Futuring a Synthesized Food Revolution

There have been many different fictional depictions of synthesized foods. In a world where environmental conditions seem to be pressuring society to rethink the way we live, food has often been a discussion when it comes to alternative ways to satiate our appetites with non-tradition methods of preparing food. From television and movies to children’s books, there have been many examples of synthesized food thinking.

In the television series “Star Trek”, the show portrayed a technology called the replicator, a machine, or more specifically described as a molecular synthesizer and protein sequencer, capable of creating (and recycling) objects. Replicators were originally seen used to synthesize meals on demand, creating any type of food or beverage on command, but in later series they took on many other uses.

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Roald Daul introduced the idea of a three-course meal all packed into a single piece of gum in his book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, 1964. Soup, roast beef, a baked potato and blueberry pie and crème have all been synthesized into a single bit.

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“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” took alternative food sources to a whole new level. An American children’s book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett, the book details a bedtime story narrated by a grandfather to his grandchildren, describing the daily lives of citizens who live in a town that is characterized by its strange daily meteorological pattern. This provides the townsfolk with all of their required daily meals by raining food. Although the residents of the town enjoy a lifestyle devoid of any grocery shopping or cookery, the weather unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse, devastating the local community with destructive storms of either unpleasant or dangerously oversized foods. What was once a idealistic vision of food consumption soon becomes a nightmarish circumstance of taking what the citizens had for granted.

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Soylent Green is definitely the most “dystopic” and pessimistic view of where alternative food production could go. The film portrays the future, ironically the year 2000, as a dystopian future suffering from pollution, over-pollution, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and year-round humidity due to the greenhouse effect. Much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green”. In the end of the film, the main character discovers that soylent green, the ubiquitous and ambiguous patty replacing all other food sources, is in fact people. I would like you, the reader, to imagine what sorts of food technologies could exist to replace “eating people” if we were living in a world similar to the movie’s conditions in the year 2100?

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In the design field, it’s well known that engaging the consumer in a ritual can enhance a product experience. The designer can add indulgence through ritual rather than adding more sugar, salt, and fat. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler says that many of the foods created by large food companies today are designed to be irresistible, to provide ideal sensory pleasure through visual appeal, aroma, taste and flavor, texture, and mouth feel to entice consumers to keep coming back for more.”

It has been documented that if a snack contains a variety of contrasting but complementary ingredients, we are likely to consume more of that food. In the case of junk foods, this is a bad thing. However, by combining different healthy foods that Americans don’t get enough of, like fruits and vegetables, into one snack, there is an opportunity to increase their intake. Visualizing taste and nutrition matters the most.

Another opportunity for designers to influence people’s eating habits are through nudges. A “Nudge” is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic options. Nudging can attract our attention and alter our decisions. People have the ability to respond to nudging, whether that is to respond to the nudge or choose to ignore it.For most of us, self-control issues arise because we underestimate the effect of arousal. How can we promote investment goods (eating healthy, exercising, etc.) and discourage sinful goods (junk food, smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.)?

How can these sociological and design approaches be used to make food technology approachable, nutritious and promote investment goods? In the next upcoming slides, I will pose a series of images and questions of where design and technology could go to address many of the societal issues we currently have with the way we consume and manufacture/farm food, and how they could be altered in a synthesized food revolution.

 

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What if 3D printing became so advanced that we could print fruits and vegetables? Organic, healthy, nutritional food could be printed for the same cost as a donut or cookie. Designers could use the advance in technology to make healthy options as desirable as possible, mix and matching textures, colors, etc. How would our landscape look if a big mac cost the same as a delicious, seasonal cob salad?

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What if farms, slaughterhouses and excessive agriculture was replaced by food printing labs?

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What if 3D printing technology was so advanced that we could print food architecture the same way current companies in China 3D print concrete houses? You could live in a home made completely of cheese, which would provide meals and over time disintegrate and be completely removed from its space, leaving the land to be rebuilt upon instead of demolishing brick and steel structures.

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It may seem really foreign and uncomfortable to eat genome sequenced, artificially printed foods that is societally accepted, but is it any stranger than the artificial and synthesized foods we already seemingly consume without fear? A Twinkie will take centuries to decompose, a famous example of food that isn’t actually “real food”.

 

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There is a lack of transparency and trust when consuming food. Often times, it seems that when eating processed foods, ignorance is bliss. Could food technology take advantage and change this approach to eating, or would it become even more heightened?

 

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If we could print all of our meat, then there would be no need to farm livestock, which in turn would reduce CO2 emissions substantially. “Soylent Green is people!” isn’t so farfetched when humans are already consuming bio-augmented, penicillin injected fattened, featherless chickens and are being fed cows that were fed remnants of other cows during the mad cow disease outbreak.

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Printing food that looks desirable and delicious, but is actually nutritious and healthy could help rid the world, particularly the United States, of the obesity epidemic. Instead of going to a fast food chain because that is the only affordable option for a lower class family, you could now print an kind of vegetable for the same price.

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Printers could come into the average household, replacing the kitchen and ushering a new movement away from the stereotypical, stay at home mother.

These may seem like farfetched, unapproachable questions and situations, but with the amount of ambiguous food already out there in people’s daily lives, this may be the solution to combat a lack of transparency in the food market. If the world’s over consumption and production rate continue to balloon, leading to devastating environmental impact, bioengineered animals raised to be slaughtered, and larger cost disparity between junk food and “organic” food, then perhaps considering a synthesized, artificial food future may not seem like such a horrendous idea.

 

Bibliography

“How Design Can Help Kids Eat Their Broccoli”, Joey Zeledon, Smart Design, February 17, 2015 : http://smartdesignworldwide.com/news/food-product-design-how-design-can-help-kids-eat-their-broccoli/

“The Dystopian Future of Food: How Close will Reality be to Science Fiction?”, Alice Barsky,  https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/10/the-dystopian-future-of-food-how-close-will-realit.html

“Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness”, Thaler, Richard H.,(Introduction + chapters 1-5), February 24, 2009.

