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“The Art of Systems Analysis”, IIASA, 2017

 

[Laxenburg, Austria] The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store, a perfume project about the things we could lose because of climate change, is featured on “The Art of Systems Analysis,” by the International Institute of Systems Analysis (IIASA). The document features projects from international artists and asks the question, “How can artists support transformations to sustainability?” Featured as well is a quote by one of my longtime scientist collaborators and The Apocalypse Project’s sustainability advisor, Dr. Matthias Berger.

 

from “The Art of Systems Analysis,” IIASA, 2017, pages 18-19

from “The Art of Systems Analysis,” IIASA, 2017

Mentioned in the article are some of the slew of residencies, workshops, talks, and exhibitions for which this particularly project has received support through the years: Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, USAID Asia, Bio-Art Seoul, Plan International (with support from BMUB Germany, International Climate Initiative, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), CCCB Lab Barcelona, 1335Mabini Manila, and my recent residency in the Amazon Rainforest with LABVERDE. Thank you for being part of the process!

I love moments like these when I can look back and thank some of the scientists who have collaborated with me. Thank you for the time and hard crits! Hope to meet you all in person one day!

Check it out here (the spread is on pages 18-19, but I encourage you to read the whole thing).

The Apocalypse Project: House of Futures has finally launched at the Future Gallery of IFTF. Free and open to the public, the 7-month exhibition features interactive works that explore climate change and our futures through the lens of high fashion. The exhibition welcomes audiences of all ages.

Manila to San Francisco to Palo Alto

September had a whirlwind of events. My flight from Manila was delayed for the next day, and I was awake for more than 24 hours and carrying very precious and dubious-looking cargo—Metal hats! Climate change perfumes! Apocalypse masks!—that fortunately went through customs without a hitch. Thankfully, things went smoothly and were not apocalyptic when I landed in San Francisco.

It was great to physically meet people I’ve been in touch with in the digital world for several months now. David Evan Harris and Bettina Warburg of IFTF, Sophie Lamparter of swissnex San Francisco, and Martin Schwartz of the Swiss consulate have been working on the administrative matters for the exhibition, while I worked on the projects in Manila while Skyping with ETH scientists all over the world.

Fashion Shows and Future Feasts

Time was not wasted the minute I landed. It was a Thursday, and David picked me up from the airport and we drove to IFTF where I met some of the staff and saw the Future Gallery for the first time. We went back to San Francisco to the swissnex office, where we did dress fittings for the models who will wear the Climate Change Couture garments.

The next day, Friday the 18th, we had a preview of the exhibition at swissnex San Francisco with some art and science talks as well as the first fashion show of Climate Change Couture. Music and science were provided by scientists-artists-DJs Stefan Müller Arisona and Simon Schubiger. It was great to see them again and work with them and jewelry designer Ika Arisona on The Wild Jewels project.

The Apocalypse Project at swissnex San Francisco

The Apocalypse Project at swissnex San Francisco. Photo by Myleen Hollero.

Two days of installation after and on September 21st, The Apocalypse Project: House of Futures finally had its grand opening. With opening remarks by Marina Gorbis, David Evan Harris, Consul General of Switzerland Hans-Ulrich Tanner, and swissnex San Francisco CEO Christian Simm.

A big part of the night was Future Feast, where chefs get to propose dishes of the future. In talk-show fashion, I introduced Vijitha Shyam of Spices and Aroma and Monica Martinez of Don Bugito. Vijitha prepared a delicious ayurvedic meal using vegetables that use less water and are therefore easier to grow in California’s drought, while Monica presented tasty insect dishes made of insects—a wonderful protein source that are easy to grow and has less impact on the planet.

Don Bugito by Monica Martinez at Future Feast at the Institute for the Future. Photo courtesy of IFTF.

Don Bugito by Monica Martinez at Future Feast at the Institute for the Future. Photo courtesy of IFTF.

The next day was IFTF’s inaugural Future Now, an all-day event with art and science talks, co-working, a fashion show on the streets of Palo Alto, more Future Feast food, and casual discussions about climate change and the future.

Futures, Community, Collaboration

Eating great food, seeing models strut their stuff, dancing the night away, and art you can touch and wear are not what you would normally associated with climate change, but these fun and inclusive activities are meant to get you to care about what is often a politicized issue. Climate change affects all of us, and I especially like to engage young people, such as the two little kids who looked at the exhibition on my last day of installation.

Jeremy Joe Kirschbaum of IFTF struts his stuff. Photo courtesy of IFTF.

Jeremy Joe Kirschbaum of IFTF struts his stuff. Photo courtesy of IFTF.

I think that the fashion shows were especially fun because of the life the models gave the clothes. Most of them came to me saying it was their first time walking a runway or putting on fancy makeup. There were models who got the call at the last minute, and I appreciated how some of them insisted on an explanation as to why they were wearing these strange clothes. It’s wonderful to work with people who have their own strong opinions and can bring their own personalities to the table., creating a different fashion show each time.

Zoe Bezpalko modeling Climate Change Couture at IFTF. Photo courtesy of IFTF.

Zoe Bezpalko modeling Climate Change Couture at IFTF. Photo courtesy of IFTF.

This has been such as positive collaborative experience—there are many people involved in these events whose names I’m still recalling because of the sheer number.

Old and New Friends

Simon Schubiger and Stefan Müller Arisona DJ the Climate Change Couture fashion show at swissnex San Francisco. Photo by Myleen Hollero.

Simon Schubiger and Stefan Müller Arisona DJ the Climate Change Couture fashion show at swissnex San Francisco. Photo by Myleen Hollero.

