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Animalia and Caelum – Finding new ways to interact with nature..


Animalia and Caelum are two projects by Michail Vanis, a recent graduate of Design Interactions at the RCA that take position that our idealisation, romanticism and paradoxical thinking in ecology is holding us back from finding new ways to interact with nature. Neo-nature is part thought experiment, part manifesto which suggests a new way to interact with nature in which we let go of our presumptions and emotions through rationality in ecological thinking.

The first part of Neo-Nature project deals with the animal kingdom and suggests three alternative ways to conserve coral reefs. In all three alternatives, the humans speed up the coral’s evolution by genetically modifying it to adapt to the new environmental conditions that put the species in danger. The second part of the project builds upon ordinary geoengineering techniques and explores the aesthetics of precise weather control and its immediate influence at ground level.

Animalia (below) looks at how we may beging to genetically alter the design of corals and which are seeded in areas where tsunamis might hit. The humans plant the coral, the tsunami hits, the coral takes 70% of the impact, thereby saving the humans. Because of the impact of the tsunami, the colony gets wiped out. A lifecycle emerges where humans plant the corals, the corals save the humans, and the humans resurrect the corals.  To illustrate the process, Michail has created a number of environmental simulations and 3d prints that suggest how the ‘new’ corals may look and behave.


Caelum (below) creates a hypothetical sandbox testing facility in Mali, where a completely artificial climate with complex wind manipulation, sunlight control, rain seeding, and weather-based biodiversity experimentation is set up.

One big influence of mine is the Weather Modification Office in China. What I find fascinating is that China provides a cocoon of moral freedom in which scientists can experiment with controlling the weather. Officials regularly seed clouds to combat the draught in Beijing without worrying about the influence that their actions might have on the natural world. A lot of the time they get it right. But sometimes, they get it really really wrong. Recently they accidentally caused a snowstorm that covered Beijing in snow. And in a way, that’s okay. They get it right 90% of the time, but when they get it wrong, it doesn’t stop them from trying again. This is the kind of experimental practice that has inspired my project. More..


Read a detailed interview with Michail Vanis on we-make-money-not-art.

Project PageMichail Vanis

Michail Vanis is an interaction designer and creative technologist based in London. His work finds itself at the intersections between speculative science and reality. By using simulations, prototypes, and logic to explore plausiblility and reaction, he brings impossible scenarios to life in order to discuss the implications of scientific and ethical progress. You could also visit the blog.