FUTURE SPACE LAB
Lab Author: Jason Mohaghegh
POST_001: VEILED SPACE
How does the future work as a system of veils? What does it envelop or conceal beneath its vast curtain, and are all the techno-cultural distractions of our age perhaps a mere cover for its true face (or for its nothingness)?
Image: Digital Artist Gregoire A. Meyer, "When the Drape Falls"-- "examines the body in its extraordinary simplicity as biological, digital, and aesthetic organism."
POST_004: MAZE SPACE
Will the future resemble the steel labyrinth, forged in metallic turns? What does the logic of the turn, the spiral, the maze, and bewilderment reveal about the spaces still to come?
Example: In the industrial city of Genk, Belgium, a kilometer of steel corridors was constructed to form a mechanical-looking maze at a former coal mine.
Artist: Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, “Labyrinth” (Genk, Belgium, 2020)
POST_002: DREAM SPACE
What does it mean to enter a future of controlled dreams? Will these episodes of manipulated sleep still possess the appearance of chaos and spontaneity, or will they feel like ruled worlds hanging in the balance of puppet-masters?
Example: MIT researchers experiment with dream-intervention and dream-suggestion technologies called “Targeted Dream Incubation”.
[Image] Designer: CROX, “Innings” (Milan, 2016).
POST_003: DRIFT SPACE
Will assaults of the future involve weaponries of dust, air, sound, and molecule? What are the implications of making power/violence a matter of micro-arsenals diffused across space?
Example: Article on “Death Dust” documents global superpowers’ experiments with radiological weapons including “blue luminescent” powders spread across entire cities.
POST_005: CIRCULAR STORIES
Is the future a territorial struggle between genres: the myth, the fable, the allegory, the story, the parable, the tale? Will the ideological narratives of our age be contested and flanked from all sides by these more ancient challengers whose circuitous techniques trouble all linear claims? How might folkloric remnants return to revenge themselves against the regime of codes?
Example: Artist Choi Minhwa creates hybrid visual chronicles that fuse Korean folklore, Chinese Buddhism, and Renaissance aesthetics.
Image: Choi Minhwa, Hwanung, Son of Heaven, Descending to the City of God, 2020, oil on canvas, 97 ×130 cm. (Gallery Hyundai, Seoul)
POST_007: ELEVATOR SHAFT, 1
Do futural paths resemble an ascent/descent through elevator shafts? Is our spatial paradigm one of a balanced technics (cables, levers, electronic signals) of the freefall?
Example: Japanese company (Hitachi Building Systems) manufactures top three fastest elevators in the world. 1st to 95th floor in 42 seconds.
POST_006: UNDERWATER SCULPTURE FOREST
Even in our most idealistic hours, art has rarely ever been called upon to save the world (carrying no messianic expectations). For this very reason, though, could it serve as the perfect camouflage to smuggle ecological imperatives of the most urgent order? Is this how a strange gallery of chiseled installations positioned at the bottom of a seabed, tempting marine divers to engage in an immersive aesthetic below the water's surface, conceals the larger aim of biodiversity regeneration? So does a submerged sculpture garden become the stylized facade for a restored forest-world at the edge of eradication.
Example: Artist Jason deCaires Taylor, known previously for his submarine projects, constructs sculpture museum in Cyprus consisting of 90 pieces resting 32 feet underwater to aid the recovery of coral reef habitats. This aquatic museum is dedicated to the memory of those drowned in the Mediterranean sea during the refugee crisis.
Image: Jason deCaires Taylor, Sculpture, The Museum of Underwater Sculpture of Ayia Napa (MUSAN), Cyprus 2021.
POST_008: ELEVATOR SHAFT, 2
What happens when we rotate the elevator shaft along a horizontal axis, such that the space of downward plunging becomes a zone of trespassing across (the hallway, the corridor, the underground tunnel)?
Example: Installation artist Leandro Erlich simulates experience of elevator turned sideways and caught between floors.
