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Various scenes recreated from Svalbard used as augmented reality triggers in playing out multi-linear narratives of current and projected scenarios.
Various scenes recreated from Svalbard, used as augmented reality triggers in playing out multi-linear narratives of current and projected scenarios.
Introduction to Issue 03: Climate F(r)ictions
Climate F(r)ictions, curator's note
Deborah Lopez Lobato, Haden Charbel
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The effects of climate change have become increasingly apparent, with implications across multiple geographical scales and regions. Read as ecological and environmental transformations, accelerated transitional states are unfolding consequences and prompting responses within social, political, economic, human and non-human spheres alike. For instance, the term “cli-migration” was coined by an Alaskan human rights lawyer in 2008 to describe the permanent forced relocation of communities due to climate change. That same year, Ecuador introduced articles 10 and 71-74 to their constitution that explain the “Rights of Nature” as both a definition and the means to its legal and practical application. 

While climate change can be described as a “hyper-object” whose effects are generally conceived to exist at a scale that far surpasses one’s capacity to grasp it, its causes are grounded in the accumulation of various actions that are linked with the extractivist and capitalist logics resulting in a positive feedback loop – more resource extraction leads to more consumption and vice versa. Architecture is indeed one facet among an ecosystem of production- and consumer-based economies that has inextricably linked resources to commodities. Further to this, the use of territorialising technologies and mediums (such as satellite imagery and land surveys) is now coupled with artificial intelligence such as machine learning, optimisation algorithms and sensory devices, increasing the efficiency of all aspects of the supply chain; from prospecting, to extraction, and transport. It would seem that technology’s inevitable end is towards colonisation.  

This, however, has in turn drawn the attention of some to investigate alternative modes of land and resource management, such as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), which offer perspectives and methods based on indigenous groups’ locally developed practices. Meanwhile, contemporary trends in circular economies have begun questioning and testing the viability of re-utilising materials and rethinking logistical processes. Parallel to this, relatively recent technological trends that are predicated on decentralised protocols such as blockchain inherently possess political ideologies whilst exhibiting practical implications. Although technology tends to be presented as generic, the aforementioned hints at the possibility, and perhaps the inevitability, of interlacing and encoding ethics.  

Can technologies be designed and utilised without falling into territorialising tropes? Can AI be used to challenge current production-based economies? What are ways of subverting existing power structures? What decisions would nature make if it could govern itself? What kinds of technologies, protocols and policies can afford such autonomy? How would this affect architectural production, design and habitation, at individual, urban and larger ecological scales?  

This issue aims to put in dialogue the works and thoughts of different practitioners and researchers which, while distinct, share proximities when read through the lens of our current climate regime.

The Contributions 

Departing from the classical notion of landscape and wilderness, Marantha Dawkins and Bradley Cantrell reframe the Earth’s future through the promise and limitations of data and turn to embracing and actively engaging with uncertainties through Earth’s increasing unpredictability.  

On the notion of data, Catherine Griffiths explores the critical notion of “data situatedness”, removing it from its once neutral state of information and instead exploring from how and where we see data, as much as from how and where data sees.  

Moving into the ground, Andrew Toland revisits the epistemological underpinnings of “land” and the consequential perceptions of it; weaving a thread through social, legal and design practices, uncovering precedent limitations and strides, hinting that the extent of nature’s rights could be found a little deeper. 

Between the digital and the material, Theo Dounas explores the practical and ecological implications of blockchain technology in architecture, reconsidering design not from the perspective of a building, but rather a non-extractive and circular economy. 

Turning to the virtual, Damjan Jovanovic questions new modes of imaging through worldmaking, whereby games and simulations offer the possibility of interacting across multiple scales through dynamic and complex systems.  

Questioning how our futures might unfold, what might inhabit them, and how they might be experienced, Andrew Witt creates an observatory; a place hosting possible realities from the scale of newly evolved plant and animal life up to the scale of the Earth as a geo-dynamic system. 

The remaining contributions extend this constellation, some taking position through theoretical frameworks, and others as projective projects. 

Climate F(r)ictions proposes a turn away from dichotomies and binary thinking, and instead straddles the lines of our realities and imaginations, interconnecting technologies, ecologies, law and worlds, giving multi-scalar agency to humans and non-humans alike – it operates in the speculative realms of the plausible and the probable. 

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