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"The Rocketship Wonder of Earlier Decades is Gone"
Alex Steffen, 31 May 09

A great round-up of the talks at worldchanging ally and writer Geoff Manaugh's London conference, Thrilling Wonder Stories. Here are some interesting tidbits (all quotes are paraphrases):

Peter Cook: "He stood up to talk about “Weird Shit International” as a much-needed movement in architecture across the decades. ... He lamented “up and down” building design philosophy, and laughed that the Oslo school of architecture was pumping out such boring graduates of that philosophy, when a solar-powered autonomous robot was mowing the grass-lawn roof above their heads."

Viktor Antonov: "Then he showed us how altering a couple of architectural parameters - increasing the height of the ground floors of Paris, and the monumental size of the smokestacks - could instantly render a real city in a science fiction oeuvre."

Iain MacLeod: "The rocketship wonder of earlier decades is gone, and our children write dystopias by default: a fascinating, terrifying realisation. He seemed rather earthy and upbeat, and talked of how problems mean invention, and creativity, but I couldn’t help think about a generation of kids for whom there is no bright imagined future: only Bladerunner, eco-death, the Drowned World, apocalypse. MacLeod talked about the problems for idealistic sci-fi now, and I wonder if there was something about the hip nihilism of modern fantasy, combined with relentless terror-cancer newsmedia shit, that really will stop future generations bothering to climb out of their doomed shrug."

"Then the most extraordinary storm of science-madness came from Francois Roche (of architects R&Sie) whose thick accent masked incredible phrases: “strategies of sickness”, “protocolising the witch in the forest”, “the necrosis of the building”, “the penis of the wall”… he talked about feeding death and traditional fairy tales into design, and about creating a machine that would build an un-navigable glass maze in the courtyard between buildings, into which people would wander, and then die, unable to escape without GPS. “They die to become part of the building,” he said, grinning, and propping expensive sunglasses on his styled bonce. He talked about a building in which would be constructed from vast, moulded versions of bullet holes on wet clay, covered in rotting vegetation collected from the Korean de-militarized zone by a purpose-built “witch” robot, referencing Tarkovsky’s Stalker on the way. Oh and this electrified hairy skyscraper that would suck pollution from the Thai atmosphere, and only be a little bit dangerous. Roche’s firm seems like one of the world’s most valuable imaginative resources: technically accomplished, with a healthy streak of insanity. He would be the guy the evil genius would go to for the Volcano base plans. “Ten billion in blood money, what can you build me?” “A death-maze constructed from recycled local materials and plutonium!” Something like that."

And, since I can't top that, I'll leave it there. Well done, Geoff!

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Comments

This is a perfect real-world example of what the Long Now Foundation folks have been talking about. We don't design for - much less even imagine the possibilities of - the future.


Posted by: Kathryn Blume on 1 Jun 09

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