Simon Hirsbrunner, media researcher from University Siegen, Germany, visited The Apocalypse Project: House of Futures at the Institute for the Future and sent us these lovely photos. Many thanks for coming!
I came to Singapore to imagine the apocalypse. Previously, I was on a residency in South Korea where I hiked all the mountains of Seoul and saw firsthand what human activity was doing to the environment. Doing a subsequent residency on climate change and environmental futures was, to me, the logical next step.
To adequately prepare for the future, we must imagine it as concretely as possible. This was the impetus for creating The Apocalypse Project, a speculative design research inquiry that imagines the future as climate change continues to affect the planet. Initially, I held drawing workshops in Tembusu College, National University of Singapore, asking questions such as “What superpowers would you like to have to navigate through a climate change apocalypse?” or “What would you like to wear to your apocalypse?” I realized that the question on clothes was the one that participants related to the most—they found it fun, engaging, and could better imagine designing clothing that they themselves can wear, as opposed to more abstract questions.
Based on the workshops, I created the series, Climate Change Couture: Haute Fashion for a Hotter Planet. Using the research done by the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, I designed the first five garments in the series, imagining clothing we might wear in specific environmental scenarios and writing a narrative around them. I asked people from FCL to model them for me and photographed them against selected locations in the lab and around Singapore.
I consider myself as someone who works at the intersection of art and science by bringing them together through design, which I believe makes the work accessible and relevant to the audience. I believe that all of us are born artists and scientists—that is, we all have the innate curiosity to explore the world and manifest this in various forms—and it was a pleasure to work with the people in the lab and get to know their artistic sides. Some of the researchers modeled clothes based on their own research, and they were instrumental in the iteration of the designs. I also love working with young people, and some students from Tembusu College collaborated with me during the project.
A common thread that ties my projects together is a focus on people. I believe in participatory art, especially as climate change affects all of us as a species and not just a select few. Two days before our showcase at ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands, typhoon Haiyan hit my home country, the Philippines. Ironically, the apocalypse I imagined had already happened in my own backyard and will probably keep happening. I’d like to be one of those artists with a cause to work towards, and I think I found it in this residency.
I was one of the two artists who participated in the 2013 Art Science Residency Programme, in partnership with ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, Tembusu College National University of Singapore, and the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory. You can find the output of my residency at http://www.apocalypse.cc.
This post appears on the website of the Future Cities Laboratory. Thanks, guys!
Climate Change Couture
Volume 1, Singapore
A preview, my fellow earthlings.
Climate Change Couture: Haute Fashion for a Hotter Planet
This project explores the future of fashion as climate change continues to impact our lifestyle. This first collection is borne out of my Art Science Residency Programme, collaborating with researchers from the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory. The models of these clothes are active researchers or have a science background. Visit The Apocalypse Project for future updates!
This art/science residency is winding down, and my penchant for sentimentality is going up. At the risk of sounding like a Buzzfeed listicle, here are some of the smaller, yet unforgettable moments. Most of these images were taken using a crappy smartphone, but hey, I’ll take it. I’d like to remember Singapore, the fifth country I’ve lived in, with this hodgepodge of memories:
1. The constant mixture of cultures as well as the combination of the traditional and modern.
This guy in Balinese dress was on his smartphone during an intermission. This was a student performance at NUS.
This cosplayer on a photo shoot and the class happening a few feet away. (I’m unsure what the latter is, and I didn’t want to interrupt them. If you think you know what this is, let me know in the comments. I’d like to be enlightened.) This was at Singapore’s Japanese Garden.
One of my favorite works in the Asian Civilisations Museum: “Mustafa” is written in sini script using a Chinese brush, by a Muslim Chinese calligrapher.
2. Random people working out.
This guy doing a handstand near the Singapore Art Museum.
3. Seeing Venus.
Ok, I’ve definitely seen this before. Let me clarify: seeing Venus and knowing it’s Venus. Thanks to the Meetup group that organized this at the Singapore Science Centre.
This seedling peeked out of my kitchen sink.
A second mushroom sprouted in my shower.
5. Professor Greg Clancey’s cat, Misty, who lives next door to me at Tembusu College.
She went from being scared of me to not caring when I walked past.
6. Being at my desk at the Future Cities Lab and seeing the people walking up and down the stairs.
The lab occupies the sixth and seventh floors. I think that how they use the stairs reflects their personalities.
(On that note, seeing this guy repeatedly use the hand rail as a ballet bar is the reason why I stopped touching it.)
7. Attending lectures for the sheer enjoyment of them.
Such as this one by Pico Iyer sponsored by Yale-NUS at UTown.
Or this one by Jonathan Ledgard at the Future Cities Laboratory, whose book, Giraffe, I read and loved last year.