“Star Trek Replicator”,  Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyMYKWIAR5s

The New Golden Age: Imagining a Non- Ageist Transhumanist Future

 

The way we are taught to think about aging and death is very linear: one typically spends their twenties going to school (for as long as they can afford to), spends their thirties finding a job, works hard at carving out their niche for the next thirty years and if they’re lucky have enough saved that they can retire at 65. The next 15 to 20 years can be spent “relaxing”, doing whatever they want, spending as little or as much time with their families and spouses as they want. This is the ideal vision; the parts that are often omitted from this future scenario are of course illness, widowhood, and isolation before death. To work towards retirement or old age for so long and then only be able to enjoy it for so short a time is almost feels ridiculous. To imagine a future where to be elderly is a coveted and rewarding position is to rebel against the mainstream ageism that has been engrained in most aspects of our current society. The New Golden Age is a non-ageist transhumanist utopia where this vision is realized through the embrace of radical science and technology. In predicting this future, it is important to look at current data trends and let them inform our hypothesis. This manifesto will also consider the biases and social implications of fighting the “problem” that is aging. Namely, there is an inherent classism, with most of the current research being funded by North American venture capitalism (namely the Silicon Valley elite) and meant for the wealthiest citizens of developed nations.

These two graphs from the World Health Organization show the top ten causes of death in low income vs high income countries. Communicable diseases were responsible for death in low income countries, while diseases linked to aging were responsible for more deaths in high income countries.

It is a recent phenomenon of the twentieth century that people have been dying in old age. Japan is currently the country with the highest life expectancy at 83 (National Institute on Aging). One hundred years ago, a person born in Japan would be lucky to live past the age of 50. After World War II, many countries experienced not only an increase in population growth (the Baby Boom), but also an increase in life expectancy. This was especially true for East Asian countries, with the average life expectancy jumping from less than 45 in 1950 to over 75 today (National Institute on Aging). One major setback for many countries in Africa is the HIV/Aids epidemic, which had the effect of decreasing life expectancy. The country with the current lowest life expectancy is Chad at age 50. In 1981, the life expectancy at birth was 45 (The World Bank). This being said, the majority of deaths in industrialised societies is from non-communicable and chronic diseases, not parasitic and infectious diseases (National Institute on Aging). Global improvements in public health systems and infrastructure had helped improve standards of living and subsequently increase life expectancy. The reason this part of the world (the wealthy countries) is so concerned with aging is because that is how we are dying: old, and from diseases associated with age and the effects of our youthful globalized and harmful lifestyles/habits. The rest of the world is dying “young” before the age of 70. Based on the data trends over the twentieth century, the life expectancy has only gone up. Is it logical to assume that the life expectancy can/should only go up from here? Even in wealthy industrialised countries, class and financial ability plays a part in life expectancy. In fact the gap in longevity between rich and poor is growing among some poorer more marginalized groups in the US, for example, and life expectancy is actually falling (Elliott, np). Even in developed countries like the US not all lives are valued equally, so who will be given the resources to extend and improve their quality of life?

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I s it logical to assume that the life expectancy can/should only go up from here? Some scientists believe extending human life to it’s known “maximum” of 120 is feasible by 2045 (Corbyn,np). (Graph from Psychology Today)

          Longevity science seeks to end age related diseases and prolong human life. For longevity supporters, death is “disease” that takes a severe emotional and economic toll on society (longevityscience.org), and ideally should be delayed, or even more radically, eradicated all together. Longevity science has (not very surprisingly) been snubbed by the wider scientific community as a pseudo-science. However, that has not prevented a number of vehement academics from around the world (including Dr. Marc Tartar, who teaches “Reliability Theory of Aging and Longevity” at Brown University) from contributing research and developing theories. In addition, many non-academic but very financially generous people have invested thousands (sometimes even millions) into scientific research surrounding longevity. One of these well-funded individuals is Aubrey de Grey, arguably the most outspoken advocate of longevity science. De Grey is the founder of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation, “a public charity that is transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease” (SENS.org). In addition to giving traveling lectures and engaging public debates to promote his cause, De Grey also funds SENS with an annual 5 million dollars of his own inheritance (Corbyn, np).

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SENS also receives annual donations from many well established billionaire venture capitalists from Silicon Valley. The Silicon Valley elite in particular seem to have become enraptured with the promises of longevity science. The motivations behind this seem to be the desire to make the most out of the comfortable and financially secure life they have ascertained for themselves. If you made more money than you could spend in a lifetime, wouldn’t you want to at least try? Peter Thiel, a billionaire from the Valley contributes an annual $600,000 to SENS. In 2013, Google founded Calico (The California Life Company), whose mission “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives” by reverse engineering the biology of the human lifespan (Corbyn, np). Human Longevity Inc. is another company that aims to create a database of 1 million human genome sequences by 2020, including from “supercentarians”, or people who have lived past 100 (Corbyn, np). The amount of money getting pumped into the development of drugs, scientific studies and advocacy of lifestyle changes seems like it could make anything possible. Longevity science is very much an industry powered by venture capitalism, seeking to take advantage of the consumer.

A branch of activism and radical thought that is linked to longevity science is transhumanism. Transhumanism, meaning “beyond human” (Istvan, np) is an intellectual movement that advocates the use of radical science and technology (including biohacking, artificial intelligence, and robotics) to “improve the human condition” through life extension (Istvan, np). Transhumanism, because of its radical aims is controversial within and outside of the scientific community. Like longevity science, many of its proponents are white upper-middle class men. The most widely known transhumanist “activist” is Zoltan Istvan. Istvan was a 2016 presidential candidate in the American election, known as the first “anti-death” candidate. Istvan sees transhumanist rights as “the civil rights of the twenty-first century”, and is the creator of the Immortality Bus. Mimicking the Freedom Rider Bus of the 1960’s civil rights movement, the Immortality bus traveled through the Southern US in late 2015 to advocate the importance of radical science as a form of human rights (Istvan, np). Predictably, this put a rather abrupt end to his campaign. For the transhumanist vision of progress to be actualized requires major lifestyle investments of bio-technology (most of which is still in early phases of research). Most of it is not available to those who fear or challenge death the most, but is rather exclusive to those who can actually afford it.

So what would a future in which North Americans lived to the theoretical “maximum” age of 120 (Corbyn, np)? Let us envision this utopia as a place where the final decades of life may be the most fruitful, a “New Golden Age”. Prolonged human life would have major impacts on the institutions of the workplace, marriage and family.

