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Liam Young, 26 02 17


Where the City Can’t See’ is the world’s first narrative fiction film shot entirely with laser scanners. Set in the Chinese owned and controlled Detroit Economic Zone (DEZ) and shot using the same scanning technologies used in autonomous vehicles, the near future city is recorded through the eyes of the robots that manage it. Across a single night a group of young car factory workers drift through Detroit in a driverless taxi, searching for a place they know exists but that their car doesn’t recognize. They are part of an underground community that work on the production lines by day but at night, adorn themselves in machine vision camouflage 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.

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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

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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 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.