Our ongoing fascination with bunkers (we both grew up in proximity to military bases) collided with Kevin Kelly’s discussion of an emerging ecology of three billion artificial eyes in his book “What Technology Wants” (Viking, 2010). This resulted in a series of experiments conducted in 2013 as residents at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s (CLUI) Wendover Airbase (the home of the training program for the first atomic bombing missions carried out on Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Our project B.O.L.T.S. (Bug-Out Location/Tactical Shelter), was a robotically fabricated, inflatable, vacuum-sealed personal shelter presented in a dust-tight enclosure installed at the CLUI Residence Support Unit in Wendover, Utah. The work is now part of the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art and Environment collection.
We followed B.O.L.T.S. with many proposals and iterations of larger structures. This was when we adopted “Anyspace? Whatever.” as the title for this work. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation presented us with a 2015 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit award for it. We continued to develop various concepts and configurations for how this could be achieved. Our proposed form draws upon the Ford Rotunda, designed by Albert Kahn and built for the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago (later rebuilt in Dearborn as the visitor center for Ford Motor Company). The Rotunda was the first real-world application of a geodesic dome (remodeled in 1952 by R. Buckminster Fuller). It was destroyed by a fire in 1962. In profile, the structure has the shape of an Earth-Covered Magazine (ECM) designed to withstand blast loadings and prevent the propagation of accidental explosions from adjacent magazines. Our ‘rotunda’ uses dazzle camouflage (complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors interrupting and intersecting each other). Dazzle camouflage is sometimes used to mask a test car during trials to make determining its exterior design tricky and to block detection by facial recognition technologies. It is a structure that is hard to ignore by humans that seeks to avoid machine vision.
AW attempts to understand and anticipate the democratic dilemmas arising from the networked “smart” city. AW will launch as a temporary/mobile structure before becoming a semi-permanent pavilion/folly for the public realm. AW is inspired by sci-fi/expo pavilions, Afro-futurist, Afro-modernist, and traditional Scottish communal gathering spaces. We imagine using XR/AR to create ephemera and media surrounding the installation. AW is designed to instigate creative actions and activism by engaging with other artists/culture-bearers, residents, architects/designers, urban planners, policymakers, and creative technologists. The goal is to encourage open dialogue, connections, and engagement surrounding AW that generates debate and open speculation on how we might develop equitable and accountable technology while also imagining structures for resistance and agency.