Future Perfect will be announced shortly.

We are also accepting applications to be included in the other associated exhibitions of the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Close, Closer. You can propose ideas for Crisis Buster Grants, Associated Projects, Student Prizes and a young architect Début Award - all details in the PDF attached! Check out our website for more details or download our launch booklet. You or your company can also be part of our project by becoming a friend, patron or benefactor. We are a non-profit organisation and hugely appreciate all and any support you may be able to give

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Liam Young, 19 01 12


Liam Young and Kate Davies, leaders of the Architectural Association’s award winning Unknown Fields Division, have announced a recruitment drive for their next public nomadic studio which will run from 20 Aug – 01 Sep 2012. You have until July to SIGN UP! Last year the division travelled on a cross section through landscapes of obsolete futures from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, through the Ukraine and the oil fields of Azerbaijan to rocket launch pad of kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrone. This year go in search of Alien Encounters on a roadtrip from Mexican Border towns and the Roswell UFO crash site, through Area 51 to the Burning Man Festival.

Unknown Fields is a nomadic studio that throws open the doors of the AA and sets off on an annual expedition to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. Each year we navigate a different global cross-section and map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. You will be both visionaries and reporters, part documentarian and part science-fiction soothsayers as the otherworldly sites we encounter will afford us a distanced viewpoint from which to survey the consequences of emerging environmental and technological scenarios.

This year the Division will be heading off on a reconnaissance road trip to chronicle a series of extraterrestrial encounters from the borderlands, black sites, military outposts and folkloric landscapes of the United States. From the ‘illegal aliens’ of the New Mexico border towns we will head north exploring territories of negotiation and conflict, zones of transgression, suspicion and speculation. We will rumble along the UFO highway, past the mythic territories of Area 51, listening to tall tales from conspiracy theorists amidst the sonic booms crackling in the quiet desert air.

We will visit covert military test sites and the alien technologies of the aeronautics industry as we shape our own experimental craft to launch in the skies above the psychedelic community of the Burning Man Festival, where our journey ends. By the bonfires we will examine the mysteries and conspiracies that surround what lies off the map, off-grid and below the radar as we propose new truths and expose alternative fictions.

Joining us on our travels will be a troupe of collaborators from the worlds of technology, science and fiction including Geoff Manaugh [BLDGBLOG], Nicola Twilley [Edible Geography], futurist Stuart Candy and UFOologist, folklorist and author Mark Pilkington. Together we will form a travelling circus of research visits, field reportage, rolling discussions and impromptu tutorials that will be chronicled in an annual publication and travelling exhibition. Throughout our journey the Division will identify opportunities for tactical intervention and speculative invention as we examine the unknown fields between truth and fiction.

Enlist now before all the postiions are filled! Email l.young (at) tomorrowsthoughtstoday.com with any questions.

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Liam Young, 05 05 11


Liam Young and Kate Davies, leaders of the Architectural Association’s award winning Unknown Fields Division, have announced a recruitment drive for their new annual nomadic studio which will run from 11-22 July. You have until May 20th to SIGN UP! You can check all the costs and arrangements on this flyer and then you can sign up now to join them on an extraordinary design research expedition through the unknown fields that lie between nature and technology and collaborate with Volume magazine and Phillips Technologies on the production of an annual publication and touring exhibition. This first year takes them on a cross section through landscapes of obsolete futures from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, through the Ukraine and the oil fields of Azerbaijan to rocket launch pad of kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrone.

THE UNKNOWN FIELDS DIVISION is a nomadic studio that sets off on an annual expedition to the ends of the earth exploring forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. Each year we navigate a different global cross-section and map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. We are both visionaries and reporters as the sites we encounter will afford us a distanced viewpoint from which to survey the consequences of emerging environmental and technological scenarios.

