Speculative Models for the Present

X:

Y:

P[08]Seiche

Supporting Institutions

Strelka Institute: The New Normal
ARDETH Magazine
Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism
Hong Kong Design Trust

Location

Khorgos [Kazakhstan]
Shenzhen [China]
Hong Kong

Year

2018 - Present

Output

Speculative short film
Article
Interactive installation

Looking at

Border deterritorialisation
Frictionless sovereignty
Dynamic lawmaking
Fluid citizenship

In the context of

Transnational flows
Infrastructural switchpoints
Special economic zones

Symbolically embodied by

Belt and Road Initiative
Khorgos Dry Port

Overlapping jurisdictions and supranational infrastructures generate an increasingly complex network topology; the design, management, and mapping of their interactions is therefore a crucial task.

Seiche is a speculative proposal for a visual programming platform enabling the definition and management of techno-legal procedures of information exchange between the institutions that regulate such systems and the organisations that operate within.

The first iteration of the project was produced over the course of two months in 2018 as part of the urban design think-tank The New Normal. The proposal was applied and tested in the form of a narrative set in Khorgos, Kazakhstan; the cornerstone of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The short movie takes shape as a documentary that defines the problematics of the cross-border condition from logistic, governmental and identity perspectives to then introduce the structure of the proposed model. The clip intentionally stays in a rather dystopian aesthetic that invites the viewer to reflect on the implications of current and future intangible systems

This short clip granted us an invitation to develop the proposal further in a graphic essay format for ARDETH Journal, by POLITO. The following essay develops the structural model while putting special emphasis on defining a language and theoretical framework that allows the reader to comprehend and get familiarised with otherwise complex systemic abstractions.

C[01] Introduction

Citizenship and sovereignty are traditionally rooted in territorial belonging; however, as transnational flows of people, capital, goods, and information continue to expand, this conception is undermined.

The above mentioned flows are sustained on infrastructures of supranational scope. Thus, conflicts over citizenship can, in most cases, be understood as conflicts over such infrastructures. Decision-making regarding the flow, access, and motility of citizens and goods takes place in very specific places. Borders, customs, and other controls are precisely the touchpoints between jurisdictions and infrastructural systems. Decision-making in infrastructure space relies heavily on techno-legal procedures of information exchange. Driven by promises of automation, increased efficiency, and growth margins, data sharing is becoming a frequent narrative in the logistics industry. A diversity of strategies, from centralised options based on co-owned databases to decentralised systems based on smart contracts and blockchains, is currently being implemented. There is no single solution, but all are based on ubiquitous sensing apparatuses and mobile data storage infrastructures. Such transitions take a slower path when it comes to systems that manage humans rather than cargo. While this might appear to be an eminently technical transformation, the reality is far more intricate. The lack of trust due to strategy and security concerns about information sharing is a key factor in stopping procedural automation. This applies to states, government branches, institutions, and corporations alike. Extra layers of difficulty appear to coordinate operations among systems that track entities of a different categorical order, use different protocols, or simply speak a different language.

C[02]Premises

The project was developed under the following assumptions:

1. The proliferation of sensing infrastructures does not only hold the potential of tracking people and cargo, but also to visualise systems and power structures while moving bureaucracy to the back-end.

2. New levels of control require new rights, and ultimately new levels of freedom in exchange. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the implications of a system growing at scale, and the relationship with final users.

3. The way different organisations interact is as important as how they behave within their respective clusters. The interstitial space between well-established actors can be used as leverage to grow as a platform.

C[03]Conceptual Framework

C[05]Interface Core Features

A tool that enables the design and management of techno-legal procedures of information exchange. Assisting independent legal entities to co-design data exchange protocols and infrastructures to implement them in their own terms by interfacing legal and data workflows trough a visual programming language.

A platform that allows to map and visualise the implemented exchange protocols among individual entities, associations of entities, and complex organisations of a different nature.

Secondary features include:

1. Maintenance of a techno-legal repository to accelerate community-driven regulation processes.

2. Access and motility assessment of any entity or association of entities through a particular procedure by simulating operability.

3. History of interactions of moving entities and sensing apparatuses through the designed protocols which explain the history of sovereign systems that an entity or an individual have moved across.

4. Network of emergent sovereignties where instances of authentication among systems can be registered to visualise the use and evolution in time and space of a particular set of exchange rules.

These capabilities will gain relevance as ubiquitous authentication processes and back-end automation progressively replace hard conceptions of border and direct systems interfaciality.