At this point in human history, life expectancy is higher than it has ever been; more and more people are living past the age of 90. In the New Golden Age, the life expectancy is 120, making middle age 60 instead of 40 like it is now. At what age will people be considered “mature”? Younger people will be valued less for their potential and more highly scrutinized for their lack of skill and experience comparatively with the older population. Presently, people tend to have one career path and stay on it singularly. In the New Golden Age, people will have the time to change career paths as many as three or four times. In terms of ageism in the job hiring process, people may be less reluctant to hiring older people. The New Golden Age would strive to avoid this. Rene Bolheim of the Johannes Kepler University has found that delaying retirement doesn’t lead to a lack of jobs for young people; contrarily it has been found that policies that encourage the employment of older workers has not compromised a demand for younger workers (Elliott, np). The more important question is whether there will be enough jobs to sustain a population that has any number of career paths. This is especially important because most jobs are becoming automated.

If people are working until their 80’s they’re going to be taking more time off, and spend time learning new skills. People will need to be equipped with the capacity to learn new skills at any point in their lives, so education systems will need to be more flexible and more affordable. People may have the desire to earn multiple degrees (they will certainly have the time). More pensions and social programs will be needed if people of lower classes are going to be supported. Healthcare systems will have to improve so that people will be in good enough physical and mental health to work past the age of 80 and have an exciting series of retirement decades. The line between pre and post retirement will become significant in a different way; people will live life in two phases. Working towards retirement will be more meaningful, because it won’t just entail relaxing, but getting to live more freely for another several decades.

Longevity will also have an effect on expectations and practice of monogamy. Whereas now people expect to be together for 40 or 50 years, people in the New Golden Age may have more open attitudes to open marriages or finite relationships. Currently, there has been an increase in “grey divorces” for people over the age of 50; in 2014 people over 50 were double as likely to get divorced than was seen in 1990. The numbers were even higher for people over 64 (Sarner, np). More and more people are beginning to abandon 30 year relationships as they go stale, and finding happiness in older partners even though they have a limited amount of time together. In the New Golden Age, the concept of a lifelong partner may seem unrealistic for some people. Marriage may dissolve as an institution, and common law partnerships (perhaps not even restricted to one partner) will be more widely accepted. There will be less pressure to find “the one” or establish any kind of relationship before a certain age. Additionally, as people will be living longer, the number of children people want to have will change. In this transhumanist society, people will be able to genetically breed and adopt children at any point in their lives. The use of virtual reality and artificial intelligence can be used to simulate the perfect family, or recreate past relationships and spouses even after death. No one will have to grow old alone or neglected by their children.

Infographics provided by World Health Organization, taken from Inhabitat.com

In the utopia of the New Golden Age, people will be active and autonomous at least until the age of 80, the new age of retirement. Society will be regrouped by age, because each age group will have different needs in terms of space and facilities. Because people are living longer they will be less content with staying in the same location and same living situation for so many years. It will be normal for people to move houses three times. The Under Thirties will be just completing their educations and trying to decide on their first career for the next twenty or so years. Both high school and college will be extended from 4 years to 6, and double majoring will be widely encouraged and made more accessible. The Over Fifties will most likely have multiple children (possibly from multiple families), so suburban living will have to be adaptable and easily convertible. The Over Eighties will be the most secluded from the rest of society because they have earned the right to a stress free retirement of thirty or forty years. Urban centres will be reserved and designed for people of working age (30 to 80), and separated rural peaceful communities will be designed for the Over Eighties. The Over Eighties will have privilege and priority access to travel, tax exemption and the latest in entertainment and reality simulation technology.

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Longevity science calls for the eradication of age related diseases like Alzheimer’s, but not diseases that unlinked to age like cancer. In a transhumanist society such as this one, everyone will have to follow a very rigid set of rules and daily regiments to enhance and maximize life experience. Following the example of President Zoltan Istvan , anyone who can afford it or receive enough government support to will have a chip implanted in them to regulate their calorie intake, cholesterol levels, cell production count, and immune system functioning. A daily drug regiment will be established and made affordable for people at specific intervals in their lives, thanks to the efforts of SENS and Calico, the most powerful companies in the world. They have partnered with pharmaceutical companies and the food industry to mold consumer choices to maintain habits that conform to longevity science. Drugs like metaformin (currently used for diabetes) will be taken monthly from the age of forty onward. After the age of 60 rapamycin will be taken instead, which is shown to protect against neurodegeneration (Corbyn, np). The Over Eighties will have blood transfusions every six months. It will be mandatory for Under Thirties to give blood donations every month. This blood will be stored and donated to the Over Eighties, as blood transfusions of young blood into old bodies has been known to improve mental alacrity (Corbyn, np).

Sources:

Corbyn, Zoë . “Live Forever: Scientists soon say they will extend life ‘well beyond 120’”. The Guardian, 11 Jan 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.

Elliott, Larry. “Much like the Queen, we’re all going to be working a lot longer.” The Guardian, 24 Apr 2016. Web. 10 May 2016.

Istvan, Zoltan. “A New Generation of Transhumanists is Emerging.” The Huffington Post, 10 Mar 2013. Web. 12 May 2016.

Sarner, Moya. “Love in the age of living forever: could your marriage last 80 years?” The Guardian, 23 Apr 2016. Web. 10 May 2016.

No Author. “Living Longer”. Global Health and Aging. National Institute on Aging, Oct 2011. Web. 12 May 2016.

No author. “Life expectancy at birth total, (years)”. The World Bank. Np, no date. Web. 12 May 2016.

No Author. “About SENS Research Foundation.” SENS Research Foundation. SENS Research Foundation, no date. Web. 12 May 2016.

No Author. “Unraveling the Secrets of Human Longevity.” Longevityscience.org. Np, no date. Web. 12 May 2016.

Puerto Rican Futurism

The structure of this manifesto will consist of identifying and categorizing Puerto Rican Futuring in the context of social, political, and/or religious events within the country’s history and present day status. From New World Spanish colonial rule to American territorial status, the Puerto Rican community have used a variety of artistic methods of expression in order to celebrate, communicate, comment, or reject their social condition throughout history and presently.

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Puerto Rico…an island in the Caribbean discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 19, 1493. These Spanish conquistadors that appeared on the island were revered as Gods by the indigenous people of the island, the Taínos. Artistic representations of the “Gods” were done by the Taínos, who followed their newly settled Gods, until the deity fallacy was uncovered. History states that chief Urayoán commanded two members of his tribe to drown one of the Spanish conquistadors named Diego de Salcedo. After he was drowned, his body was dragged back to the tribe, where the Taínos awaited his godly resurrection, but this did not occur. And so began the Taínos rebellion, which almost exterminated all Taínos, as the mighty Spanish utilized their powerful technologies against the Taínos’ mundane and earthly weapons.

