The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design research studio run by Liam Young and Kate Davies that organises expeditions to the ends of the earth to witness alternative worlds, landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness. These distant landscapes are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives. In such a landscape of interwoven narratives, the studio uses film and animation to chronicle this network of hidden stories and re-imagine the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures.
The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on expeditions into the shadows cast by the contemporary city, to uncover the alternative worlds, alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness set in motion by the powerful push and pull of the city’s desires. These dislocated landscapes — the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine — are connected to our everyday lives in surprising and complicated ways. They are embedded in global systems that form a vast network of elusive tendrils, twisting threadlike over everything around us, crisscrossing the planet, connecting the mundane to the extraordinary.
Unknown Fields make provocative objects and films from this expedition work, exploring the dispersed narratives that coalesce to form a contemporary city. Their films include documentary shooting, animations and infographics, that, when screened, are typically presented in a performative fashion, with the collective’s participants commenting and lecturing live over the moving images.
Co-founded and directed by Kate Davies and Liam Young, Unknown Fields Division involved in their expeditions small companies like DJI, the market leader in easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems; but also reportage photographers, writers, designers, filmmakers and visual and media artists.
They started their expeditions in 2008 with a trip following Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands and South America, where they discovered “a precious and fragile wilderness teetering at the point of collapse, an ecology in crisis bearing the scars of a ravenous tourist economy”, and where they intervened with a project of “augmented ecology”. The following trip brought them to the Arctic Circle (Winter 2009), where they pilgrimaged to visit the glaciers before they melt and they shed a tear under the electric skies of the Aurora; but again, the camp was not only a chance for contemplation and documentation of “the last wilderness” of the Arctic Sea, but also for developing some weirdly unrelated projects focused on the materialization of immaterial digital data (Data Fossils by Tobias Jewson) and on the construction of the Internet as an artefact, as a supercomputer server-farm (Scatterbrain: A Cautionary Tale by Jack Self).
In the following years, they organized trips to the West Australian Outback (2010), to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the Baikonur Cosmodrome (2011), to the far North Alaska (2011); they went off on a reconnaissance road trip to chronicle a series of extraterrestrial encounters from the borderlands of the United States, ending at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada (2012); they headed to Madagascar to catalogue the push and pull of economy and ecology and to trace the shadows of the world’s desires across the landscapes of this treasured island (2013); they travelled, on board a mega container ship, to the manufacturing heart of Southern China (2014); they visited the Lithium Mines of Bolivia and the Atacama Desert exploring the infrastructure behind the scenes of our electric future (2015).
Each of these trips offered the chance for a variety of visionary projects that will be illustrated in the screening / lecture-performance.
More about Unknown Fields and its founders can be found here.
The partnership between Aksioma and Kino Šiška has resulted in the creation of Akcija!, a regular cycle of events that are able to generate a better awareness of topics strongly related to Aksioma’s overall programme. More: https://aksioma.org/akcija/
Tickets on sale online and at mojekarte.si outlets. The screening and performance will be in English with Slovene subtitles.
Co-production: Aksioma and Kino Šiška.