Alice Bucknell is an American artist and writer based in London.
She uses speculative fiction to address contemporary ideas of technological utopias and the role of architecture in contributing to global inequality and ecological destruction.
She participates in international exhibitions, symposiums, and residencies, most recently at Ars Electronica with KÖNIG GALERIE, White Cube, Annka Kultys Gallery, the Canadian Center for Architecture, and Serpentine Galleries. She serves as a guest critic at international design and architecture schools including the Architectural Association and the Royal College of Art in London.
Her writing appears regularly in art, architecture and design publications including Elephant, Frieze, Kaleidoscope, Mousse, PIN-UP and The Architectural Review. She studied Anthropology and Visual Art at the University of Chicago and Critical Practice at the Royal College of Art in London.
Hey, @alicebucknell here! For my first post in HOXTON 253’s ART+ECOLOGY takeover series, I’d like to introduce you to the project I’m currently working on: Swamp City.
Swamp City (2021) imagines the Florida Everglades as a luxury nature resort for high-tech eco-tourism in a near future reality of severe climate disruption.
In this three-minute-long promotional video, Swamp City announces an exclusive partnership with the Oppenheim Group, LA’s foremost luxury real estate brokerage. As rampant wildfires eat up what remains of California, and New York is reclaimed by the Earth’s rising tides, Swamp City invites you into an enhanced relationship with nature. Our algae biofuel-powered personal jets leave Manhattan and LA five times a day, 7 days a week. Slots are going fast, so call one of our licensed travel agents today! Swamp City: New Nature Begins Now.
The Everglades are a vast system of subtropical freshwater wetland and ecosystems that once spanned the entire length of South Florida. Infrastructural development and concentrated efforts to drain the swamp over the last fifty years has shrunk the Glades to just 1/3 of their original size. The Everglades supports a unique ecology not found anywhere else on Earth, as well as protecting Florida from rising tides — their survival is vital for a more-than-human future.
Conceived in the build-up of global instability preceding the outbreak of COVID-19, E-Z Kryptobuild is a multimedia work that responds to architecture’s role in systems of global inequality and the current climate emergency.
In the 22-minute-long video, a fictitious company called E-Z Kryptobuild offers high-net-worth individuals "post-apocalyptic sustainable luxury" through a selection of architect-designed utopias for the end of times. The majority of the project was produced in the fallout of the pandemic and responds to elite escapism as it unfolded in real time.
Using satire, speculation, and AI technology, the project exaggerates our current condition to emphasize the urgency of this crisis. Blurring the line between truth and fiction, E-Z Kryptobuild reflects on the language and aesthetics of disaster capitalism that have become familiar mantras in the post-global period. It borrows from the architectural imaginations of notable contemporary architects from Zaha Hadid to Norman Foster, and critiques the libertarian ideologies behind recent architectural movements including seasteading and the designs of Silicon Valley mega-campuses.
Produced while in lockdown, Welcome to Nütropix is the latest instalment of the E-Z Kryptobuild video series.
In this video, viewers embark on a virtual tour of Nütropix, E-Z Kryptobuild’s signature palm tree-shaped floating island. Located somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean (for now), Nütropix offers a variety of ostensibly eco-friendly, architect-designed residences for its clients to call home.
Named after Nootropics, a type of cognitive performance enhancing drug popular in Silicon Valley, the island is a vision of a free-wheeling technological utopia. Liberated from disease, centralized government, and sales tax, it is a neoliberal’s wet dream, rendered in a glittering CGI alter-reality where the party never stops and the sun never sets.
Representing a total integration of Instagram-friendly eco-chic environmentalism and cutting-edge technology, Nütropix boasts such innovations as solar-harvesting algae panels, “Smart Palm” routers providing 5G connectivity, and a modular cell structure enabling the island to reconfigure itself limitlessly. Complete with swimming pools, casinos, speed yachts, dozens of restaurants, and health clubs, Nütropix enables its residents to ride out the pandemic in style.
In this forth post, we return to Swamp City (2021) to highlight its human and non-human protagonists.
