Wonderful. Especially if you need to patronise someone.

Dissertation Researching

I've been struggling with the mountain of research material that I already have and seems to be constantly published online and in magazines every other day. Last time I did a dissertation I just cranked the thing out in a solid week, but I want to try a more measured approach this time around. I've started reading each book, website and magazine, listening to each interview end-to-end and have found that extracting quotes as I go along and then putting them into a blogger with tags denoting the subject has actually been simplest. If you're struggling with the same problem, give it a go.

New Website

After months of trying and having trouble with wordpress, I've managed to get a new site up. Not powered by wordpress, but by my own volition. Explore and enjoy.

Also, this blog will be for things relevant to my work; inspiration and updates on processes.

Augmented Reality by Tellart

Yuri Suzuki - Kettle

One day I found great kettle designed by Richard Sapper. The kettles’ beautiful sound plays the notes C and D and sounds like small locomotive. Inspired by this, I made a kettle of my own. A musical kettle, which became part of the series’ re-design sound scape’. As the kettle boils it whistles your favorite tune… I want to contribute to the design of daily domestic noises: alarms, mobile phones, a doorbell; I have the opinion that not enough thought has been given to the noises they produce.


A 60 rpm (revolutions per minute) motor drives the entire mechanism. It rotates once every second. The following pulley rotates once every 5 seconds (1:5 ratio). The next rotates once every 60 seconds or 1 minute. Then 5 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, and 1 decade. The decade wheel carries the load of the large arc. The large arc rotates once every century. The final ratio between the 60 rpm motor and the large arc is approximately 1:31.6 billion.

Each wheel is marked with a black nut to highlight a position that could be tracked over time. Along the arc, 100 lines mark the divisions of each passing year. When the clock finally reaches the end of a 100 year cycle, the arc falls off its track onto the floor.

3.16 Billion Cycles is for sale as an edition of 5.

Materials:Aluminum, AC sync motor, rubber belts.
Dimensions: 46” diameter (107cm), 6” (15cm) deep, wall mouted


The Fungus System

The main hurdle facing the believability of a narrative is in it's context. Jumping in to the context requires that an audience suspends their disbelief in the concept. One of the greatest instances of this is Boilerplate.

The creators of Boilerplate constructed an entire fictional history of the robot through excelently doctored photographs and believable narrative. The questions that needed answering in relation to the use of synthetic fungi in New Mumbai were:

  • Why are the fungi being used, what is the motivation for the people using them?
  • How did they get there in the first place?
  • Who is using them, who knows how?
  • Why here, why now?

The answers can be extrapolated back from the history of New Mumbai and the imagery used.

  • The fungi are being used to provide infrastructure (electricity, water, heat) where there is none. There is none because of the rapid influx of refugees from the Third Gulf War and the Indian government being ill-equipped to deal with the near billion people that settled there in just over a decade.
  • They got there in the same way that most stolen technologies find their way to the street. Using the example of LSD, MDMA and cocaine in the 20th century we can see that a criminal element saw a niche market for their use and stole them.
    This is why the structure supporting the distribution of the fungi still relies on that criminal element.
  • The refugees are using them but the power land in the hands of refugee scientists and researchers who have the knowledge to push the research that began further. They're inspiration and drive for innovation comes not from a well funded laboratory but form a desperation to care for their friends, family and community.
  • The technology was only just getting off the ground in the richer countries, it took the drive of the residents of New Mumbai, and their particular circumstances (educated, desperate) to push it further.

Fungal Infections

The inspiration for the type of fungus used was taken primarily from 'shelf' fungi that grow on the side of trees, absorbing nutrients from them. In my story, the fungi had been adapted to grow super hard and absorb nutrients from the atmosphere, in much the same way as a coral. The project actually began with a couple of different ideas of how the fungi and the city would look together. Including an almost playground type Shanghai:

The combination of the imagery of buildings as trees that make up the forest of a city as well led to a desire to expand on the metaphor of the city as an ecosystem. In combination with the research on the environmental economies of slum cities this metaphor seemed to be a real possibility of holding grounds in reality.

Designing New Mumbai

New Mumbai is a fictional slum city, born in the aftermath of a third gulf war and just about experiencing a boom in it's growth and economy by the time we join it in 2045. The project called for a cohesive narrative that could be believable and give credence to the science I was designing. It's readily apparent that some of the world slums are the most innovative places in the terms that we might describe a pragmatic, faux-utopian society. Resources are limited and high in demand and so nothing is wasted.
The city was inspired somewhat by the ephemeral Neo Tokyo of Japanese dystopias but with less of a romantic air. The city would have the feel of being 21st century and yet old with loads of urban fungal growth around it as people adapted and changed the technology to make it more useful to the community (think of this scene from Lord Of War)

A lot of these images happened to be from Mumbai anyway. The alien nature of the place, which looks imposing and closed, as if each building is it's own community adds to the feeling. If it was based on slums that were terraced houses in East London, the suspension of disbelief required to make the mental leap to giant mushrooms might not be possible.