In this interview with SCI-Arc alumni Kait Puff, we discuss her vision for a post-anthropological world situated within the digital space and after computation. New Animal Machine (NAM) is the result of the necessary human evolution which needs to occur once the physical damage caused by humans to our planet is acknowledged as an irreparable fact. Rather than focusing on how to counteract the damage, the project shifts our attention towards a possible gateway into a world where our former selves cannot exist.
KOOZ What prompted the project?
KP During my time at SCI-Arc, I became obsessed with Donna Haraway’s writings - specifically what it means to live in a “tentacular” way. Her perspective on living offers me, personally, a lot of relief. How should we, humans, interact with the rest of the world? The answers are already available to us, but they are often obscured by our tendency to think of ourselves as separate or more special than everything else. Haraway suggests a way of living along lines - not points, nor spheres. This means we have to think clearly about where we stand within the system we inhabit. With this new perspective in mind, I started to consider what a post-anthropological world would look like if the only successful transference of life was similar toHaraway’s “tentacular” way of living.
I started to consider what a post-anthropological world would look like if the only successful transference of life was similar to Haraway’s “tentacular” way of living.
KOOZ What questions does the project raise and address?
KP It suggests a possible transition from an anthropological to a post-anthropological world. It acknowledges that the current way of human existence is not a transferable dataset: for it to become so would need a drastic shift in our ways of living. It raises questions that are intended for each viewer: how they live and interact with other actors in their story.
KOOZ To what extent and in what ways does New Animal Machine (NAM) - as a post-anthropological world - stem from our contemporary physical society?
KP It relies heavily on natural cycles that already exist and work to keep the cycle of life continuous. It uses technology as a metaphor for systems that are already set up in the natural world.
KOOZ How does the project explore and challenge the future of our species as one that is deeply embedded within the digital but also in a post-computational context?
KP It tells us that a major shift needs to happen in our way of perceiving and interacting with the world. In this story, the physical damage caused by humans is acknowledged as an irreparable fact. So, rather than focusing on how to counteract damage, the attention shifts towards a possible gateway into a world where our former selves cannot exist. It suggests a change in our composition to become a part of the system rather than separating from it. This is done via language: words suggest a digital world but also describe a lot of systems that already exist and expand on them.
It tells us that a major shift needs to happen in our way of perceiving and interacting with the world. In this story, the physical damage caused by humans is acknowledged as an irreparable fact.
KOOZ Rather than focusing on beings and artifacts, this New World develops a series of systems, codes and networks of communication. Could you expand further on this notion?
KP The biggest upgrade in this world is a central database from where all species can upload and download information. New data results from interactions between species. It’s a world that is forever learning and evolving based on that new information. I describe it as “one single compost pile” because its landscape becomes sympoietic. It’s a collection of systems strung together, and yet, one single organism.
KOOZ What are the implications from a spatial perspective?
KP Currently, it’s a world that exists exclusively in the digital space. There was a point where I wanted to bring the project into the physical world, but I guess that way of thinking was rooted in my human inclination to try to make sense of what I cannot touch. In terms of space, the project isforever expanding and morphing in ways that cannot be predicted. Additionally, since the characters are a series of simulations,the space they inhabit changes as a direct result of their actions: the landscape transforms every time and the outcome is always different.
KOOZ As an architect, what is the potential you see in the design of these new worlds?
KP A huge goal of this project is to present a new perspective. It’s very hard for me, as an architect, to let go, not to try to control or make sense of things I don’t understand. NAM forces me, and the viewer, to take on a xenogeopolitical position and become purely an observer. I think the project allows viewers to consider what their role is in each system that they’re a part of and the effect that their actions have.
KOOZ What is for you the power of the un-built imaginary?
KP I strongly believe that the un-built imaginary is one of the most powerful tools I have as a designer and architect. Humans love a good story and writing one that offers a new perspective can make hard topics much easier to digest. NAM is based on a world where humans, as we are today, cannot exist. This is a terrifying thought for some, but NAM shows that change can be beautiful.
Kait Puff recently completed her Master at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles, where she studied architecture and 3D Design. She continues to work in Los Angeles as a 3D Designer and as co-founder of Fluid Studio, a multidisciplinary studio that specializes in both physical and digital environments built around a central narrative. Kait’s work is grounded in the belief that creative vision can influence habitual change. Her work explores the designer's role in how a user experiences space while integrating new methods of production. She is interested in how these new methods can be used as a tool to introduce and explore new paradigms of reality.