Flooded London

Project

In July 2019, Squint/Opera reissued a series of speculative visualisations depicting London in 2090 when climate change has left much of the city under water. The Flooded London series, first created in 2008, shows how citizens might adapt to catastrophic rising temperatures and sea levels.   In July 2019, Squint/Opera reissued a series of speculative visualisations depicting London in 2090 when climate change has left much of the city under water. The Flooded London series, first created in 2008, shows how citizens might adapt to catastrophic rising temperatures and sea levels.  “The general scenario is set 80 or so years into the future, long after the sea levels have risen,” Squint/Opera wrote at the time the images were created. “The catastrophic side of the sea coming in has long since passed and the five images are snapshots of people going about their lives, having adapted to the world’s new circumstance.” “The scenes present London as a tranquil utopia with the architecture of the distant rat race suspended below the water. The people in each scene appear to be relaxed and happy in their environment.”

In another image, two women are fishing from an abandoned office block at Canary Wharf, while in another a man and a woman squatting in what was once the Tate Modern art gallery are trying to generate electricity using a pedal-powered contraption made of found machinery.The final image is an underwater view of St Mary Woolnoth, a church in the City of London designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and opened in 1727, in which fish swim in shoals through the submerged iron gateway while a rowing boat floats languidly above.

Interview

Your website homepage reads 'Squint/Opera is a creative digital studio using technology to enliven spaces, places and cities' , could you expand on this statement?

Squint are on a mission to make places better, and to inspire and expand the ways in which people imagine and interact with the physical world. To do this we use a range of digital tools: film, interactive exhibits, VR, projection mapping. We think creatively about how to use these technologies to plan, articulate, promote and execute big ideas that make a positive impact on the world’s spaces and cities.

What is your take on our contemporary relationship to the 'image'? How and to what extent has this become our predominant language?

Written sentences are a new skill for humans and take a lot of conscious brain work to decipher. Images pop messages and ideas straight in there without the viewer having to lift a finger. Our modern lives are saturated with competing messages, it is unsurprising that images are now so pervasive, that emojis are replacing words. A lot of people don’t have time for words. Images are both extremely specific and descriptive (1000 words etc) and at the same time loose and subjective. Words are used to define laws, which has made words quite rigid. A cartoonist can say things that would be libellous for a wordsmith to say. This looseness and immediacy has made the image a particularly popular language in the capitalist world.

How do you approach the rendering, both of an image and animation of an architectural project which is yet to be built?

We work out what we need to say and then work out how to say it in the most clear and concise way. We think very closely about what impact the piece of work will have on the viewer.

You work a lot with digital technology within exhibition spaces, what is the potential of this as interactive tool with which people can engage? To what extent has there been an increment in the digitalisation of the space of the museum and what effect has it had on the visitor?

Technology is a brilliant tool for engaging visitors and helping them learn. It’s a way of helping to convey complex information in succinct and comprehensible ways, and for making an experience more memorable.

Within what context was the image series 'Flooded London' developed in 2008?

The images were created over 10- years ago. They were not created to be topical or alarmist. The subject matter was more about human nature rather than climate change. Peoples ability to make the most out of whatever situation they find themselves in. However bad things get there are always better times round the corner. The images were inspired by a trip to Mozambique the year after the war finished in 1993.

What references influenced the project?

There were definitely ideas inspired by JG Ballard’s ‘Drowned World’ and Russel Hoban’s ‘Riddley Walker’.

What drew you to revisit these images today, more than a decade later?

The world is currently standing on the verge of a potential climate catastrophe and therefore these images have become more relevant than ever Last month the UK became the first country to declare a climate emergency, and we felt it was the right time to revisit these images to help Londoners imagine how the seemingly abstract concept of climate change might affect their everyday lives, through familiar parts of the city.

What informed the selection of views and sites through which you choose to develop the narrative?

There’s many real life places in the images: St Pauls Cathedral whispering gallery, Hawksmoor’s St Mary Woolnath church in the City of London, A gallery room in the Tate modern, A tower in Canary Wharf, A suburban Street in Honor Oak in south London. They demonstrate the breadth and variety of people that climate change would impact across the city.

What is the ultimate meaning of these images?

The message is supposed to be more about human resilience. That regardless how bad it gets, time will pass, and people will still find reasons to have fum and be curious.

What would you say is your most important tool?

The brain and hands

About

Squint/Opera is a creative digital studio using technology to enliven spaces, places and cities

#Interviews