Dr Gabriele Oropallo
In the spring of 2020, as commercial air traffic ground to a halt and cities worldwide entered lockdown, images of wildlife reclaiming spaces left vacant started appearing in mass and social media. The extent and duration of these visits was limited in time. Elsewhere, like in the vast exclusion zone that surrounds the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine since disaster struck in 1986, passive rewilding is happening on a larger scale. Over the last two decades, active rewilding, in opposition to ecological conservation or restoration, has been particularly debated in environmentalist discourse. Rewilding as an objective, a practice, or an attitude, has now entered the public conversation at large (Monbiot, 2014) and art, architecture and design practice in the specific.
In this dissertation studio, we will examine some of the many ways in which art, architecture and design connect to the discourse on rewilding. Most authors agree on a definition of wilderness that explains the term 'wild' as 'self-willed' (Pettorelli et al., 2019). Wilderness is an undomesticated, untamed space beyond human control. Likewise, legislation in Europe and North America contrasts wilderness with the areas where human dominate the landscape, and defines it as areas where people are visitors and do not remain. There will be neither human habitation, nor permanent improvements, and the imprint of human intervention should be minimised or removed. The key objective is to retract the ambition to control and thus let self-will nature emerge and develop.
In nineteenth-century rural France, landscape painters petitioned the emperor to stop industrial-scale deforestation that deprived them of subject matter. At the very modernist Bauhaus school in 1920s Germany, teachers taught drawing using fishtanks and empty shells. In 1970s North America, architecture students abandoned the university to build on open land with found materials. In contemporary Brazil, designers abandon the metropolises to travel deep in the Amazon forest and document artefacts made by human and non-human species.
Examples of rewilding in art, architecture and design include forms of practice that aim to make human habitation temporary, and human activity traceless. They also include forms of practice conceived as to to eschew total control and preserve an element of unpredictability. The cabinet-maker David Pye described woodwork as 'workmanship of risk' because of the unpredictability of the material, which required continuous negotiation. They also includes forms of making in which distances between maker, processes and materials are flattened, such as in the videos uploaded to the Primitive Technology YouTube channel.
The remit of this dissertation studio is inclusive. You will be introduced to concepts and methods that can be applied to most research subjects. Your tutor will work with you to find a viable angle for your research.
- Bandoni, Andrea. Objects of the Forest: Exploring the Amazon through Designer's Eyes. Andrea Bandoni, São Paulo, 2012.
- Carver, Steve. ‘Rewilding through Land Abandonment.’ Rewilding, edited by Nathalie Pettorelli et al., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, pp. 99–122.
- Coccia, Emanuele. The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2019.
- Dartnell, Lewis. The Knowledge: How to Rebuild the World from Scratch. The Penguin Press, New York, 2014.
- Hall, Marcus. ‘The High Art of Rewilding: Lessons from Curating Earth Art.’ Rewilding, edited by Nathalie Pettorelli et al., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, pp. 201–221.
- Hildyard, Daisy, The Second Body. Fitzcarraldo Editions, London, 2017.
- Fallan, Kjetil. The Culture of Nature in the History of Design. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, 2019.
- Garford, Lisa. Green Utopias: Environmental Hope Before and After Nature. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2018.
- Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2017.
- Monbiot, George. Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2014.
- Owens, Marcus, and Jennifer Wolch. ‘Rewilding Cities.’ Rewilding, edited by Nathalie Pettorelli et al., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, pp. 280–302.
- Scott, Felicity D. ‘Code Wars.’ Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency, Zone Books, New York, 2016.
- Ward, Kim. ‘For Wilderness or Wildness? Decolonising Rewilding.’ Rewilding, edited by Nathalie Pettorelli et al., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, pp. 34–54.
Studio image: Anping Tree House, Tainan, Taiwan. Photo by Malcolm Koo, 2014. Banner: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019
Dissertation Studios 2020–21
Studio 01: Another Place
Out of a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective, emerges another place. It is neither new, nor fixed in time, but it has remained unexplored, scarcely documented – piles of lime and useless cicadas.
Studio 02: Feminist Approaches
The Dissertation Studio 02 seminar series will address feminist practices within architecture, history and activism.
Studio 03: Narrative and Storytelling
This studio focuses on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We will particularly consider how narrative intersects with, and informs, identity.
Studio 04: The Conquest of Joy
This studio encourages dialogues around the cultural production at a time when narratives founded on certainty have ceased to make sense.
Studio 05: This is my truth; show me yours: Post-truth, propaganda and bulls**t
This studio will look at the emergence of the notion of "post truth" and explore links between other ideas around propaganda and Harry Frankfurt’s argument about "bulls**t". We will consider the usefulness of these ideas, and how they can be explored in creative practice.
Studio 06: The Practice of Space – Writing Atmospheres in Art and Architecture
Nico de Oliveira
Dissertation Studio 06 looks at space as practice, since each location is a mutable entity framed as a moment in time, populated by individuals and shaped by their actions as artists, musicians, curators, designers, architects, writers and spectators.
Studio 07: Meaningful Work
This studio will consider the value of making in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 08: Speak, Form.
Dissertation Studio 8 asks: How is it that form might speak? This studio looks at the power of rhetoric, of the medium as message, of the figure as discourse.
Studio 09: Thinking with Ruins
This studio pays heed to these cultural forms and persuasions but asks, how might we productively think with ruins in the present?
Studio 10: Sport and Aesthetics
Dissertation Studio 10 will examine the concept of aesthetics as applied within that most everyday activity: sport.
Studio 11: Le Marteau Sans Maître (The Hammer without a Master)
In a networked world where knowledge and information seems to be accessible everywhere and in any form; and where people in distant places appear to speak to us in real time from our computer screens, Studio 11 tries to imagine an ‘immediate’ and performative experience of the world – outside language and not shaped by our intellect and will.
Studio 12: Material Culture and Transcultural Exchanges
Dissertation Studio 12 is concerned with the increasing complexity of the material and symbolic flows of fashion, textile, artefact and commodity.
Studio 13: B(read)
Focussing on two of life’s key ingredients, reading and bread, this Dissertation Studio offers sessions that will encourage you to experience and experiment with both.
Studio 14: Rewilding
In this Dissertation Studio, we will examine some of the many ways in which art, architecture, and design connect to the discourse on rewilding.
Studio 15: “If I stay silent nothing will change”: Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)
This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, culture, politics, identity, representation, activism, social media, and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices, including photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art, and theatre.
Studio 16: A Material World
This Dissertation Studio will be based on the processes that are intrinsic to the design and making of textiles, however it will also be looking at the materiality of these textiles as objects.
Studio 17: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.
Studio 18: Modes of Human Exchange (Being-with and without)
This studio considers the current (exceptional) conditions of human exchange in a broader historical/social context, highlighting how facial/bodily gestures and the decorum of their physical/ambient surroundings have provided essential clues to the way we respond to, and interact with, the ‘other’.