“You will kill the God of Terror,

and only then shall you be free.”

                                                  René Marquez

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After the rebellion, the island was ruled by three figures that arrived from Spain. The Spanish viewed the island as an economic and trading utopia, where the mining of gold would create a superfluous stream of wealth. However, after gold was exhausted, a new kind of golden product arose: sugar cane. Sugar cane production created a new social addition to the Puerto Rican identity: the African population. This combination of cultures and events created a rich history from which many artists have developed their own visions of Puerto Rican futures.

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The beloved and most famous painter José Campeche, depicts in his painting titled “Las hijas del gobernador D. Ramón de Castro” (“The Daughters of the Governor D. Ramón de Castro” 1797) a subtle commentary on the social separations of this Spanish aristocracy implanted to rule the island. Campeche, a son of a freed slave, usually utilized oblique techniques in order to paint his vision of Puerto Rican humility in contrast to the Spanish aristocracy. However, Campeche was known on the island as a religious painter, and although this was true, he utilized his painting as a blank canvas to convey the future of the island under Spanish rule.

As stated before, the rich historical background has made Puerto Rico an interesting land for futuring for many individuals. A group referred to as the “Generation of the 50’s” found this histories of the island and the present occurrences artistically provoking. The “Generation of the 50’s” was an artistic and literary group of Puerto Rican intellectuals that formed a movement with a populist agenda of creating images that affirmed Puerto Rican national identity. They established the Puerto Rican Art Center, where they argued against the present struggle of the North American emergence on the island, and promoted a pro independence future. They mostly used graphic mediums to celebrate the strength of the people or condemn the economic and colonial exploitation in Puerto Rico during the beginning of the twentieth century.

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This work in particular by “Generation of the 50’s” member Carlos Raquel Rivera, titles “Huracán del Norte” (“The Northern Hurricane”) is an allegory to the negative impact of the North American presence on the island. While North American forces benefitted from the island’s riches, the “jíbaro” (worker of the mountain) suffered and barely had enough to survive.

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Another one of his works titles “Elecciones Coloniales” (“Colonial Elections”) was an interesting depiction of another US/PR struggle but the particular story of the piece served as much as a commentary as the piece itself. The original image shows the symbol for the United State of America as a large, magnanimous, hatted eagle looking over the Puerto Rican populace. After this piece was finished, Rivera decided to cut it up. He thought that the eagle had too much of a presence, and that he did not owe that to the US powers. Therefore, the final piece resulted in a figurative expression of sections of the eagle, and the crowd of people following a procession which ended in a deep plunge into a precipice.

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Although this particular symbol is set deep in the background of Rivera’s piece, we are able to spot the iconic Puerto Rican sentry tower. These sentry towers were used by the Spanish in the fort called El Morro which surrounded the capital city of San Juan to protect it from enemy ships. However, throughout history, they have also been viewed as symbols for futures that exist past the horizon, as portals for legends and stories, and as hope for the small island in the Caribbean. Nowadays, these sentry towers are popular tourist spots.

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As always, monuments such as this not only suffer the decay of time, but they also suffer the effects of vandalism. However, the topic of vandalism, in specific the transformation of graffiti as vandalism to urban art, has served as a rich ground for present day Puerto Rican futuring.

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There has even emerged an activity held by the sector of Santurce in San Juan, called “Santurce es ley” (“Santurce is law”), where graffiti artists are invited to share political, social, historical, or purely creative urban art for all to see. This image showcases a politically charged piece depicting a combination of important American figure and characters fighting each other in a rather grotesque manner. On the other hand, you can also view depictions purely creative pieces of science fiction characters such as this “sea transformer.”

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Puerto Rican depictions of Sci Fi, and the Sci Fi obsession really does not end with graffiti. One of the most famous Puerto Rican sci fi writers, James Stevens-Arce is one of the first Puerto Ricans to publish sci fi. One of his most popular novels titled “Soulsaver,” is the story of a “futuristic Christian theocracy in a USA where San Juan has become the center of the nation.” The main character, Juan Bautista is a “faithful and obedient servant of the Church” who policies and rescues those who commit suicide. In a dystopia where suicide is a crime, Juan Bautista would resuscitate them, then try the individuals for their own murders. The novel is a “clear critique of the strength of religion in mass media in the US.”

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Additionally in this Puerto Rican fascination with Science Fiction, Puerto Rico actually hosts the largest Comic Con convention in the Caribbean. The Sci Fi movie genre and the comic book industry, although not as large as in the US, has been very popular on the island. Now, more than ever, there has been a lot of conversation about the new superhero that is in town. Her name is “La Borinqueña” and she is on a mission to help the Puerto Rican community unite and fight for social justice. The Afro-Boricua superhero was created by Brooklyn based artist and writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez “in response to the island’s current financial crisis and is intended to be a symbol of hope and solidarity.” In an interview with Huffington Post, Miranda-Rodriguez explained:

“People are so enamoured by superhero culture

that it occurred to me that if we’re going to raise

awareness of what’s going on in Puerto Rico,

we need a superhero to do that.”

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Unlike most superheroes with supernatural powers to fight off villains, the character Marisol Rios de la Cruz or “La Borinqueña” uses her powers as a symbol of hope in order for Puerto Ricans to realize that the power of change is within themselves. The debut of “La Borinqueña” is on June 12, 2016.

Puerto Rico’s current economic crisis has been an issue that has evolved a large conversation about the future political status of the island, future relationships with the United States, and the future identity of what it means to be Puerto Rican. I am sure that we will see many depictions of Puerto Rican futuring through many more artists and I hope that these are a helpful force that takes my beloved country out of the shadows and into the beautiful Caribbean sun.

Bibliography:

“Arts: Artists of the Fifties: Historical Background.” Arts: Artists of the Fifties: Historical Background. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

“Carlos Raquel Rivera | Vida Y Obra.” AUTOGIROel Giro Del Arte Actual. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

“Colección.” Portafolio Del Café. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

“Descubrimiento De Puerto Rico.” Descubrimiento De Puerto Rico. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

“Graffiti in Puerto Rico.” Backpacking Diplomacy. N.p., 2014. Web. 18 May 2016.

“La Enardecida Obra De Carlos Raquel Rivera, Un Rebelde Con Causa.” Arte4312 UPRM. N.p., 2013. Web. 18 May 2016.

“La Parte Del Arte: La Lenta Eclosión De Puerto Rico.” Bodegn Con Teclado. N.p., 2012. Web. 18 May 2016.

