Image: The Chthonopolis, Professor Nic Clear and Hyun Jun Park, 2017
We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice
By telling stories, science fiction asks questions about all sorts of things: consciousness and cognition, the future, extreme possibilities, nonhuman otherness, and especially the deep consequences — the powers and limitations — of both our ideologies and our technologies.
The title FUN did not start as an acronym, it started as a way of describing the working processes and the outcomes that Unit 15 create.
Unit 15 uses film and animation to generate, develop and produce architectural projects that are intended to engage with spatial discourse beyond the academic institution and outside the limited concerns of the corporate architectural complex. Having been in existence for over twenty years the practices of Unit 15 operate upon a very simple premise; we make work that we enjoy and, in many instances, it is work that we would produce regardless of whether we were working within an academic institution or not.
Unit 15 creates architectural projects ‘as’ science fiction utilising methodologies and approaches, that would be familiar to any SF author or filmmaker, within a wider social and political discourse that allows us to create narratives that help contextualise the possibilities of advanced technologies and show how those technologies might change our spatial regimes and how we as subjects might also need to change.
In 2017 – 2018 Unit 15 ran a series of projects that have imagined a number of very different futures, all of them are optimistic about the way they utilise advanced technology, create new forms of agency and develop new forms of collective and social organisation. From Surreal montages to deep space travel, from virtual manifolds to emergent assemblages and from swarm intelligences to augmented hack spaces these projects have created a series of vivid propositions for future spatial developments that move beyond the limitations corporeal space and offer the potential of a transcendent multi-dimensional hyper-architecture.
Unit 15 uses science fiction to create architectures that develop speculative Ideas that ask ‘what if’ questions and, to paraphrase Steven Shaviro, allows us to ‘imagine what we cannot know’. Through this we create radical conceptions of the future ‘enframing’ emerging technologies that aid our understanding of technological progress and in doing so provides a critique of the present. One of the unique aspects of SF is the way it allows us to ask questions about the present and in particular assumptions about the supposed inevitability of some of our current political and economic thinking and it is in these areas that the work of Unit 15 has provided a unique intellectual point of departure within architectural discourse.
Professor Nic Clear 2018