DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL  [2019-20]
 

PHD RESEARCH THROUGH FASHION DESIGN INVESTIGATION

On April 20, 2010, remote sensing satellites captured the catastrophic magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Oil Spill. An explosion tore through the DWH offshore oil rig platform, located about 80 km off the Louisiana coast. After a two day fire, the drilling rig sank on April 22, 2010, causing a massive petroleum spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Failure to contain the leakage resulted in approximately 4.9 million barrels of petroleum discharge into the sea until the well was sealed on September 19, 2010.

 

The project here is a data-driven fashion design investigation of an Earth, which captures an anthropogenic signature, a petroleum spill, in the form of a 3D printed mask. The dataset is retrieved from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite archive, charting an oil slick formation from the DWH Oil Spill event on May 17, 2010. The anthropocene presents differing scales of temporality beyond human perception. When a disaster occurs, it proceeds at different geological paces and demands different ways of conceiving and organising time.
Satellite datasets provide a synoptic view to image the anthropocene, as well as a model to design and speculate through the vast geological timescales compressed within the formation of petroleum. Fashion design becomes a capturing device, retaining signatures of anthropogenic disasters in its material form––while re-inventing the body with and also from, deep-time spatial materialities. The resulting work aims to situate fashion as a critical practice for meditating planetary thinking, an awareness of how the collective human labour affects the Earth on different scales, of which humans are intrinsically part. Designing with NASA's dataset, the project bifurcates into two explorations:

A. Data-driven design exploration presents a series of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Simulations structured upon NASA’s satellite data to generate three-dimensional morphologies, generative animations and design diagrams, for extrapolating designs of the face-mask.

B. Data-driven materialisation presents a series of ‘projection mapping’ and point cloud digital scanning experiments to design, generate and materialise a face-mask, bearing index of the petrochemical spill as material depositions.

The output binds inter-scalar values, the pixellated values of the satellite data (global) with a point cloud model of the researcher’s face (local). The collapse of scales registers anthropogenic actions (digital record of the DWH Oil Spill and the designer’s computational gestures) in the form of a digitally fabricated face mask. The design process uses agent-based simulation, CFD and reaction-diffusion system to induce a set of force fields. Such conditions exert fictional forces such as artificial gravity, turbulence and pressure, to harness unseen morphologies outside terrestrial laws.

A. DATA-DRIVEN DESIGN EXPLORATION

B. DATA-DRIVEN MATERIALISATION