POST_009: MISSING SPACE
An entire generation of the metropolis lost in broad daylight. They call them the “hikikomori” (literally “pulling inward”), these practitioners of futuristic self-withdrawal from the real.
Example: Japanese “missing million” refers to an immense sub-population of acute social isolation.
Image: Chiharu Shiota, "During Sleep" (Lucerne, 2002).
POST_012: BLEAK ZONE, 1
"Nothing to be done," a writer once opened his own play about despair, deadends, and the absurd repetitions of a lost age. He called this time the Endgame, a period of futility where people go through their final motions without knowing why, asking why, without belief or desire, but condemned to carry forward with heavy steps ("I can't go on, so I'll go on") in the absence of a way out.
Example: A new Russian videogame titled "It's Winter" simulates the bleak purposelessness of everyday life (setting: decayed apartment building in a run-down province).
Artist/Image: Ilya Mazo, "It's Winter" (2019)
POST_010: IMMORTALITY LAB
Immortal spaces have always existed in the myths of different regions: fields, hills, mountains, ocean depths, heavens or underworlds. But now the laboratory might become the actual site of the everlasting, using every technique of manipulation and genetic engineering to win the most-sought after prize since humans first became conscious of their own vanishing.
Image: Ross Lovegrove, Lasvit Liquidkristal, 2012.
POST_011: SPACE HOTEL
Is the new form of luxury travel that of weightlessness, rotating hallways, and suspension in outer space? The hotel has long been a place of forbidden pleasure-principles, with its decadent lobbies and back-rooms, but this threatens to bring desire and consumption into alien orbits of possibility.
Example: Space Hotel to open in 2027.
POST_013: BLEAK ZONE, 2
"Dread of night, dread of not-night," says another writer of the gray-zones and the nowhere. His castles are not ever reachable; his islands are ruled by machines of the law; his language feels like an axe hitting a frozen lake. The description of this low-toned atmosphere--where "there is infinite hope, but not for us"--is nothing less than the masterful creation of a poor type of air. "And you will lie down here," he hisses from the corner of an unassuming room that you never should have entered.
Example: A new internet phenomenon hovering between internet meme and alternative reality game--The Backrooms--arrays images of abandoned sites of poor lighting, faded paint or muted wallpaper, and worn carpeting.
POST_016: THE FARAWAY
The fragile separation between here and there, inside and outside, is at the heart of almost every human social formation in history. And now, what are we to make of these ethereal non-dwellings, a digital home in other solar systems or galaxies, where people reside like castaways on the farthest removed island on the other side of the earth? Is futuristic space a desire for disappearance into pure remoteness?
Example: Artist Krista Kim sells digital mansion named "Mars House" (first NFT-backed virtual home) for over half a million dollars.
POST_014: SPHERE RETURNS
Many have studied how the most elaborate technological breakthroughs of the modern age were already anticipated in some intuitive sense by mystics. So it is the case with paradigms of eternity and circularity--both keystones of early mystical thought and now discovered to have scientific validity as the basis for potential technologies of artificial resurrection.
Example: Russian scientists claim that the Dyson Sphere might be the key to "technological" resurrection in the future.
POST_015: GLANDULAR SPACE
There are entire bizarre evolutionary destinies lying in wait for the right hour of emergence. Even our glandular pockets appear to harbor twisted and insidious possibilities for our bodies-to-come ("insidious", from the Latin sedere meaning to sit in ambush). Will the future mark the unleashing of these other beasts genetically lodged within us?
Example: Biologists discover an evolutionary link between saliva glands and venom, which means it might just be a matter of time before humans become venomous creatures.
Image: Belkis Ayon, "La Familia" (Cuba, 1991)
POST_017: DARK ROOM
The Dark Room has been a practice of esoteric groups for many centuries, a favored technique whereby self-isolation in a cave or cellar for prolonged periods leads to altered states of consciousness (sacred vision) and also a principle known as "ego-death". In more experimental circles, this seclusion method was even used by psychoanalysts to induce revelations of the unconscious, and prisoners in solitary confinement were often recorded to have vivid hallucinations after several weeks locked in the pitch-black. If like so many futuristic films depict, the next eras will be full of scorched overcast skies lit only by neon signs and fluorescent light, then might we experience a state of universal annihilation of self that leads to a collective hallucination (mass hysteria/delirium)?
