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.


The dream of reason Breeds Monsters. Goya

The dream of reason Breeds Monsters. Goya

 Where the Wild Things Are.

This year the studio will trawl the wilds of genetic modification, augmented bodies and neo biological invention to query today’s idealistic and preservationist views of the natural world. We will re-imagine the quiet mysteries of wilderness as we encounter the novel reality of engineered ‘monsters’ and manufactured landscapes.

We will voyage south becoming ‘archaeologists of the future’ following Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands. Here we will explore the living wunderkammer that inspired his treatise on the Origin of the Species, we will hold court with its fragile but fearless inhabitants, swim in phosphorescent bays and devise projects of near future evolutions. We will spin tales of exotic laboratories of strange technologies and uncommon natures.

Project work will be explored through a field of made devices, drawings, and constructed atmospheres. They will be ‘necessary monsters’, fashioned through speculation and projection. As critical instruments they will instigate debate and raise questions about architectural practice in relation to the social and political consequences of various environmental and technological futures. It would seem that ‘going mad is the only way of staying sane’.

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