Cities are a nexus for creativity but draw energy from the surrounding earth for sustenance. Instead of emitting only waste into the environment a metabolic city creates an emergent living system. Home to 6 billion people by 2050, cities brim with people, energy and capital, connecting veins of traffic, moving tributaries of living data across the earth. The air one breathes flows with plumes of dust and smoke swirling above these creative forges across a thin skin of biosphere heedless of geographic and political borders. The fluid dynamics of oceans, atmospheres and solar-terrestrial relations may collide with big data clouds and create cascading effects. A solar storm can torch a city’s transformers; disturb satellites, atomic watches, and cause traffic and financial systems to fail. Catastrophes like wounds require collective healing for a shared planet’s health.
The bio-mimicry of the Metabolist architects and the utopic models put forward by Archigram in the 1960s experimented with continuous renewal and organic growth of a city but failed to fully explore the sources of energy and bio-fuels supplied from the exterior world needed for the material regeneration of a city, which is the essence of metabolism in organisms. In contrast, mimicking ecology or eco-mimicry is a way of viewing cities as ‘living structures’ that provides life support for its inhabitants integrating energy, food and waste production.
Each of the artists in this exhibition has touched on our urban identity in relationship to the planet, and their perspectives guide us through the exhibition.