Example: Dark Room Therapy is discovered to elicit many of the same sensory distortions and neurochemical releases (of melotonin, serotonin) as found in DMT's drug effects--something similar to a near-death experience.
Image: Tiago Marinho, "183.365" (2020)
POST_020: THE WORLD-ABANDONER
Philosophers spoke of radical thresholds that if ever crossed would mark a point of no return for the human race: the death of God, the death of Man, the death of the subject. But is the death of the real the final step in this procession of lost causes? What happens on that day when individuals would prefer the permanent dream or hallucination, never desiring a return to so-called reality? Is this the last stage of consciousness--to abandon the world itself?
Example: Epic Games just received $1 billion in investment to drive the creation of "The Metaverse", a full-scale and infinitely evolving virtual world where people can exist as digital avatars in a kind of alternative life.
POST_018: SECRET POWER CHAMBERS
There is a long history of experimentation between the political universe and the occult. Like the sorcerers of the early pharaohs and the shamans of the black who accompanied the Mongolian hordes, modern regimes driven by world-domination often construct code-named sites where they attempt to unlock supernatural or extreme psychological powers. Will future global orders continue or even augment these efforts at consciousness-enhancement (once the domain of miracle)?
Example: Secret government agencies of the major superpowers of the last century created undisclosed labs (e.g. Project MK-Ultra) that studied the possibility of mind-control and consciousness-expansion (e.g. telepathy, telekinesis, truth serums), the most intriguing of which was a method meant to teach agents the ability to break out of spacetime. This was called The Gateway Experience.
Will thinkers finally start paying closer attention to the influence of climate on the mind? For certain, thoughts manifest differently amidst rainfall, ice-storms, earthquakes, or extreme winds. Will admitting to this covert channel between consciousness and atmosphere finally allow us the power of emulation: that is, to allow our perception to resemble phenomena like waves, moons, sand, or even darkness itself?
Example: In 2019, a conference was held on "Darkness" in Svalbard, Norway (the world's northernmost inhabited space) where scholars gathered to discuss themes of darkness in philosophy, literature, myth, visual art, film, ecology, and virtual technology. The dark scholars arrived during the time of the Northern Lights, during 6 months of night, taking arctic dog sled rides through the ice hills.
POST_021: DARK ROOM
A long-held dream of conquest in the modern age: to trespass and dominate even the places that do not want us. A hostile takeover of the desert, the arctic, the wastelands, the islands, and even planets with inhospitable climates. Why do we wish to breathe in impossible atmospheres, to revenge ourselves against what excludes us, if only to prove our grasp of the infinite?
Example: NASA scientists extract breathable air from the thin atmosphere of Mars, converting carbon dioxide into pure oxygen.
POST_023: GENETIC CHAOS SPACE
An age of microscopic manipulation looms for which the domains of heredity will be thrown into great flux. This opens us to the futuristic paradox linking precision to anarchy: namely, that the more we refine methods of acute genetic intervention, the more we will cast human experience, physiology, and bio-existence toward inadvertent side-effects and mutations. For every minor intentional alteration at the cellular or somatic level, a cascading wave of unintended transfigurations of the entire species.
Example: CRISPR, a rising genetic mutation technique, has already led to “large-scale, unintended DNA deletions and rearrangements in the areas surrounding the targeted sequence,” aka “genetic chaos.”
POST_022: BROKEN CLOCK UNIVERSE
The question of free will versus determinism has plagued philosophy, science, and religion for thousands of years (the problem of the clockwork universe). Still, the third dimension that often goes unnoticed in these clashes between individual choice and tyrannical determination is that of accident or chance. Beyond this, there is also the fourth possibility of a broken clock universe: one that was originally governed by certain rules and patterns but then began malfunctioning (leading to random ages of distortion, deviation, and breakdown in the machine).
