Liam Young, 27 09 16


Directed by speculative architect Liam Young and written by fiction author Tim Maughan, In the Robot Skies is the world’s first narrative shot entirely through autonomous pre programmed drones. In collaboration with the Embedded and Artificially intelligent Vision Lab in Belgium the film is captured by a specially developed flock of camera drones each with their own set of cinematic rules and behaviours.

The film explores the drone as a cultural object, not just as a new instrument of visual story telling but also as the catalyst for a new collection of urban sub cultures. In the way the New York subway car of the 80’s gave birth to a youth culture of wild style graffiti and hip hop the age of ubiquitous drones as smart city infrastructure will create a new network of surveillance activists and drone hackers. From the eyes of the drones we see two teenagers each held by police order within the digital confines of their own council estate tower block in London. A network of drones survey the council estates, as a roving flock off cctv cameras and our two characters are kept apart by this autonomous aerial infrastructure. We watch as they pass notes to each other via their own hacked and decorated drone, like kids in an old fashioned classroom, scribbling messages with biro on paper, balling it up and stowing it in their drones.. In this near future city drones form both agents of state surveillance but also become co-opted as the aerial vehicles through which two teens fall in love.

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Liam Young, 15 10 15


Directed by speculative architect Liam Young and written by fiction author Tim Maughan and designed ‘Where the City Can’t See’ is the world’s first fiction film made entirely from data. Produced in association with AND Festival the film is currently being shot and will première in summer 2016.

The computer vision systems of goggle maps, urban management systems and CCTV surveillance are now fundamentally reshaping urban experience and the cultures of our city. Set in the Chinese owned and controlled Detroit Economic Zone (DEZ) and shot using laser scanners, we see this near future city through the eyes of the robots that manage it. Exploring the subcultures that emerge from these new technologies the film follows a collection of young factory workers across a single night, as they drift through the smart city point clouds in a driverless taxi, searching for a place they know exists but that the map doesn’t show. They are part of an underground community that work on the production lines by day but at night, adorn themselves in machine vision camouflage costumes and the tribal masks of anti-facial recognition to enact their escapist fantasies in the hidden spaces of the city. They hack the city and journey through a network of stealth buildings, ruinous landscapes, ghost architectures, anomalies, glitches and sprites, searching for the wilds beyond the machine. We have always found the eccentric and imaginary in the spaces the city can’t see.

The Atlantic have recently written a review of the LIDAR scanner camouflage costume and algoritmic textile patterns we developed on computerised silk looms in the United Kingdom. Photography by Liam Young and Lucy Barker.

Director: Liam Young Writer: Tim Maughan Assistant Director: Jennifer Chen Director of Photography: Specular Stylist: Elizabeth Black and Susan Marsh (Under The Influence) Makeup: Philippe Miletto and consultant Adam Harvey Hair: Kaizo Dancers: Thomasin Gulgec, Sabrina Gargano, Laura Wood, Eryck Brahmania Technical Leads: Daniele Profeta, Tobias Jewson


Liam Young, 29 04 15


Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young and long time collaborator Kate Davies run the Unknown Fields Division. Unknown Fields have launched a new project called Rare Earthenware, developed for the ‘What is Luxury’exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

While journeys to extraordinary places are the cornerstone of luxury travel, this project follows more well-concealed journeys taking place across global supply chains. It retraces rare earth elements, which are widely used in high-end electronics and green technologies, to their origins. A film of the project, developed in collaboration with photographer Toby Smith is composed as a single panning shot along a planetary scaled conveyor belt, documents their voyage in reverse from container ships and ports, wholesalers and factories, back to the banks of a barely-liquid radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia, pumped with tailings from the refining process. To accompany the film, Unknown Fields Division have used mud from this lake to craft a set of three ceramic vessels. Each is proportioned as a traditional Ming vase and is made from the amount of toxic waste created in the production of three items of technology – a smartphone, a featherweight laptop and the cell of a smart car battery.

You can watch the full ‘Rare Earthenware’ film exclusively on our project page at the Guardian

The finished vases are made from the exact amount of toxic waste produced in the manufacture of 3 objects of technology- the smartphone, the laptop and the electric car battery cell. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Unknown Fields collecting radioactive tailings material from besides the worlds Largest Rare Earth minerals refinery in Inner Mongolia. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Radiation scientists test the toxic clay collected from the tailings lake and find it to be 3 times background radiation. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

The amount of toxic clay produced in the manufacture of a single smart phone is moulded into a traditional Ming vase form. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

A Chinese factory worker assembles the components of our tech gadgets along a conveyor belt that stretches from Inner Mongolia to a London retail store. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Rare Earthenware by Unknown Fields. Film and Photography in collaboration with Toby Smith, Ceramics assistance from Kevin Kevin Callaghan, Animation assistance from Christina Varvia


Liam Young, 02 12 14


Loop 6o hz Making of Documentry

A flock of autonomous DJI copters are programmed as aerial dancers and are mounted with specially engineered wireless speakers to broadcast the instruments of the band. Other copters are dressed in elaborate costumes to disguise their form and reflect light across the audience below. Against a score of original compositions and selected tracks from Cale’s seminal career this collaboration with Young imagines the possibilities of the drones as emerging cultural objects. If these technologies are no longer unseen objects overhead, or propelled along classified flight paths but brought into close and intimate relations with us then how might we see them differently. When their transmission fades, when the drones lose their signal and without their protocols for terror and surveillance, do they drop from the sky, do they fall in love or do the drones drift endlessly, forever on loop.

Watch the Bevis Bowden’s film cataloguing the Barbican performance on the 12 & 13 September 2014 and the making of documentary produced by The Creators Project that chronicles the teams development of  a new ultrasonic tracking system that supported autonomous drone flight and programmed choreographies and the design of drone couture costumes.

 

Interactive Digital Environment

To support the live performance and allow remote experiences of the drone orchestra project, Liam Young and John Cale also joined forces with digital artists FIELD to develop an accompanying online interactive environment- City of Drones. Charting the story of a lost drone drifting through an abstract vertical cityscape, players are invited to pilot a virtual craft and remotely explore this imaginary world. The machine vision of the drone reduces the city to pure geometry as flightpath algorithms plot courses along the narrow streets. Samples from Cale’s original soundscape compositions, developed for the live performance, echo across the landscape and we see the city through the eyes of the drone, buzzing between the buildings, drifting endlessly, in an ambient audio visual choreography.

