illustration from the Guardian: Viking city: excavation reveals urban pioneers not violent raiders.
Photo: Jurors for day 2: James Taylor Foster, Dougald Hine, James Hamilton and Behzad Khosravi. Presentation by Bo Pilo.
REPORT: TWO DAY SEMINAR AT KKH: NORDIC HAZARDLANDS.
The two-day seminar, held between December 6 and 7, was an opportunity for R-Lab participants to present their individual projects to each other and to a group of invited guest critics. Those unable to attend joined the session on Google Hangout, and both sessions were recorded and uploaded, — see the links to the two evening sessions, Nordic Hazardlands December 6 and Nordic Hazardlands December 7.
Image: Gerda Persson, Screen capture from video transmission, Google Hangouts.
The Session began with a brief introduction to the Färgfabriken Open Studio Program presented by Daniel Urey and Karin Englund. The Open Studio Program will be welcoming R-Lab in the coming Spring semester, and student participants will debate and develop public events conceived around Nordic Hazardlands and the Countryside Unfolds, the twin themes undergoing a prolonged exploration conducted by R-Lab.
In quick summary the students covered a range of distinct issues, but common themes among the presentations were nevertheless distinguishable. Gerda Persson presented a series of related questions regarding the abandoned and now destined for demolition factory building, the Spredfabriken, a early Swedish avant-garde building designed by the architect Nils Tesch with a curiously large bomb shelter below. Spredfabriken is located in the same Cimenta neighbourhood as the Färgfabriken, where R-Lab will be conducting it public sessions in association with the Konsthall’s Open Studio program this coming Spring. Gerda diagrammed the speculative real-estate process, linking tunnels, landfills and shelters using circular logic to depict speculative real estate practices in Stockholm that have been reshaping the city with little public debate.
Anna Risell’s presentation the power of daydreaming was also inextricably connected to the urban and countryside landscapes. She chose to present her earlier video with an original soundtrack. The reviewers, including Malin Heyman and Isabel Lofgren, commented on the role of the observer and the observed, pointing out the works of Bachelard and the altered meaning in French of the word “harzard.” It was also pointed out that the rhythm and pacing of the film, the way in which Anna attempted to evoke familiar and unfamiliar spaces, would also help determine how the use of video clip montage can assist in producing altered strategies for perception.
Veronica Skeppe quickly jumped into the political waters with her reflections on the role of the red cottage in Swedish rising middle class culture, the adaption of a particularly Swedish Rusticus style and the introduction of a strangely misplaced stylistic reference to white Mexi architecture. One of the more disputable issues raised by Veronica was the red iron based color produced in Falun, that was she described as being characterised as blood rock, or blood of the nation. A discussion ensued on the tangibility of materials and the flows of identity. Isabel introduced the work of Vilhem Flusser and his resistance to kistch readings on nationalism.
Image: Veronica Skeppe, Screen capture from video transmission, Google Hangouts.
Anna Asplind’s experimental “Operation Stockholm” which consisted of organising a bus ride taking an officially designated escape route outside Stockholm, was a sort of preview of the kind of project that could integrate evacuation strategies within the overarching subject of potential disasters. Anna also considered the ramifications of underground food growth and human post-disaster survival.
Ana Barata, on the other hand, presented her initial investigations on her native Portugal, examining first Mozambique and Angola through a collection of colonial era postcards, shifting her gaze in the process back to Portugal to document remaining traces of anti Salazar graffiti found across the capital of Lisbon. And Orestis, to conclude the evening’s session, proposed a reading list based on his work on the transformation of the landscape through the spread of digital-data based industries whose monumental size and scale is significantly changing the interface zones between labor and landscape. In particular Orestis’ focus’ on the shipping industry provoked a valuable response from Malin Heyman, who brought up the deep linguistic and cultural connections between land and ships.