8. Working with scientists.
I loved seeing their less academic side. Like so:
9. Getting into emoji chats with my taekwondo master in Korea (since we still can’t understand each other).
I love my current project the most, but I definitely adjusted faster in Seoul.
Hurray for Kakao Story! Thanks to interaction design, communication between two people who do not speak the other’s language is completely possible. Guess who did pass her second degree black belt test after all. Now to figure out how to ship it to me. Hmm.
10. Holding Apocalypse Workshops and getting into uncontrollable fits of laughter.
This gig went by too fast, too soon. I’m in the goodbye-presents-and-thank-you-notes stage. Wasn’t I just doing this a few months ago? Vagabond problems, oh dear.
Today in the lab, I figured out some ways to turn a garbage bag into a dress. You know, in case that day may come when we can’t afford clothes any longer and will have to resort to trash to clothe ourselves.
Naturally, for The Apocalypse Project.
Here are some photos taken by Lin Kuek of the Future Cities Lab. Thanks, Lin!
A garbage bag can be a skirt:
An off-shoulder dress:
Or a halter:
I can classify the past few days as Learning Things I’m Very Interested in But I Probably Won’t Want a PhD In. It’s great to be learning from others while on a residency. Here are two events:
1. Numbering Climate Change: A Carbon Workshop by Dr. Ingmar Lippert
It is the middle of my residency, and one thing I realize is that while I am currently doing a project on climate change, I don’t want to label myself as a “climate change artist” necessarily. I think that I specialize primarily in how I do things, instead of what I do them for (i.e. a focus on systems over outcomes, though it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the latter). There has been and always will be a leaning towards environmentally themed projects—something I cannot undo, since I travel a lot and I’m usually outdoors. But I don’t think the bulk of my day has been about reading climate change reports (thank goodness). As an interaction / experience designer I have mainly been looking into turning bigger, more macro issues, into personal experiences that people can relate to (and hopefully care about after they encounter the project).
That being said, I think that projects should have a lot of research going on in the background, even those things I’m not particularly thrilled about. And in this case, it meant me voluntarily going through a workshop this Saturday on how the carbon market works. Led by Tembusu instructor Dr. Ingmar Lippert, it was about the politics of carbon trading and how the carbon market entered its current state.
It was a whole day affair, and I missed taekwondo that day (and you all know that never happens). But for the record, I was very enlightened and I do not regret doing it, even if it meant reading all these depressing academic papers. I also caught myself repeatedly talking about how the users (meaning the people) should have been more involved in these systems, especially as local communities suffer the most during carbon offsetting projects. Like I said, I’m definitely here as a designer. Does anyone remember this line from a certain awesome movie?
2. Is Singapore a Model City?
This Monday, the Tembusu Forum hosted four speakers to talk about and debate the question, “Is Singapore a Model City?” Included were Professor Heng Chye Kiang, Dean of the School of Design and Environment of the National University of Singapore; Mr. Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Livable Cities, Ministry of National Development; Professor Ian Smith, Principal Investigator of the Future Cities Lab; and Dr. Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of Singapore’s Housing and Development Board and Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of National Development (a wonderful speaker, by the way!). Professor Tommy Koh introduced the speakers and moderated the discussion afterwards. They gave great talks, but it was even better when the students asking really smart questions. As an expat, it’s always interesting to have a crash course of a city’s history and dreams for the future.
Late this week, I had a chance to attend the mid-term exhibition of the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, which is hosting me for the duration of my residency program here in Singapore. It was wonderful to see all the work from different modules—Low Exergy, Architecture and Construction, Digital Fabrication, Transforming and Mining Urban Stocks, Housing, Architecture and Urban Design, Urban Design Strategies and Resources, Urban Sociology, Territorial Organisation, Landscape Ecology, Architecture and Territory, Mobility and Transportation Planning, and Simulation Platform.
Below are some photos I took from the event.
One of the many exhibition tables:
Researcher Marcel Bruelisauer of the Low Exergy module after explaining his design solution for cooling systems:
Professor Kees Christiaanse, Programme Leader and Module Leader, speaks at the book launch. Lots of books were introduced that day, including one of the coolest things I’ve heard of, Flight Assembled Architecture by Professor Fabio Gramazio, Professor Matthias Kohler, and Raffaello D’Andrea (see the monitor on the right).
Some very cool things made by robots:
Doctoral researcher Norman Hack in front of his module’s exhibition. Behind him are beautiful 3D pieces.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used for dengue research:
A panel discussion on Simulation, Modeling, and Measuring, moderated by Dr. Matthias Berger (standing, on the right):
I wish more people (non-architects / designers / computer scientists / urban planners) could visit it. It’s one of the coolest labs in the world! Check out the laboratory website here.