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Liam Young, 14 10 14


New City is a series of animated skylines of the near future developed by Tomorrow’s Thought Today’s Liam Young. In intricate 5k detail they depict a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated version of the present, in which we can project new cultural trends, environmental, political and economic forces. Photographs taken on expeditions around the world with nomadic studio Unknown Fields, to document these emerging phenomena and weak signals have been meticulously stitched together and extrapolated to form each city skyline. In this way ‘New City’ slips between the real and the imagined, between the documentary and the visionary, where speculative fictions become a way of exploring a world that the everyday struggles to grasp. To accompany the animations the authors Jeff Noon, Pat Cadigan and Tim Maughan have been invited to write a story for each skyline, to breathe life into its characters and cultures and give form to its streets and spaces through a suggestive narrative fragment. Original New City soundscapes have been developed by Coldcut. The animations have been commissioned by Z33 and are screening as part of ‘Future Fictions’.

This skyline is narrated by Tim Maughan and is titled “Keeping Up Appearances”. Read the short story below.  (more…)


Liam Young, 14 10 14


New City is a series of animated skylines of the near future developed by Tomorrow’s Thought Today’s Liam Young. In intricate 5k detail they depict a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated version of the present, in which we can project new cultural trends, environmental, political and economic forces. Photographs taken on expeditions around the world with nomadic studio Unknown Fields, to document these emerging phenomena and weak signals have been meticulously stitched together and extrapolated to form each city skyline. In this way ‘New City’ slips between the real and the imagined, between the documentary and the visionary, where speculative fictions become a way of exploring a world that the everyday struggles to grasp. To accompany the animations the authors Jeff Noon, Pat Cadigan and Tim Maughan have been invited to write a story for each skyline, to breathe life into its characters and cultures and give form to its streets and spaces through a suggestive narrative fragment. Original New City soundscapes have been developed by Coldcut. The animations have been commissioned by Z33 and are screening as part of ‘Future Fictions’.

This skyline is narrated by Pat Cadigan and is titled The City in the Sea. Read the short story below.  (more…)


Liam Young, 14 10 14


New City is a series of animated skylines of the near future developed by Tomorrow’s Thought Today’s Liam Young. In intricate 5k detail they depict a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated version of the present, in which we can project new cultural trends, environmental, political and economic forces. Photographs taken on expeditions around the world with nomadic studio Unknown Fields, to document these emerging phenomena and weak signals have been meticulously stitched together and extrapolated to form each city skyline. In this way ‘New City’ slips between the real and the imagined, between the documentary and the visionary, where speculative fictions become a way of exploring a world that the everyday struggles to grasp. To accompany the animations the authors Jeff Noon, Pat Cadigan and Tim Maughan have been invited to write a story for each skyline, to breathe life into its characters and cultures and give form to its streets and spaces through a suggestive narrative fragment. Original New City soundscapes have been developed by Coldcut. The animations have been commissioned by Z33 and are screening as part of ‘Future Fictions’.

This skyline is narrated by Jeff Noon and is titled Edgeland: The Symbiant. Read the short story below.  (more…)


Liam Young, 25 07 14



Musician John Cale and Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young have joined forces with digital artists FIELD to develop a new interactive, digital work for BBC’s The Space.

For nearly 50 years, John Cale has thrived at the vanguard of a myriad of creative disciplines, from setting the stage for an underground, noise-bending attack on rock and roll with the Velvet Underground, to his current genre-bending music of today. In his urban futures practise Liam Young has been telling stories about the possibilities of drone technologies in the near future city. Typically associated with militarised applications, Young repurposes his collection of choreographed flying machines as both disembodied instruments and nomadic audio infrastructure, to create an immersive live music performance and visual spectacle.

Known for experimenting with technologies and industrial sounds in his music, Cale once tuned his instruments to the hum of refrigerator motors, the frequency of modernisation. For this new commission he joins forces with speculative architect and storyteller Liam Young to explore the soundscape of a new generation, the distant rumble of drone propellers for a digital landscape and a live performance for the barbican centre.

For The Space Cale and Young have joined forces with digital artists FIELD, who have developed an interactive digital landscape enjoyed as an online experience of the project. FIELD creates expressive audio-visual artworks – from digital paintings to high-end visual effects and generative design across all media, always looking for the drama in the code. Charting the story of a lost drone drifting through an abstract vertical cityscape, players are invited to pilot a virtual craft and remotely explore this imaginary world. The machine vision of the drone reduces the city to pure geometry as flightpath algorithms plot courses along the narrow streets. Samples from Cale’s original soundscape compositions echo across the landscape and we see the city through the eyes of the drone, buzzing between the buildings, drifting endlessly, in an ambient audio visual choreography.

You can read more about the live performance of the project here.

City of Drones is on display now at Digital Revolution – the Barbican’s immersive exhibition of art, design, film, music and videogames and Transmissions for the Drone Orchestra Performance is live at the Barbican Theatre on 11 & 12 September. You can book tickets here.


Liam Young, 29 05 14


Available to download now- 1,49€ (iTunes), 1,78€ (Amazon)*

Brave New Now is a collection of specially commissioned short stories set in a fictional future city developed by speculative architect Liam Young for the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Authors have been invited to inhabit the city, to breathe life into its characters and cultures and give form to its streets and spaces through narrative. It is a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated present, in which we can imagine the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research. Authors include Warren Ellis, Bruce Sterling, Tim Maughan, Jonathan Dotse, Rachel Armstrong, Samit Basu and Anil Menon.  These speculative fictions are illustrated with a collection of photographs of the present, gathered from a group of photographers who venture out into the world documenting the weak signals and emerging phenomena that have been extrapolated into our imaginary city. In Brave New Now it is not clear what is fact and what is fiction, but rather the two productively intertwine.  The two modes of working sit side by side and we slip suggestively between the real and the imagined, between the documentary and the visionary, where speculative fictions become a way of exploring a world that the everyday struggles to grasp.

The future is not something that washes over us like water, it is something we must actively shape and define. Some of the people we meet in the Brave New Now are swept up in what the city could be, others are reserved and look on with caution. It is a place of wonder and of fear. We meet friends and strangers, we hear their stories, and we imagine our own life here. We have not walked these streets before, what things may come, in the Brave New Now.

Preview of ebook foreword

Brave New Now
Editor: Liam Young
Authors: Warren Ellis, Tim Maughan, Jonathan Dotse, Bruce Sterling, Rachel Armstrong, Samit Basu, Anil Menon.
Photographers: Michael Wolf, Greg Girard, Neil Chowdhury, Vincent Fournier, Thomas Weinberger, Charlie Koolhaas, Greg White, Daniel Beltrá, Victoria Sambunaris, Christina Seely, Brice Richard, Bas Princen.
Concept Art: Daniel Dociu, Hoving Alahaidoyan.

