FUTURE FOSSILS A Design Archaeology of the Here and Now

The damage being done to our planet by the products, processes and values generated by design is increasingly visible and measurable. This is particularly apparent when we look at a phenomenon like plastiglomerate, a new rock conglomerate made of natural debris mixed with molten plastic. It is found mainly on beaches in Hawaii where the plastic adrift at sea gets melted by underwater lava streams, or on beaches by the human intervention of campfires. In this KABK IST course, a group of students spent a semester combing the increasingly blurred tidelines between the natural and manmade environment, archaeology and geology, fossils and relics, physical objects and digital data. Informed by key texts, guest lectures and field trips, the working group conducted research and speculated through design, ceramics, writing, image-making and curatorial strategy to imagine what are the mass-produced designed entities of our Anthropocenic era that will become signals in the earth’s geological strata for future generations to read us by—the fossils of the future.

We located our enquiries in the KABK and, since the KABK building was completed 81 years ago, we decided to project 81 years into the future. Each student intuited the perspective of an archaeologist based in The Hague in the year 2100. Which designed, mass produced objects would they be likely to find on the site of the former KABK? How would the object have degraded in the intervening years, considering which types of soil and sand are below the KABK?

What will The Hague be like in 2100? What would the archaeologist think their find was used for? What will be the values of 2100 and how will they shape the way the object is understood and interpreted?

The process and the outcomes of their enquiries are presented in this booklet.

Royal Academy of Art The Hague Individual Study Track Spring 2019

Alice Twemlow

Alice Twemlow

Alessandro Celli

Emilie Monty

Liselot Cobelens

Ivor Borovecki

Igor Schiller

Violet Luu Bao Tran

Maura Biava, ceramics tutor, who taught us about glazes and casting and led our visit to the EKWC.

Adam Nocek, Director, Laboratory for Critical Technics, Arizona State University, who launched the course with a lecture on ‘Geomythology, Geocommunication and Design’.

Corien Bakker, Head of the Hague Municipal Archeology & Nature and Environmental Education Department, who introduced us to the beauty of pot shards, core sampling and peat.

Friso Visser, Deputy Director/Education & Exhibitions, Museon, who showed us one of the largest samples of plastiglomerate found so far, now on display in the museum.

Justa van den Bulk, curator, Muzee Scheveningen, for introducing us to the collections that comprise both marine biology and local cultural history.

Suzette Bousema, for showing us her Future Relics project and leading a beachcombing expedition for plastics on a Den Haag beach.

Krijn Christiansen, for sharing the work of KCCN and advising us on the final projects.

Lua Vollaard, curator, Stroom Den Haag, for an inspiring lecture and workshop on curatorial tactics.

EKWC/European Ceramic Workcentre in Oisterwijk for hosting us.

Vera van de Seyp for the design of this booklet.

Vera van der Seyp