Focus Artistic Research

morphoPoly. A (...) design game for morphing city models

Project lead: Katherina Zakravsky
Social Design
Duration: 01.09.2021 - 31.08.2023
Austrian Science Fund (FWF): AR 674 Programm zur Entwicklung und Erschließung der Künste (PEEK)

"morphoPoly" is a project on the building, transforming, documenting and dissolving of model cities in several media, online and in real space. Ecology, urban history, city films and story telling are involved.
We investigate systems of entangled life styles to create playful tools for a structured building process involving cooperation, competition and evaluation with and by several groups and specialists.
During the first stage, we will develop an "urban vocabulary" in an inter-disciplinary process with experts from various fields. A multi-media archive will be generated, using public domain resources and the analogue and digital archives of the "Austrian Filmmuseum".
We ask how the growth and de-growth of cities, both real and ideal, can be understood in analogy to organic growth and geological processes. Is the city as a dynamic system involving various species a hybrid organism? If each city is defined by its history and mythology, by its "air", its "vibe", how can we represent this specific life form with various materials?
The first version will be built by several teams of children under adult supervision. Teams will act as "colour clans" and build "morphoPoly" in a slightly competitive game where each clan is responsible for a particular aspect.
Later stages of each model city will involve the intervention of cross-species agencies, the “passengers”, whose ecstatic and highly transient life style makes them perfect testers for the life quality of the city. In accordance to the fast and efficient metabolism of the “passengers” who never leave any waste behind, we apply the principle of "trophic cascades" (efficient resource management) to city models that are built, documented and destroyed in order to feed their traces and memories into the next stage of dreaming, telling, learning and building.
Thus, the destruction of each city model in the physical space is part of the creative process, The building process is also throughout a process of evaluation, critique, story-telling and testing to provide for a collective, didactic experiment for the preparation of an age of participatory architecture and city planning.
We are training our organs of dreaming up cities, new and ancient, and testing those dreams with various hybrid materials.
The core team consists of KT Zakravsky, trained philosopher and artist with a background in performance, science fiction studies and the curating of complex projects involving storytelling, performance and installation in Seestadt, Aspern.

Simone Carneiro is artistic director, fine artist and media professional specialized in video and digital design. She also designs professional media environments at UNIDO. The team is completed by inter-disciplinary professionals: Andreas Donhauser (specialist for stage design and location in film); Kristoffer Stefan (kinetic architect/designer), Jan Lauth (curator of a city lab in Seestadt Aspern), Walter Roschnik (fine artist with a background in architecture and design).