Ramirez, Tanisha Love. “This Nuyorican Superhero Represents Hope And Solidarity For Puerto Ricans.”Paving the Way. Huff Post, n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

“SFE: The Science Fiction Encyclopedia.” Authors : Stevens-Arce, James : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

“Www.prcomiccon.com.” Www.prcomiccon.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

http://www.icp.gobierno.pr/images/descargas/5toRebelion-Taina-Final-LR.pdf

Neutrality, Homogeneity, and Urban Attractions

There’s an uncanny neutrality in the aesthetics of contemporary, future-oriented urban-revival architecture. By future-oriented I mean forward-looking in the sense that these things are conceived with environmental and social consciousness in mind. They tout themselves as efficient, and their efficiency is unquestionable – not just in terms of being “green,” which most are, but also more generally, in terms of functionality and aesthetics. This is a trend towards designed public spaces as all-inclusive Attractions rater than a varied collection of singular aesthetic and social experiences. This kind of efficiency is something to worry about.

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The crux of this idea can be easily explained in a small, familiar context. The iPhone, for example, can’t visually reference an object that historically takes calls – a handset with articulated microphone, receiver, and dialing pad – or it’d be weird and clumsy if it was also supposed to do a good job browsing the internet, and playing games, and taking photos. For this reason, it has to look as neutral as possible: just a little rounded off screen to project a myriad of functions on.

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Renderings of new Transbay Terminal (San Francisco, CA)

This presentation is going to end up being about New York, but I’m starting the scaled-up portion of the program with the new Transbay Terminal about to be built in San Francisco. This is only because it’s a really neatly comprehensible point of entry. It’s a five-story, partially underground complex that will act as a point of convergence and divergence for a whole menagerie of people and vehicles as well as a venue for commerce and consumption – restaurants to eat at and little shops to browse as you wait. It’ll also have a massive green roof that serves as an elevated public park. All of these functions and experiences aren’t disparate, per se, but they are different. And because they are all taking place in the same space, the space cannot necessarily betray any particular function. The renderings of it look like a weird, overgrown mall arbitrarily plopped into San Francisco’s downtown – nothing about it relates to the landscape or architecture around it. It doesn’t look like it should be there, because it looks like it could be anywhere. Homogenization of aesthetics can be understood here as a direct result of homogenization of function. Objects are starting to do so much at once that in order to avoid looking like they do any particular thing or live in any particular place, they must be devoid of form that denotes much of anything.

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The High Line (Manhattan)

Here’s another transit-related example: rather than letting a disused elevated railroad track fall into disrepair, what is now the High Line was redesigned and repurposed as an aerial park. There’s well-kempt seasonal greenery, stair and elevator access, and even an “urban theater” at 10th and 17th – a window over the avenue with tiered seating. And the idea is catching, too: a similar project is gaining traction in Queens, and Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail opened in 2015. Paris’s Promenade Plantée has been around since the ‘90s. There’ve also been virtually no reports of major crime or assault on the High Line, this fact chalked up to the park’s near-constant foot traffic – it’s a major tourist attraction – and high visibility from the windows and balconies of surrounding buildings. The High Line and similar urban aerial parks are scenic, safe, and seemingly sustainable; a real triple threat for developers. But they aren’t places of sanctuary or solace. The High Line et al. are designed to keep you in a constant state of Having Organized Fun. They provoke a low, unceasing hum of meticulously plotted interest – a little landmark here, a scenic overlook there, all along a mindlessly followable linear path. There’s no way to wander the High Line because your trajectory has been decided for you. It identifies things about itself that are supposed to be interesting and makes sure you know. It knows best where you should stop for a picture. It’s a machine for Making Memories rather than a venue for experience.

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Rendering of Pier55 (Manhattan)

This is a rendering of Pier55, a floating park and performance venue on Manhattan’s lower west side, at the Southern end of the High Line – construction of which is scheduled to begin this year. It’s got everything you need to have good, clean, organized fun: well-groomed open space, neat little walking paths and gardens, and amphitheaters scattered throughout. You can see in the renderings that there’s intent to keep the space pretty open – nothing is too shady or grown-in, likely in anticipation of a lot of foot traffic and space necessary to accommodate it. Like the High Line, it’s not a park imagined as a space for reflection and solitude as an escape from the bustle of city life. It’s a big green attraction that’s able to tout itself as “futuristic” because it floats above the river on big, white, arbitrarily abstracted pillars.

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Floating park proposal (Manhattan)

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Proposal for reimagining of riverside landscape architecture (Manhattan)

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Rendering of the Culture Shed (Manhattan)

These sorts of objects and spaces are designed for “inoffensiveness” at every level. They are so user-friendly as to be almost kid-friendly – corners are rounded, interaction is guided and gamelike. It’s a vision of the future as a playpen: safe and easily accessible. But is this really inclusivity? There’s a serious dearth of any sort of referential iconography. Objects just sleekly exist as programmable default versions of themselves. That’s not an inclusive attitude; it’s an active denial of variance in favor of easy neutrality. It’s noncommittal. Impartial. But impartiality isn’t democratic, acknowledgement and embracement of difference is.

So let’s say I go to a major developer with this concern. This developer is unusually receptive, or maybe just humoring me. He says, “I see where you’re coming from. I’d be interested in pursuing a project that promoted an active effort to increase sociocultural aesthetic diversity and individual agency in the public experience of the city. I know the city has plans to renovate some of the piers on the Hudson in conjunction with an effort to minimize the threat of coastal flooding. Why don’t we reach out to architects and designers from a varied array of social and economic situations and see if they have any bright ideas? We could even target the young, idealistic ones. Fresh out of or still in school. It could be a contest with an emphasis on personal cultural expression. Finalists could team up with professionals to help actualize their ideas.” And I sit there nodding for a while, thinking that sounds pretty good, until I remember that a contest like this has to get judged by someone who probably isn’t particularly young or idealistic or open-minded. I also remember that these sorts of top-down efforts to showcase the worldliness of Western cities have historically fallen into the trap of appropriation and cliché when it comes to portraying anything non-“normative” – World’s Fairs and the like.

