Monday, November 6, 2017

From necrotopias to thalasso(to)pias: designing spatial (dis)continuities in Calatrava’s Museum of Tomorrow

Conference Presentation

2-5 Nov 2017, Lancaster

From necrotopias to thalassopias: designing spatial (dis)continuities in Calatrava’s Museum of Tomorrow


The Museum of Tomorrow is a neo-futurist architectural creation and an educational-touristic landmark erected in an abandoned and crime-infested port (Porto Maravilha) of Rio de Janeiro before Rio 2016. Situated in a heritage site that brings together the city’s past and future legacies, it was intended as a problematisation of humanity’s survival in the context of climate change and unrestrained capitalist development. Its principal conception by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and completion with audio-visual installations by an international artistic contingent, including American artists and Brazilian filmmaker and ceremonial director Fernando Meirelles, showcase the complexities of global imaginaries of mobility.

As a multi-scalar initiative featuring local, state and international partners, the Museum showcases the ways concerns over ecosystemic erosion are addressed in performative/artistic ways. I argue that its artistic/architectural creators call into being a dual utopic method: as an artistic practice and a form of recreation of life from death. First, I speculate how, by enrooting the Museum in Rio’s built maritime environment, local heritage conservation and spatialized social inequalities, they enact a ‘choreotopographic tour’, a ritualistic journey through cultural sites for global visitors. Second, I examine how its installations produce dark travel through the mobilisation of technology: a haphazard esoteric audio-visual journey that concludes with a potential return to humanity’s roots, Nature. Combining embodied (walking around the Museum’s heritage environs) and cognitive mobilities (speculating humanity/earth’s end and potential ‘beginnings’ in the Museum’s interior, through its audio-visual installations/artefacts), the Museum produces utopian meta-movement. With industrial modernism as its core, this meta-movement compels visitors to oscillate physically, emotionally and cognitively between necrotopic scenarios (environmental erosion, slum pollution, Brazil’s submerged slave heritage) and thalasso(to)pic[1] fluidity (tourism, the possibility to attain good life, hope).

[1] From Greek thalassa=sea and topos=place rooted in heritage.

No comments:

Post a Comment