Working in a Group with Liam, Zoe,Emma and Rosanda (group 11).
On Monday (15.2) we divided up the contextual references among each other to do some research separately so that the next time we meet we can bring it all together and maybe come up with an idea for this slightly bizarre brief.
I’ve been a bit frazzled about where to put all my research..do I start a new sketchbook? Should I just put all my research on my blog? Considering the outcome needs to be some sort of theatrical creation as well as a 3D model, I’m going to stick with blogging for now, although I will keep with me a little A5 sketch book to record any thoughts or doodles for when I’m away from my computer.
I was (and honestly still am a bit) taken aback by this new brief. I was worried about working in group but now i’m starting to realize that teamwork will probably be essential in figuring out a solution for this brief and hopefully together we’ll create a great outcome.
Since the brief suggests to invent a world that is both a Utopia and a Dystopia I thought a good place to start my research was at the meaning of these words, fully understanding them.
What I find really interesting about the word ‘Utopia’ is that it translates from Latin into “no place.” highlighting how elusive a perfect society and world is. A Utopia is a world that is so perfect, it’s almost too good to be true. A lot of films and books play on this idea only to later expose the dark truth behind what is keeping the order in these seemingly perfect worlds revealing that they are in fact a Dystopia. examples:
- The Matrix (1999) Directed and written by The Wachowski Brothers, the film depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer “Neo” learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world”. ♦
- Metropolis (1927) Directed by Fritz Lang, A futuristic city is sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.♦
- Blade Runner (1982) directed by Ridley Scott, The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation. The use of replicants on Earth is banned and they are exclusively utilized for dangerous or menial work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and killed (“retired”) by special police operatives known as “Blade Runners”. The plot focuses on a group of recently escaped replicants hiding in L.A. and the burnt-out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.
- The Truman Show (1998) Directed by Peter Weir, The film chronicles the life of a man who is initially unaware that he is living in a constructed reality television show,in which his entire life, since the moment of his birth, is filmed by thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week broadcast around the clock to billions of people around the globe. Truman becomes suspicious of his perceived reality and embarks on a quest to discover the truth about his life.
- Psycho-Pass (2012-2013) An anime television series directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani & Katsuyuki Motohiro and written by Gen Urobuchi. Psycho-Pass is set in 2113 in an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors continuously scan the Psycho-Pass of every citizen in range. The Sibyl System is actively measuring the populace’s mental states, personalities, and the probability that individuals will commit crimes, using a “cymatic scan” of the brain. The resulting assessment is called a Psycho-Pass. When the probability of a person engaging in crimes measured by the Crime Coefficient index exceeds a certain level in an individual, he or she is pursued, apprehended, and killed if necessary.To enforce order, the officers of the Public Safety Bureau carry hand weapons called Dominators
These are all the movies I’ve watched so far, I’ll add more to this list as I continue my research.
Retrofitting refers to the addition of new technology or features to older systems.
- power plant retrofit, improving power plant efficiency / increasing output / reducing emissions
- home energy retrofit, the improving of existing buildings with energy efficiency equipment
- seismic retrofit, the process of strengthening older buildings in order to make them earthquake resistant
What I was interested in looking into was Green Retrofitting. I liked the idea of taking something old and making it eco-friendly. Here is an interesting online booklet about the benefits and struggles of green retrofitting : ♦
I thought of a future city where instead of being completely rebuilt, the city is retrofitted with solar panels, greenery and anything to make it energy efficient and eco. The first thing that came to my mind while I was researching Green Retrofitting was the Bosco Verticale (lit. Vertical Forest) buildings recently built in Milan that I used to walk by on my way to work. While not necessarily an example of retrofitting (as they have been newly built) they still embody what I visualized when I imagined an eco-friendly city.
Bosco Verticale is a pair of residential towers in the Porta Nuova district of Milan, Italy inaugurated in October 2014.They have a height of 110 metres (360 ft) and 76 metres (249 ft) and will host more than 900 trees (approximately 550 and 350 trees in the first and second towers respectively) on 8,900 square metres (96,000 sq ft) of terraces. The towers were designed by Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra. It also involved input from horticulturalists and botanists. It is called Bosco Verticale because each tower houses trees between three and six meters which help mitigate smog and produce oxygen. It is also used to moderate temperatures in the building in the winter and summer. The plants also attenuate noise. The vegetation on the buildings is the equivalent of that found in a one hectare woodlot.
