In The Watchers, the creative geniuses at Studio Smack picture a world where surveillance systems don’t just watch us – they actively judge. Are you a green-coded Conformist or a red-alert Intellectual? The tone is paranoid, but it’s a vivid reminder that our technological systems make us as much as we make them. Autonomous algorithms already control our economy, our internet, and our vacuum cleaners. It’s not a stretch to imagine that autonomous cameras will control our security and social spaces. Make sure to wait for the twist ending.
Recently Google slapped our site with a warning that “something’s not right here!” It seems that the Drug Enforcement Agency has caught the Next Nature staff handing out baggies of performance-enhancing pills in Amsterdam. How else will our audience be able to handle the Power Show without an artificial boost?
Okay, so we’ve been joking: Google found a potential security leak in our website last week. We fixed it quickly, and a few more days elapsed before the Internet noticed. But we have been distributing these snappy pink flyers. Click through to learn more about the side effects of Next Nature.
In God’s Browser, Geert Mul uses scores of images pulled from the internet as the frames in an abstract film. Using specially developed image recognition software, Mul creates the illusion of motion between unrelated images. The same software also generates musical notes that vary with the speed and type of the image being displayed.
The result is a hypnotic experience that blends pictures of nature, culture, sunsets, skeletons and supermodels into a portrait of humanity’s collective visual consciousness. The visual power of God’s Browser emphasizes that, in an image-saturated society, the simulation can become just as valuable and meaningful as the “authentic” object. Mul’s work looks, and sounds, like the creation of a virtual world, where God could only connect to the universe from the internet.
Geert Mul will be presenting God’s Brower at the Next Nature Power Show in collaboration with philosopher Jos de Mul. Jos de Mul has previously been featured on Next Nature with his essay The Technological Sublime.
In her directorial debut, body architect Lucy McRae applies her trademark manipulation of the human form to the Australian group Rat vs. Possum. Using pastel colors, spandex, and cut-outs in a white wall, she turns the deterritorialization of the body into a pop confection. In the past, McRae has made LED clothing that responds to the wearer’s level of excitement, and dresses made from fluid-filled tubes that communicate emotional states.
Arne Hendricks will be presenting The Incredible Shrinking Man at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.
Social erosion, fisheries depletion, deforestation- for the 7 billion people on earth, we’re not just approaching an era of resource scarcity, we’re already there. Except for the lucky few, food, shelter, and even water can be expensive and in short supply. We have tried to address global problems with bigger technologies and bigger laws, but what if we decided to go small? Really small. How would the world change if every human was only 50 centimeters tall?
Ever wished you could take a shower with pigeon poop? Artist Tuur van Balen proposes changing pigeons from flying rats to cleaning agents. A speculative, specially engineered bacteria, as harmless to pigeons as Lactobacillus is to humans, could potentially change pigeon excrement into biological soap.
For Pigeon D’Or, van Balen built a coop that clips to a window, which would allow future apartment dwellers to harvest their very own fresh, pigeon-made soap. Another version of the perch extends over a car’s windshield, inviting the birds to come and rain detergent on glass in need of cleaning. Van Balen’s “bespoke urban disinfection” won him an 2011 Ars Electronica Award of Distinction.
Tuur van Balen will be presenting at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th. Though he won’t be bringing along any sudsy pigeons, he will be teaching the audience how to make their own anti-depressant yogurt.
Christian Schwägerl is a correspondent for Der Spiegel and the author of Menschenzeit (The Age of Man). He will be presenting his views on the Anthropocene at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th. Learn more about the Anthropocene here.
In a recent opinion piece at Yale Environment 360, journalist and author Christian Schwägerl argues that the financial collapse and the environmental collapse stem from the same mistakes of human foresight. The financial crisis was triggered by a pass-the-buck thinking, with blindly optimistic (or darkly cynical) reliance on proliferating loans that no one ever expected to pay back. The problem only became apparent when there were no more suckers left to exploit. We ran the economy down to its lowest trophic level, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the global ecology as well.
The special includes a spread on Hypernature, an wonderful new article on Food Technology, an essay by Kevin Kelly and a translation of the essay Real Nature is Not Green. If you are able to decipher Dutch, this is highly recommended.
The Book launches at The Next Nature Powershow on 5 November in Amsterdam.
If you felt like building a 2,000 meter mountain in the Netherlands, which features would you like to add? Journalist and accidental landscape visionary Thijs Zonneveld wants to know. Suggestions have included everything from hydroelectric power to affordable housing to a vast, dark interior that would shelter the first cave habitat in Holland.
If you still don’t take this latter-day Babel seriously, rest assured: as of September 27, the Die Berg Komt Er became an official foundation. What began as a joke has now turned into an enthusiastic movement, with serious proposals from architects, chemists, green energy experts and transportation advisors. The rhetoric may be techno-utopian, but the outpouring of support indicates that Zonneveld touched on a real longing for a nation-scale project. After all, when was the last time God asked the internet for suggestions on creation?
Thijs Zonneveld will be at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th to show us how to build a mountain from scratch.
Image via Sick Chirpse.
Renegade architect and futurist Rachel Armstrong has proposed that our cities, currently constructed of dead trees, baked mud, and refined ore, need to be coated in a layer of glowing, hungry bio-goo. Bioluminescent bacteria could be “painted” on walls, billboards, and sidewalks to provide a low-energy means to bathe city streets in a peaceful blue-green light.
Wild bioluminescent bacteria like Vibrio phosphoreum (pictured above) aren’t bright enough to provide light to read by, but it’s possible that they could be genetically engineered to produce more vibrant light. Of course, delivering nutrients to an entire city of blueish bacteria, especially ones that currently live only in water, could prove more of a challenge.
Armstrong also suggests that building surfaces could be fortified with carbon-hungry bacteria to soak up local C02 emissions. Even if hers is a decidedly sci-fi vision, it’s vital to our planet’s health (and our own) to push for over-the-top solutions. Breaking out of a 12,000 year old architectural paradigm will require thinking outside of the steel-and-concrete box.
Rachel Armstrong has previously been featured on Next Nature for her proposal to save Venice using protocells that grow and accrete like a coral reef. She will be presenting her views on synthetic biology at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5.
Christien Meindertsma spent three years tracking down every product made from a single pig. Pork made a showing, but the more strange goods were “ammunition, medicine, photo paper, heart valves, brakes, chewing gum, porcelain, cosmetics, cigarettes, conditioner and even bio diesel.” All in all, 158 products came out of the 103,700 grams of the hog at slaughter.
PIG 05049 shows the surprising degree to which global supply chains are intricately interconnected. Pig fat turns into automobile paint; bone ash turns into train brakes. The hog is as good a symbol of globalization as coca-cola or the World Trade Organization. Though Meinderstsma resists any moralizing, there’s something decidedly uncanny about some poor porker completely deconstructed and scattered across the earth.
Christien Meindertsma will presenting a visualization of a pig farm at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.
In the film Mastering Bambi, artists Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs have stripped the landscape of its cuddly, anthropomorphic characters. Over the course of the film, the camera pans across empty forest scenes and winter fields, accompanied by a chorus and orchestra. Using 3D photographic collages, the artists reconstruct elements of the backgrounds from the classic Disney film, which presented an unrealistically idyllic vision of nature. According to Broersen and Lukacs:
“…an important but often overlooked protagonist in the movie is nature itself: the pristine wilderness as the main grid on which Disney structured his ‘Bambi’. One of the first virtual worlds was created here: a world of deceptive realism and harmony, in which man is the only enemy.”
Does Mastering Bambi imply that the audience has finally mastered nature by eliminating all its inhabitants? It may be a more stark comment on the destructive capacity of humanity than Disney’s decision to kill off Bambi’s mom. Once the harmonious woodland inhabitants are gone, we are left to uncomfortably wonder if we are their only replacements.
Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs will be presenting Mastering Bambi at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.
The Next Nature Power Show is an intellectual spectacle where artists, scientists, designers, filmmakers, architects and philosophers present their radical ideas, visionary statements and powerful images on how to design, build and live in Next Nature: the nature caused by people.
After successful editions in Paradiso, Amsterdam (2003, 2005), Zollverein, Germany (2006) and the Million Dollar Theater, Los Angeles USA (2008) the event returns to the Netherlands. During the museum night of 5th of November 2011 the vintage city theater of Amsterdam is surged with over 20 visions on Next Nature. Expect a mixture of live performances, film, physical experience and virtual imagination. Presenters include Bruce Sterling, John Zerzan, Jos de Mul and Rachel Armstrong. On top of that, the highly anticipated Next Nature book will be presented.
What are you doing this weekend? If you happen to be in the neighborhood you may want to attend the Next Nature lecture at the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire. Anthony and the Johnsons are there, so why should you not be?
Last week, the young and talented designers of the Next Nature lab at the Eindhoven University of Technology presented their end of term works in an internal exhibition. There are over fifty people active within the next nature theme. Projects range from self-camouflaging bikes, to blushing dresses, to rural solar energy projects. Some snapshots.
Last week our NANO Supermarket was presented at TEDxBrainport in Eindhoven. A good opportunity to show some of our speculative nano products and explain a bit of the why & how of our supermarket noir.