The Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) and the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga, are co-presenting the Futurity Island, an infrastructure for interspecies communication and an open space for learning. Built on the legacy of pioneering work by the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), an island by the river is an urgent call for cross disciplinary research and a learning platform aimed at developing creative solutions for the environment impacted by the changing climate and introducing the public to the challenges and opportunities of future life on and with the water. 

In Futurity Island, a network of pipes becomes an artificial skeleton that channels the sounds of ìnature.î As the 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 nonhumans into a more symmetrical, collaborative relationship, aimed at listening to and hearing the silenced voices of our planet.

The Futurity Islandís historical point of reference is the 1970s CAVS Charles River Project ñ exploratory research on the possibility of a river-bound facility for riparian cultural production, which produced multiple ideas on engaging the river, connecting it to the campus and addressing environmental concerns.

Inspired by discussions on radical imagination, Indigenous thought, collective intelligence, and plural ecology, this installation and the associated discursive 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 will probe the usefulness of the concept, ìsympoiesis,î toward imagining and working together in radical inter-disciplinarity toward desirable futures.

With a series of events, soundscapes, detours, and time- and site-specific interventions performed and installed across the city of Venice, the investigation of swamp resonates with both the planetary crisis and Veniceís own permeable conditions. ìDonít drain the swampî is todayís imperative for architecture that wants to decolonize and to reinvent itself as a discipline calling to engage with its own history, modernity, pedagogy, and future. The swamp is uncanny to architecture, thus the Swamp School is a site to learn how to change habits of thought and adapt to the radically changing environments.

Concept: Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas (MIT ACT), Co-organized with Christine Shaw (UTM)

Sound: Nicole L’Huillier (MIT Media Lab)

Architecture: Indrė Umbrasaitė (Die Angewandte)

In collaboration with Tobias Putrih (MIT ACT).

Land acknowledgement: Sadada Jackson (Nipmuc), Harvard Divinity School, MTS ’19;

Performance: Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate), SMACT ’19

With participation by MIT faculty, students, and guests

See video footage of the “Futurity Island Swamp on the Move”: Futurity Island Swamp on the Move!

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.