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Rendering of Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu’s “New York Horizon”

And the truth is, call-to-arms urban revival contests usually end up turning out winners like this: Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu’s shocking but rather cheeky idea to dig down to Central Park’s bedrock in order to create a continuous wall of mirrored skyscrapers around its perimeter – “characterless architecture” meant only to reflect its faux-natural surroundings. They say this will “reveal the park’s rugged natural terrain,” but that doesn’t seem to be the priority. It’s another opportunity to create attractions like arenas for hiking, climbing, and swimming; as well as use the displaced dirt to alter other parks around the city into “mini-mountains.” While this might seem vaguely subversive – building down instead of up, a reversal of the trajectory all these elevated or floating parks are taking – it’s really just the same principle as the others. Lush, rambling Central Park transformed into a multi-functional public arena for a neatly relegated good time. Though Central Park as it exists now is also a purely designed experience, it is designed with vastly different intent: to be a space in which you can both find moments of quiet, solitary reflection and organize your own fun.

So what’s the real solution to these overdeveloped urban spaces? I don’t think there is one. All these attempts to create inclusive, easily navigable public spaces actually create more segregated city experiences – they’re not really shared spaces, just playpens for the well-off and touristic-minded. Programmatic experiences such as these are only going to contribute to social discord, since the people writing the programs are the people in power. However, I do think there’s one way to incite dramatic change, and that’s to back off.

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Exterior of and four of the founding members of the Dirt Palace

Backing off is not, however, a neutral or easy solution. Backing off to the extent that incites change is going to result in something Manhattan hasn’t seen in decades: a substantial measure of urban decay. This ultimately involves a relinquishing of power by higher ups, since abandoned spaces are negotiated by whoever happens to enter them. And if luck is on their side, these spaces become arenas for the development of genuinely inclusive, creative communities. They’re gathering spaces for people who may not necessarily have any other place to gather – not so patronizing as a shelter, and offering more shelter than the street. Some blossom into collectives, which begin, at least, as “un-designed” participatory spaces. There are a few venues in Providence that I can think of that fall into this category, though there were far more up until a few years ago, when they all started getting evicted. The ones I have visited are the Dirt Palace and Spark City, though Spark City was also evicted a few months ago. They generate some revenue by selling admission tickets to shows. The Dirt Palace also receives support from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and has established itself as a dedicated feminist space for art and cooperative education. Though the recent slew of evictions has me wondering how much longer even the Dirt Palace can last, I think that the fact of their potential for existence in the city of Providence – though this potential has faded – is significant in and of itself.

These sorts of creative collectives were able to happen in Providence because it was (and still is) racked by a slurry of infrastructural problems: the local government had bigger fish to fry than breaking up well-intentioned underground punk shows in Olneyville. New York, however, is an entirely different story. It’s a city that stands for a lot and has a lot at stake, so it’s monitored more closely and regulated more tightly. A lot more money passes through a lot more hands. And though there is a pushback against this kind of aggressive upbuilding and gentrifying happening, there is literally no space within the city for it to productively play out. The amount of backing off necessary to make the creation of spaces like this possible in New York again is not likely to happen naturally anytime in the near future. It would require massive priority shifts on pretty much everyone’s behalf – from government officials to city planners and developers, from real estate agents to law enforcement. There would also need to be a reason to dramatically alter the perception of the city from the perspective of those who live in it. In order to encourage actual change, this would need to incite motivation for a substantial exodus from the city – a coupling of new exterior opportunity and internal disruption.

But even now, I see among my peers – and within myself – a reluctance to move to places like New York after graduating because we recognize the unattractiveness of this shift in priority towards Attraction-Making – particularly in the realm of the art world. A lot of young people I know with art educations are expressing reluctance to succumb to the lifestyle New York now demands of you: the city that was once an escape to opportunity is now a sense of obligation. This reluctance seems pretty widespread. If it happens en masse and doesn’t stop at just talk, the BFA-laden creative community New York expects to be fed by could instead abandon the city. And if this abandonment does not stop at merely not living there but extends to affect where people agree to have their work exhibited, then perhaps the climate of the city would start changing again. In order for New York to really change now, it would have to deteriorate.

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Westchester Ave. (Bronx, 1970)

I outlined a pretty ridiculous in-depth projection of The Possible Fall Of New York City: Capitol Of The World, but I don’t think I want to include the whole thing. The gist is: young BFAs abandon the city in favor of someplace else, maybe Philly. New York, now lacking the energy of virile and educated youth to maintain its trendiness, panics and builds itself up into a big green-roofed mall to keep the money flowing. The streets beneath the elevated parks start getting rough-and-tumble again, and the city stretches itself thin trying to groom and keep safe a High Line that stretches the entire length of the West Side while grappling with record-breaking amounts of crime. And soon enough, we’d be back in familiar territory: something resembling the gritty, revolutionary, and as of late heavily romanticized vision of New York in the late 1970s.

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Manhattan Bridge tower seen from Brooklyn (1974)

In a New York Times Style Magazine article about the recent wave of nostalgia for this period of New York’s history, John Waters is quoted as saying,

“Well, I sure don’t have nostalgia about being mugged… But I do get a little weary when I realize that if anybody could find one dangerous block left in the city, there’d be a stampede of restaurant owners fighting each other off to open there first. It seems almost impossible to remember that just going out in New York was once dangerous… It’s always right before a storm that the air is filled with dangerous possibilities.”

And like of course John Waters can say something like this because he was able to build an iconic creative career off of this sort of grittiness. It’s a privileged and nostalgic statement, but nevertheless there is some truth in it. Danger is exciting and romantic, and fortunately or unfortunately, excitement and romance end up making lot of money. I think that’s what some of these stupid public attraction proposals are trying painfully hard to get at by smushing art and theater and music and nature and facilitated transportation and ecological efficiency all in one. They’re trying to design an equivalent excitement. That wasn’t necessary in the late ‘70s – through depressed and frightening, the city was a charged zone. And it’s still charged, but with something else. It’s a kind of desperation born not out of fear, but as a result of – dare I say – boredom. People who go there and design for there want so badly to be enthralled that it’s become something they’re willing to pay great sums of money to achieve. New York’s most rare and valuable resource now is open space because there’s so little left that everyone scrambles to fill the same spots, but the only way for the sort of thrill that the nostalgia for the ‘70s romanticizes is for there to be open space that badly wants filling. And that is going to require a lot of hardship in order to happen.

Serious hardship isn’t something people like to bank on happening, but New York is already building itself up in anticipation of disaster. New precautions for floods are being taken in the form of levees built into existing piers, strategic landscaping of coastal areas into parks that can accommodate sea level rise, and numerous other projects. In the event of an emergency, these could work well. Or they could work well, but only for a while. Or they could flat out not work. Only time will tell. But I think that at this point, it’s only either an environmental disaster or a seriously widespread loss of faith in the city that could cause major change in New York, and I don’t think it’s a reach to say that an environmental disaster will probably happen first.

