Project title: ‘The Radical Futures Club for the Reorganization of Matter’
Candidates: Julia Morrissey, Julie Barfod, Linda Figuereido
Assessors: Bernice Donszelmann
Bjørn Otto Braaten
BAS spring 2020
Feedback from assessors
Julia, Julie and Linda made an extremely rich presentation of the project, communicating very clearly its different layers, its complexity and the very experimental nature of the approach taken here. Insofar as the project itself did not entail a clear linear progression from conception to conclusion but, rather, involved multiple layers and trajectories, the fundamentally complex character of the project was represented with great clarity and is supplemented especially well by an extensive and very impressive website.
While the aims of the project clearly had to adapt to the COVID situation and the scale of its activist ambitions were tempered and adjusted to a more domestic scale, this did not, however, impede its scope and depth. The structure of the ‘conference’ was well pitched in its modest scale and non-hierarchical, humorous approach and the low-tech quality of the documentation reflected this very well. The range of material experimentation is very impressive.
This is a playful, anarchic and unabashedly odd project. It’s investigation of the relation between food ‘construction’ and architectural construction and its refusal to hierarchise matter is idiosyncratic, liberating and, of course, impractical. However, practicality is clearly not a criteria in this case. At its core the project is keyed into contemporary ecological thinking which solicits and demands the imagination of radically different futures than may be currently thinkable. The Radical Futures Club embraces this with humour and abandon.
The project is very well grounded in current theoretical debates and the three social anthropology essays are very good. The division of labour in terms of subject matter (activism and space-making, food as an agent of change and the idea of ‘vibrant time’) is notable in terms of the way all three have fed into the project. The approach here is simultaneously very materially concrete in its intensive experimentation, activist in attitude as well as being highly philosophical and abstract in its linking of matter as an open potentiality to the idea of ‘vibrant time’. Together, these dimensions make for a rich and surprising combination. As a joint project conducted between three students, the Radical Futures Club is an admirable demonstration of the potentials of collaboration.
The relation to matter through the whole of the project is notably visceral. At a key point in the presentation, the students discussed the pulverization of matter from an abandoned building and described it as ‘just too disgusting’ to proceed. While the project’s methods were generally conducted in a playful and lighthearted manner, this point raised the issue of how pulverizing material and making it inhalable also has the capacity to make it more dangerous to the human body.
The question of the relevance of the experiments conducted in this project to building structures is an open one: one simply can’t build with jelly! The scale dealt with is quite individual and the structure soft. The methods developed via the pulverizing process invariably results in a ‘pile of things’. Are there others way to recombine rather than matter plus glue based material? It is also open to question why edible food did not play more of a role in the project given the blurring of the boundaries between food and architecture.
There could as well have been a more explicit articulation of the value of what is being undertaken through the Radical Futures Club project. Is this an intervention in thought as a rethinking of matter? In the practice of architecture? In the practice of daily life? Or all three? Consideration of this question could impact on the kinds of interventions that have taken place or may do in the future.
As a whole, however, this is an unusual, visceral and wonderfully imaginative project. It is exceptionally well sustained across its breadth of research, activities and experimentation and attains a very precise balance between rigor and lightness.