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Nature 2.0
November 22nd, 2011

Nature 2.0 Installation
Summer 2011

Location: Harborfront Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

Principals in Charge: R. el-Khoury and R. Levit

Design Team: Nariman Mousavi and Zachariah Glennon

Project Team: Faisal Bashir and Irina Solop

The garden cities of the turn of the 20th century established important paradigms through which to reconcile urban life and the worlds of landscape experience. These verdant city models informed the most advanced thinking of modernist architects. Yet, the traditional garden city existed at densities much lower than those emerging in contemporary metropolises. The very fact that makes the garden city models of the past inapplicable to the present – the hyperdensity of new urban forms – makes the goals of the garden city the more desirable now. The retreat of traditional experiences of landscape from the city aggravates the tensions and stresses arising in environments increasingly consisting only of the inorganic form of building. The question of the moment is how to recuperate, under present circumstances, contact with the natural and organic world summoned by the term landscape.

We look at this question from the added perspective that the hyperdensity of the contemporary city is a good thing. Sustainable regions will have to preserve their arable lands – their landscapes – and to do so in the face of mounting population pressures they will have to either spread out or grow denser. We prefer dense – it is the more sustainable solution. For this reason we propose a new way to look at the intermingling of landscape experience and urban life.

The use of artifice, of responsive technologies, is capable of creating an environment that is mobilized in response to our presence within it. The flux of response at myriad scales creates through the artificial means of distributed responsive technologies a fabricated world whose technical ecology is parallel and similar to the organic environments of the past. Such new environments, that include mobilized buildings systems operating at mini and macro scales, moving, dispersing scent, regulating light, adjusting acoustical properties produce an environment that is a new nature, while providing the means to preserve the first nature of the world beyond the centralized and hyperdense metropolis.

Drawing on past projects in which we created environments that artificially reproduced experiences of nature, we propose an installation of a new artificial nature. In Scentscape (Workshop Gallery, Toronto) we created a simulacrum of forest and floral scents with a parametrically choreographed array of scent dispensers. In Phantom Flood (DesCours, New Orleans) we created an aqueous world with light, responsive to an individual’s movement. Scentisizer (InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, Toronto) orchestrated and performed complex fragrance accords with the help of a haptic user interface. These projects are based upon our ongoing research and experiments in building immersive and digitally augmented environments. Nature 2.0. will accordingly deploy responsive and embedded technologies to produce a new nature of visual and olfactory phenomena that demonstrate an emerging technological ecology, a new second nature, for the city of the future.