Unknown FieldsLiam Young and Kate Davies
The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. Each year we navigate a different global cross section and seek to map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. In previous years we have travelled through the wilds of the Galapagos Islands and the Ecuadorian Amazon, the eternal night of the Arctic Circle, the Mining Landscapes of Outback Australia and the irradiated forests of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
We bear witness to these alternative worlds as a means to understand our own world in new ways. A more familiar city like London is thoroughly embedded in a global network of landscapes and infrastructures that are typically forgotten, unseen, ignored or only presented through particular cultural narratives. Unknown Fields aims to remap the city and the technologies it contains not as discrete, independent collections of buildings and technologies but as a networked object that conditions and is conditioned by a wide array of local and global landscapes.
Our projects are speculative scenarios that deploy time-based media, film, animation, performance, gaming and choreographic drawings to define dynamic spaces of motion and commotion, cycles and shifts, ebbs and flows, wonder and intrigue. In the division we are both visionaries and reporters, critically engaged with the conditions of today through speculation about the coming of tomorrow. Our architecture will operate in the no-man’s land between the cultivated and the natural: intervening in a new kind of wilderness.
The natural world is being radically redefined through technology and our culture will be shaped by our response to the questions this raises. It is a journey of uncertain destination, punctuated with hidden detours and unexpected tangents. So goggles on, pack a light lunch, your binoculars and spacesuits as we head off to visit the unknown fields between nature and technology.
Liam Young is an architect who operates in the spaces between design, fiction and futures. He is founder of the think-tank Tomorrows Thoughts Today, a group whose work explores the possibilities of fantastic, perverse and imaginary urbanisms. Their projects develop fictional speculations as critical instruments to survey the consequences of emerging environmental and technological futures.
Kate Davies is a designer, writer and educator. She is co-founder of the multidisciplinary group LiquidFactory. Kate makes objects, narrative work, films and installations that deal with obscure territories of occupation. Her current work explores the psychology of extreme landscapes and the meaning of wilderness. Kate has taught at London Metropolitan, the Bartlett and Chelsea College of Art and regularly runs international design workshops.