“A projective fiction is a critical tool that is both an extraordinary vision of tomorrow and a provocative examination of the pertinent questions facing us today.” Liam Young

This digital publication was commissioned by Close, Closer chief curator Beatrice Galilee, Art Direction by Zak Group and graphic design by Raquel Pinto.
*The support of The British Council has enabled a discounted distribution price of Brave New Now ebook.


Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains. The think tank included futurist Bruce Sterling, author Warren Ellis, scientist Rachel Armstrong, and many more. You can watch the public think tank archived on the projects vimeo channel. The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  In this introductory post which outlines the vision of the project we see the early concept art developed with Daniel Dociu and Hovig Alahaidoyan.

Emerging in the shadows of the decaying towers of a post oil Dubai, geo engineered by climatologists and influenced by the imminent economic boom of the Indian subcontinent it is a terraformed urban island. A city that grows intuitively, a creature, living, breathing and computing, a seething ecology that is evolving as a new metropolitan megaform. A speculative urbanism, an exaggerated present, where we can explore the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research and envision the possible worlds we may want to build for ourselves.

For the future is not something that washes over us like water, it is a place we must actively shape and define. Through fictions we share ideas and we chronicle our hopes and fears, our deepest anxieties and our wildest fantasies. Some of us will be swept up in what the city could be, others will be reserved and look on with caution. We have not walked these streets before, what things may come, in a Future Perfect.

The future at the intersection of science and fiction

Using fiction as a speculative tool in conjunction with scientific research to probe the outer reaches of the realm of possibility, project collaborations were forged between designers, research divisions and authors to develop a constellation of five works and accompanying short stories that make up the districts of Future Perfect.

In the exhibition, visitors are invited to wander through them, reading messages embedded in the landscape, witnessing the increasingly responsive processes through which the city grows, self-regulates and communicates, scrutinizing a hybrid atmosphere where natural and man-made, digital and material, fact and fiction, become increasingly indistinct.

Bots drift across this inhabited geology, a dense accumulation of crevice rooms, and public valleys. Through the strata is threaded the tendrils of a complex circulatory system that feeds the moist surfaces of a vibrant endemic ecology where nature and technology intertwine and biology becomes a new economy. Supercomputers whistle and whir; a virtual city, a parallel city overlaid directly onto the physical turns everything into interface, everything into program. The city watches on, breathing, blinking.

Visitors begin their tour at the edges, in THE WILDS of the city. A new bioengineered species of pharmaceutical plants glisten under the light of its neon suns. Next they pass THE LOOMS, and their heads brush the webbed canopy of cable bots as they hum and spurt their nozzles across a section of virgin ground. It is a city that is grown rather than built, a computed territory, faceted and abstracted, endlessly reprinting itself as demand requires. Visitors push past a laser-scanned mountain in THE SUPERCOMPUTER as its radiant digital landscapes become more real than the ground beneath them. They gesture and a ghost iceberg parts, they wander through beyond the printing pools of THE GARMENT DISTRICT and the digital prosthetics hanging out to dry. As they come to THE LOOKOUT, Future Perfect unfurls in luminous detail in front of the visitors. They watch children playing running through the streets while the city struggles to keep up.

The short stories of Future Perfect have been collected in “BRAVE NEW NOW”, a book of original fictions set in the imaginary city and photography works. The ebook will be available for purchase shortly from close-closer.com and from the Apple and Kindle stores.

“BRAVE NEW NOW” features original fictions by Rachel Armstrong, Bruce Sterling, Tim Maughan, Warren Ellis, Anil Menon, Jonathan Dotse, Samit Basu and photography by Victoria Sambunaris, Michael Wolf, Greg White, Neil Choudary, Vincent Fournier, Dan Holdsworth, Thomas Weinberger, Brice Richard, Daniel Beltrá, Christina Seely, Greg Girard, Bas Princen, Charlie Koolhaas.

Future Perfect was produced for the Lisbon 2013 Architecture Triennale and is an evolution of Under Tomorrows Sky developed with MU, Eindhoven.

[Image Credits: All images by Hovig Alahaidoyan except image 3 +4 by Daniel Dociu]


Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.  The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  This post presents the Future Perfect Lookout, that spot up high in the city, where we lie on the hood of a car and from a clearing in the mist we scan across the city in luminous detail. The Lookout takes the form of a short film, Chupan Chapai, based on a story by Tim Maly, directed by Factory Fifteen and produced by Liam Young.

A film is projected from the lookout that follows a group of children as they play a game of “hide and seek” in Future Perfect. Shot on location in across India, we see through their eyes a near future heavily influenced by the imminent boom of the Indian subcontinent, an emerging technology and economic superpower. The control systems that now run traffic systems, power grids and financial networks sit in the shadows, out of sight but silently organising our lives. Deep in the substrate of Future Perfect is a supercomputer that regulates the city and everyone within it. Reminiscent of an exaggerated silent film, everyone interacts with their digital city through intricate signs and gesture control. As the children play they learn to hack the augmented streets evading their friends but getting lost in the hidden spaces they have unlocked. They must escape from a sentient city that no longer recognises them.

 


Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.  The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  This post presents the Future Perfect movie miniature stage set model. Working with special effects artists from such films as Alien, Sunshine and Blade Runner and borrowing from the disappearing techniques of physical film prop making Liam Young and his team have built a room sized movie miniature model of the city. Across the course of the project authors have inhabited the scale city as a stage set and developed a collection of characters, narratives, films and illustrations.

Emerging in the shadows of the decaying towers of a post oil Dubai, geo engineered by climatologists and influenced by the imminent economic boom of the Indian subcontinent it is a terraformed urban island. A city that is grown rather than built, a creature, living, breathing and computing, a seething ecology that has become a new metropolitan megaform. Bots drift across this inhabited geology, a dense accumulation of crevice rooms, and public valleys, slowly printing and reprinting, endlessly as demand requires.

Through the strata is threaded the tendrils of a complex circulatory system that feeds the moist surfaces of a vibrant endemic ecology where nature and technology intertwine and biology becomes a new economy. Supercomputers whistle and whir, a virtual city, a parallel city overlaid directly onto the physical turns everything into interface, everything into program. It is an imaginary landscape extrapolated from the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research. The city watches on, breathing, blinking.

Working with craftsman Gary Welch, who has previously done the lighting on Tim Burton’s stop motion animation models,  the miniature city has been wired with 1000 miniature bulbs that run on a 12 minute accelerated day and night cycle.

Like a real city, the model has been expanding and developing since it was first exhibited in Eindhoven in 2012. A series of city building workshops has grown the city, developed new areas and torn down others.

to see more photos keep reading

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Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.  The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  This post presents the Future Perfect Garment District, developed with fashion designer and artist Bart Hess.