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I also mentioned earlier that a lot of young creatives are moving out to other cities, Philadelphia in particular. Philadelphia is a city that’s had major infrastructural support for public art in relation to urban planning since the late 1800s and promoted the creation of murals as an outlet for graffiti artists since 1984. It has more murals than any other city, and in 2006, was cited as having more public art in general than any other city. It’s on the water, and on the East Coast. It could reasonably experience a massive upswing in popularity pretty soon.

The real question is: if this happens, would it eventually succumb to the same dismal fate I projected on New York? Maybe. It could try and learn from New York and redirect its trajectory. But New York, after a period of dangerous fall, could also bounce back. Maybe even learn from its own mistakes. But even so, I believe that the life cycle of a city is just that: a cycle. There’s nothing to guarantee that New York’s projected rise from the ashes wouldn’t result in the same gross gentrification and overbuilding it is now, but there’s also nothing to guarantee that its period of decline won’t generate positive, motivated energy in other urban spaces.

 

WORKS CITED

The Association for Public Art. The City of Philadelphia. Web. http://www.associationforpublicart.org/

“New York Horizon.” eVolo. 23 March 2016. http://www.evolo.us/competition/new-york-horizon/

Transbay Transit Center. The City of San Francisco. Web. http://transbaycenter.org/

Warerkar, Tanay. “Construction on Pier 55’s Floating Park Will Begin This Summer.” Curbed New York. 27 April 2016. http://ny.curbed.com/2016/4/27/11520338/pier-55-approved-barry-diller-diane-von-furstenberg

White, Edmund. “Why Can’t We Stop Talking About New York in the 1970s?” The New York Times Style Magazine. 10 September 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/t-magazine/1970s-new-york-history.html?_r=0

 

Resignation Manifesto

The following texts outline the manifestos of the Resignation community, a group founded on the principles of efficiency and modesty, in opposition to the overwhelming geological, moral, and social impact of consumption.

Catalogue

Resignation Catalogue

 

Resignation Manifesto, 2020

The Resignation Manifesto is a response to the frustrating overconsumption which continues to defile Earth and human morality. The Manifesto identifies causes for massive overconsumption and outlines large scale social patterns that may build a more sustainable domestic future.

Consumer culture afflicts society and nature. Five hundred thousand Billy bookcases sold in less than two months in 2014. Three Ford F 150s are sold per minute. The United States offers two and a half billion square feet of private storage – over eight square feet per person. Consumers buy more stuff than they need.  The private storage of domestic detritus is a $32.7 billion industry.

Every individual human wants to look, sound, smell, and feel different from every other member of the species. Industry responds to this desire with an economy based around the consumption of a variety of goods. There are only about one hundred objects an individual really needs to survive, but millions of different products are available to purchase. Individuality is not necessary to survival or even happiness, but consumers are trained to believe the opposite. To be unique is to be happy. To be unique, one must look unique. To look unique, one must own objects that are different from other people, or similar to the objects owned by their unique group. This line of thought does not play out in the long term – people who own many unique objects are not necessarily more happy than people who own very few objects. Happiness does not lie in consumption. The home is the site of consumption, it’s the canvas and products are the medium.

Blue Storage Perspective

The home is no longer a place for consumption, the objects within a home must outlive their users. All unnecessary objects should be consolidated, dismantled, sorted, and turned into raw material. The massive trove of goods available in homes and self storage containers in the United States will fill collective material storehouses. Standard issue, simplified products will replace the ornaments of a personalized home. When standard objects break or wear down, they can be replaced with objects manufactured from the materials of resigned objects. Stone and plastic can be ground and melted to make composite blocks for construction. Wood and metal components can be reused. Thermoplastics can be melted and extruded into new forms.

Resign objects that are not truly necessary. A list of unnecessary objects can be found in the Resignation Catalogue. Strictly following the Catalogue mindset is the surefire path from consumption.
Blue Sorted

Resignation Movements Denominations:

Gatherer’s Addendum, 2030

The Gatherer’s early adoption of Resignation led to a healthy critical look at the long term effects of a Resigned lifestyle. The Resignation Movement encouraged the extended use of objects, until they wore away, and to replace destroyed products with new objects made out of resigned goods. However, replacement requires initial resignation, manufacturing, and transportation. The Gatherer’s find this paradoxical to the aims of Resignation. Rather than replacing worn down objects or parts with new objects or parts, the Gatherers use locally found objects. Why use a manufactured piece of wood, when a found branch will do the job just as well?

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Supernative Charter, 2040

Following the destruction of international manufacturing networks and supply chains, the Supernatives will set out to collect synthetic materials from floating gyres, abandoned landfills, and wherever they may find useful polymer aggregates. As Resignation Warehouse resources deplete, Supernatives will passively collect a wealth of thermoplastics for recycling. The Supernatives will travel and live in a vehicle from the Earth Exploration Vanguard (EEV), a suite of adaptable, rugged corvettes for exploring various extreme environments.

Supernatives blue

The Augmenter’s Catalogue, 2050

As time passes, the user ages. The standard issue collection is ubiquitous, but the human body is not. An additional catalogue will be offered by the Augmenters to accommodate more body types and age groups. The Augmenter’s Catalogue offers hacksaws, cushions, epoxy, motorized wheels, etc. to let users shape their objects to fit their bodies comfortably. Like the Shakers, Augmenter furniture will be specific to one owner’s body and change over time to fit their needs.

Augment chair

Living Lifestyle Pact, 2050

The luxury craze of the early twenty first century ripples through time, creating aesthetic troughs and crests in the domestic landscape. Living Lifestyle Pact harkens back to previous booms in interior luxury, and aims to aid the workforce displaced by the Resignation. The Living Lifestyle uses standard issue Resignation components and freelance object actors to replicate the experiences of vintage domestic luxury.

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Re: LLP2050, 2051

The Resignation Denominations (Gatherers, Supernatives, Augmenters) openly oppose the negligence expressed by LLP2050, and encourage the Resignation community to uphold the founding values of efficiency and modesty over fleeting comfort and vanity.  

The Sorted, 2060

The Sorted embrace a thoroughly bricolage lifestyle, devoid of creation. Broadly speaking, nothing will be created in our communities, besides the original text of this statement. When a building deteriorates, the tenants must not rebuild with new materials. A replacement shelter can be fabricated from the rubble or object within the house. The Sorted are celibate in every way – we do not even replicate this document.

