How far are we willing to go to optimise the management of the entire Earth? That’s the question asked by the collective Fragmentin with ‘G80’, an installation commissioned by mudac, the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts in Lausanne.
G80 speculates on the possibility of a global management system for planetary issues, by bringing together different types of intelligence around a control console, in a contemporary reinterpretation of R. Buckminster Fuller’s ‘World Game’.
Presented at the 2023 London Biennale, G80 is an interactive work by the Swiss collective Fragmentin, commissioned by mudac in anticipation of its next programme starting in September in Lausanne and entirely dedicated to examining the multifaceted and complex relationship between the cosmos and planet Earth.
- Who are Fragmentin?
Fragmentin are an artist collective based in Lausanne, Switzerland, founded in 2014 and comprising Laura Nieder (*1991, Lausanne), David Colombini (*1989, Lausanne) and Marc Dubois (*1985, Basel).
At the crossroads of art and engineering, Fragmentin’s work questions the impact of the digital on everyday life by investigating these technologies' disposition towards control and opacity. Fragmentin's works are often conceived as spaces for discussion on crucial contemporary themes and issues such as climate change.
Through sculpture, installation, video, interaction and performance, the studio’s artworks demystify complex systems and reveal the tension between emergent technologies and society.
The three of us met during our studies at ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne).
- How did you first encounter World Game? Did your perception of this project change whilst working on G80?
We were aware of Buckminster Fuller's avant-garde projects but had only briefly heard of the World Game concept when mudac approached us. The creation of an artwork reinterpreting Buckminster Fuller’s World Game allowed us to deepen our knowledge of it but also to confront his former utopia with the reality of our present era.
- Could you please tell us more about how you defined G80’s variables?
While some variables are directly inspired by those developed by Buckminster Fuller and his students, other new ones highlight the major challenges of our time.
The collective choice of the eighty variables was lengthy and delicate because the importance given to certain words quickly proved to be subjective and specific to our three sensibilities. The general idea was to find a balance between the five poles we had defined: socio-political-health indicators, ecological, economic, environmental, and infrastructure indicators. The selection of variables was also designed to resonate with currently debated themes, with which those who engage with the artwork can, or cannot, identify.
Thus, the console welcomes generic examples such as Biodiversity, Capitalism, and Comfort, counterbalanced by others that are more specific, such as 5G, Sea level, or LGBTQIA+ rights. Our personal selection reflects the flaws that can quickly emerge when the parameters of a technological system are chosen by a single entity — most often the GAFAM, but here, the artist collective — incapable of representing the complexity and diversity of our planet as a whole.
- How did you select the data on which the installation relies?
The installation does not rely on real data, but it is interactive. It is in fact the visitors who are invited to attempt to stabilise the world by adjusting the value of each variable whose + and - signs indicate a certain amount.
Without any visual manifestation other than the names of the variables and their quantities - with the sliders serving as both input and output - they are led to mentally visualise the impact and consequences that their decisions could have on Earth.
Rather than attempting to develop a new ‘World Game’ using current cutting-edge technologies, we have opted for a more radical choice: to challenge Buckminster Fuller's technocratic assumption and demonstrate its absurdity, as it is embedded in an exhausted system that refuses to look beyond mathematical models.
G80, by Fragmentin, can be found at the London Design Biennale from 1 to 25 June 2023. Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA, mudac’s pavilion, East Wing, 23. Learn more