Browsing Category 'SUMMER 2011'

Unknown-Fields_Baikonur-rocket-science-classroom-by-Vincent-Fournier

Photographer Vincent Fournier was invited to join Unknown Fields for the Baikonur Cosmodrome leg of our  ’From the Atomic to the Cosmic’ Expedition. Vincent recorded the journey and developed images for his ongoing Space Project work. The collaboration was published in the January 2012 issue of WIRED. Words by another Unknown Fields collaborator space designer Regina Peldszus of Spaceflightdesign.   All images are copyright Vincent Fournier.

This is where rocket jockeys get their education. The International Space School VN Chelomey is located in the Russian-administered city of Baikonur, in the southern province of Kyzylorda in Kazakhstan. Founded by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science in 1990, this state school caters to 750 students from the age of ten to 15. Baikonur is also home to Baikonur Cosmodrome, the world’s largest spaceport, built by the Soviet Union in 1955 and operated today by the Russian Federal Space Agency. The Cosmodrome is also the only spaceport to send crewed missions to theInternational Space Station.

Unknown-Fields_Baikonur-rocket-science-classroom2-by-Vincent-Fournier

Aerospace Classroom: The aerospace lecture room is plastered with blueprints of propulsion systems and stacked to the ceiling with cardboard templates of aerodynamic hulls, plastic mockups of spacecrafts, and prototypes. “The students learn the principles of rocket science by designing and launching models,” says aerospace teacher Victor Mazepa, 38. The models are made with composite materials and include an engine and a parachute that allows them to be launched and reused.

Unknown-Fields_Baikonur-rocket-science-teacher-by-Vincent-Fournier

Today’s lesson: build a shuttle- “This is a model of the Buran shuttle [an orbital shuttle like Nasa’s Space Shuttle],” says Mazepa. “My ten-year old students build these.” Mazepa also coaches his class during rocket modelling contests.

Unknown-Fields_soyuz-rocketr-by-Vincent-Fournier

Semyorka R-7 Monument- One of Baikonur’s main avenues is home to a full-scale mock- up of the Semyorka R-7. The 34-metre, 280-tonne missile was made by the Soviets during the cold war and was the world’s first intercontinental missile system.

Unknown-Fields_rocket-models-by-Vincent-Fournier

In the museum- These models in the aerospace lecture room are built by the students. They include a replica of the Buk anti-aircraft missile, and a rocket model made from a plastic bottle, launched using water and pressurised gas.

Unknown-Fields_model-rocket-launch-by-Vincent-Fournier

Live playground experiments- In the yard stands a bust of Vladimir Chelomey. Chelomey was a mastermind of the Soviet spaceflight programme during the 60s; he designed satellites and the Proton space rocket, still in use today.

Unknown-Fields_Baikonur-launch-pressroom-by-Vincent-Fournier

Baikonur Cosmodrome Launch Press Conference Room

Unknown-Fields_cosmonaut-hotel-by-Vincent-Fournier

Cosmonaut hotel, relaxing before launch.

Unknown-Fields_cosmonaut-hotel-bed-by-Vincent-Fournier

Cosmonaut hotel room

Unknown-Fields_waiting-by-Vincent-Fournier

The Unknown Fields Division boarding the 60 hour train across Kazakhstan to Baikonur.

Artist Nelly Ben Hayoun was invited along for our Summer 2011 expedition form the Chernobyl Exculsion Zone to Baikonur Cosmodrome. Nelly’s infatuation with control rooms, from the Chernobyl reactor to Baikonur Mission Control continues to evolve following a recent intensive residency at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. During her period in residence Nelly assembled the International Space Orchestra, an experiential and hybrid research laboratory, where space scientists have been invited to implement, deconstruct, perform, sing, mix, modify, and design musical acts in control rooms. The Space Orchestra has been performing Ground Control: An Opera in Space in various incarnations around the world as the project continues to grow and grow into ever more ambitious constellations. Directed by NELLY BEN HAYOUN, featuring music written by Blur and Gorillaz frontman DAMON ALBARN with BOBBY WOMACK; MAYWA DENKI andPENGUIN CAFE‘s ARTHUR JEFFES. With lyrics by BRUCE STERLING &JASMINA TESANOVICMusical director: Two time Grammy-Award winner EVAN PRICE.

As part of an ongoing collaboration with Archis + Volume and the Unknown Fields Division have co authored VOLUME 31: Guilty Landscapes. VOLUME joined Unknown Fields on ther Summer 2011 expedition form the chernobyl Exclusion Zone to Baikonur Cosmodrome and this research, developed  alongside Unknown Fields previous missions to dislocated hinterlands around the world have informed the issues theme. Guilt has been effectively used to control and manipulate the masses. But it can also be the start of a change for the better: awareness, concern, action. Engagement and guilt are never far apart. Engagement is sublimated guilt. We can build on guilt, but can we build with guilt? Is guilt a material to design with? You can see the table of contents or check out a sneak preview of the issue.