This year, on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight, we will pack our Geiger counters and space Suits as we chart a course from the atomic to the cosmic to investigate the unknown fields between the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in the Ukraine and Gagarin’s launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. BBeginning in the shadows of nuclear disaster we will survey the irradiated wilderness and bear witness to a sobering apocalyptic vision. We will skirt the retreating tide of the Aral Sea and mine the ‘black gold’ in the Caspian oilfields and caviar factories. We will wander through the cotton fields of Kazakhstan and tread the ancient silk road before reaching the shores of the cosmic ocean bathed in the white light of satellites blasting into tomorrow’s sky. In these shifting fields of nature and artifice we will re-examine our preservationist and conservationist attitudes toward the natural world and document a cross-section through a haunting landscape of the ecologically fragile and the technologically obsolete.

Joining us on our travels will be a troupe of collaborators, photographers and filmakers from the worlds of technology, science and fiction including the Phillips Technologies Design Probes research Lab and Archis/Volume magazine.

Together we will form a travelling circus of research visits, field reportage, rolling discussions, and impromptu tutorials.  Across our journey The Unknown Fields Division will identify opportunities for tactical intervention and speculative invention that will be chronicled in an annual publication and travelling exhibition. It is a unique opportunity to be a part of an extraordinary research project that will examine the Unknown Fields between cultivation and nature and spin cautionary tales of a new kind of wilderness.

Enlist now before all the postiions are filled! Email l.young (at) tomorrowsthoughtstoday.com with any questions.

Eligibility

The workshop is open to anyone from anywhere. No pre requisites are necessary.

Applications

The deadline for applications is 01 June 2011. Application forms and additional information are available online here and more information can be found at:www.unknownfieldsdivision.com.   All participants are responsible for securing any visas required for entry to Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop. Applicants are advised to contact the AA as soon as possible in order to apply and confirm a place, as space is limited. Places can only be reserved upon receipt of a completed application form and full fees, sent to Sandra Sanna, Administrative Coordinator of the AA Visiting School at visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk

Schedule & Venue

The school runs from 11 to 22 July and will begin at our London rally point before travelling by land, sea and air on a landscape cross section from the Chernobyl Exclusion zone in the Ukraine to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazaksthan. This is an immersive, travelling studio with a fixed itinerary requiring full-time participation. Workshops will be conducted en route at a series of unique venues conducted by an ensemble of collaborators who will be joining us on the expedition.

Accommodation & Costs

The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £650 per participant which includes a £50 Visiting Student Membership, made payable to the AA School of Architecture. As a unique travelling studio Unknown Fields has packaged all costs of our extensive travel itinerary including all flights from and returning to London, internal travel from Chernobyl to Baikonur, all accommodation, entrance fees, permits and workshops into one additional fee of £900. Participants need to bring their own laptops, camera equipment and working materials. Please ensure that all equipment you are bringing is covered by insurance. The AA School takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen whilst travelling to/from or attending the workshop.

More Information

Programme Directors: Liam Young and Kate Davies
Academic Coordinator AA Global School: Christopher Pierce:
Global and Visiting School Coordinator: Sandra Sanna

T          +44 20 7887 4014

E          visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk

[image credit Baikonour- NASA/Bill Ingalls, Chernobyl- source unknown, Azerbaijan- Crude Awakening]

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Liam Young, 19 10 09


This year’s edition of Liam Young’s and Kate Davie’s Intermediate 7 design studio at the Architectural Association has just launched. Read on for this year’s agenda and watch this space as last years ‘Necesary Monsters’ studio projects will be posted shortly.

The end of The World and Other Bedtime Stories

‘The End of the Universe is very popular’, said Zaphod… ‘People like to dress up for it… Gives it a sense of occasion.’ – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

We stare out through Hubble at the light from the creation of the universe. At CERN we hurl electrons at each other looking for clues to its beginning only to set in motion our collective anxieties about our demise in black-hole oblivion. We sit in wait for the end of the world. We have always regaled ourselves with unnerving tales of a day yet to come. Tomorrow is a dark place and our culture is full of tales of a natural world out of control. Whether it be nuclear apocalypse, viral epidemic, tumbling asteroids or eco catastrophe our anxieties about our future demise chronicle the flaws and frailties of the everyday.