Here’s some visual research I did that reflected my imagined “eco-utopia”:
I started imagining a future where cities have grown into the “country-side” because of earths growing population. Because of this over-population fossil fuels are finally abandoned in favor of eco-friendly alternative energy sources (solar, wind, geo-thermal, tidal, hydro-electric). The main energy source for these extended cities would depend on their location. The main energy source for the city would shape it’s appearance, ex: cities in hot, desert-like locations would incorporate solar panels and wind turbines into their environment and architecture whereas somewhere more cold and mountainous would incorporate geo-thermal and hydro electric technology.
Another Building that inspired me because of it’s incredible sustainable capacities is the California Academy of Sciences:
the California Academy of Sciences was created by Renzo Piano with the key aspect of Sustainability in mind. The project conserves two limestone walls from the previous building (built in 1934), and houses a planetarium, a rain forest habitat and an aquarium, and several exhibition spaces to house the several Academy collections. The planetarium and the bubble that contains the rain forest habitat are the two big spheres that shape the green roof. The roof becomes a landscape with California native species, that won’t need extra maintenance or water, attracting local species to occupy it. Radiant floor heating will reduce energy needs by 5-10%. The planted area measures 2.5 acres; it is now the largest swath of native vegetation in San Francisco.
Heat recovery systems will capture and utilize heat produced by HVAC equipment, reducing heating energy use.The planted roof will provide a superior thermal insulating layer for the building, reducing energy needs for air-conditioning.High-performance glass will be used throughout the building, reducing standard levels of heat absorption and decreasing the cooling load.Reverse osmosis humidification systems will be used to keep the research collections at a constant humidity level, reducing energy consumption for humidification by 95%. At least 90% of regularly occupied spaces will have access to daylight and outside views, reducing energy use and heat gain from electric lighting.The undulating roofline will draw cool air into the open piazza at the center of the building, naturally ventilating the surrounding exhibit spaces. Skylights in the roof will automatically open and close to vent hot air out through the tops of the domes.The skylights are strategically placed to allow natural sunlight to reach the living rainforest and coral reef.
A solar canopy around the perimeter of the roof containing 60,000 photo voltaic cells will supply almost 213,000 kWh of clean energy per year, and prevent the release of more than 405,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. By absorbing rainwater, the new Academy’s living roof will prevent up to 3.6 million gallons of runoff from carrying pollutants into the ecosystem each year.
Over 90% of the demolition waste from the old Academy was recycled. 9,000 tons of concrete were reused in Richmond roadway construction, 12,000 tons of steel were recycled and went to Schnitzer Steel, and 120 tons of greenwaste were recycled on site.At least 50% of the wood in the new Academy was sustainably harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.Recycled steel will be used for 100% of the building’s structural steel.The insulation that will be installed in the building’s walls is made from recycled blue jeans.♦
I’ve decided to do some research on various types of alternative energy starting with solar energy. We’ve all seen classic solar panels, many people don’t like them because they don’t find them aesthetically pleasing (and costly (despite the fact that the you end up saving more money in the long run with solar panels)) Nowadays so many variations of solar panels are being invented and created but unfortunately not being used because of the power fossil fuel companies have over the energy market despite how they’ve been scientifically proven to fuck up the environment (and they’re going to run out at some point so honestly what the fuck are we doing). Now imagine a future where fossil fuels have been abandoned in favor of clean energy, how fucking excellent would that be?? so excellent.
Here are some interesting alternative solar panels I’ve come across in my research:
Spherical Solar Energy-Generating Globes
The solar energy designers at Rawlemon have created a spherical, sun-tracking glass globe that is able to concentrate sunlight (and moonlight) up to 10,000 times. The company claims that its ß.torics system is 35% more efficient than traditional dual-axis photovoltaic designs, and the fully rotational, weatherproof sphere is even capable of harvesting electricity from moonlight (fucking moonlight). The spheres are able to concentrate diffused moonlight into a steady source of energy. The futuristic ß.torics system is catching a lot of attention for its clean and beautiful design. The ß.torics system was invented by Barcelona-based German Architect André Broessel. He sought to create a solar system that could be embedded in the walls of buildings so that they may act as both windows and energy generators.♦
So not only are these orbs more efficient in collecting energy from the sun (and the fucking MOON!!) but they’re also stunning to look at!
Eight years ago, Scott and Julie Brusaw had a vision of replacing the asphalt on American roadways and parking lots with energy-producing solar panels that are strong enough to withstand vehicular traffic. The road panels don’t just harvest solar energy – they are also equipped with circuit boards, programmable LEDS, and a heating element that melts ice and snow, all covered in “super-strength” textured glass.