Woozy visions of power-hungry architects and opportunistic developers mine the swamp’s enduring appeal as one of the few last remaining “true” ecologies of a burnt-out planet. Featuring a smooth-talking British architect who’s techno-utopian vision of the future features luxury architecture and a hypernatural landscape in the Glades, Swamp City tells a dark tale of the extreme inequalities of disaster capitalism in times of ecological crisis.
An alligator refusing migration rises up against the delusional architect, asking the tough questions that poke holes in his eco-fantasy. Meanwhile, a 3,500-year old Bald Cypress Tree has been resurrected with artificial intelligence and transformed into the neural network of the Park. Responsible for monitoring the jacked-up swamp’s carbon footprint, air quality, and heat index, the Tree can’t escape the pain of her past life. Is the artificial ecology of the park at risk of a full system shut-down?
The Tree character was inspired by The Senator, a 3,500 year-old bald cypress tree located in Big Tree Park, Longwood, Florida. It was the biggest and oldest bald cypress tree in the world. Originally thought to have been struck by lightning, it died in January 2012 in a fire started by a 26-year-old woman trying to smoke meth inside its hollow trunk. Some people still believe the tree is alive today, having allegedly spotted saplings at its base.
Set in 2038, WEATHER WATCH (2019) is a mock weather broadcast reflecting on the terrible effects of a fictional Planetary Degrowth Act through a montage of changing weather systems.
It uses speculative fiction to twist and bring new meaning to an assemblage of entirely found footage. Sourced from a diverse pool of media, from 10-hour-long architectural demolition assemblages found on YouTube, to avant-garde cinema of the mid-20th century, the atmospheric film is a warning sign for things to come.
A global ban on new concrete construction, issued by the New Paris Agreement signed in Dubai in November 2030, sees a new era of neo-nationalist building frenzy. Countries demolish everything from monuments to modernist towers and hatch plans to build on seasteads and even out in space to continue growth at all costs.
Responding to the contemporary proliferation of nationalist politics and the slow death of international diplomacy in the fallout of a post-global era, WEATHER WATCH paints a stark vision of a speculative near future reality if architectural development and the resulting greenhouse gases emissions continue as projected. It emphasizes the need for a change of plan: we require a progressive global climate accord and unprecedented international collaboration to mitigate the climate crisis, and make it out of this century alive.
For my final takeover post, I’d like to spotlight the work of It's Freezing in LA!, a London-based independent magazine about climate change.
It’s Freezing in LA! responds to the overwhelming crush of often-sensational, obscure, or straight up disinformation news about the climate crisis with slow, scintillating journalism from writers with clear voices who take an interdisciplinary lens to address the most urgent topics surrounding the future of our planet.
So named as a subversive nod to that infamous Donald Trump tweet from 2013 ('Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee — I'm in Los Angeles and it's freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!’), IFILA! produces informative, captivating visuals produced from real data about the climate crisis and commissions illustrations for each of its bi-annual issues.
IFILA! works from a space between science and activism, hosting climate change events in London and running green workshops and other projects in addition to producing the print magazine.
I was super grateful to have contributed a piece, “Silicon Valley has a Sustainability Complex”, to their current Issue 6, which focuses on the topic of greenwashing. It is accompanied by dreamy, atmospheric illustrations by the incredible Laura Coutinho.
Images via 1. Stack Magazines, 2. IFILA! Site, 3. Friends and Friends of Friends, 4. IFILA! Facebook page, 5. myself, and 6. Stack Magazines, respectively.
Thanks @hoxton253_artprojectspace for having me for this week’s takeover, it’s been a real pleasure!
The limited edition print sales directly support the artists and their chosen charity/organisation with a 40/40% share and the non-profit programme of HOXTON 253 with the remaining 20%.
Alice has appointed the Everglades Foundation, which works to protect and restore America’s Everglades through science, advocacy & education.
The print depicts the futuristic scenery of the Florida Everglades as a luxury nature resort imagined by Alice Bucknell in Swamp City.
Swamp City: The Starchitect's Retreat (2021)
C-Type print on Kodak Metallic paper
50cm x 30cm
Kodak Metallic has a rich metallic base, medium gloss finish and smooth texture. The colours have a reflective, metallic and 3-dimensional feel. High mid-tones & highlights add luminosity & iridescence.