Field Test 01: Bipedal Tidal Planes


installation, designphilly 2017 kickoff Party

Indeterminate Landscape: (n) A surface in flux which accepts limited external influence by prescribed gestures and whose final image is indiscernible prior to the end of its state of instability.

It is expected that by 2100 the City of Philadelphia and its western and northern suburbs will see a population swell of around 2,000,000 transient and permanent inhabitants as entire communities flee flooding New Jersey coasts. This bipedal high tide may settle in within the metro as climate refugees seek new lives within the nearby city, an incredibly popular and familiar landscape. As the city floods, the surrounding landscape will see a population climb as well. The western and northern suburbs will become a bipedal tidal plane as population dispersal slows beyond the city. Here climate refugees may seek lives near relatives or in response to niche labor endeavors.  Architects will be forced to act on opportunities of the flooded coast, and in response to possible devastation.  

The installation acts as a catalyst for investigating Indeterminate Landscapes. Three topographical plates are installed within a trough under an acrylic case:

Plate 01: Shore View – New Jersey and the Damaged Coast

Plate 02: Bipedal High Tide – Philadelphia and the Flood of Climate Refugees

Plate 03: Bipdeal Tidal Planes – The Northern and Western Limits of the Human Flood

The three plates are milled in response to major topographical and human modified features. They are delicate marks on the earth. All three plates are being continuously covered in colored sand, fed by the observer into a hopper above the topographies. As the sand falls the observer may divert the sand flow with a manually operated propeller which scatters the sand over the surface. The observer has a limited influence on the topography over the course of the night. As the sand spills they may divert the sands trajectory, but the sand will inevitably cover the surface.

Opportunities arise in the mixture of sands, choices to disperse the sand or allow it to densely cover features, and the ability to control the quantity of the sand. These predictable actions will unpredictably modify the landscape by forcing the observer to follow a strict set of rules guiding the gradual modification.

Wandering about the installation, the landscape will change from one moment to the next, though the actions through which the modifications are made are prescribed, the consequences of the combinations of the actions are indiscernible until the physical act is complete.

August 2017: Design, fabrication + installation at DesignPhilly's 2017 Kickoff Party

photography: Oskar Kalinowski