In three sections: revelations, confessions, and atonement, the issue presents a global scan of large-scale guilty landscapes and our design relation to them. A major section is dedicated to the Chernobyl ‘exclusion zone’ as a post nuclear disaster area, with other contributions focusing on landscapes transformed by mining industries, waste, human atrocities and more, as well as ways to atone for these criminal acts.

The Unknown Fields Division has been profiled in the debut issue # 1 of JOTTA magazine. The issue is a fold out poster-filled compendium of artists and designers that charts a dialogue, travelling from obsolete ecologies through to contemporary depictions of a new nature, celebrating those speculating on possible futures and altering the present. Check the JOTTA release page for more info or go here to buy a copy of the issue for £5.

Science Fiction Soothsayers: A Trip wit hthe Nomads of the Unknown Fields Divsion. “Unknown Fields Division, the interdisciplinary studio at the Architectural Association School, embark on annual expeditions around the world to explore and draw ideas from surreal landscapes and obsolete ecologies. We talk to UFD co founders Liam Young and Kate Davies, as well as participants of the 2011 summer journey through the abandoned futuristic sites of the former Soviet Union.” Article by Lemma Shehadi.

Unknown Field’s Division collaborators Factory Fifteen have just released their short film GAMMA, shot on location during our 2011 expedition from the Chernobyl Exculusion Zone to Baikonur Cosmodrome. The landscapes experienced with the division have been reimagined as stage sets for a post nuclear future and members of the division are recast as actors navigating the ruins.

From the GAMMA press release,

“In a post-nuclear future, when the earth is riddled with radiation, a new urban developer proposes to regenerate the cities back into civilisation. GAMMA sets out to stabilise the atomic mistakes of yesteryear for the re-inhabitation of
future generations. Using its patented ‘Nuke-Root’ technology; part fungi, part mollusc, GAMMA intends to soak up the radiation and remove it from the irradiated cities, rebuilding them in the process.

Setting out from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, GAMMA launches its RIG_01 BETA and heads east to the iconic disaster sites of 1980’s USSR. The film follows a group of researchers investigating GAMMA’s practice from launch to deployment. Moving through a trail of unsuccessful ships across the desert, we follow the researchers from Aralsk’s littered sea bed east to the Ukraine.

GAMMA begins its quest of nuclear stability in the Ukraine; Pripyat is used as a test bed for the deployment of GAMMA’s patented ‘Nuke-root’ organisms. Intended to soak up the radiation, the roots infiltrate the ground and built structures to absorb the ‘nuclear nasty’s’. As with many urban developers, GAMMA’s execution is cheap and ineffective. The city is in turn rendered more radioactive, broken and uninhabitable than before, only now with an outbreak of growing ‘Nukeroots’. The film follows the researchers through the ruins of the 70’s utopia, moving across a whole city that consists solely of desolation and total abandon, the researchers witness the aftermath of GAMMA’s almighty cock-up.

GAMMA was filmed in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan in association with the Unknown Fields Division.”

The Factory has also posted some of the behind the scenes footage that you can watch below.

The unknown fields Division Summer 2011 mission to Chernobyl is the cover story for this months ICON magazine. The piece is beautifully written by the expedition’s embedded journalist Will Wiles. The cover photo is by Bryan Allen. You can check out Bryan’s other photos on his blog Post Industrial Latent Space.

UNKNOWN FIELDS: FROM THE ATOMIC TO THE COSMIC
SUMMER 2011 TRAJECTORY PUBLIC FORUM
CHERNOBYL EXCULSION ZONE to BAIKONUR COSMODROME

ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION GALLERY, JULY 11th 11AM – 4PM
36 Bedford Square, London. Free for all.

This year, on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight and the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, we will pack our Geiger counters and space Suits and chart a course from the atomic to the cosmic to investigate the strange natures that stretch from the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in the Ukraine and Gagarin’s launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Before we leave on our research trip we will be joined in London by an ensemble of artists, authors, scientists and designers to present a series of projects and thoughts motivated by the sites we will be visiting. Through the lens of these 2 events we will re-examine our contemporary attitudes toward the natural world and discuss our cross section through the haunting landscapes of the ecologically fragile and the technologically obsolete.  We will explore the ‘Unknown Fields’ between cultivation and nature, between utopian projections and dystopian ruins as we spin cautionary tales of a new kind of wilderness.

