futures – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: futures

Excavations, Shockwaves, and Limits

At the end of September, I spoke at an event organized by The Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design, “The Five Thousand Pound Life: Land”. The Architectural League has recently posted video from the event, so you can now watch the many presentations and discussions; I particularly recommend Jesse […]

territorial reclamation

[The Spratly Islands] A series of reports from the Philippine government recently emerged and came to the attention of the international press, describing a series of semi-clandestine island-building operations undertaken by the Chinese government in the South China Sea. (To quote a local fishing contractor who works in the vicinity: “there was this huge Chinese […]

glitches, flash crashes, and very bad futurists

Last fall, Vincent deBritto and Ozayr Saloojee invited me to come visit their Resilient Infrastructures project at the University of Minnesota; my main contribution was to deliver the lecture above, “Glitches, Flash Crashes, and Very Bad Futurists”. The lecture examines a particular class of landscape problem, which I’ve provisionally described as “glitches and flash crashes”, […]

land-making machines

[The Audubon Society’s micro-dredger, the John James, making new land in the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary in South Louisiana. Karen Westphal, Audubon’s Atchafalaya Basin program manager, will be speaking about this participatory micro-dredging project at DredgeFest Louisiana’s symposium, which is this Saturday and Sunday at Loyola University in New Orleans.] Tim Maly and I […]

hyper-reality: a new vision of the future

Long-time readers of mammoth may recall our excitement at Keiichi Matsuda’s short films Domestic Robocop and Augmented City, both of which present believable near-future visions of a world in which “synthetic spaces created by the digital information that we collect, consume and organise” supersede “the physical space of buildings and landscape”, while at the same […]

dredgefest louisiana

Things have been terribly quiet here at mammoth this fall. (Assuming that by “here” we mean “here, on the blog”; they’ve been quite busy if by “here” we mean “here in Ohio and Virginia”, which is where I’ve physically been. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to recap those adventures soon — there’s been quite a […]

zones and extrastatecraft

[A zone: Ebene Cybercity in Mauritius. As a bonus, Ebene is also an excellent example of the capacity of the Tubes to direct urban futures, as one of its prime selling points is that it sits at a landing point for the “the SAT3/WASC/SAFE sub-marine cable which links Southern Europe, Western and Southern Africa and […]

eight-bit baroque

Via BLDGBLOG, Timo Arnall’s “Robot Readable World”, “an experiment in found machine-vision footage, exploring the aesthetics of the robot eye”: This video is rather obviously fantastic, but I do think it’s worth calling attention to a perceptive comment left on the Vimeo page. Arnall describes the video as exploring the questions “how do robots see […]

the network as industry

[“Interior components of the cooling system” at a Facebook data center in Palo Alto; image via Alexis Madrigal’s report for Domus on Facebook’s Open Computer Project, which “describes in detail how to construct an energy-efficient data centre”.] “Secret Servers”, an article by James Bridle originally published in issue 099 of Icon magazine, looks at the […]

“a coordinated infrastructural ensemble”

In a great little piece for Domus, Geoff Manaugh looks at what the “critical foreign dependencies” cable says about the nature of the contemporary nation-state: “The sites described by the cable—Israeli ordnance manufacturers, Australian pharmaceutical corporations, Canadian hydroelectric dams, German rabies vaccine suppliers—form a geometry whose operators and employees are perhaps unaware that they define […]

the new north

[Murmansk in polar night, photographed by flickr user euno.] The Wall Street Journal recently ran a fascinating excerpt from geoscientist Laurence Smith’s new book, The World in 2050, which looks at how four global “megatrends” — “human population growth and migration; growing demand for control over such natural resource ‘services’ as photosynthesis and bee pollination; […]

wearable homes

[“Mono Lake”, 2008, from Mary Mattingly’s “Nomadographies”] If you suppose that there is a spectrum of ways that we adapt ourselves to our environment, then “architecture” might be at one end, and “cyborg” (whether psychotropic or technological) could be at the other.  In between, there would be “clothing”.  And if you really want to confuse […]

a cyborg arboretum

[Not a cyborg plant, but certainly technobotanical; image by NL Architects via Inhabitat] 1. This post is for 50 Posts About Cyborgs. 2. This is a cyborg arboretum.  That is, a collection of various plants not naturally found in geographic proximity, brought together for educational purposes, whose constituent plants happen to be cyborgs.  Not augmented […]

networked containers

[A portion of the port of Tianjin — radically determined by the requirements, conventions, and techniques of international shipping; bing maps] Writing for Current Intelligence, Serial Consign‘s Greg Smith (and guest co-writer Jordan Hale) discuss the history of standardized shipping containers, how that history has shaped the urban form of seaports such as Tianjin (and […]

fifty posts about cyborgs

To celebrate this September being the fiftieth anniversary of the coining of the term ‘cyborg’, Tim Maly — whose Quiet Babylon is, as it used to say on the cover, concerned with “Cyborgs, Architects, and our Weird Broken Future” — has corralled a team of bloggers and guest writers to produce fifty posts on the […]

“global hubs and mega-cities”

[Housing in Hong Kong, from photographer Michael Wolf’s series “Architecture of Density”] In the latest Foreign Policy, Parag Khanna argues that the city is increasingly becoming a more important geopolitical entity than the nation-state: The 21st century will not be dominated by America or China, Brazil or India, but by the city. In an age […]

lo-fi seed dispersal

[Prepared Greenaid seedbombs, awaiting dispersal; photograph by Fletcher Studio via Sustainable Cities Collective] Design Under Sky wrote about this a month or so ago, but given that we’re talking about the Los Angeles River, lo-fi landscape interventions, and that Brett Milligan brought it up again, it’s probably worth taking a moment to mention the Greenaid […]

recreational volcanism

[The Moscow Pool, built on the site of Stalin’s abandoned Palace of the Soviets, via Polis.] As volcanism is, for obvious reasons, in the news at the moment, perhaps this is the right time to think back to an article posted a few months ago at English Russia which suggests that Moscow is a city built […]

geologic helium machine

[A portion of the Cliffside field snakes tentacles across flat pasture concealing ancient anticlines.] Just outside Amarillo, Texas, the Cliffside field stores much of the nation’s helium reserves in a naturally-occurring geologic dome. It is part of a complex of partially-privatized fields, mines, domes, and pipelines which extends nearly two hundred miles north-south, from the […]

future forests of the eastern seaboard

[Mapping the transference of botanical threats from Japan to the Midwest, from a video presentation on Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) in the Great Lakes region] From a recent article in the Guardian: Biological warfare is to be declared on an alien invader, Japanese knotweed, that swamps gardens and rivers, with the release of an insect […]