Burton Nitta: ISOCULTURE event

After finally parting ways with the lovely folks at SIbley Grove, I feel a separate post is needed to properly reflect on what this larger-than-anticipated opportunity has meant to me and what I have learned.

However, I am happy to say that tomorrow I am starting a brief new venture, helping out Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta. Blizzards permitting, I shall help chronicle the results of a workshop and series of conceptual experiments focussing on a future city environment, self-sufficiency and harmony between science and design.

Exhibitions | Design an ISOCULTURE

Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta
6 March – 26 May
Daily 12noon -9pm

Imagine a city of the future isolated from the wider environment where humans have become self-sufficient. Food, energy, medicine is all derived from human origin and man-made biological systems. Outside of the Isoculture city the environment has become a ‘no-go’ land to help it recover from widespread human impact. In terms of their impact on the planet, humans have disappeared.

Watermans is pleased to present ISOCULTURE by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, our major gallery project for 2013 that redesigns the city as a closed system where humans are entirely self-sustaining.

Dates: 6 March – 26 May 2013

The creative investigation prepares inhabitants of the city to live in isolation from the wider environment. We consider how new science and technology could prepare us to live in hostile environments or travel on long space missions.

Project Participation: We are inviting interested local retired residents and professionals to take part in the project. We are going to transform the gallery space into the Isoculture laboratory where the artists and the group of participants will meet weekly to conduct experiments and plan the future of the culture.

The artists and participants will be involved in city safaris, open workshops, discussions with experts as well as making sessions and a final display of the research.The participatory sessions will be taking place once a week on Wednesday afternoons from 6th March to end of April.
If you are interested in taking part in the participatory sessions please contact Irini Papadimitriou, irini@watermans.org.uk
Discussions with experts:
During these sessions we will be discussing issues such as how science and technology could prepare us to live in hostile environments or travel on long space missions, isolation and how humans can cope in confined environments, design for isolating humans and for living in Space, recycling human waste etc.
Dates: Wednesday 20 March, Wednesday 3 April, Wednesday 10 April – please visit the website for times and updates.
Open Studio & networking events: The Isoculture gallery programme will include open studio & networking events (dates TBC) bringing together artists, designers, technologists, engineers, students & researchers to network, discuss and share ideas and work relevant to the issues raised by Isoculture.
If you are interested to take part please contact IriniPapadimitriou, irini@watermans.org.uk.

The Isoculture project embraces future science & technology and prompts changes to our self-perception to redesign our humanworld. And by artificially recreating and updating the natural world, we understand and value our current relationship within the ecosystem on profound new levels. Ultimately, underpinning the project is the question of whether it’s possible for humans to live in isolation. Can we live independently to the wider ecosystem, build a self-sustaining man-made environment, what would the experience of living in this city-scale experiment be like? How will the city, its societal systems and human inhabitants be transformed?

The Isoculture gallery programme will include object making demonstrations, discussions, open studio sessions as well as talks & Google Hangouts with experts in isolated environments, geoengineering, nano and biotechnology, social science, environmental issues and more.

Please visit the Isoculture website:http://www.burtonnitta.co.uk/isoculture/

Isoculture is a collaborative project by Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta www.afteragri.co.uk/index.html )

Michael Burton
Michael works on the edge of speculative design, arts, and as a researcher. He creates objects, images and films as insights into richly imagined scenarios exploring the choices we face in our evolution as a species and in redesigning life itself. Michael exhibits and presents internationally, most notably including work shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on tour at various galleries in Australia and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art. He leads a collaborative practice, working with organisations and individuals including scientists, performers, choreographers, designers and architects.www.michael-burton.co.uk

Michiko Nitta
Michiko is a multimedia designer graduated from the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. She has subsequently exhibited her work in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt in Berlin and the V&A in London. Michiko has a number of publications to her name, spoken at conferences in the UK, US and China, currently working as a designer for artistic & commercial projects. A key theme that underlies her work is the relationship between nature and humans, often taking extreme vantage on how humans can change their perception to live symbiotically with the nature.www.michikonitta.co.uk