After a lot of experimentation and funding struggles, the couple and their company Solar Roadways just unveiled their first parking lot made of hexagonal panels. Not only does the parking lot harvest energy, it also incorporates overhead utilities and repositions underground utilities for more efficient use. Power and data cables line a cable corridor alongside the parking lot, which provides easy access to power and data companies. This eliminates the need for overhead power lines and amazingly removes cell phone dead spots. The cable corridor is able to house all kinds of cables, including TV, fiber optics for high speed internet, and phone. Another function of this incredibly smart parking lot is to store, treat and redistribute storm water. Currently, around 69 percent of the layer under the glass of each hexagonal unit is made up of solar cells, but the plan is to reach 100 percent. ♦
SOLAR FREAKIN ROADWAYS is something I’ve been excited about since I stumbled across their indiegogo campaign back in 2014 (which you can still donate to now!). Can you imagine if all the roads in the world were replaced by these amazing panels? UTOPIA.
- Solar Glass Roof Tiles
SolTech Energy, a Swedish company selling solutions for clean solar power, has developed a unique home heating system contained within roofing tiles made out of ordinary transparent glass. The attractive house-warming tiles (somewhat ironically) give roofs a beautiful, icy appearance. The tiles are made from ordinary glass and have about the same weight as those made of clay. Secondly, the system doesn’t, like competitors’ versions, heat up water or vacuum pipes, but clean air. The tiles are installed on top of a black nylon canvas, under which air slots are mounted. The black colour absorbs heat from the sun and the air starts to circulate. The hot air is then used to heat up water, which is connected to the house’s heating system via an accumulator. The beauty of the system is that it cuts energy costs throughout the year, during dark winter days as well as night time, due to its capacity to store heat in the isolating layers of air under the canvas.♦
- Solar Windows
SolarWindow Technologies, is pitching a form of transparent PV cell technology for new construction, replacement windows and retrofits to existing windows.
SolarWindow is using what it calls organic photovoltaics, which can vary in color and transparency. The company is planning to announce its product in a couple of weeks.
SolarWindow CEO John Conklin said what sets his company’s technology apart is its ease of integration. Because it’s based on a PV film, it can be adhered to existing windows or incorporated into manufactured products relatively easily.
Depending on the number of south-facing windows, which receive a majority of the sun’s light, and the building’s location, Solaria’s technology could provide from 20% to 30% of a skyscraper’s energy needs. As the PV strips absorb light striking a building’s window, they reduce the “solar heat gain coefficient”; in other words, the windows reduce the sunlight’s effect on a building’s internal air temperature and thereby lower air conditioning costs.
Solaria is targeting its technology for windows that will be installed in newly constructed buildings.
Similarly, a team of researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) has developed a new type of transparent solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy.
Called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), MSU’s technology can not only be used on building windows but also on cell phones and any other device that has a clear, uncolored surface. Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering said the key to the TLSC technology is that it’s completely transparent.
“No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, said in a statement. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent.”
MSU’s solar harvesting technology uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of sunlight.♦
Although these solar windows don’t generate as much power as traditional opaque solar panels, could you imagine if every skyscraper in a city used solar windows? AND if they were used in conjunction with classic solar panels or those solar orbs? The design possibilities are endless..
Here’s some more visual research of my eco-utopia (more of a focus here on window space and light):
Archigram was an avant-garde architectural group formed in the 1960s – based at the Architectural Association, London – that was neofuturistic, anti-heroic and pro-consumerist, drawing inspiration from technology in order to create a new reality that was solely expressed through hypothetical projects. The pamphlet Archigram I was printed in 1961 to proclaim their ideas. Committed to a ‘high tech’, light weight, infra-structural approach that was focused towards survival technology, the group experimented with modular technology, mobility through the environment, space capsules and mass-consumer imagery. Their works offered a seductive vision of a glamorous future machine age; however, social and environmental issues were left unaddressed.
- Plug-in-City, Peter Cook, 1964:
Plug-in-City is a mega-structure with no buildings, just a massive framework into which dwellings in the form of cells or standardized components could be slotted. The machine had taken over and people were the raw material being processed, the difference being that people are meant to enjoy the experience.
