Unknown Fields

Unknown Fields

Destination - nomadic

The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth; to bear witness to alternative worlds, alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness. These distant landscapes – the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine, are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives. In such a landscape of interwoven narratives, we deploys time-based media to animate this network of hidden stories and re-imagine the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures.

Summer 2018 (dates tbc)


We head off on a dust-blown road trip across Australia, into the vast and mysterious interior of this remote island continent in search of its ancient tribal hinterlands and its immense techno-landscapes. Beneath the Southern Cross, machines harvest the earth for the precious ingredients of our daily lives. We stalk mechanical beasts the size of buildings and explore excavations the size of cities. Here, in the Never Never, are the resource territories of the city, a land of rich geology, endless horizons and mining pits so large that they generate their own weather systems. Towering mountains of tailings, remade landforms, terraced valleys and artificial lakes all take shape from this distributed ground. Violent gestures of accelerated geology create landscapes of erasure, excavation and re-articulation. For this book, Unknown Fields travel 1km beneath the surface of the earth in search of gold, to survey and laser-scan the technological incisions that release it from the ground.

We follow tunnels winding below Australia’s red crust and stand at the base of the mega pits that are cut through the narrative landscape of the Dreamtime, the creation mythology of the Aboriginal Australians. Stories and ceremonies of dreaming beings that once formed the sacred sites of mountain ranges and riverbeds are now spun with the ghosts of modern technologies, family heirlooms and financial fictions. Territories once mapped into surfaces of Aboriginal dot paintings are now depicted on screen in the digital point clouds of geology survey scans. We retrace a constellation of gold artefacts scattered across the earth back through mine pits and tunnels to their origin in ore-bodies deep below. Roughly 0.034grams of this landscape is locked away in each of our mobile phones. We all carry a little piece of Australia in our pockets.

Past Unknown Fields expeditions have traversed the Galapagos Islands, crossed the South China Sea on a cargo ship, infiltrated the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and set up camp at the Burning Man Festival in our refurbished school bus. You can find out more at: www.unknownfieldsdivision.com.


Apply for an Internship

Unknown Fields now operates as a research group. We are looking for travelling research assistants/ interns to work with us on the Unknown Fields project. The internships are unpaid, but expedition costs will be covered. To express your interest in this year’s expedition project please email visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk with a CV and a short statement about yourself and your interest in joining the program.
On the road, through the Australian Outback

Programme Heads

Kate Davies
Liam Young


Programme Heads
Kate Davies
Liam Young

Head of Visiting School

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

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