Our bodies are end­lessly photographed, monitored and laser scanned with millimetre precision. From this context of surveillance, facial recognition, avatars and virtual ghosts, we imagine a near future where digital static, distortions and glitches become a new form of ornament. For the youth tribes of Future Perfect the body is a site for adaption, augmentation and experimentation. They celebrate the corrup­tion of the body data by moulding within their costumery all the imperfections of a decaying scan file. Shimmering in the exhibition landscape is a network of geometric reflec­tive pools of molten wax. Their mirrored surface is broken by a body, suspended from a robotic harness, plunging into the liquid.

A crust of wax crystallises around its curves and folds, growing architectural forms, layer by layer, like a 3d printer drawing directly onto the skin. Slowly the body emerges, encased in a dripping wet readymade prosthetic. It is a physical glitch, a manifestation of corrupt data in motion, a digital artefact. They hang from hooks like a collection of strange beasts and frozen avatars. Body prints, imperfect and distorted and always utterly unique.

Photography by Catarina Botelho and Delfino Legnani.


Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.  The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  This post presents the Future Perfect Wilds, developed by artists Cohen Van Balen through their project Nowhere a Shadow. Watch as we let a live wolf stalk the landscape of the city.

There is no nature anymore. We are wandering a new kind of wilderness, where the line between biology and technology is becoming increasingly indistinguishable. Through genetic modification, engineered meat, cosmetic surgery and geo-engineering we are remaking our world from the scale of cells to the scale of continents. The woods, wild and mysteri­ous from afar, appear as a stage on which every element is considered. Genetically engineered plants, artifi­cially sustained, are hanging from the trees, embedded in the ecology yet detached from it.

Their scaffolding systems of gleaming steel and neon light sway in the wind, waiting. Grey wolves approach the struc­tures during the night to scratch their body on the steel branches. In an intri­cate arrangement of devised symbio­sis, the contraption takes on the role of host organism. The wolf’s move­ments generate electricity for the system, while the blueberries are engineered to contain rabies vaccine in its fruit to protect the animal from self-destruction. Cameras transmit footage of the wolf’s presence around the globe, adorned in invisible garlands of elec­tric display, to be enjoyed by those whose passion for the spectacle of wilderness sustains its survival.

 


Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.  The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  This post presents the Future Perfect Supercomputer, an interactive installation developed by artists Marshmallow Laser Feast.

Laid across the physical city is a virtual doppelganger, a ghost landscape of hyperlinks, geo tags, digital maps and satellite scans. The air is thick, charged with bits, bytes, electrons and energy fields. A network of tracking cameras follows us as we wander across this data city, our gestures and movements, translated and then beamed as dynamic forms of light that animate around us. Like flamboyant conductors, the audience interacts with an array of high powered projectors that give life to a luminous terrain of mountains, clouds and particles. By employing directional audio technology, a synthetic soundscape feels almost real, conjuring a visceral experience of a world currently hidden in screens, circuits and hardware.

Follow paths of sound, listen for the edge of a surface, see it shimmer, and drift right through, like a rock falling in the sea. It is a new model for interfacing with technology and the invisible world that completely envelopes us- an inhabitable visualisation of the digital that glows in the haze and then flickers into darkness.

The project was an evolution of some earlier studies developed by Marshmallow Laser Feast seen in motion here.


Liam Young, 17 04 13


Like industrialization and mass production before it 3d printing has the ability to transform our world beyond recognition. But, with a backlash against the nascent technology already underway, it remains to be seen whether the future will be wondrous or dystopic. For ICON Magazine’s issue 118 on 3d Printing Liam Young has speculated on the consequences of this technology  from the scale of the cell to the scale of the planet. An extract of the article is below.

In September 2003 a single grain of sand was sucked up from the bottom of the ocean and shot out of the nozzle of a GPS controlled dredging barge. This particle changed state, from a nonspecific sand bar drifting endlessly with the currents of the Persian Gulf to the foundation layer of a terraformed island that would become a part of The World Dubai. It is a 3d printed artificial archipelago formed, grain by grain, into a scaled facsimile of the globe. The original world it is modelled after consists of such immense quantities of matter that make it possible to form an endless constellations of artefacts. The story of a particle of material laid down, accreting, aggregating, fusing and assembling is the story of these structures and their altered states. When we can print such structures, layer by layer, particle by particle we can reorder the world, from the very small to the very large.

The new world of 3d printing is not here yet. The hype however has already arrived. Some are swept up in what the new world could be, others are sceptical and look on with caution or disinterest. It is a technology upon which we project all our wonder and anxiety and the debates say more about ourselves than they do about the technology. In his state of the union address President Obama placed his hopes for new American jobs on 3d printing technology which “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything”. Vast repositories of TED talks present the same lampshades, customized shoes, iphone cases, Stradivarius violins, ball point pens, key rings and plastic models of the statue of David.

It is a technology in transition. It is a before the laws technology, developed without regulation, without big corporate, in the wilds of garage hack shops and maker fares and we still don’t really know what it will all mean. It is an impossible question to answer but it is just as seductive as it was when it was asked of the personal computer in 1977. The role of the PC was not understood until across time people found unexpected uses for it, like email, word processing video games and the internet. Architects once speculated on the impacts of industrialisation and then mass production. It is not until you push back against the systems of control that they reveal themselves. From the very small to the very large, from the banal to the fantastic, micrometre by micrometre we can remake the world.

Down the fibre are beamed bootleg files filled with glitches, 3d spam and junk mail. We awake in the morning to the whirring, buzzing sounds of our kitchen desktop printer spitting out late night porn ‘physible’s (Pirate Bay defines ‘physibles’ as data objects that are able and feasible to become physical), unwanted object ads and 3d pizza delivery flyers. Objects are laser scanned and printed, shared, scanned, printed, over and over and resolution slowly erodes, not from thousands of years of wind and rain but from minor imperfections, discrepancies and data decay multiplied with each cycle. They are fuzzy objects, slightly out of focus, like Chinese whispers, forever distanced from the original. Luxury is resolution. We find decadence in smoothness, delivered by expensive clean data and long, time consuming prints. The man who stands to make the most money from 3d printing is notorious patent troll and future master of the universe Nathan Myhrvold and his company Intellectual Ventures. They own the patent for a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system for 3d objects. 3d printing began with maker hobbyists but that may not prevent it from being co opted by a small number of very large entities. Walter Benjamin’s aura of the original may become nothing more than patent documentation or DRM protection. Just like Metallica’s Napster attacks we will see Zaha file claims against Shapeways for publishing pirate vases and counterfeit couches.