Elena Mazzi’s personal experiences with earthquakes while living in Italy influenced her interest in studying the aftereffects of earthquakes and also volcanos. These initial projects led to further studies on the human species under extreme conditions. Behzad Khosravi brought up questions on site specificity–just how significant was the singular context in relation to the body, while James-Taylor Foster recognised in Elena’s anatomical investigations the possibility of returning to more vestigial evolutionary states in earlier pre-historical life.
Image: Elena Mazzi, Day 2.
Seed banks were introduced into the day’s session by Lea Vene, whose perspective on the subject spanned from large seed vaults with major corporate funding sources to locally run community scale collections. With a 70% loss in bio-diversity in recent years, the question of seed archiving may appear increasingly urgent for longterm human and animal survival, though it could also be true that these grand projects are countering more grounded responses to the problem. Dougald Hine noted that in principle they remain survivalist strategies, and the storage of grains are not necessarily linked to human liberty, but most likely the opposite, agriculture can easily be seen as a form of control over nature and man.
Image: Bo Pilo presenting on day 2, with Behzad Khosravi.
Bo Pilo introduced his investigation into a possible world where today’s advanced GPS mapping systems collapse, leaving society to pick up more rudimentary forms of navigational assistance. Behzad Khosravi pointed out the significance of the GPS map, and picking up on Bo Pilo’s concerns for action and agency he pointed out that we are prodded by our phones every month to look back at our history of activities. James Hamilton, in characterising Pilo’s thesis as taking an analog turn to digital failure, commenting that he would see Bo Pilo’s objectives enhanced not only by the where, but the when. Dougald Hine, in noting the role of guidebooks in preparing the way for travellers and their barely disguised fear of asking directions from locals, which has only gotten more extreme through the reliance on GPS, further degrading human relations. Yet Hine asks if there could be technologies of ‘entanglement?’ James Taylor Foster channeled the ever-expanding surveillance of the control society precisely through these digital forms of mapping, but also drew us to role of attention as a commodity.
Image Asa Agerstam, December 7.
Asa Agerstam’s approach to her research reflected some of the concerns with the direction of the course, mainly about the northern countryside. Agerstam spoke about her earlier interest in Prepper communities, that gained a new kind of ironic relevancy with the fires spreading this summer across northern Scandinavia. She began to research the farming of forests, used mainly in this region for paper production- that looked to her like so much bar code. But she also questioned the diminishing spirituality among the Scandinavian population, something James Taylor Foster picked up on when he spoke of how surviving in the woods had become so popular today, at least as seen in the top ranked YouTube series from Austrialia the “Primitive Hut.” The designed forests could be correlated to the absence, again according to Foster, of spiritual faith. Dougald Hine brought up a bit of history on the farming of forests, introduced in Germany at the turn of the 19th century, where farming reflected the economic demands in accordance with growth charts and accounting sheets.
Gustav Karlsson worked on making a wave diagram that would illustrate his thoughts on what he refers to as “Real Fantasies,” where apocalyptic visions cyclically intersect with real and possibly fatal outcomes. In other words according to Karlsson, his goal is to be able to reach a moment where the future, present and past exist in the same time, “not to predict the future, but to predict the present.” Behzad Khosravi picked up on what he considers to be some fundamental Marxian references landing squarely in the Frankfurt School, but pulling into this orbit of phantasmagoria, eliciting a range of questions on reality and representation– that inevitably lead, again according to Khosravi, to Cambridge Analytica, the ultimate success story in establishing “para-fiction.”
Image: Sofie Larsson, /Day 2.
Florence Taché looked at how to narrate the relationship between nature and culture. Taché presented a few TV advertisements and a comic, depicting the harvesting of wood, hemp, and other organic resources. What Taché is seeking is a sort of balance between the human and nature narratives, taking Donna Haraway as her lead. Dougald Hine asked, “whose catastrophe is it?” Dougald Hine, continued this thought by shifting the view to previous epochs, where indigenous peoples were the ones getting wiped out, a situation that had been narrated much differently under the aegis of colonialism. James Hamilton also addressed the discrepancies in this kind of balanced narrative, pointing out that people want to know “who gets saved” –the rhetoric of salvation, Hine replied with the colonial discourse. To which Hamilton noted the seduction of a manifest destiny. And here we see the day’s discussion come to a head: Hine summed up this concern that humanity, having gotten us in this climatic mess in the first place should surely, as most might believe, know how to manage our way out of it… Would it be this simple..
