Another project from the Interaction Design department seen at the RCA Summer show:
Ark Inc., by Jon Ardern, looks at our small and ineffectual attempts to live a truly sustainable life. Despite repeated warnings that we are fast approaching a point of no return, the world's governments (and ourselves) pay these issues little more then lip service. The Ark Inc. project suggests that we adapt our life style to life "after the crash", to the time when our actions have exhausted the resources of the Earth upon which we depend. Jon has imagined products and services for a cult-like investment company, called The Ark, that keeps you up-to-date on how badly the world is doing while reassuring you that your investment in post-crash life is doing well.
In Jon's words:
ARK-INC. is an organization that provides a range of products which include manuals and books, radio station broadcasts and services that help mediate the transition to post apocalyptic living such as holidays in apocalyptic locations. Ultimately, ARK-INC. becomes a proponent of intrinsic value, helping customers realize their potential worth in the "prophesied" paradigm of global change and upheaval.
The project stems from a long-standing frustration with how the status quo responds to matters of wider and far reaching importance: environmental issues and sustainability.
While people "do their bit for the environment": recycling what they buying fair trade, switching lights and trying to share cars, there does not seem to be a vehicle for public discourse that allows the debate to move on.
I have aimed to explore and expand this debate by reevaluating the issues of value and how value may change as the factors that influence it also change; or more explicitly "intrinsic value" versus "abstract value". Ultimately I want the my audience to feel that it is necessary to move beyond the old concepts of sustainability and face the reality of our situation with real solutions not lofty rhetoric. I hope to inspire in the audience an understanding that events are not going to stand still, and that we need to meet the coming changes in new imaginative and unusual ways.
Crazy times call for crazy solutions!
Will ARK send me fresh fruits and vegatables, pump fresh air into my home, remove the waste from my toilets, provide water for cooking/drinking/showering, cool and heat my home? Well???
Didn't Mad Max II already "imagine" a post-apocalyptic world? Would it not reduce the problem if we show people this movie rather than send them on carbon intensive, gas-guzzling holidays to apocalyptic locations?
Since the site is deliberately vague on what these "products and services" are there is the possibility that visitors might misinterpret this as survivalism and apocophilia--as a bunch of crazies living in bomb shelters up in the mountains with lots of guns, ammunition, canned food, simple tools, gold bullion and other "items of intrinsic value."
I'm guessing that Mr. Ardern really just wants us to think about this by presenting us with a horror senario where a growing number of people just disconnect from the collapsing world and look out for number one.
If on the other hand he is seriously advocating this, I don't agree with it. Nothing is ever solved by disconnecting from it.
While reading this entry and watching the ARK video, and later while reading the critical responses to it, I was reminded of Adbusters - the infamous anti-advertising(etc.) rag that has spawned a highly polarized pool of debate as to the efficacy of using popular media as a vehicle for change.
Adbusters is criticized on many levels: being a "glossy mag" that advocates recycling while not being printed on 100% post consumer materials; highlighting problems without "offering a viable solution"; being too specific; being too vague; etc.
This is valid criticism. However, the fact that so many of us have heard of Adbusters and engaged in debates about its worth, whether for or against, makes it successful - it has brought certain topics into public consciousness that may not have arrived there via "mainstream" forms of communication.
I think the ARK project is similarly valuable: regardless of whether it presents a defined problem, or a defined solution, it is another form of communication that makes people think. True, it won't provide you with clean, post-apocalyptic drinking water, but at least you're thinking about what can.
For many people, certain global issues will only have an impact if viewed from an "after-the-fact" (i.e. post-apocalyptic) perspective - this project may shake a few heads awake.
For those of us that are already aware: I'd say it's a good reminder to work harder at prevention.
I dont find Arks approach helpful. I share the disbelief and frustration at lack of progress and 'lip service' but descending in to a sort of survivalist mode isnt helpful, at all.
Honestly I was kind of disappointed WorldChanging posted on ARK-inc. So far WorldChanging has kept to its ideal of only "positive recommendations", a kind of "we can change the world for the better! Lets do it!" publication. ARK seems like part Mad Max, part Turner Diaries, and part 1984. Whatever it is, it certainly isn't positive.
Thanks, but if I want post-apocalyptic science fiction I'll grab myself some Asimov.
As a designer myself, I see value in the paradigm shift of "LESS" is better for us all around. The downscaling of everything we have in our society will greatly enhance our ability to survive the changes coming and likely introduce a new way of looking at each other and the planet. The impact on how we redesign/dis-engineer/un-plan our environment will be tremendous. What almost no one talks about is the need to have a corresponding population drop to make this transition better. Hence womens rights to their bodies, minds and wills must be paramount, growth in all is misconceptions must be challenged, and men need to step back and learn to shut up, be more nurturing, listening and observant of the more fragile systems of the world we keep wantonly destroying. This is all part of the Great Turning David Korten talks about in his book by the same title. We need this change, especially here since we use 25% of the worlds energy and resources by only 5% of the world's population. It is high time we joined the rest of the world on a more honest level.
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Hi thanks everyone for you comments and opinions, positive or negative its helpful to get feed back. Just in response to a few points raised; ARK-INC is a 'design for debate' project, it is intended to create discussion and stir up the debate around 'sustainability' and is intended more as a means of getting under the barriers that many people use to ignore important issues.
It is a work in progress and in time I would like it to take on the public front of a 'real' company as a tool for creating debate.
In response to Chris, I find it worrying when thinking people wish cap the debates around issues by saying that its not positive... I believe a smily face don't not always equate to true positive action, there should be room with in the debate to explore many scenarios and concepts as a healthy part of finding solutions that really work, I don't believe its always possible or even desirably to walk a strait path.
one more point I would like to pick up on is whether I believe it is desirable to 'disconnect'? the short answers is no I don't think it is, but, I think that as well as, or even as part of, attempting to change the ideas and actions of the 'main stream'. it would be a good idea to build real grass roots robust sustainable networks that live what they hope to see in the future, now!