The house and in turn the city may be a dense mashup of google earth models and Grand Design house proud scanners. Fragments of a favourite window can be cut up, recomposed and reprinted in situ. We could grow an architecture superstar Chimera. Someone turns down the polygon count on a digital model of Zaha’s double curvature Guangzhou Opera House to give it a bit of the circa 1980’s faceted and angular Vitra Fire Station look. Her Wangjing Soho Towers already have a pirated clone in Chongqing that is outpacing the construction of the original.   Architourists will pilgrimage across the new world with their laser scanners to scavenge the point cloud of iconic structures and bring them back to an architectural salvage yard of millimetre perfect pieces of plastic history. Last season’s suburbs are melted down and reprinted as the city endlessly remakes itself in an accelerated history. Something between Kowloon Walled City and a Rio favela the 3d printed city is a seething reprogrammable urban mass of recontextualised fragments and geological material processes.

Huge expanses of landscape will be given over to recycle yards where material will be ground up and processed ready to be reprinted. Just as we smelted cutlery for the war effort, nothing is precious anymore and everything is a new object in waiting. Shape and form is just a temporary moment in the life of a material. The lifespan of any object shrinks to zero across a long enough timeline but in the 3d printed world this is an accelerated process of obsolescence and reclamation. We used to understand a product because it was made in specific place. It came from a site with the appropriate raw materials, a viable labour market or the necessary technology. In the new world the line between production and supply essentially disappears and anything can be made in everywhere.

We see accelerated geologies where GPS controlled landscape printers drift across the earth crafting in a morning what rivers and wind completed in a millennia. Laser scanned reproductions of iconic landscapes are terraformed in extreme resolution off the coast of Dubai. Boutique hotels and gated communities line the inside of their 1/3rd scale Grand Canyon. It is a theme park of synthetic copies, a reordered landscape at the scale of Google earth. Famous reefs are scanned and duplicated to reproduce perfect point break surf spots. Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii, Fiji’s Cloudbreak are printed along dead coastlines to spark tourist development and engineer resort growth. Like the planet engineers of Magrathea in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy we will remake our own planet and then begin to print other worlds spinning off into orbit.

United States Patent Application 20100281850 is for a rocket that prints its own solid fuel. We can launch our assembly line into space to drift like satellites, always on call, printing the night sky. Hubble could have been fabricating multiple versions of itself. Programmed to reproduce, this hurtling fleet of fab labs could build our space stations in advance of our arrival. A moonbase, printed autonomously from the recomposed material of its own surface would lie in wait. From this vantage point we can see that the recombination of matter in micrometres can have consequences at the scale of the globe.

Like any technology 3d printing is open to misuse, exploitative regulations and tedious banality but it also holds the possibility of something wondrous, profound and unexpected. The future scenarios’ being debated are no more than evidence of the collective fears and anxieties, hopes and desires that we all carry with us through the everyday. It is a technology that is both exceedingly strange and achingly familiar. As we look down from this 3d printed satellite hurtling through space we can see a technology that is beginning to reorder our world but it us that are remaining the same.

All images by Daniel Dociu and developed for Under Tomorrows Sky


Liam Young, 04 04 13


From the Unknown Fields Division 11/12 Far North Alaska Studio run by TTT’s Liam Young and Kate Davies comes a new project by Will Gowland. The world is now concealed and manipulated in ways that make answering the question of where am I an impossibility. Glitches in the big and fragile infrastructures of Global Positioning systems mean we are sometimes both here and there, as a pulsing blue dot locates us to within 500metres. What are the implications of a navigational system based solely on the virtual? Will Gowland, in our Department of Landscape Glitches has jammed the GPS networks and revealed an alternative virtual topography, a territorial architecture of spoofed cartography. It is an emerging landscape that operates and exits in two parallel worlds, the physical and the virtual. Imaginary protest icebergs drift through the autonomously navigated oil shipping lanes. We get lost in a wilderness of illegal signal jamming formations and we glimpse the faint flicker of covert militarised GPS territories, super stable under a secret sky of black satellites. Some are landscapes of misdirection, others are navigational markers guiding one safely through unstable terrain. We now put our faith in a digital territory that is just as unknown and fallible as the physical.

virtual-icebergs

Imaginary gps ghost protest icebergs drift through the autonomously navigated oil shipping lanes.

william_gowland-Oil-Mountains-of-the-North

Oil reserves are hidden below digital GPS mountains

illegal-oil-field

An illegal oil field is hidden in a GPS spoof, a digital landscapes of misdirection.


Darryl Chen, 03 03 13


Darryl Chen’s New [Socialist] Village is a research project that asks whether China could teach the UK how to plan. It was exhibited at the 2012 Venice Biennale British Pavilion as part of the Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture research project; and at RIBA London from 26 February until 27 April.

Quoting Mao Zedong, imagining Ai Weiwei as an urban strategist, and citing Communist China as a model of flexible governance, the New [Socialist] Village proposes handing revolutionary power back to local people while co-opting the entrepreneurial skills of Richard Branson to create a model entrepreneurial village for the UK.

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Liam Young, 06 10 12


Under Tomorrows Sky is a fictional, future city. For MU Foundation in Eindhoven Speculative architect Liam Young of the London based Tomorrows Thoughts Today has assembled a think tank of scientists, technologists, futurists, illustrators and science fiction authors to collectively develop this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains. Working with special effects artists from such films as Alien, Sunshine and Blade Runner, the architects of Tomorrows Thoughts Today have built a room sized movie miniature model of the city.  Across the course of the exhibition invited guests will work with the city as a stage set to develop a collection of narratives, films and illustrations. Wander through this near future world and explore the possibilities and consequences of today’s emerging biological and technological research. The team includes Bruce Sterling, Warren Ellis, Rachel Armstrong, Daniel Dociu, Paul Duffield, Factory Fifteen, ARC magazine, Centre For Science and Imagination and many more. Follow the project website to see all the concept art imagery, the think tank discussions and photos of the exhibition.

Under Tomorrows Sky concept image by Factory Fifteen


Liam Young, 11 06 12


Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe.

‘Singing Sentinels’ by London-based architect Liam Young of Tomorrows Thoughts Today explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. Eighty birds have been released into the New Order exhibition at the Mediamatic Gallery in Amsterdam as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Across the course of the exhibition Liam performed the climate change acceleration piece ‘Silent Spring’ seen in the film above. As a ‘pollution DJ’, he flooded the gallery with CO2, altereing the air mixture to replicated the predicted atmospheric changes of the next 100 years. We hear the canary song subtly shift, their rythmn change and eventually silence, as the birds sing a toxic sky- an elegy for a changing planet.

To accompany the exhibition Liam Young, Geoff Manuagh and Tim Maly have written a near future birdwatchers guide “A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels: A Birdwatchers Companion” with illustrations from comic illustrator Paul Duffield. You can see an excerpt and purchase your copy of the limited edition book online here.