DAY 1 (Thursday December 6, 5-8pm)
R-Lab Marvels and Catastrophes, 2018-2019: Spring Semester. Nordic Hazardlands
The Fall 2018 R-Lab workshop Art of Disaster Interrupted held at the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial at the Earth School, successfully developed a series of design prototypes through decentralised practices that took advantage of the dense agglomeration of local crafts industries in the adjacent Sishane district. For the coming Spring 2019 semester, R-Lab is initiating the second phase of applied research, focusing on Scandinavia and the Northern Baltic regions. As part of this program, two related events will be organised, a preliminary Seminar in December specifically planned to address forthcoming issues and strategies, and a travel workshop to Umeå Sweden and Vaasa Finland where the workshop will conclude in Onkalo, the longterm nuclear waste depository. The Nordic Hazardlands seminar and workshop will focus primarily on the evolving northern territories, that are the subject of significant climatic changes, geographic and topographic shifts, as well as a troubled legacy of human activity. Specifically, expanding population, growing urbanisation, military bases and fortifications, industrial development and big data storage centres, along with protracted surface mining continue to threaten the region’s natural environment.
The Nordic Hazardlands workshop invites participants to look beyond the well known factors of causality in order to broaden the field of inquiry to include archaic myths of origin, the tradition of native peoples and local customs, forms of internal colonisation and government programs for immigrant resettlements, as well as historic logging, mining and industrial practices. The Nordic regions have over the centuries cultivated strong independent survival practices, and these customs and updated practices may offer clues for improved and critical strategies for more sensitive development.
In particular, several primary elements and materials are associated with this northern region that have over the millennia spread across the Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, such as the collection of amber, resins, and minerals associated with magical, religious and mystical properties. In modern times, these elements and materials are deeply integrated into the technology production, providing the primary ingredients for advanced industries.
The Nordic Hazardlands workshop, for the week in Umeå will scout out and experiment with local materials, minerals, resins, and and recycled detritus to invent alternative design and architecture prototypes suitable for future uses.
Participants: the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Umeå University Architecture Department.
Additional Support comes from the Goethe Institute, LABLAB at ARKLAB, O&O Baukunst (Haus Rucker) Berlin Cologne, Fargfabriken Stockholm, ARKDES Stockholm.
INFO: The Olkiluoto Visitors’ Center Onkalo, Finland.
BRAND NEW INFO:
The Olkiluoto Visitors’ Center is open in the wintertime (from October to April) Mon–Fri from 10 am to 6 pm, Sat–Sun from 12 noon to 6 pm
TVO Nuclear Services Oy arranges customized visits and seminars with a technical content on commercial basis. The minimum group size is ten visitors.
The guided basic tour includes coffee, an introduction of the company, a visit to the operational waste repository, the ONKALO exhibition describing the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel and the Electricity from Uranium -scientific exhibition. The basic guided tour takes approximately three and a half hours.
Personal information is required two weeks in advance of all the participants of the group, i.e. citizenship, passport number, date of birth, name, place of birth and employer’s name. All visitors must present either a driver’s license, a passport, or an official identification card when arriving to Olkiluoto. The area tour will be carried out with the visitors´ bus. Small groups can be transported with a maximum of two private cars.
Odin holds bracelets and leans on his spear while looking towards the völva in Völuspá. Gesturing, the völva holds a spoon and sits beside a steaming kettle. The text “V:14” in the bottom left corner refers to Völuspá stanza 14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norse_mythology
READING LIST AND FILMOGRAPHY FOR NORDIC HAZARDLANDS:
PODCAST HERE: ONKALO