The disaster club

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We want to make decision and move on. Move on until we realize the decision was the wrong one. Then we doubt again and try to get on top of things by taking another decision,

What if we wouldn’t take any decision? What if we stay inactive?

Humans are always looking for answers, and therefor into the process of making choice. When something has no answer, it is a non-sense, madness, or even chaos.

What happen to us when we get caught into this moment where we are not able to make a decision? Probably some stress, feeling of not being able to handle the situation correctly. How do we accept this state and get to tolerate uncertainty?


When is the next pandemic coming?

When is the Arctic melting enough so we can see it from here?

In search for our mythology

After visiting the Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow, I couldn’t stop wondering: how does a country build its own mythology, almost from scratch, letting aside the old beliefs and religions, to put all faith in science and space exploration?

IMG_8777.jpg(picture from the Museum of Cosmonautics – May 2019)

The soviet cosmonaut is a modern hero, and has replaced the angel and Christian symbols since the 1930s on the Christmas tree as the communist regime didn’t accept any religion, as the star of Bethlehem was replaced by the red star on top of the tree. Proudly, people would decorate their home in hommage of the men and women elevating the country and eventually making it into space. The 1960s and 1970s during the cold war were the height for Soviet-era space related ornaments. The codes changed, but they kept the traditional tree. 

soviet on a pin
(picture of a cosmonaut Christmas tree ornament)

In 1959, when soviet leader Khrushchev visited a corn farm in Iowa, he was  so impressed by the production of corn that he brought home some knowledge from the collective farms he has seen to rebuilt farming communities. Then, the corncob became a symbol of the soviet economy trying to reconstruct itself. Naturally, it also became a Christmas tree ornement. The corncob and other symbol of agriculture are also visible on building ornaments, such as the pavilion of agriculture in the All Russian gigantic exhibition center, nearby the Museum of Cosmonautics.

IMG_8867(detail of a facade in the All Russian exhibition center, pavilion of agriculture – May 2019)

One could help but wonder: is it precisely when a society is heading towards the uncertain that it needs to build up a new form of belief? Do we need to be reassured that everything is alright by a selection of imagery and visual content?

1024px-The_Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent(The Ladder of Divine Ascent icon showing monks ascending to Jesus in Heaven, top right. 12th century, Saint Catherine’s Monastery)

We are in an era where images are the center point of our culture. We document, edit, share, like visual content all day long. Like the orthodox icons, I wish to gather visuals from our time that we all believe in, consciously or not, and create a contemporary icon. This icon could be fixed on a pole into the water, and visible with binocular from the window of the studio space at Färgfabriken.

(View out from Perrotin’s gallery in Paris. The building in front as a strange religious icon on its facade – May 2019)

What is this religious image on that old building? Is it here to protect the tenants somehow from bad spirits? Why is it hard to see, and placed so high? I still wonder…Good that I had my phone to zoom in.

mapping the empty spaces

via a series of rooms


In 2018, American company iRobot presented its latest Roomba model: a vacuum cleaner that is able to create a map of your home as it is cleaning it.

As a form of surveying the domestic space, the method used by the Roomba sensors is more similar to how the NASA robots are exploring and documenting the surface of Mars than the way in which architecture has been traditionally measured in a more linear manner. The resulting plans, visible to the users via an especially made app, do not show the construction of its architecture or its rooms clearly defined, but rather the empty floor space, walls and furniture removed.

The announcement of this new model raised many concerns about privacy and consent. By turning on the machine, users are legally agreeing to share their home information with iRobot, which stores it securely in their own servers, accessible to authorized personnel. By linking it to the company’s app, users can connect their Roomba to smart home devices, thus granting access to the data to third-party companies.

Colin Angle, chief executive of iRobot Corp, declared: “There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared”. Stock share prices for the company have soared in the last year, prompting many to question whether the company is more interested in collecting data than dirt. And while it is too soon to know what the company can potentially do with all the information it is storing, the fact is that at some point of some cloud there is a virtual map with the floor plan layouts of millions of homes around the globe.