- The Walking City, Ron Herron, 1964
The Walking City is constituted by intelligent buildings or robots that are in the form of giant, self-contained living pods that could roam the cities. The form derived from a combination of insect and machine and was a literal interpretation of le-Corbusier’s aphorism of a house as a machine for living in. The pods were independent, yet parasitic as they could ‘plug into’ way stations to exchange occupants or replenish resources. The citizen is therefore a serviced nomad not totally dissimilar from today’s executive cars. The context was perceived as a future ruined world in the aftermath of a nuclear war.
- Tuned Suburb, Ron Herron, 1968
In 1968 Archigram were invited to make an installation at the Milan Triennale. The theme that year was the ‘greater number problem’, which Archigram, being much more optimistic than most, took as an advantage. ‘Popular Paks’ was invented, packages of architecture which you could buy off the shelf and add to the existing environment to fine-tune it. The Popular Pak brought in elements to improve the environment – accretions of modern technology that showed how existing places could be tuned up, lifted to another dimension.→retrofitting??
Rachel Maclean constructs fantasy narratives set in computer-generated landscapes that play on thorny issues of identity, social life and politics. Maclean plays each of the characters in her films, prints and photographs, donning outlandish self-made costumes and thick make-up. She superimposes the figures onto colourful backdrops using the green screen techniques of Hollywood filmmaking and draws on existing sources found on the Internet or television.♦
Maclean plays every character in the film, inventing a variety of personas that mime to appropriated audio and toy with age and gender. These clones embody unstable identities: conversing, interacting and shifting between cartoonish archetypes, ghostly apparitions and hollow inhuman playthings.
Existing somewhere between the candy-coloured fantasies of ‘Disney Princess’ and the monstrous caricatures of a William Hogarth, “Lolcats” sits on a discomforting boundary between the sickly sweet and the grotesquely abject. Examining the relationship between our contemporary obsession with the personified image of the benign, doe eyed, ‘chocolate-box’ feline and a confrontation with the cold, untamed otherness of the predatory cat.
Germs is a bizarre three-minute satire on advertising, particularly in relation to hygiene, nutrition and beauty. Originally commissioned by Channel 4 to screen at the end of an ad break, Germs was intended to subvert from within.Initially, it follows familiar advertising clichés, especially the trend for quasi-scientific cross-sections that draw the viewer close to the microscopic forces that might cleanse pores, improve intestinal health or invade the toilet bowl. But things quickly turn surreal.In Scottish artist McLean’s candy-coloured fairytale dystopia the germs are absurd pink and blue Teletubby-like figures played, like all the characters in her films, by McLean herself. They lurk, giggling, in beauty masks, rise up deliriously from vomited yogurt and ultimately bludgeon to death the starlet who opens the film.
McLean’s films are a unique blend of performance and digital art: she creates real props and costumes but the films are shot on green screen, so that all the backgrounds are made digitally.
She has said of her work that it creates “hyper-glowing, artificially saturated visions that are both nauseatingly positive and cheerfully grotesque”. Her films are never entirely comfortable to watch and yet, once seen, they’re impossible to forget.”♦
Maison Margiela is a French fashion house founded in Paris in 1988 by Belgian designer Martin Margiela. Both masculine and feminine, oftentimes fusing the two genders, the brand’s universe can be described as conceptual and enigmatic. Today, the House is recognized internationally for its unique approach to modern elegance. one of Margiela’s signature fixations is reclaiming vintage clothes, accessories, and other objects and reworking them by hand into new pieces.
Projecting computer graphics onto buildings or rooms to make them digitally come alive isn’t new, but how about if your canvas is a living, moving, human face? Omote does just that, a combination of real-time face tracking and projection mapping that takes a model’s face and turns it into something far more mesmerizing, even as it moves around.
It’s the incredible handiwork of a team led by Nobumichi Asai, which brings together digital designers, CGI experts, and make-up artists. Combined, they create what seems to be the electronic equivalent of makeup ♦
Watching OMOTEs 3d projection I was reminded of Autumn/Winter 2006 collection Alexander Mcqueen runway where an ethereal hologram of kate moss appeared in the middle of the runway.
I also rediscovered these photographs by Dennis Auburn I had in one of my many “inspiration” folders saved on my laptop:
I really love the use of colors and movement in the Aura series. It feels quite dreamy.
As much as I love the idea of creating something holographic for this project I unfortunately lack the technical skills. Creating a projection on the other hand could be interesting (and possible as I have access to a projector
thanks Ana!). Perhaps projecting our utopias/dystopias onto an object or ourselves could be an interesting outcome.
On Monday (22.2) we had a brainstorming session for our project. We reviewed the research we had done separately over the weekend and discussed our ideas for the project creating a sort of visual mind map: