Next Nature

Interview: Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret, Designers Exploring Alternative Ways of Thinking & Doing

Their work is rooted in design, has a flavor of art and a profound touch of science. It’s a blend of different types of knowledge that brings forth new knowledge. Central to their approach is an open-ended and all-inclusive mindset. Western science is as legitimate as indigenous traditions. In their opinion all knowledge is complementary. Their work ranges from the absurd to the scientific, from the experimental to the groundbreaking. Mike Thompson and Susana Cámara Leret are the minds behind Thought Collider, an experimental, critical art-design research practice based in Amsterdam.

Often their materials of choice are both everyday and completely out of the ordinary. In their project Aqua Vita they used urine as a source of information. With Fatberg, an on-going collaboration between Mike and Arne Hendriks, they are building an island of fat, which should one day roam the oceans. And their latest project: The Institute for the Design of Tropical Disease attempts to create a space where other types of discussion related to tropical disease can take place – discussions that are more imaginative than dogmatic.

We recently talked with them about their practice, their latest project and their views on society and our senses.

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Facebook suicide prevention tool
Society of Simulations

Facebook Provides a Suicide Prevention Tool

Let’s say an old schoolmate, whom you haven’t spoken to in ages but is your friend on Facebook, posts a status update that sounds like a suicide note. What to do? Message the friend? Then what to say? Facebook is setting up a tool that advises what to do and directly seeks contact with the person who might be on the brinck of committing suicide. Is a social network morally obliged to have such a feature or is it trespassing privacy borders? This is a sensitive topic.

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Seeing any way but the Milky Way
Manufactured Landscapes

What Is Next Nature? #8

Light pollution is changing our perception of the environment. People spending most of their lives in urban areas will rarely, if ever, see the Milky Way. The name itself is derived from its appearance as a glowing band of light arching across the night sky; a visual display unequaled in grandness and beauty. Until the 1920’s, when the electricity grid became more common, it was visible almost everyday, depending on the weather conditions. However, today more city dwellers have seen the Andromeda Galaxy as the wallpaper of their MacBook than they have seen the Milky Way by looking at the sky.

Read the entire Next Nature is… series.

Plastic Planet

Getting Rid of Plastic in the Oceans

The level of plastic in the oceans lately became an urgent topic. Getting rid of it is the aim of The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a dutch company founded by 21-year-old inventor Boyan Slat four years ago, when he was 17. He created a prototype of an advanced clean-up system which will be installed in the North Sea approximately 12 nautical miles off the Dutch coast, where it will remain for a full year for a performance tests. This prototype is the first ocean cleanup system even tested at sea.

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Forward to Nature

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Virtual worlds, printed food, living cities, wild robots – we’re so surrounded by technology that it’s becoming our next nature. How can we live in harmony with it? The Next Nature Network is a 21st century nature organization that wants to go forward – not back – to nature. We stir debate, create events, exhibitions, publications and products that bring biology and technology into balance. Because ultimately, we may not just have to save the pandas but the people too. Will you join us?

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Payment by thumb
Augmented Bodies

Payment by Thumb

Forget about cash and credit cards, in the not too distant future we will need just one finger to shop: the thumb. For one person in particular this dream is getting closer to reality thanks to a near-field communications (NFC) chip embed in his hand. He is Australian biohacker Meow-Ludo Meow Meow (he legally changed his name) and he is part of a movement of people who are merging their bodies with technology.

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ethereum
Wild Systems

Legally Stealing $60Million of Cryptocurrency

If $60million were stolen from a high street bank, we would probably never read about it in the news. Not because its not a story worth writing about, but because banks don’t want the public to know about a huge security breach. When an attack like this happens to a cryptocurrency everybody knows, because transactions are all recorded openly on the Blockchain. That’s what happened on June 17th 2016 to the DAO. The Distributed Autonomous Organisation.

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Wild Systems

Brexit: the Cultural Climate Warms Up

On the aftermath of such a historic day for Britain and the EU, it’s easy to get swayed into the polarities of political discourse, particularly on social media and the Internet, where things heat up and move fast. The results of the referendum have just come out, and the Internet is already burning with tension. This, dear readers, is called “climate change” – just not the one you are used to hear about.

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Head lice spreading among selfie making children
Image Consumption

What Is Next Nature? #7

Unlike fleas, head lice do not jump, nor do they inhabit clothing; they can only be transferred from one head to another by physical contact. In former times this was quite rare, but today there is a trend among children that makes it a lot easier for head lice to proliferate: selfies. Young people might not be good at arithmetic, but handling a smartphone is second nature to them. And for them few things are as fun as putting their heads together while pulling funny faces in front of the camera. This gives the head lice just enough time to hop-on the next unwitting kid.

Read the entire Next Nature is… series.