Ilkka Halso

Halso’s Museum of Nature series gives us a dystopian vision of the natural world in the age of climate change. Tracts of wilderness are shielded from the effects of global warming by being confined to amusement parks, theaters, and other tourist attractions.

Ilkka Halso

“I visualize shelters, massive buildings where big ecosystems could be stored as they are found today, in the present,” Halso says. “These massive buildings protect forests, lakes and rivers from pollution and, more importantly, they protect nature from the actions of man himself.”

Ilkka Halso

“I visualize shelters, massive buildings where big ecosystems could be stored as they are found today, in the present,” Halso says. “These massive buildings protect forests, lakes and rivers from pollution and, more importantly, they protect nature from the actions of man himself.”

Laurent Grasso

Grasso’s 525 (2007) is a Buckminster Fuller-like geodesic sphere that references the shape of receiving stations in the Echelon network. The Echelon network is a global surveillance system reportedly set up to spy on the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Today, it is said to monitor terrorists, drug lords, hostile foreign governments, and other threats to national security.

Laurent Grasso

In The Silent Movie (2010), Grasso strings together images of military structures along the coast of Cartagena, an ancient strategic point.

Susanna Hertrich

These "Risk" infographics compare what people fear to what they should actually fear. At left, Hetrich charts the number people who died worldwide in terrorist attacks (very few) alongside the number of people who died from the effects of climate change (a lot).

Susanna Hertrich

Hertrich also created Prostheses for Instincts (2008), a collection of bodily attachments that can simulate the physical and mental sensations of fear (goose bumps, chills, increased alertness, and so on).

Els Vanden Meersch

Units of Infinity (2011) stuffs pictures and sounds of all the religious interiors in Antwerp into a single, confined space.

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

Big Box is a clutch of miniature dioramas in which shopping malls are depicted as post-apocalyptic ruins.

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

Burn, Best Buy, burn!!

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

In Suburban Horror, small cameras project an endless loop of live footage over little dioramas showing, yes, suburban horrors. Try to guess which David Lynch film the artists were inspired by.

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy

Suburban Horror

Co.Design

Secret Satellites And Spy Stations: The Hidden Architecture Of Fear

A new exhibit at the contemporary art space Z33, in Belgium, explores the physical infrastructure that props up our culture of fear.

Architecture of Fear is the title and subject of an intriguing new exhibit at Z33, a contemporary art space in Hasselt, Belgium—fear now being something we’ve politicized and commodified and generally made into a global way of life. The show’s goal is to explore the “emotional, social and spatial mechanisms” of our collective terror.

If that sounds a bit woolly, just consider some of the pieces in the show. There are photos of secret satellites and space shuttles. There are snapshots of military bases hidden in such remote locations that the photographer, Trevor Paglen, had to use astronomy-grade lenses to shoot them. There’s Laurent Grasso’s model of a receiving station in the Echelon network, a global surveillance system reportedly used to spy on terrorists, drug lords, hostile foreign governments, and that pernicious threat to national security known as stage mothers. Our guess: Grasso’s in their system, too.

The takeway here is that fear is so institutionalized, it has a full-blown infrastructure—an architecture—complete with its own bizarro look. And you find it everywhere, even in the most innocuous places. The exhibit features a set of photographs by Charlotte Lybeer, who spent five years snapping assorted shops, resorts, and residential complexes in what appear to be traditional Belgian and Dutch buildings. Look closely, though, and you’ll notice that the architecture is actually new: manufactured to look old and quaint, because “old and quaint” makes us feel safe. The buildings are gingerbread talismans against faceless bad men. And what their pervasiveness suggests is that fear isn’t just an aesthetic, it’s the aesthetic of our time.

[Images via Flickr; hat tip to We Make Money Not Art]

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