The Apocalypse Project FAQs Round 1

Hello, apocalypters! Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given The Apocalypse Project, especially Climate Change Couture. I’ve updated the press page with all the links to the blogs and magazines who have featured the project. Many thanks for helping keep the discussion alive.

I’ve been receiving questions from readers, journalists, and friends alike, that I decided to put them together into one FAQ post. I’ve grouped some similar questions together. If you have any more questions, please do reach out.

1. Why the name, “The Apocalypse Project”?

Although it has end-of-the-world connotations, which could be what can happen if we keep mistreating the planet, the word “apocalypse” comes from a Greek word that means “disclosure” or “to take off the cover” or “to unveil”. The Apocalypse Project isn’t solely about potential catastrophic events, it’s also about revealing the face of environmental problems through these projects.

2. How did your project in Seoul influence you to do projects on the environment?

(Pre-apocalypse, I hiked all 43 mountains of Seoul for an installation and community project about the environment. View that project’s website here.) 

Seoul43 was the most physically demanding and personal project I had. I nearly died on a couple of those mountains, and I would not recommend hiking that much in such a short period of time—the staff at The National Art Studio of Korea were definitely worried for me! That project made me witness how human activity was affecting the environment (and vice versa). Don’t get me wrong—I think the Seoul government is doing a relatively great job protecting its mountains and most of the hikers I’ve met were very respectful of the environment. I’ve definitely seen worse in other cities. But some mountains were disappearing or were repurposed as parks or apartment buildings. I wondered if this was ok or not. There is such a big population there that I can understand that they need space. Does that mean it was ok to eliminate a tiny hill or two for the sake of a growing population? Is it ok to make a mountain “bigger” by adding fake soil to it? Is it ok to modernize nature so that we can better take care of it? I still don’t have the answers to that. I usually design my projects around the questions that I’m curious about, which for now are those that are about how we relate to the world.

3. What are your intentions? / Why speculative design? / Is Climate Change Couture a satire? 

I want us all to think about our relationship with the planet and make better choices.  There are many ways by which we can catalyze discussion and take action about these issues. These projects are my own way of doing that.

I chose this type of design (i.e. design that thinks about the what ifs and what could bes) because I want to remove climate change from its usual political strings, which for me sometimes miss the more crucial seeds of a conversation about the environment. With this type of creative platform, I can engage people of all ages and backgrounds. We should think about the planet with respect to our humanity, not in terms of power and money.

Yes, Climate Change Couture is a bit of a satire. The stories that go with them definitely have a tongue-in-cheek tone in them. Remember, these are dystopias—I actually hope that we won’t ever have to use these designs. I wanted to highlight the scenarios we may get ourselves into.

4. Why climate change? Don’t you know it’s not real?

Oh my god.

5. If the Climate Change Couture images are dystopias, why are the photographs beautiful?

Beauty is one of the best ways to get you to look. (P.S. Thanks!)

6. What influenced you? / What is your background?

My background is a bit eclectic. I studied molecular biology and contemporary art, and did my MFA in Interaction Design at SVA. I’ve lived in about five countries, which helped me see that there are many sides to an issue. I feel like I soak up everything around me and I’m inspired by a lot of things, from books to conversations to things I see everyday. I also worked as a journalist, so I’m used to asking a lot of questions. As an artist/designer, I can turn those questions into projects.

7. What was your previous work like? 

My earlier work had to do with interactive projects about our senses. For example, I designed the Hug Vest, which changes color if you hug the wearer; an Olfactory Memoir which is a book of printed smell memories that you can smell; Rorsketch, an illustration project of drawing what I see in clouds, etc. I also started DrawHappy in Iceland a few years ago, which is a project about drawing your happiness.

8. How can I support this project?

If you’d like to:

• collaborate on a project

buy an Apocalypse Patch to help fund the project

• invite me to speak in your school or organization to spread awareness of the project

• share your research on climate change so I can do another project based on your data

• model for one of my projects

• make a donation either in cash or in kind to help bring some projects to life (for example, I need help from a carpenter right about now)

• just drop me a line to offer constructive critique or recommend books/movies/projects/people to check out

…I would be extremely grateful.

9. Where are you now? / What’s next after this?

I’m in Manila working on five projects under The Apocalypse Project and I hope to have my first solo show this April. Check this site for updates.

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