“To be the first to enter the cosmos, to engage, single-handed, in an unprecedented duel with nature-could one dream of anything more!”
Yuri Gagarin

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UNKNOWN FIELDS INTRO By LIAM YOUNG and KATE DAVIES

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MICHAEL MADSEN [FILM MAKER]

Film maker Michael Madsen will be traveling with the Unknown Fields Division on our Chenobyl to Baikonur project. Michael is the Director of the recent documentary Into Eternity. The film tells the story of the Onkolo Nuclear Waste Repository in Finland, a facility that must remain intact for 100,000 years even though no structure in human history has even stood for such a long period of time. The film addresses an audience in the remote future and questions Onkolo’s eternal existence and its legacy as a reminder of this toxic energy source.

MARIO PETRUCCI [POET]

Originally a Natural Sciences graduate with a PhD in optoelectronics, Mario Petrucci works as a freelance creative writing tutor, broadcaster and educator. Mario has publishes a book length poem on the Chernobyl didaster titled Heavy Water. Petrucci takes up the challenge confronting society in every age: to attempt the difficult task of exploring its most terrible events. His poem unites the concerns of artist, humanitarian and historian at a common source: the desire not to forget. Heavy Water stands to remind us that those who have been exposed to the invisible should never become so.

CORNELIA HESSE HONEGGER [SCIENTIFIC ILLUSTRATOR]

Cornelia Hesse Honegger is a scientific illustrator and science artist. For 25 years she worked as a scientific illustrator for the scientific department of the Natural History Museum at the University of Zurich. Her watercolors are exhibited internationally at museums and galleries. Her work is an interface between art and science; it plays witness to a beautiful but endangered nature. Since the catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986, she has collected, studied and painted morphologically disturbed insects, which she finds in the fallout areas of Chernobyl as well as near nuclear installations.

PETER WYNN KIRBY [ENVIRONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGIST]

Peter Wynn Kirby is an ‘environmental anthropologist’ and researcher with the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford. His latest book is “Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan.“ In it he considers experiences of nuclear risk and national/cultural constructions of energy, power, pollution, and waste in Japan and in France – the two major nations that depend most on nuclear power, yet where the risks and benefits of nuclear power play out over vastly different sociocultural topographies.

WILL WILES [AUTHOR/JOURNALIST]

Will WIles is deputy editor of the architecture and design journal Icon and has recently completed his debut novel ‘Care of Wooden Floors’ a black comedy about a man being driven insane by minimalist interior decoration. Through the Unknown Fields project Will’s is developing a new book titled ‘Toxic Tourism’ which be published by Haperpress in mid 2012

OLIVIER GOODHALL [Designer]

Oliver’s background, interests and practice is in architecture. He holds a Masters Degree from the Royal College of Art in Design Interactions, having previously graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture in 2005, and co-founded the architecture practice We Made That. He is interested in developing projects that expand engagement between strategic thinking and creative practice in the public realm. His express intent is to be logically utopian and playfully analytical; project outcomes may be informative, revealing, outlandish – or hopefully all of these. Recent projects include the provocative ‘Nuclear is Good. What will it take to convince you?’, a series of speculative urban newspapers commissioned by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, a collaboration with UCL Urban Laboratory’s Creative City Limits programme, and an upcoming project on synthetic gemology due to be published this autumn.

PHILIPS DESIGN PROBES [TECHNOLOGY DESIGNERS]

Philips Design Probes is a dedicated ‘far-future’ research initiative to track trends and developments across the realms of politics, economics, culture, environments and technology.With the aim of understanding ‘lifestyle’ post 2020, the program aims to identify probable systemic shifts and challenges conventional ways of thinking about technology to come up with concepts, products and narratives to stimulate debate. Phillips is a primary project sponsor and has provided a number of scholarships for emerging artists to join the Unknown Fields Chernobyl to Baikonur Cosmodrome studio.

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ALICIA FRAMIS [ARTIST]

Director of Moon Life Foundation, Alicia Framis speculates on the possibility that humans will live in space in the future. The project acts as a stimulus for artists, designers, architects to create futuristic radical political but humane concepts for an extreme lunar environment. Alicia Framis is also exploring the potentialities of living on the moon through the ironical activities and fictional character of a woman astronaut. Left on earth like all women who were never part of the moon race, she settles in to BaseCamp, in which she lived for the two weeks in a customized astronaut suit, among drawings and prototypes that aim to both parody and demand women’s presence on the moon.

REGINA PLEDSZUS [SPACE HUMAN FACTORS DESIGNER]

Regina’s research investigates the emotional and environmental implications of manned spaceflight and particularly the psychological challenges of isolation and monotony for crew during extended exploration missions to Mars or Near Earth Asteroids. Her research has developed into conceptual and applied input into the habitability design aspects of ground-based mission simulations like the Mars 500 experiment and the generation of mission ideas with the European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team. Recently Regina has recently been based in the Stanley Kubrick archive exploring speculative design in science fiction and the real-world applicability of sci-fi film sets as scenarios for psychological habitability.