The newest island

The head of Tonga’s geology team says scientific data from NASA about emerging life on the country’s four year old volcanic island is hugely exciting.

The government’s considering officially naming the island as its future now appears more certain.

The island currently called Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, formed after an undersea volcano erupted in January 2015 and at first was expected to erode and disappear within months.

The Deputy Secretary for Tonga’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Taaniela Kula, told Jenny Meyer about the department’s latest journey to the island with the NASA team late last year.

Sutsey island, Iceland, created in 1963 after the irruption of a submarine volcano

The premonition bureau

The two vertical shafts of the Merthyr Vale Colliery, in the Taff River valley in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, Wales, were sunk between 1869–1875. It was one of the largest of the hundreds of mines that opened during the industrial revolution to exploit the rich South Wales coalfield.

In the early morning hours of Friday, 21 Oct 1966 there was a small slip at no. 7. The tipping gang tried to alert someone by phone but the line had been stolen. By then, however, it was already too late: around 9:25 am some 150,000 m3 of sludge and waste, supersaturated from the underground springs and several days of heavy rains, broke free and surged down Mynydd Merthyr. As the tip chargehand said “all I can tell you is it was going down at a hell of a speed in waves.” On the way down the landslide destroyed two farmhouses and at the bottom of the hill it leveled 18 terrace houses (“like a pile of dominoes coming down” said one witness). It continued across Moy Road toward the Pantglas Junior School.

Had the landslide occurred earlier the children would have been safely outside at assembly and had it occurred later they would have already left after a half-day for mid-term break. But instead at 9:25am the children were just returning to their classrooms.

Visibility that morning was so poor that no one could see up Myndd Merthyr, but as the children said, they could hear the landslide – as one teacher recalled it was a “terrible noise like a jet plane and I was afraid it was going to fall on the school.” Almost instantly some 40,000 m3 of sludge enveloped the school, destroying the building and burying the north classrooms under a 30 ft pile of slurry and debris.

And then there was absolute silence and “in that silence you couldn’t hear a bird or a child.”

Quickly, John Barker, a forty-two-year-old psychiatrist with a keen interest in esoteric mental conditions and known  for his work on Munchausen syndrom, went to the devastated city.

In the hours that he spent in Aberfan, Barker was struck by “several strange and pathetic incidents” connected with the coal slip. Bereaved families spoke of dreams and portents. On the eve of the disaster, an eight-year-old boy named Paul Davies had drawn massed figures digging in the hillside under the words “the end.” Davies died in the school.

He started to collect fore-bonding visions from the survivors.

In January 1967, he launched a call for premonitions all around the country. Barker received seventy-six replies to his Aberfan appeal. Two nights before the disaster, a sixty-three-year-old man from Bacup, in Lancashire, had dreamed that he was trying to buy a book. He faced a large machine with buttons, which he thought might be a computer. White letters spelled “aberfan” on the screen, a word he had not heard before. In Plymouth, the evening before the coal slide, a woman had a vision at a Spiritualist meeting. She told six witnesses that she saw a schoolhouse, a Welsh miner, and “an avalanche of coal hurtling down a mountainside” toward a boy with long bangs. Within minutes of the disaster, a thirty-year-old film technician from Middlesex jumped up from her chair complaining of an earthy, decaying smell, which she recognized as that of death.

In the following weeks after the experiment, he opened a premonitions bureau together with the help of the Evening Standard. For a year, readers would be invited to send in their dreams and forebodings, which would be compared with actual events.

In theory, the Premonitions Bureau could be a repository for the nation’s dreams and visions—“mass premonitions,” Barker later called them—and become an early-warning system. “Ideally the system would need to be linked with a computer,” he wrote. “With practice, it should be possible to detect patterns or peaks which might even suggest the nature and possible date, time and place of a disaster.”

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