Example: The more scientific knowledge expands our perceptual horizon into the infinite, the more scientists appear to be gravitating towards a totally deterministic understanding of existence (where all the movements are already preset).
Image: Mark Tansey, "Derrida Queries de Man" (1990)
POST_024: EMERGENCY SPACE
States of emergency always have a way of transforming spatial contexts. During air raids in war-torn countries, basements turn from storage facilities or play-sites to protective shelters and bunkers. During revolutions, public squares once used for gathering or symbolic ceremonies turn into riot zones. Thus the state of emergency restores to our consciousness what the child already knows: that anywhere can become the elsewhere under the right circumstances of imagination or danger.
Example: Due to space constraints imposed by the COVID pandemic, various dance club spaces are being converted into art galleries.
Image: Photograph: Stefanie Loos/AFP/Getty Images for The Guardian (2021)
POST_025: ENTER SIMULATION
The ongoing provocative questions surrounding our possible entrenchment in a simulated matrix remain infatuated only with the existential questions of what it would mean for Being (were we trapped in an artificial program). But they do not tread into more elegant questions of what reverberations it holds for Space. How does it transform our understanding of entrance and exit, inside and outside, journey, movement, border, trespass? How does territoriality itself take on altogether different sensibility when speaking of phantasmatic zones? Perhaps the point is no longer to escape the simulation but rather to become godlike in our infusion, entanglement, and creative orchestration of the false world.
Example: Physicist Hong Qin uses artificial intelligence program that brings further speculation of our existing in a simulation.
The vampire hovers; the ghost hovers; the shadow hovers; the resurrected prophet hovers. Levitation is one of the elder concepts associated both with the history of sorcery and monstrosity. This vertical-horizontal drifting is a choreography reserved only for the otherworldly. Thus, what happens when banal objects suddenly absorb this power reserved for the elect or the chosen? An age of infinitely floating toys. A trick of light-induced flow manipulations.
Example: Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania use "magic carpet" technology to make a tray levitate using only light.
POST_026: PARADISE CITIES
What will new utopias of the future look like? Will they experiment further with liquid and aerial forms of architecture? Utopia has always been tied to boundlessness, but this loss of edged constraints believed itself to have a sense of grand purpose. Now, we are witnessing the construction of utopias of pure entertainment--pleasure zones and hedonistic cities that fulfill no concept of history but rather serve only a process of hyper-stimulation.
Example: Architecture firm MVRDV advances Paradise City project in Korea, which houses a major nightclub known as "Chroma" in an edifice called "The Imprint".
POST_027: COSMIC ARCS
What does our age have to learn from those earlier avant-garde movements that dreamed of futuristic utopias based on strange new principles of technology, art, and being? The Russian Cosmists or Italian Futurists of the early 20th century, the former of whom sought to escape the clutches of time by mastering immortality and the resurrection of the dead, or the latter who worshiped speed and the grinding sublimity of the machine. And both hanging their futuristic bets on a new spatial focus: the former in outer space and interstellar travel; the latter in the heart of the metropolis and its industrial immensity.
Example: New collections surface to reflect on the early revolutionary thought of the Cosmists and the Futurists, especially in light of today's scientific advancements that might bring to fruition their abstract speculations.
POST_029: THE NEW TEMPLE
What happens when the architectures of reverence, worship, and awe once reserved for temples instead become directed to hallowing technology? Is it strange to dream of sacred groves, altars, or monuments designed to honor the gods of technology? This futuristic orientation might actually restore us to the pagan criterion of gods: that they should be tangible, palpable, viscerally felt. No longer transcendent, but now part of the realm of material sensation once again.
Example: Snøhetta designs proposed site called "Lunar" in Qianhai, China's city center, a kind of tipped satellite that is supposed to embody a landmark to the "manifestation of technology".