See below for exhibition photos.


Liam Young, 06 02 12


In the skies above the city a drone flock drifts into formation broadcasting their local file sharing network. Part nomadic infrastructure and part robotic swarm they form a pirate internet, an aerial napster, darting between the buildings….

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Liam Young, 06 11 11


Tomorrows Thoughts Today will be premiering their new interactive installation Electronic Countermeasures live at the GLOW Festival Eindhoven NL every night 5th – 11th November. The performance schedule is 1800, 1830, 1900, 1930, 2000, 2030, 2100, 2130, 2200, 2230, 2300, 2330. See the map for where you can find us. The project is an aerial drone choreography developed in collaboration with Superflux and Eleanor Saitta and performed by drone pilots Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu and Eleanor Saitta.

Today we are much closer to our virtual community than we are to our real neighbours. This death of distance has created new forms of city based around ephemeral digital connections rather than physical geography. In this context the Electronic Countermeasures explores the design and manufacture of a flock of interactive autonomous drones that form their own place specific, local, wfi community and pirate file sharing network. Drifting slowly above the water of Eindhoven’s parks the fleet of modified quadrocopters perform a balletic aerial choreography as their soft glow reflects in the canal below.

The drones continue their luminous dance and dynamic glowing formations as they wait for a passer-by to interact with them. It drone can be contacted by calling the following numbers
drone 0 +31 648521583
drone 1 +31 648521578
drone 2 +31 648521581
drone 3 +31 648521591
As we signal the drones they break formation and are called over. Their bodies illuminate, they flicker and glow to indicate their activity. The swarm becomes a pirate broadcast network, a mobile infrastructure that passers-by can interact with. Impromptu augmented communities form around the glowing flock. As more people interact with the drones the more excited the flock becomes. They swoop dramatically across the surface of the water and they hover above the heads of all those with their mobile screens still activated. It is almost as if these glowing blimps are alive as they become mobile infrastructures with endearing behaviours. They are part city infrastructure and part technological creatures living amongst the trees.

The project is developed by Tomorrows Thoughts Today with Superflux and Eleanor Saitta
Production Team- Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu and Denis Vlieghe
Performed by Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu and Eleanor Saitta.

Photos by Claus Langer.


Liam Young, 17 08 11


Tomorrows Thoughts Today is part of the summer exhibition at MU Gallery in Eindhoven NL titled ‘The Great Babylon Circus’ and curated by the Berlin based critic and curator Lukas Feireiss, author of the book ‘Utopia Forever’ also featuring a number of TTT projects.  The exhibition brings together a group of artists and architects to engage in “the continuation of the never-ending design of the Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel is one of the primordial metaphors of architecture, art and construction, as well as of the multiplication and confrontation of diverse languages and styles. The tower also symbolizes the ultimate hubris of human creation — the ambition to build something larger than life itself.”

In addition to Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, participating artists are Brazilian social and cultural collective Project Morrinho, Belgium-German art collective Speedism and Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi. The collaboration of these four global creative practices in the arena of MU unite around the mythic Tower of Babel theme, presenting us with new angles from which to view this legendary subject, and arguing for its social, political, and cultural relevance in today’s world.

Tomorrows Thoughts today (in collaboration with Denis Vlieghe and Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu) have installed an expansive living landscape of moss and robotics. Set within the vegation is a array and strange and curious creatures of the near future. Born of the city’s electronic surplus yet now essential to the city’s function, these species of beings have emerged who warm, warn, entertain, annoy, and play. They have arrived unannounced, emerged from the remains of rampant and uncontrolled modernisation, and have been subsumed into the normal workings of the city. In fact, the city itself has become a singular sentient being constructed of these malformed and (d)evolved freaks — the city’s new infrastructure.

Corporate research and development divisions scrutinize the beings, playing technological catch up with this autonomous evolution, the invisible hand of progress. Field researchers now observe the specimens captured in a controled environment. Gazing over this curated landscape, a robot zoo, the researchers’ working hypothesis is that the distinction between the products and byproducts of modernity have disappeared, and it is this disappearance that defines our new urban territories. In addition to the familiar favourites from our Specimens of Unnatural History project, collected within the zoo are such new specimens as:

The Virtual Forest
Observation notes: A landscape of artificial trees flicker with a distant wind. The augmented forest is wirelessly connected to a wind sensor in the Aokigahara forest at the foot of Mt Fuji. Thought to be haunted the remote presence of the winds rustling through the trees in Japan now illuminates a virtual ghost wilderness. Two simultaneous landscapes connected across the globe.

Networked Rodents
Observation notes: Existing animals are hacked to create a roving sensor network across the landscape. Like the old canaries in the coal mine birds sense and detect levels of toxicity in the air, grey squirrels track their own pest populations to extermination, moths and butterflies become a micro spy infrastructure and others monitor and scan for subtle ecological shifts.

Goldfish Avatar
Observation notes: Sensors track a lonely goldfish swimming in a tank. It becomes the live input for an emerging digital simulation. The fish’s movements are translated into an endlessly evolving online avatar that continues long after it is flushed away. Across time a virtual ecosystem takes shape on the web. Soon the internet becomes more of a wilderness than the disappearing landscapes of the physical world, a strange zoo of virtual ghosts.

The Digital shadow
Observation notes: Feeding off ambient electro magnetic fields of the cities neon lights and communications networks these floating antenna harvest the airborne energy to power a broadcast of white noise. Clouds of these blimps cast an electronic shadow across parts of the city. Initially an experiment in energy harvesting this infrastructure is now just gets up to general mischief but unexpectedly it also has creates some of the only disconnected analogue spaces in the city, where one can steal a brief moment of digital silence.

Monitor drone
Observation notes: Relentless and obsessive the tracking eye of the monitor drones scan ambient conditions and is sensitive to minute fluctuations in vast arrays of environmental data. Flocks laser scan the landscape recording animal numbers and vegetation patterns as point clouds of digital data. Wilderness sites become large curated landscapes constantly managed and engineered to create a perfect simulation of nature in balance.

Photograpghs by MU and Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu


Liam Young, 09 05 11


From the Data Archaeology Lab in the Architectural Association’s Unknown Fields Division 09/10 Arctic Circle studio run by TTT’s Liam Young and Kate Davies comes Data Fossils by Tobias Jewson. Tobias, with Ioana Iliesu have explored what happens to our collective history when everything is digital. In the digital era our information no longer takes the form of the physical, but that of a electronic file stored in ‘the cloud’. Our collective history is quickly effaced from this fragile and ephemeral domain, a computer crashes, formats are quickly obsolete, a hard drive is lost and all is gone. With our attachment to physical objects and mementos becoming increasingly superseded by our relationship to information, what will we leave for future generations?

