ANTHROTURBATION  [2018]
 

RESEARCH THROUGH FASHION DESIGN INVESTIGATION

Anthroturbation configures a design model for understanding the anthropocene. It captures humans as a geological force in transforming the topology of the Earth into a decaying mass. Anthroturbation, according to geologists Jan Zalasiewicz et al. (2014) is the subsurface excavation of Earth's subterranean reservoirs to extract crude oil, rare minerals and other resources through mine fields, boreholes and tunnels. Each action is a topological disturbance of the terrestrial fabric, whose ramifications alters the Earth's stratigraphic layers from within. Operating as a planetary-scale enterprise, such actions transform the Earth into an unknown territory, replete with anomalous morphologies without previous precedent in the planet's geological history. The project here captures this phenomena through simulating decay using computational design and digital fabrication strategies into a constellation of outputs, namely, diagrammatic explorations, generative animations, material experiments and a 3D printed face mask. Rather than thinking of decay as a biological process of decomposition, I explore it from philosopher Reza Negarestani's (2008: 185) perspective as something that 'builds without creation'. It is a subtractive building process by exposing the interiority of a form. Anthroturbation is an act of decay, as it constantly modifies existing older sediments beneath Earth and therefore it exteriorises the Earth's interiority into ever shifting forms.

The design process uses agent based simulation to compute swarm behaviour, where agents accrete together as collective human movements manipulating the Earth into a decaying mass. The 3D printed face mask is the culmination of a computationally and materially driven anthroturbation. It harnesses the act of decay in which the 3D printer's material deposition was simultaneously disintegrating the computed geometry from within, to the extent of blurring its boundaries between inside and outside. Visualisations and time lapse animation captured in diagrams track the evolution of agents and aids decision making, reflection and overall development from simulation to physicalisation. Several computational and material strategies were implemented to achieve decay based on the following: (1) increasing agents for geometrical complexity according to optimum printing requirements; (2) using material properties as an active agent during digital fabrication; (3) customising 3D printer’s settings and (4) using all these factors as constraints for conditioning an emergent morphological behaviour retained in the mask.