PAUL DUFFIELD [COMIC CREATOR/ILLUSTRATOR]

Paul Duffield is a comic book creator, animator and illustrator. He collaborates wit hauthor Warren Ellis on the webcomic Freakangels and the visual poem ‘Signal’. Signal is an experiment in visual storytelling that attempts to use comicbook visual language to explore the the theme of the human search for knowledge and other life, inspired by SETI, and Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos. After countless decades  scanning the skies, listening to the beep beep beep from alien worlds there is just one man left in the SETI institute, still waiting…

LOUISE K WILSON [SOUND ARTIST] 

Louise K Wilson is a visual artist who makes installations, live works, sound works and single channel videos. Her current research uses the medium of sound to ask philosophical and material questions about the spatio-temporal physicality of certain sites and our perceptions of them. She has travelled to numerous military and scientific sites including the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training facility, nuclear submarines, US listening stations, university halls, rocket launch sites and disused RAF bases in pursuit of the acoustics of resonant spaces. She has explored the ways in which technologies of the audible create new ways of engaging with the lost traces of institutional places.

NELLY BEN HAYOUN [EXPERIENCE DESIGNER]

Nelly Ben Hayoun has designed experiences for you to become an astronaut in the living room, generating dark energy from pigeons’ eggs in the kitchen and colliding atoms in the bathroom. She is interested in how we can use design and science in our everyday lives to make them more thrilling, creative and passionate.. Often science seems to be reserved for scientists – expert practitioners who alone have the privilege of experiencing the fringes of human knowledge and the extremes of nature. Her work aims to combat this aspect of science, by enlisting willing scientists in experiences that mix the creativity with technology, science with fiction, factual with artistic and amateur with expert.

MARK PILKINGTON [UFO FOLKLORIST]

Mark Pilkington is a writer, publisher, curator and musician with particular interest in the fringes of knowledge, culture and belief. On a journey through the badlands and backwaters of America, Mark Pilkington uncovered a 60 year-old story stranger than any conspiracy thriller. Through the fascinating account of his travels Pilkington reveals the long history of UFOria and its origins in the murky worlds of espionage, psychological warfare and UFO hunters, Pilkington soon discovers that the truth about flying saucers is stranger and more complex than either the ufologists or debunkers would have us believe: instead of covering-up stories of crashed spacecraft, alien contacts and secret underground bases, the US intelligence agencies

THE UNKNOWN FIELDS DIVISION IS SUPPORTED BY

ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION [VISITING SCHOOL PROGRAMME]

PHILIPS DESIGN PROBES [TECHNOLOGY DESIGNERS]

KUMUKA WORLDWIDE [ADVENTURE TRAVEL CONSULTANTS]

UKRAINE INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES [PROJECT CARRIER]

VOLUME [RESEARCH LAB]

NEASDEN CONTROL CENTRE [GRAPHIC ARTIST]

 

Working with the Division on our upcoming tour of Chernobyl and Baikonur Cosmodrome will be author and journalist Will Wiles. Will is deputy editor of the architecture and design journal Icon and has recently completed his debut novel ‘Care of Wooden Floors’ a black comedy about a man being driven insane by minimalist interior decoration. Will be our resident writer and will be travelling with the division to document the project and probe the motives that compel us to visit these extreme landscapes. Will’s work will be developed as a new book titled ‘Toxic Tourism’ which be published by Haperpress in mid 2012.

 

Film maker Michael Madsen will be traveling with the Unknown Fields Division on our Chenobyl to Baikonur Cosmodrome project. Michael is the Director of the recent documentary Into Eternity. The film tells the story of the Onkalo Nuclear Waste Repository in Finland, a facility that must remain intact for 100,000 years even though no structure in human history has even stood for such a long period of time. The film addresses an audience in the remote future and questions Onkalo’s eternal existence and its legacy as a reminder of this toxic energy source. Michael will be developing a new project out on tour with the division.


 

Joining the Unknown Fields Chernobyl to Baikonur workshop is Space Human Factors designer and researcher Regina Pledszus of SpaceFlightDesign. Regina’s research investigates the emotional and environmental implications of manned spaceflight and particularly the psychological challenges of isolation and monotony for crew during extended exploration missions to Mars or Near Earth Asteroids. Her research has developed into conceptual and applied input into the habitability design aspects of ground-based mission simulations like the Mars 500 experiment and the generation of mission ideas with the European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team. Recently Regina has recently been based in the Stanley Kubrick archive exploring speculative design in science fiction and the real-world applicability of sci-fi film sets as scenarios for psychological habitability.