Futurity Island: Amphibian Pedagogies and Submerged Perspectives

Futurity Island Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with Indrė Umbrasaitė, Nicole L’Huillier, Tobias Putrih, Futurity Island, 2018. Commissioned by Blackwood Gallery for The Work of Wind: Air, Land, Sea. PVC pipe, sonification of the soil pollution data, Hydropsyche’s sound. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid. Courtesy Blackwood Gallery.

Sound Performance, LP Launch, and Discursive Event on the Amphibian Pedagogies and Submerged Perspectives

The MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology and the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga, are co-presenting the Futurity Island, an infrastructure for interspecies communication. A network of water/sewer pipes, Futurity Island is assembled into an artificial skeleton that channels the sounds of “nature.” As an instrument used to drain swamps, the pipe is a metaphor for human-centered ecology and environmental domination, and a prime symbol of the Anthropocene. Futurity Island appropriates the pipe to bring humans and non-humans into a more symmetrical, collaborative relationship, aimed at listening to and hearing the silenced voices of our planet.

If basic and applied science can offer a general research framework addressing the water environment and climate change, artistic research and practice can merge critical thinking with out-of-the box approaches to existing knowledge, foster experimental learning environments, and invent new strategies for engagement with the public.

Inspired by discussions on radical imagination, Indigenous thought, collective intelligence, and plural ecology, this event invites participants to discuss and develop new habits of thought for the era of environmental collapse. The Futurity Island will provide participants a space to speculate on interspecies ecologies and probe the usefulness of the concept “sympoiesis” toward imagining and working together in radical inter-disciplinarity toward desirable futures.


Schedule + Program Sessions:


7 — 8pm
Walker Memorial — West Lawn

Sadada Jackson (Nipmuc), Harvard Divinity School, MTS ’19 — Opening land acknowledgement
Nicole L’Huillier (Chile), MIT Media Lab — Performance, The Amphibian Song
Erin Genia (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), MIT ACT’19 — Performance, Earthling



NOON — 5:30pm
Discursive Event
ACT Cube
20 Ames Street,
Lower Level, E15-001


12:00-12:30pmReception — Wiesner Building (E15), Lower Level


12:30-2pm Panel 1 The Work of Wind: Air, Land, Sea

Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, artists and researchers at MIT ACT
Christine Shaw, Director/Curator, Blackwood Gallery and Assistant Professor, Visual Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga
Etienne Turpin, Philosopher based in Berlin (videotaped presentation)
Discussants: Nicole L’Huillier (MIT Media Lab), Indre Umbrasaite (Die Angewandte), Tobias Putrih (MIT ACT)

Performance by Nicole L’Huillier


2:30-3:30pm Panel 2 Remote Sensing and Translating

Glorianna Davenport, Media maker, technology innovator, co-founder of MIT Media Lab and founder of Living Observatory; Brian Mayton, Research Assistant, Responsive Environments Lab, MIT Media Lab
Caroline A. Jones, Art historian, critic and Professor in the History, Theory, and Criticism section, Department of Architecture, MIT, and Director, Transmedia Storytelling Initiative

Performance by Erin Genia


4-5:30pm Panel 3 Submerged Perspectives, Extinction and Decolonial Futures

Macarena Gómez-Barris, Cultural critic and Chairperson of Social Science & Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute
Eben Kirksey, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Education, Alfred Deakin Institute, Melbourne
Respondents: Brent D. Ryan, Associate Professor of Urban Design and Planning Head, City Design and Development Group, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Lorena Bello Gomez, Visiting Lecturer, MIT Department of Architecture
Discussants:  Christine Shaw, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas



This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, the generous donors to the 2018 McDermott Award Gala, hosted by the Council for the Arts at MIT, the School of Architecture and Planning, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga, Musket Transport, Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program, and IPEX.


Futurity Island, 2018 was commissioned by Blackwood Gallery for The Work of Wind: Air, Land, Sea, curated by Christine Shaw.






  • walker memorial - west lawn (sep 6) and act cube (sep 7)
    Futurity Island Installation and Opening Event (Sep 6)
    Walker Memorial — West Lawn

    Discursive Event (Sep 7)
    ACT Cube
    20 Ames Street
    Cambridge, MA
    Lower Level, E15-001


  • cost:
    Free and Open to the Public

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