The World Around
Founded in New York in 2020, The World Around is an online, itinerate global platform which seeks to create a diverse and international network of the most exciting and creative designers and thinkers of our time.
On Saturday 30th January 2021, The World Around Summit 2021, curated by Beatrice Galilee, brought together practitioners shaping the future of architecture and design to address world-wide issues today including politics, racial justice, education, and health, with architects, artists, filmmakers, curators and researchers amongst contributors, aiming to “highlight the invisible forces that shape our lives.”
As a hybrid of digital and physical, the event was broadcast from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, allowing people from across the world to access and engage in the conference, exploring the most urgent topics related to the environment, equity, and the city.
Here, we highlight some of the vital and thought provoking conversations held and consider how – through urgent events such as the Summit, and select projects by Anise Gallery’s artists – these invisible forces that shape our lives may become visible.
Feral Atlas is an exploration of the ecological worlds created when nonhuman entities become tangled up with human infrastructure projects.
Feifei Zhou, architect and artist, and co-editor of Feral Atlas, considers drawings as the critical tool to analyse the spatial effects of our built environment. To visualise the Anthropocene, she places herself in ‘imaginative positions of specific socially and historical situated individuals’, whether human or non-human.
Viewing the world from a marine animal’s point of view, from below, we see the cluster of plastics intoxicating our bodies and threatening life.
Feral Atlas use cross-scale representation as a way to form critical analysis on how feral effects were formed on various scales, believing to understand the global effects of microbial resistance of human bodies, we need to understand something as domestic as industrial pork factories, and as microscopic as antibiotics.
“Scale helping us to bridge connections between the seen and the unseen.”
The More-Than-Human Anthropocene © Feral Atlas
Dughon Building © Minho Kwon
Here, we see an alignment with the work of Anise Gallery artist Minho Kwon, who’s work combines architectural drawings with media and technology to convey the narrative of South Korea’s rapid industrialisation. With the power of using such cross-scale representation, we begin to ‘bridge connections between the seen and the unseen’, revealing hidden aspects of our built and natural environment, as an urgent call to action.
This sense of a ‘call to action’ is addressed by research platform ‘Design Emergency‘ launched by design critic and author, Alice Rawsthorn, and senior curator of Architecture and Design at MOMA, Paola Antonelli.
Launched to investigate the global response to Covid-19 and other emergencies, Design Emergency puts design at the forefront of the radical redesign and construction of our lives, post-pandemic.
Rawsthorn states, “one of design’s crucial roles throughout history has been to help us deal with emergencies.” In highlighting such projects, the value of design is celebrated, and it’s worth and power in a crisis demonstrated, when deployed intelligently and responsibly.
The Butaro District Hospital – MASS, Partners in Health © Design Emergency
The Impossible Future – Dear Darkening Ground
Abuelita is an animation production company based in Argentina, specialising in social and environmental projects. The goal of The Impossible Future is to build an optimistic vision of our future based on the most important ideas and movements of today, through the medium of animation.
Written at the beginning of the 20th Century – the century in which humanity drove so much of life to the brink of extinction – Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem ‘Dear Darkening Ground‘ is read by environmental activist Vandana Shiva, and animated by The Impossible Future.
Dear Darkening Ground © The Impossible Future
Abuelita’s use of layering animation with film footage expands our imagination, and brings cityscapes to life in a new way.
In the midst of our environmental crisis, this is a call for regeneration, a hope for restoration, if we give time to and let the world ‘breathe’ a little.
“Dear darkening ground,
you’ve endured so patiently the walls we’ve built,
perhaps you’ll give the cities one more hour
and grant the churches and cloisters two.
And those that labour—let their work
grip them another five hours, or seven,
before you become forest again, and water, and widening wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.
Just give me a little more time!”
Dear Darkening Ground, Rainer Maria Rilke
Dear Darkening Ground © The Impossible Future
Crepuscolo #1 #4, Matteo Zamagni, Anise Workshop © Agnese Sanvito
In asking for ‘a little more time’ to allow the Earth to regenerate, for the human race to create a new relationship with life on this planet, and perhaps pause our consumerism, our thoughts immediately go to Matteo Zamagni‘s ‘Crepuscolo‘, exhibited at Anise Workshop in 2019. Focusing on the role of human activity in re-purposing and removing Earth’s resources, and thereby disrupting world balance, Zamagni’s visions of unnatural worlds of excess and instability predict impending ecological disasters.
Originally trained as an architect, Liam Young now navigates through the medium of film. In doing so, he believes that gravitating through that space of fiction enables him to reach audiences that the traditional languages of plans and sections don’t.
Young’s fictional ‘Planet City’ proposes a hyper-dense, self-sufficient metropolis housing 10 billion people. As a design solution for the entire planet, it poses a retreat from our vast and sprawling network of cities, offering a speculative narrative of what could happen if instead we only occupied 0.02% of the Earth, allowing the remaining planet to ‘heal’ and become a global wilderness.
Planet City © Liam Young
Here we see the recurring thread – the desperate need to recover from our current state of emergency, addressing environment, equity, and the city. Whilst only a short glimpse into the vast content covered at The World Around Summit 2021, these matters highlighted are becoming more present and urgent by the day.
As Young emphasises, if, as architects and designers we value the work that we do, the onus is on us to find mediums for which we can communicate these matters and projects to everybody, not just those within our field.
We, as designers, architects, curators, and artists, must all find a way to communicate and address such in order to highlight and make visible the invisible forces shaping our lives. We therefore look forward to addressing these issues in the gallery’s programming this year, particularly through our participation in London Festival of Architecture and Open House London.