POST_031: SATELLITE GODS
There are various tribal monuments and structures from past centuries which were built only to be beheld from the sky (an aerial view of the gods). However, now with roaming satellites and "persistent monitoring" devices in orbit, we can simulate the god-perspective. How will this alter our approach to creation (our aesthetics, our movements, our conceptualization of appearance) when we know that there are eyes watching from the sky?
Example: The company IceEye of Helsinki Finland sends out 14 spacecraft with Satellite Aperture Radar (SAR) technology that allows them to capture coherent images of anywhere on earth at any time, including an optical light that can penetrate into live volcanoes.
POST_030: MIRROR GAME
The old existentialist problematic of "the tree falling in the woods" (whether it makes a sound if no one is there to hear it) now collides with a new theory of quantum physics stating that a book left on a table in another room does not necessarily remain there in an independent existence but rather exists only in a relational game of reflections with its owner. Thus the book remains as it was when held by the reader, with no essential metaphysical substance underlying it in our absence. What does it mean, then, to be caught in a hall/world of mirrors, and will the future only exacerbate this mirroring-effect at the quantum and cosmic levels?
Example: Physicist Carlo Rovelli suggests in new book titled Helgoland that all reality might in fact be an interplay of quantum mirrors.
There are texts and shows which speak of "shadow-worlds" and "the upside-down". But what are the consequences of staring at hanging inverted worlds in states of brokenness? It is to worship debris; it is to stand transfixed by the aesthetics of wreckage; it is to hand history over to the immortality of the fragment.
Example: Artist Diana Al-Hadid creates sculptures of inverted ruins, whether in shattered or melted appearance.
Image: Diana Al-Hadid, "Self-Melt" (2008).
POST_033: THE HEADQUARTERS
Futuristic reformulations of the headquarters are ongoing. The headquarters used to have both its official connotation (as a center of the law, the state, the regime, the intelligence agency or secret police), and also kits subversive context (the rebel hideout, the fifth column, the secret society). Now they have entered
the spatial realm of luxurious consumption and corporate organization. But what will the headquarters of the future look like and what function will it serve? No longer an identification point, but rather a place where we might lose ourselves or becoming alternative figures (soul-swapping).
Example: Clothing brand AlphaTauri opens new headquarters showroom with futuristic appearance.
POST_036: VIRTUAL DROWNING
If studies demonstrate that actual drowning victims do not resemble the images or movements typically represented in films--that they most often do not splash, wave their arms, or cry out for help, but rather perish in far more subtle, imperceptible ways--then we might extend this mischaracterization to our experience of the virtual worlds. For these are also oceanic realms--they have many of the same qualities of liquidity, tidal volatility, and destructive entrapment (thus the term "net"), such that we might ask this following question: What would it mean to drown in the virtual, and would we even recognize it as drowning?
Example: New physiological reports reveal that “drowning does not look like drowning” as commonly assumed, and that this relatively serene descent leads to many unnoticed deaths beneath the waters.
POST_034: ARTIFICIAL RAINS
Since the invention of electricity, we have come to understand the possibility of artificial light. But this slippery slope continues along further potentialities: artificial winds, artificial moons, artificial suns, and artificial rains. What happens, though, when artificial rain is found to be cleaner/purer/more effective than natural rain; or artificial moons more radiant and luminescent than the original moon? Does the age of manipulative enhancement tempt us to substitute a superior supra-real construct for the elemental properties of life?
Image: Dubai creates/unleashes artificial rain monsoons in order to combat epic heatwave.
POST_035: OLYMPIAN WASTE
Mythic spaces gave rise to narratives of gargantuan power--Cylopean, Promethean, Herculean--while also warning of the wasteful aftermaths of such excessive expenditures of force. The fate of the titanic Cyclopes--to be stranded prisoners on a useless island; the fate of Prometheus: to be chained to a rock and cyclically mutilated for all eternity; the fate of Hercules: to strangle his wife and child in a fit of rage. Thus, is the Olympian destiny one that binds zones/figures of extreme energy to barrenness or tragic agony?
Example: Olympic stadiums across the world fall into states of abandonment, decay, and futile deterioration.