historical (hyper) fiction

Walid Raad is a Lebanese artist who, under the name “The Atlas Group” exhibits a collection of documents related to the wars in Lebanon from 1975 to 1991. The documents range in format from photography to video, and each more or less addresses some aspect of effect of the wars. Each set of documents is also accompanied by a story. In the collection titled “The Thin Neck Files,” Raad produces a series of 50 photographs of engine blocks surrounded by a group of people. The story goes that when a car bomb explodes, the only piece remaining intact is the engine block, which is often thrown hunders of feet in any direction. With the more than 3,600 bombs detonated over the course of the wars, there developed a competition between reporters to be the first to photograph the scene when the engine was found.

Another file catalogs the notebooks of a Dr. Fakhouri, one of which is esplained as such:

“Each of the notebook pages includes a cutout photograph of a car that matches the make, model, and color of a car that was used as a car bomb, as well as text written in Arabic that details the place, time, and date of the explosion, the number of casualties, the perimeter of destruction, the exploded car’s engine and axle numbers, and the weight and type of the explosives used.”

While some of the documents are related directly to the war others are more tangential, such as another notebook of Dr. Fakhouri, which provides detailed accounts of a gambling scheme set up by historians of the Lebanese wars involving a racetrack. From the files:

“It is a little known fact that the major historians of the Lebanese wars were avid gamblers. It is said that they met every Sunday at the race track — Marxists and Islamists bet on races one through seven, Maronite nationalists and socialists on races eight through fifteen.

Race after race, the historians stood behind the track photographer, whose job was to image the winning horse as it crossed the finish line, to record the photo-finish. It is also said that they convinced (some say bribed) the photographer to snap only one picture as the winning horse arrived. Each historian wagered on precisely when — how many fractions of a second before or after the horse crossed the finish line — the photographer would expose his frame.”

The documents presented by Raad serve to show the different aspects of the wars, and how they affected the city of Beirut and the national psyche. Although not at first apparent, all the documents are completely fake. Raad’s explanation is that the wars, now 20 years past, are still completely denied by the government, and no official accounts exist of what actually happened. Thus, a fictional archive such as that of the Atlas Group is actually a more realistic portrayal of the wars than the official history.

This is very interesting for our project because it shows how fiction can serve to create a deeper understanding of a situation, especially when dealing with sensitive issues like war. It also uses formats typically reserved for factual accounts to create alternate scenarios of the past. We can use similar techniques of fictional documents, news reports, documentaries, etc., to produce a vision or representation of our scenarios for the future. It would also be interesting to use the same tools to critically examine the past and highlight those aspects that have an affect on our future scenarios.

I highly recommend checking out the complete archives online or checking out the show if it comes around.

-dn

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Termite Pavilion

This pavilion was made by 3D scanning a termite mound and enlarging it to fit humans before being milled and assembled.  I think such analogies will be useful, especially in ideas of reconstruction, memory, and such.

-yb

termite mounds

great post yuval. here is another, also exceptional:

The beginning is great architecturally, then go to about 4:20 to see the size of the queen and how she operates. Around 6, the narrator discusses the strategies in the architecture and complexity of its spaces.

is there hierarchy in our swarm?

-le

Ants Subterranean Structures

They poured tons of concrete into an ant colony’s hole and then started digging it out to reveal the elaborate underground city.  Basically lots of channels of circulation and ventilation and then these ventricles, these round chambers at the ends.    (It’s long but try to watch it through)  Lots to think about as far as negative space and reconstruction.

-yb

Lithification

From Wikipedia:

Lithification is a process of porosity destruction through compaction and cementation. Lithification includes all the processes which convert unconsolidated sediments into sedimentary rocks. Petrification, though often used as a synonym, is more specifically used to describe the replacement of organic material by silica in the formation of fossils. In geology consolidation is a synonym for lithification.

A library of simple diagrams of geological processes.

The aesthetics of striation as a result of lithification.

The aesthetics of tafoni as a result of erosion.

Modelling of compaction (packing) (also, lithification) through computation.

-dn

Monsanto – GMs

“The Monsanto Company is a U.S.-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup”. Monsanto is also the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it sells 90% of the world’s GE seeds.  Monsanto’s development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation and political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the alter-globalization movement and environmental activists.  Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell in 1982. Five years later, Monsanto conducted the first field tests of genetically engineered crops.”

“Monsanto’s primary reason for enforcing its patents is to ensure a level playing field for the vast majority of honest farmers who abide by their agreements, and to discourage using technology illegally to gain an unfair advantage.” (Monsanto’s statement)  They limit the use of their seed to one year, and anyone who uses it for longer is sued. 

Monsanto could be the company that we project will develop our nanotechnology.  They will then patent it and have it live only one year for every new batch so that they can make people buy more, and if someone makes it go on, they will prosecute.  I think another functionality we could build into it is that if some other company develops their own technology, Monsanto’s would infect it and turn it into another one of theirs.

Yes Men – Halliburton’s SurvivaBall

A Guide to the Basic Functions and Properties of the Halliburton Model X7 SurvivaBall
For use in catastrophic or potentially catastrophic conditions.

“SurvivaBall is nothing less than a self-contained living system–truly, a gated community for one. If you have a SurvivaBall, even if everyone else is dying, at least you can weather all storms.”  Of course, while SurvivaBall is its own brand, it was created by America’s largest companies (the Website boasts the logos of Shell, Ford, Exxon, GM, etc.) to avoid dealing with their impact on the environment in a non-profitable manner.  “The SurvivaBall builds on Halliburton’s reputation as a disaster and conflict industry innovator,” said Wolf. “Just as the Black Plague led to the Renaissance and the Great Deluge gave Noah a monopoly of the animals, so tomorrow’s catastrophes could well lead to good – and industry must be ready to seize that good.”

“The Survivaball not only hyperbollically anticipates the long-term intensification of environmental disadjustments as the condition for future profit making, but also provides the appropriate protective equipment for those contracted to manage the perpetual state of emergency generated by the energy-industrial complex.”

-yb