Sorted

The Resignation

Blue Storage Perspective

The quantity of manufactured Stuff has become dominating in our world. In the US alone, there are about 2.6 billion square feet throughout 54,009 public storage facilities filled with unused stuff (Harris). The resources dedicated to the development, manufacturing, marketing and selling of each individual object is far beyond sustainable, and is coming at a large cost to our environment. In 2012, about twice as many IKEA catalogs were distributed as Bibles worldwide (Wallop). We have demonstrated an unwillingness to change and correct our mistakes. Before we reach a breaking point, designers have the opportunity to enact major changes and alter our perception of Stuff.

The Resignation will be led by designers. It will be a large scale action in response to the increasing level of over-consumption faced by many humans living on our planet. The amount of material, energy, and space dedicated to Stuff has far exceeded a sustainable level, and the resources we have dedicated to surplus material goods must be reclaimed in order to insure a healthy future for our species. Resigners will build a faithful following who will live their lives with the essentials. The factory will become a fossil, and the production of new goods will be dependent on the recycling of the old. The materials which have been poorly invested will be reclaimed, and redistributed as Standard Issued items (sleeping pad, light bulb, heater, bowl, broom). Product Reclaimers will lead the consumed from their lives of consumption.

CatalogueResignation Catalogue

The Resignation Catalog will spark the Reclamation. It will call for the removal of excess from homes for Sorting. It will instill a drastic desire for change, and promote a voluntary participation in the Sorting process by calling attention to the ridiculous objects we have in our homes. Pictured above is a spread of the catalog featuring some of Amazon’s top selling products such as the food dis-organizer and the mechanical broom. The Resignation will be rooted in the acceptance that the problems our species is facing with production cannot be avoided and that action cannot be delayed. The Resigned will see the errors of our ways and view further consumption as a reflection of ignorance. The Resignation will be driven by awareness and frustration, never force.

In order to fully embrace the Resignation, people will have to embody it in every aspect of their lives. Excess in any form will be undesirable, and there will be a push to decrease our species numbers. Jobs which were once allocated to the fabrication of Stuff will be redistributed to the Sorting, Reclaiming, and Revitalizing.

Blue Sorted

Pieces from the homes of the Consumed will be Sorted. The objects which serve as decoration, comfort, or luxury will be resigned and broken down into raw material. Vases will be ground up for blocks, ice cube trays will be melted down, and clothing will be shredded for insulation. Those objects which function as necessities will remain or be simplified in their state. The home of the Resigned will be neutral and tranquil, and will become a status symbol, as it reflects someone who is comprehending in the face of our global status. As time passes, the Resigners will have to evolve to fill the needs of the community. The movement will break off into separate denominations based on geography and interpretation.

Y lamp

The first sect to appear will be the Gatherers. They will collect items from nature which can be used to modify the standard issue items. Nothing will be killed by the Gathers or moved too far from its original location. In the image above, a standard light bulb has been elevated from the floor with the addition of a stick. Similarly, objects such as the hand broom could have a handle added to make the task of sweeping easier. These simple upgrades will not involve manufacturing of any kind. They are designed based on what is Gathered.

Supernatives blue

The second sect is a nomadic group called the Supernatives. These are people who will seek to escape the urban centers and dedicate their lives to harvesting man-made materials from the Earth. In the wake of the Resignation, there will be a halt in manufacturing. Materials which were generated from the sorted should go a long way to meet the needs of the Resigned and those who are still Consumed. However, some materials will be in shorter supply. In the Anthropocene, humans will harvest materials in same way we drill for oil, cut down trees, and net fish from the oceans in 2016. In place of natural resources, the Supernatives will harvest the man-made. They float on the waves, roam the deserts, and traverse the arctic in search of recyclables.  Pictured above is a floating home with Sea Vines. These charged cables will collect floating plastic from the Garbage patch to be extruded back into raw material. By seeking these materials, they will help to reverse the human imprint on the planet.

Augment chair

The third sect is the most traditional in the sense that they adapt their standard pieces with new additions to fit their changing needs. This group will be called the Augmenters. Based on many of the practices by the Shakers, they will take pieces which are made custom for specific people and adapt them to follow that person throughout their life. The issued items will be augmented as time and circumstances change. There will only be minimal additions such as adding wheels to the bottom of a chair as someone gets older and has more trouble walking, or adding additional cushions to the seat of a chair as bones and joints get more sore.

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The fourth sect can be read as a critical statement by many, but for those who live in this lifestyle, the objects are intended as status symbols. The Living highlights the severity of the social inequity seen within product design. The Living will still adhere to the avoidance of buying manufactured items, but they will supplement this void with pieces such as the Living Alarm Clock, the Living Paper Towel Holder, and the Living Light. Once manufacturing has been stopped, the value attributed to quality and material will be placed instead on the person who can represent the object. The middle men have been removed and the person who “makes” your object is placed directly in your home.

Sorted

The last sect is called the Sorted. This is an extremist sect that has come about after generations of people thoroughly Reclaiming and Sorting. The Sorted will have a complete aversion to creation. Nothing (material, ideas, etc.) within this sect could be generated and its followers will be celibate. Pieces in the Sorted community will be constructed from pieces from the homes of the Resigned looking to join this sect. The standard issue objects will be repurposed to serve even more dramatically fundamental roles within the community. In the rendering above, the different bed mats, stools and heaters, which may be brought to the community by those who wish to join, have been rearranged in an open field to create a loosely formed structure for the Sorters to inhabit.

The Resigned will be optimistic and dedicated. Their drastic measures will reverse the fate of our species and of our planet, and further confirm that their lifestyle is valuable. They will increasingly gain followers who willingly abandoned the notion of consumerism in favor of a environment void of stuff. This absence and priority shift will further allow the Resigned to devote their resources (materials, time, money, talent, etc.) towards goals which benefit their community as a whole over many generations.


Project completed with Skye Ray

All images rendered in Rhino

Harris, Alexander. “Self-storage Industry Statistics.” The SpareFoot Storage Beat. May 26, 2015. Accessed May 21, 2016. https://www.sparefoot.com/self-storage/news/1432-self-storage-industry-statistics/.

Wallop, Harry. “Ikea: 25 Facts.” The Telegraph. October 31, 2012. Accessed May 21, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9643122/Ikea-25-facts.html.