01.

Seiche
(/ˈseɪʃ/)
*A standing wave
in an enclosed or
partially enclosed
body of water.

C[06]Khorgos Case Study

The project was reinterpreted as an interactive installation in Shenzhen 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, curated by MIT Senseable City Lab Director, Carlo Ratti.

Projects

Description

Client

P[09]Bio-Fold
FRAKTA Fetish for a Biodegradable Material Culture

IKEA: SPACE10

[+]

Bio-Fold stands at the intersection of material technology and cultural strategy. It deals with critical global issues such as plastic waste, soil scarcity, and deforestation due to agricultural development. Playing with cultural heritage, the project uses FRAKTA, IKEA’s iconic tote bag, as a symbolic device for the introduction of an already existing technology: vacuum bagging, in this case applied to biocomposite materials.

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Copenhagen [Denmark]

Year

2019 - Present

Output

Fabrication method | Digital interface

P[08]Seiche
Automated Bureaucracy as a Pathway to Fluid Citizenship

Strelka Institute: The New Normal

[+]

Overlapping jurisdictions and supranational infrastructures generate an increasingly complex network topology; the design, management, and mapping of their interactions is therefore a crucial task. Seiche is a speculative proposal for a visual programming platform enabling the definition and management of techno-legal procedures of information exchange between institutions that regulate such systems and the organisations that operate within.

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Khorgos [Kazakhstan]

Year

2018 - Present

Output

Speculative short film | Article | Interactive installation

P[07]Siren
Audiovisual Arctic Poem on Connective Alienation

Strelka Institute: The New Normal

[+]

Siren oscillates between the silence of the now deserted destination node of Magadan and the fullness of the fragmented archives that capture its evolution from a place of extraction to a place of archive. It emerges from statistical and interview-based research into port automation and the global inversion of gender patterns in supply chain employment...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Kolyma [Russia]

Year

2018

Output

Speculative short film

P[06]Æffect
Acid Infused Journal on Innovation Management

UAL: Central Saint Martins

[+]

Æffect grew as a bottom-up student-led initiative to create a strong and self-perpetuating community connecting innovation management students at CSM with alumni, staff and industry leaders through a mentorship scheme, an academic journal and web platform...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2017 - 2018

Output

Mentorship scheme | Academic journal | Web platform

P[05]Electric Cloud
Decentralised Networks of Energy Exchange

EDF: Électricité de France

[+]

The combined disruption of smart home devices and decentralised energy production and storage systems favour a progressive switch to ‘prosumerism’ in the energy market. Electric Cloud provided a strategy for EDF to adopt an ambivalent position as managers and traders in energy exchange networks, a role that would help them thrive in both a centralised or decentralised scenario...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Business model | Strategic road map

P[04]Critical Firm
Political Conflict as a Business Strategy in the Age of Purpose

Self-directed

[+]

With ongoing, deep, systemic trust crises across western societies, the rise of populist politics can be understood as a failure of corporate social responsibility - the hegemonic identity of the corporate establishment during the last two decades - to engage extensive sectors of a highly polarised population. To reinstate trust among those sectors, the corporate world needs to perform a parallelism that offers symbolic resolutions to the ongoing societal tensions...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report | System map

P[03]Discourse on Trends
Assembly Toolkit for Authenticity in the Digital Fluid

Self-directed

[+]

A shift towards fluidity in the discourse of authenticity in gender, sexual, and racial identity has already established the generating of a new structure of power and knowledge. As technology continues to dilute the lines between physical and digital space and persona, a new regime of truth on authenticity and identity around fluidity between physical and digital environments will follow…

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report | System map

P[02]Radical Swissness
An Architectural Framework for the Swiss Vernacular

group8

[+]

Define and perfection a framework and methodology for the development of architectural competitions within the Swiss context (a.k.a. domesticating the creative willpower of multidisciplinar international teams to fit the swiss vernacular...

[ ]See Full Project

Location:

Genève [Switzerland]

Year:

2014-2015

Output:

Architectural competition [with several awards]

P[01]UNOG
Energetic renovation of the United Nations Palace

group8

[+]

In a demonstration of its commitment to the Strategic Heritage Plan, the Swiss Federal Council participated in the renovation of the “Palais des Nations” through a voluntary contribution of CHF 50 million. The aim of the renovation project was to bring The United Nations Palace into line with the concept of a "green building"...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Genève [Switzerland]

Year

2012 - 2014

Output

Restored building | Automated energy management system