The project employs design speculation as a critical tool to explore the potential ways in which architecture and landscape may respond to our ever evolving digital fascination. ‘Data Fossils’ has evolved as a series of fictional scenarios grounded in technically rigorous physical and computational investigations. Real techniques have been developed for encoding digital information in the physical world at both individual and collective scales.

Advances in biocomputing are allowing the possibility of storing data in living, physical forms. As the division between our bodies and the digital becomes increasingly blurred, the bone’s ability to remodel itself, in response to stress, can be hacked to provide data storage. Polyps of calcified binary code become written onto our skeleton, recounting our digital identities.

A teenage informational glutton comes for a surgery consult, his skin stretched with the growths of excessive music and porn downloads. His hoarded browser bookmarks cripple his every movement.

A poet’s finest sonnet is read like Braille through his skin, prostitutes steal the secrets of their bussness clients through gentle carresses of their naked body.

The treasured remains of a loved one becomes an archaeology of memories.


An illegal immigrant hacks and grafts fragments of data bone into his own body in an attempt to conceal his true identity. His airport xray scan reveals the extensive titanium grafts typical of data identity theft.


Liam Young, 09 05 11


From the Data Archaeology Lab in the Architectural Association’s Unknown Fields Division 09/10 Arctic Circle studio run by TTT’s Liam Young and Kate Davies comes Data Fossils by Tobias Jewson. Tobias has evolved his data fossils experiments from the intimate and personal attachments that calcify on our own bones into a vast digital geology of an internet archive cast into layers of volcanic glass across Iceland’s deserts. In the digital era our information no longer takes the form of the physical, but that of a electronic file stored in ‘the cloud’. Our collective history is quickly effaced from this fragile and ephemeral domain, a computer crashes, formats are quickly obsolete, a hard drive is lost and all is gone. With our attachment to physical objects and mementos becoming increasingly superseded by our relationship to information, what will we leave for future generations?

Our collective history can be deposited in columns and strata of earth – where once archivists trawled the library stacks, data geologists now roam the Icelandic landscape. Like climate records trapped in ice cores data archiving can also become a geological process. In southern Iceland the division found a ravaged landscape of eroding lava deserts- a desolate crust hiding beneath it extraordinary geothermal resources that now support huge investments in an emerging national industry of data storage and server farms. Data Geologies rehabilitate this damaged landscape by co opting these investments in technology and reimaging the Icelandic typology of data archives.

A suite of new software applications that subvert existing digital prototyping machines to encode the ephemera of the digital world into ever evolving architectural landscapes. Hoards of machines traverse the lava deserts, scraping loose sand from the surface, and under immense heat transforming it into elaborate glass like geometries, within which our recent internet activities are encased. Programs are developed to encode data inputs into structural building elements.

Simulation software is developed for the realtime growth of data geology from live twitter streams.

Informational topographies grow based and cluster on keyword inputs. The drugs keyword feed is especially active from late evening to early morning.

Topsoil blown by the harsh arctic winds soon gathers in the lee side of these immense structures, the grounded geological layer sprouting grass and moss. Over time, habitats will grow in the glimmering hollows as fields of data slowly reverse Icelandic soil erosion. Local Islanders read the growth of this landscape from afar, whilst archaeologists look close ,using advanced MRI scanners, searching for insights into our past. Information enthusiasts scan google earth sattelite images, deciphering geographies of data from across the globe.

People pilgrimage to this area known to hold the last data relating to flurry of internet activity from the day Michael Jackson died. It becomes an informational cathedral, a spatial obituary grown from a real time data feed.

And while tourists might flock to see history in the making archaeologists will read the dull fragments of frozen silica as records of our digital pasts.


Liam Young, 24 11 10


From the department of intangible technologies in the Architectural Association’s Unknown Fields Division 09/10 studio run by Liam Young and Kate Davies comes Scatterbrain Iceland by Jack Self. This is the first in a series of posts documenting the ongoing work of the division.

Scatterbrain Iceland is an architectural novella that proposes, through a narrative format, the construction of the Internet as an artefact, as a supercomputer server-farm. This is an excerpt:

“A crest of purple reflection wavered along the length of Songling’s bodysuit as her arm described the perfect parabola required to deliver the grenade to its target. As her hand attained the apogee of its circuit her front foot sunk into the spongy bundles of fibre-optics, which splayed under her shifting weight. Beneath her boots the crystal canopy quivered and flexed, and beneath that the halos of solid-state drives chimed like miniature bells in an informatic cathedral. The grenade now twisted along its arc, moving silently through the hibernal gloom across the fantastic billow of blue and red LEDs, across the floating sea of rhythmically pulsing information.

Fifty yards away the ventilation shutters of a server tower chattered and clicked, broadcasting thermal semaphore to electric storm clouds. A square hole in the curving basalt façade marked the liminal space leading to an open service hatch. As the grenade cleared the threshold of this short tunnel two yellow-suited figures appeared, Guardians of the Cloud. They each held a cordless neon tube powered by the immense electromagnetic field of the thousands of servers that filled the tower. The Guardian closest to the doorway also held a weapon, the barrel of which was already rising as he came into view. The vectors of these bodies – the grenade and the Guardian – shared an interstice both in time and space. Bouncing off the Guardian’s shoulder, the grenade would continue a new trajectory past the lift head, down the central column of the tower. It would pass eighty storeys of concentric server cores and detonate – immediately the ventilation shutters would snap closed, disrupting the chimney-effect that regulated the Web’s temperature. The immense heat generated by the computers would build up under the stack. Very soon the whole tower would combust, quickly setting fire to its neighbours.

But Songling would not live to see this. The fulcrum of the two bodies was precisely the same moment that the Guardian’s trigger-finger achieved critical pressure. The force of the bullet striking Songling’s shoulder caused her to turn as she fell, revealing a spinning panorama of towers, a landscape of computational infrastructure that extended out beyond the geothermal reactors to the limits of the valley. This was the New Internet, a machine that did much more than simply recollect the virtual lives of humanity. It inter-compared, analysed, synthesised, and generated abstractions. It constructed elaborate logical underpinnings and formulated its own languages to test the structure and consistency of our world. It had become an organism.

It produced idiosyncratically inconsistent and unpredictable opinions, like its creators. But what only Songling seemed to comprehend was that the Internet would not accept this grossly parasitic relationship with its parents for much longer.

For obvious reasons, the Web could not be allowed to survive.”