Anybody who knows the root of my Third Year obsessions, will know I have since been very interested in adaptation, and how humans will evolve to cope with changes in their environment and consequent social circumstances. I remember thinking during my interview (once we had found each other amid a crowded South Bank cafe!) how for once in perhaps the history of interviews, I could genuinely say that I  was really very interested in their work and had spent the last year thinking about similar ideas!
Hopefully I shall have time to share a handful of videos and photography that I capture during this event, but if you don’t hear from me for a while again… assume I’m still trundling up and down the trainlines.

From the Watermans Gallery website:  Watermans – Design an ISOCULTURE.


Tweet ping-ing

“Data, data, data! I cannot make bricks without clay!”

If I had to, I could sit and watch these figures roll over all day.

A lovely find through a retweet by the folks on the Eye Magazine Twitter feed, surely making its way around the blogosphere as I type.


The pictograms of the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014 | Bloggokin.it

Having been released in the latter half of last year, I’m almost disappointed to say that I completely missed the big reveal for the graphic accompaniments to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

But what a tasty surprise to find while cruising design blogs! I found them here but I’m sure there are plenty of blog entries out there, with comments of the good, bad and ugly.

Continue reading

Eye Magazine | Opinion | Understand, visualise, survive

Definitely an interesting read (if a little outdated, first appearing in 2010) over my morning coffee. I’d love to read an up-to-date edition/response on a similar vein:

Max Gadney argues that information design should be a compulsory part of every graphic design course

Eye Magazine | Opinion | Understand, visualise, survive.

Reflecting on the work at my graduation show that attracted the most attention by professionals and visitors alike, it is little wonder that this article hasn’t resurfaced sooner. Personally, I would say that a project demanding sharp understanding of the actual matter at hand is far more beneficial than regurgitating research into style.

So many of the projects I undertook and was surrounded by in the classroom, had undefined solutions and parameters. While I understand this may have been necessary for students to find our own ways of working and directions, within a flexible frame, I can say wholeheartedly that there are times I would have appreciated “a steer, not more ‘self-direction’ ” when I was bogged down in how exactly to demonstrate my understanding- a poster set, leaflets, balloon drops, smoke signals, paper planes etc.

It took a very long time for me to ignore the anxiety that arose when I did not have an fixed end product in my mind, and sometimes wonder whether this merely pandered to the fine artist in me. I appreciate that having no fixed target can be beneficial to creativity and will often lead to unexpected results- thinking out of the box if you will- but letting it run free seems to require a feat of self discipline that might not be available to students during their first exposure to design at that level.

I love projects that I can get my teeth stuck into, understanding the subject, how it works and what issues it connects with, so with this is mind I am setting myself a little challenge. I am now on the lookout for some data to crunch through and play with. Even if it becomes side project scribblings in a notebook to break from the monotony of placement hunting, I think it will keep me ticking over in many respects.

Dead Drop-ping

It doesn’t look like there are any of these in the UK at the moment, but I’d love to stumble across one the next time I’m in Europe.


Of course, I am bound to instantly bond with any art/design/intervention project that becomes part of the urban or city landscape, but this sounds like a fantastic idea. I don’t think I would be able to shake the wariness of other users who weren’t as philanthropic as others, but I’m sure they would be a minority! I would be so intrigued to see what I was able to pick up if I plugged in and raises the question of what I would leave behind me.

It reminds me of a higher-tech incarnation of Geocaching – which I still would very much like to do one day, and should add to my New Years wish list. Maybe this is the upgrade it has been waiting for? It would be an improvement from the widely reported trouble caused by UK based Geocaching last year!


After my past proposals for inserting bookworks into building fabrics, I wonder how long it would have taken me to reach the same conclusion as this? Watch out Kent!