I’m especially excited for this exhibition because I got to work with some old friends who have supported The Apocalypse Project before it was even born. I started this project as an artist-in-residence at the Singapore-ETH Centre Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in 2013. There, I produced the first collection of Climate Change Couture, designing clothes based on the research of some of the scientists and getting them to model the clothes. This time, for this Palo Alto show, it was a new experience to actively collaborate with them and co-design the garments. Moreover, as this exhibition is registered for ArtCOP21, I am happy for everyone’s efforts to be part of a global movement of cultural awareness on climate change.

And to think this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for more activities until we close this show in April of 2016.

This post first appeared on the website of the Institute for the Future here.

The Apocalypse Project: House of Futures opens soon in Future Gallery of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California. This seven-month exhibition explores our environmental futures under climate change through the lens of high fashion. I’m deeply grateful for the support of IFTF, swissnex San Francisco, the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco, ETH Zürich, Singapore-ETH Zürich Future Cities Laboratory, and University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland.

The Apocalypse Project: House of Futures

The Apocalypse Project: House of Futures

We have three events this September. Check them out and register now!

September 18, Friday, 6:30PM-10:00PM at swissnex San Francisco. Climate Change Couture: Fashion for a Hotter Planet. Get a taste of the exhibition by watching a Climate Change Couture fashion show and DJ/VJ performance plus talks from the artists involved. (Tickets at $10. More here.)

September 21, Monday, 6:30PM:10:00PM at Future Gallery, IFTF. The Apocalypse Project House of Futures Grand Opening Reception. See the exhibition plus celebrate with a Future Feast! (Free! Register here.)

September 22, Tuesday, 9:00AM-8:00PM at Future Gallery, IFTF. The Apocalypse Project: Future Now. Join us at Institute for the Future for the inaugural Future Now, an all-day event of futures thinking. (Free! Register here.)

I’m also even more excited to have old and new friends being part of this exhibition. Stay tuned for more in the coming days!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

The Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory, where I am currently part of their 2013 Art Science Residency Program, is housed in CREATE, or Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise. Coming back to the campus on night, I managed to take a photo of the building, which is more than 20 floors storeys high, under the moon. Quite an inspiring word to see every day!

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When one wakes up in another world, the previous one seems like a dream. Korea, magical as it is for me, seems like it ended a year ago instead of just last month. I’m now in Singapore for the 2013 Art Science Residency Programme in partnership with ArtScience Museum™ at Marina Bay Sands, Tembusu College National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory.

It is such a wonderful opportunity, and a very timely one as well. I am very grateful. Because of the Seoul43 project, I realized that one potential application of my work is the environment. The things I saw while I was in the mountains made me care about what humans are doing to nature in a more visceral way. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always cared about recycling, global warming, and polar bears, but having my hikes directly affected by what humans were doing to the environment (and ultimately affecting the direction of the project) was very unnerving. That project wasn’t too long ago, and I still have more questions than answers. (Visit the project site here.)

Climate Change and Environmental Futures

I am working on the theme, Climate Change and Environmental Futures. My project is about a potential “apocalypse” that may ensue in the future because of climate change. I aim to design objects that examine our perceptual lifestyles when that occurs. So. How will we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, etc. when we need to adapt to a less habitable earth? And on the other side of the spectrum, what can be designed along the lines of perception when we are able to mitigate climate change? These are questions that intrigue me and will keep me happily preoccupied in the next four months of this residency.

This project is also an experiment for myself and the direction of my work. I suppose this is why despite my excitement, I want to proceed with caution. This is definitely my science background talking. There are enough people misleading others about climate change; I don’t want to be one of those. I’m happy to have scientists and humanists in the college to give me their perspectives and share their research, thus informing my work.

Cousteau

I never thought I would work along the lines of climate change. And yet, I did kind of foresee this last year. Because of my passion for nature and exploration (and flying up in an ultralight), I came across the works of Jacques Cousteau, marine explorer and conservationist. In his book, The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus (Bloomsbury, 2007, co-authored with Susan Schiefelbein), he said that “Had I known where I was going, I would not have gone.” This resonated with me, along with him quoting Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s distinction between Apollonians and Dionysians. I fear applied research sometimes, because when one drops a product into the real world in the hopes of solving something, oftentimes there are consequences you did not account for. That, plus I think my best ideas and projects are those when I was just in states of play.

The Anthropocene 

In the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of research on recent findings and ideas in our Anthropocene. I am encountering a lot of very interesting work by artists, scientists, journalists, etc. I will be updating this site frequently, so check it out for my progress. 

Goals

There are specifics of this project I will be working out within the next few weeks. But now that I am here and have seen the labs and met with the staff, I have a better idea of what I can and cannot do. But just like my previous projects, I aim for these qualities:

1. Inclusivity—I hope to engage not just people from within the field of climate change, architecture, sustainability, and urban design, but also the people outside of it. I want to reach out to those who have no professional stake in my project, because I believe that climate change is a human issue that affects all of us.

2. Interactivity—I intend to create pieces that people can have an experience with and engage their senses, instead of just making something people will look at.

3. Empathy—I aim to collaborate with both the sciences and the humanities. The former is to ground my work in facts, and the latter is to allow for profound human connection. I hope for the audience to move from mere awareness of environmental issues to mindfulness where they are spurred to act and maintain positive environmental habits for the long-term.

The Weekend with the Eameses

This past Saturday, as part of my research, I visited the wonderful ArtScience Museum, where we artists-in-residence are supposed to give a talk and be part of their Sunday Showcase sometime in November. I loved the Mummy exhibition and the National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs, but it was the Eames exhibition that made me rejoice and gave me some level of encouragement as I begin this admittedly crazy project.

I loved seeing the Mobius Band from their Mathematica exhibition:

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And thanks, Charles, for this:

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Oh well, as always, here goes nothing.