Liam Young, 24 11 10


“Most technological breathroughs are met both with frenetic predictions of life-changing improvement, and fear and naysaying. Instead Geoff Manaugh, Tim Maly and Liam Young examine the myriad implications of future technological escalation by speculating about their consequences through believable (though fictional) examples ranging from chemical-sensitive fowl to transhuman support groups made possible by nanoengineering.” Volume. pg72. Issue 24 counter Cultures

This is one fragment from the work. See Volume no. 24 Counter Cultures for more from the Strange Natures of Nanotechnology.

A field guide to toxicity machines.
From The Macmillan Birder’s Guide to Britain v8.03.3453

Green-throated Coal-gull
Highlight: Sensitive to high levels of CO2 in the air.

Description: When in the presence of high levels of carbon dioxide, their plumage phase shifts to an extraordinary emerald color. Coal-gulls can be found in gathering around the remaining coal-burning power stations and carbon sequestration centers. Take a fire extinguisher with you to draw them out of the trees. Note that caution is necessary when calling and tracking these birds, as evidenced by the ongoing litigation against a BBC documentary team for frivolous chemical spraying.

Roseshift Starling
Highlight: Engineered to monitor atmospheric levels of nitrous oxide.

Description: Typically brown and forgettable at ground level, in the presence of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide the Roseshift Starling displays a fanned tail of extraordinary incandescent plumage that reflects in the sunlight. These rare species are best spotted in gas cloud flocks at high altitudes or over recently fertilized farmland. If you do encounter one on the ground, however, emptying a nitrous canister nearby will initiate its vivid display. These can be acquired from custom car garages or contact us for our private list of birding dentists.
NB. The guide does not encourage nitrous use for anything other than bird watching. We do not support the ‘laughing birders’ organization.

Bomb Sparrow
Highlight: designed for explosives detection

Description: Originally developed to signal the location of explosives labs, Bomb Sparrows flock in elaborate formations marking the atmospheric presence of chemically dangerous concoctions. Typically very difficult to track down, their formations are dispersed very quickly by British intelligence; making clear sightings quite rare. Your best chances are in the outer suburbs or anonymous tower blocks. If you are lucky enough to see an actual detonation, Bomb Sparrow flocks are extraordinary. But be careful: mixing your own chemical lures may result in prosecution under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Trumpeter Finch
Highlight: Sings in the presence of concentrations of carbon monoxide.

Description: This species typically makes its nest along busy highways and main streets. Listen out for the high-pitched song of the Trumpeter Finch when airborne particulate levels reach toxicity thresholds. Go in an SUV convoy for the best chance—and pack a gas mask to hear their song up close.


Liam Young, 02 10 10


This is an exerpt of the travelogue from Acres Green. See slow thoughts for the Beamer Bees, Mobile Mountains and Prosthetic Trees and more from this strange little community.  By  Anab Jain + Jon Ardern of Superflux, Liam Young + Darryl Chen of Tomorrows Thoughts Today and Chris Hand and the ‘Power of 8’ team.

At first the residents didn’t know what to call them. The once strange creatures had no name. Maybe there was a manufacturing code, or an RFID tag attached surreptitiously to their underbelly, but nothing official or as obvious as a logo like on a newly unveiled car. No motor show. No fanfare. They just arrived.

Their size was striking. Not that they were big, but that they were unsettlingly human in dimension, each specimen the equivalent mass of an adult man inflated into a rotund figure. Each displayed a great folded surface like unfurled wings spread into a complete and airtight enclosure. Manufactured with precision pleats and jointing expertly executed, the pristine body constituted an object equal to a small exploratory spacecraft or even a fine tailored suit. Its form had a quality of otherworldly beauty, but in recent years those once virgin husks were now marked with the deposits of airborne nuisances – carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, platanus acerfolia pollens and pigeon shit

A homage to the fog catchers that came and went before them, these sophisticated beings were appendages to the natural environment – microclimatic machines. Fastidious in their task of redistributing water, they were able to green small pockets of the ecosystem with workaholic obsession. Their great canopied bodies expanded to collect moisture and contracted to move more efficiently. Hovering the skies, they sought out humid air systems following low air pressure systems, collecting moisture on their outer skins and collecting them in their fuselage. They then deposited this rain – I suppose you could call it rain – on farmlands outside of cities. A promised land like an old testament morality tale. (more…)


Liam Young, 12 09 10


The Imaginarium is an exhibition co-curated by Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today and Studio Lukas Feireiss (editor of Beyond Architecture, Spacecraft and Architecture of Change etc) with Luis Berrios-Negron.  The exhibition brings together a group of architects, artists and scientists including TTT’s Liam Young, Francois Roche/R&Sie(n), Greg Lynn, Philip Beesley, Rachel ArmstrongTheo Jansen, Terunobu Fujimori, Triptyque ArchitectureIlkka Halso, Lucy McRae, Cero9Mas Yendo, and many more to engage the prescient subject of ecological change and adaptations caused by artificial interventions into existing ecosystems.

‘The Imaginarium’ is curated as an unnatural history museum of archaeological fragments,
 botanical samples, exhibits, evidence and curiosities. 
Archived in the accompanying Catalogue of Speculative Specimens we see a jump in the fossil record, an evolutionary leap, as the interbreeding of biology and technology has given birth to a strange new nature. The Imaginarium forms part of the exhibition Examples to Follow: Expeditions in Aesthetics and Sustainability curated by Adrienne Gohler. and is open from 3.09.10 – 10.10.10 at the Uferhallen in Berlin. See more photos and videos below.

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Liam Young, 11 03 10


This is the second installent of a series of projects to come out of our Power of 8 research trip to ‘Acres Green: The Way Life Should Be’.

…the hypnotic dance patterns of small, glowing insects against the warm colours of the dark sky left us in awe, and we wanted to know more. We stopped two people dressed in large netted clothing walking down the street. They introduced themselves as ‘hivers’ and told us the story behind these mysterious creatures:

These glowing creatures were the Beamer Bees or Beamer Signum Apis Melifera, formulated by a community of biologists and hired bio-hackers to service under-pollinated trees, plants and vegetables due to the disappearance of honey bees.

The Beamer Bees are guided by radiowaves and electromagnetic landscapes to crops requiring pollination. They are produced in a limited number each year, and their interactions with the bumble bees and other creatures are tightly monitored. It seems that the Acres Green residents can buy licenses to call the bees. License holders use the bugles or other personal mobile devices which transmits radiowaves that the bees can detect. The bees follow the waves to their source.

We realised how the Beamer Bees had became central to the Acres Green ecosystem and people seemed to be able to live in harmony with them. We see a glimpse of one family’s everyday interactions with the new creatures. Practical, yet stylish netted fashion ensured comfort on the way to a party, Gardeners who missed out on licenses opportunistically used wifi routers to attract bees to their plants. (more…)

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