This is a 40×40 inch poster for my exhibit with all the digital and physical prototypes to go along with it. This gives a summary of the kind of speculative world we are looking at and how some inventions came about towards the turn of the century.

A-tox-sphere is a speculative environment where the earth is depleted of oxygen, filled with toxic air from pollution, the human race has diminished, thereby still leaving plenty of energy resource – an ironical state of affairs, insufficient to sustain the human race. The work, in essence, is a critical design of human existence and it’s desire for higher standards of living.

This is a collection of physical and digital prototypes. A-tox-sphere was my second manifestation of the Ideas in Form project series. The Ideas in Form Project is one where I take, one single fixed idea with fixed criteria, goal and design statement and express it in various forms – with medium to high fidelity prototypes.

Discipline: Speculative Design and Prototyping
Timeline: Developed over recurring intervals from February-April 2018
Technology: Office and craft supplies, Adobe Suite, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, 3D Modelling and Printing
Association: Parsons School of Design, Speculative Design

 

Design Statement

How can we imagine a world, filled with toxic air from pollution over the years, with scarce oxygen and human population? How can we explore as many avenues that would represent and impact the human being of this future?

 

Building the World

Collaborated with Haiyuan Jiang on conceptualizing this world.

We first explored methods on defining a world. We tried enhancing current underestimated variables in the present-day earth, like say, the intelligence of other species, would cats and dogs rule the world someday? Another way around, we thought what if we could remove variables like what if we lived without oxygen or gravity?

How do we take these variables and extend it over time to imagine that world? We followed the context vs time graph and the a-tox-sphere exists at the point shown below.

Since Hannah (Haiyuan) and I were from China and India respectively, we explored our own home countries, and the common factor was the severe air pollution in our capital cities.

Images from ‘Indus Dictum’ and ‘New Delhi Times’

Therefore, we used the concept of how energy usage and consumption has affected the world and we plotted the Futures Wheel accordingly.

“The Lorax” (2012) and “After Earth” (2013)

We the help of the above futures wheel, mind map and precedents, generated the storyboard. Storyboarding helped us realize the human being’s daily life in this world, and generated the final narrative, as shown above, to get a sense of the world we are exploring.

 

Timeline

From the above research and prototyping, it helped me establish the timeline for this world to help generate and build other artifacts to realize this world better. Here are some of the postulates and ideas:

  • O2 is generated, stored and supplied
  • O2 is free – to ensure universal human rights
  • Right to Air is guaranteed
  • Everyone prefers to be indoors with centralized O2
  • Buildings generate O2 and pump them from the basement
  • O2, indoor-space, crops are scarce.
  • Indoor space is full of plants to help generate more natural oxygen.
  • Masks and O2 stations are vital for survival.
  • Only the rich can afford cars and travel-capsules
  • Walking and talking is consciously inhibited
  • Sex, sports, animals, will be a luxury and regulated
  • Big companies will compete for better masks and pure-air vehicles

This has led to a world of taller buildings, clustered together more than ever, with small circular windows and large circle decks near the roofs, to prevent contamination of the rest of the building, if any accident had to happen.

 

Breathers

Modeled on a rigid plastic physical prototype and a concept interface.

A face mask that is the bare-essential to live in the a-tox-sphere world, outdoors. While the indoors are insulated from the toxic air, humans want to spend time outdoors. A walk, a drive, a road-trip are highly desireable urges. It stands as a symbol of status, wealth and eventually equality, as per the speculated timeline.

 

ePost (emotional-Post)

Physical prototype and video to demonstrate affordances.

With postal service extinct, humans now crave for nostalgic emotions, want to bring back memories. ePost or emotional-Post is a WiFi enabled Internet communication device that forcefully contains extinct affordances – like to tear open a letter, wait for a reply, the feeling of anticipation, surprise, regret – to realize the value of these emotions over instant messaging, instant accept or delete.

 

V. R. P. (VR Past)

Illustration and Sketch with a low-fidelity prototype.

VRP’s are an advanced version of ‘Breathers’ – a critical design to symbolically represent the advancement of technology that has led humans to resemble their past uncivilized selves, apes. This is a symbolic gadget that encompasses the human needs of emotional nostalgia, vital breathing, navigation and an escape from the toxic reality by virtually mapping the old, more natural, inhabitable world.

 

Table-To-Table

Website of a company and sample images of a product.

Table-to-table enables individuals, to grow their own nutrient-rich vegetables using nutrient liquid, in the comfort of your home, free from toxic soil, making you trust your food. Using CRISPR technology, the Cas9 protein is genetically modified, by adding keratin, that allows your food to be delivered pre-sliced or diced. Upon breaking the skin, our engineered gene strand makes the vegetable, ready to cook.

 

Hover Globe

3D printed physical prototype and sketch.

This is the basic and luxurious mode of vehicular transportation in this world. It’s a symbol of wealth, status and ‘staying afloat’ than that of equality. The name also signifies that this planet was ‘our globe’, but now humans are just drifting in them. The virtual reality technology here is synonymous with the V. R. P. This is solar-powered and contributes to recycling the toxic air.

The Hover Globe is a mode of transport that docks on the circular top floors of the buildings in this world and opens into the building when the fit into the circular door is airtight. This opens into a room that is filled with green creepers, because as we saw from Table-to-Table, here people grow and prefer to grow the most possible vegetation in their homes, otherwise it turns out expensive. The Hover Globe uses the same technology as the VRP’s and hence the circular screens around the globe, make the driver feel in a world that isn’t so depressing or destroyed, and brings them back all the nostalgic memories, with precise virtual navigation.

All these go in a round circle and are inter-related with the liquid nutrient or the oxygen gel. Please find the slide deck here.

To help convey my idea better and also to develop this idea, I chose the form of a poster. While paper posters or anything paper are barely present in the a-tox-sphere, I used a 40×40 inch poster to use a large canvas as a banner that would be placed in the showrooms, after the advertisement and launch of the HoverGlobe. This would serve as an instruction manual, since this vehicle is something new, and also as an attractor to get people to buy/use them. Since this is a luxury product, this would be used by mostly the rich and few. [Below is the first prototype banner for the Hover Globe].

Research Links

  1. Delhi and Beijing – Capitals of worlds most populous countries are now unbreathable
  2. An increasing role for Nuclear Energy and the harnessing of nuclear resources available – How the futures wheel was generated and assumed for this project. The fall and rise of nuclear powerOil companies are lobbying against it that is politicizing the energy debate.
  3. How Global Warming will shape up the earth until 2100 AD ‘by the turn of this century’
  4. Why will windows are doors change to round from square? Because any rectangle has corners and it may lead to cracks, which is not affordable in a world with toxic-air.
  5. Precedents for the Liquid Nutrient Oxygen Gel
  6. Inspiration and Precedent for Table-to-Table
  7. Hover Globe