This year Inter 7 continues to slip suggestively between the real and the imagined, in the space where architecture enters into new relations with the territories of science and fiction. It is an experience of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. Last year in the living wunderkammer of the Galapagos Islands, we explored the origin of the species and breathed life into a menagerie of architectural monsters. This year we will once again investigate our preservationist and conservationist attitudes toward the natural world but this time we embark on a voyage to bear witness to the alien landscapes of technology. We have mused on evolution and now we will flirt with extinction.

We will set forth on a psychedelic road trip, a last chance saloon tour of sites at their point of collapse. We will clamber over the wreckage of the future to visit a no-man’s land between cultivation and nature and spin a cautionary tale of a new kind of wilderness. Here the radio crackles, skies darken, the weather warms, grey goo seeps from between the cracks, mutant crops roam free – it’s a beautiful day in the strange landscapes that lie behind the scenes of modern living.

Our projects may be militant solutions or last gasp redemptions; a call to arms or a head in the sand; swan songs, manifestos or glorious celebrations in the shadow of an imminent end. We will be both visionaries and reporters, part documentary and part science fiction, we will critically engage with the conditions of today through speculation about the coming of tomorrow. Standing at the brink we will contemplate an end that is laden with fears and inconsistencies yet at the same time proves to be ripe with unknown escapes and wondrous possibilities.

“The collapse of the stellar universe will occur– like creation– in grandiose splendor.” – Blaise Pascal

(more…)

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Liam Young, 21 09 08


This is Gurmail Virdee’s student project form a Diploma Thesis studio I ran last year. The project was just submitted as a silver nominee for the RIBA Presidents Medals. you can view the entry online here. An extract from his work follows.

The project is developed as an experiment in the tangible applications of complex system theory by designing an intelligent, collective corporate organism.

Scripting and animation studies inform the swarming and parasitic behaviour of a designed ecology of schizophrenic robots. By responding to daily, weekly and seasonal cycles the robots aggregate to create volumes and surfaces supporting both the corporate and public life of the surrounding city. The result is a ‘strange nature’ of emergent species, a bio-artificial wilderness of interactive environments and habitable digital landscapes.

Design strategies are tested in the real context of Wall Street, across three ascending scales, from the individual robot specimens and their local interactions to the generic office floor plate and ultimately the adjacent New York streetscape.

It is an intriguing project that poses questions and probes uncertain possibilities. It is both unfamiliar and novel but also unquestioningly relevant and architectural.

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Liam Young, 11 09 08


anthony crossfield_foreign bodies

Foreign Bodies by Anthony Crossfield

 “Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.” J.G. Ballard

This year I will be running a design studio at the Architectural Association in London with Kate Davies from Liquidfactory. Work from the studio will be posted as it develops. 

The studio begins by exploring the dark menagerie that inhabits the pages of Borges’ “Book of Imaginary Beings”.  This register of curious specimens forms a zoo of mythology, a miscellany of ‘necessary monsters’ that are imbued with the dreams and fears of those who conjured them.  These monsters inhabit both the realms of nature and culture ‘slipping suggestively’ between the actual and the imagined – a ‘combinatory capacity’ of infinite and unsettling possibilities. 

Necessary excursions into myth and play can disrupt the surface of the familiar to reveal gaps of useful uncertainty.  We can then wander off the map, through the speculative landscapes of science fiction, on a future safari into brave new worlds that have mutated from our own.

The studio will navigate this critical space between the real and the imagined, a space where architecture can enter into new relations with the territories of science and fiction.  Surveying fields whether literary, biological or electronic and experimenting with devices such as futurology, film and gaming you will be encouraged to consider the mythic dimensions of emerging technologies as a way of critically engaging with the conditions of today and the coming of tomorrow. (more…)

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Liam Young, 21 07 08


Archibett Veterinary Cente. Photo by Scott Burrows

Taking advantage of global networks and blurred boundaries between suburb and city, archibett’s brisbane veterinary specialist centre is a productive addition to ideas of the ‘local’.

view the full article online at Archiecture Australia