“As is the case with all our deepest assumptions, we’re not conscious of making them and we’re even less ware of how they have been shaped by centuries of philosophical reflection. By bringing these assumptions to the surface, we can better understand how we and others see the world, which in turn will help us to understand why we do what we do in it.”
—Julian Baggini, How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy, 2018
The globe is the oldest and most true to scale visualization of the Earth’s spherical shape. A symbol of scientific curiosity and human fantasy in equal measure, it represents a domesticated notion of the world surrounding us. In classical antiquity and then again beginning with the age of the great explorers in the 15th century, it served as an exact scientific rendering as well as a reminder to the imagination of as yet still unexplored territories. The “Other Worlds” series was conceived by the London designer duo Dunne & Raby in conjunction with Alternatives for Living. They transformed the former boudoir in Haus Lange into a studiolo, a study space dedicated to the occupation with the arts and sciences. The globe forms presented here with their surfaces of possibilities do not illustrate real worlds but are inspired instead by (pseudo) scientific discoveries and speculations as well as by fictional literary worlds.
Functionality, optimization and the marketability of things are not the highest priority for Dunne & Raby. They focus instead on a fundamentally critical, speculative and discursive examination of the world of things and their significance on behalf of human progress. Their globes are mental experiments that exemplify their general interest in the conception and realization of alternative realities and parallel worlds, which Dunne & Raby summarize under the generic term “designed realities.” Sources of inspiration include scientific mental experiments dealing with potential alternative forms of the terrestrial body, climate change predictions, new measurements of “Ultima Thule,” the object farthest from the Earth to be investigated as well classic example of the so-called hard science fiction genre, meaning works that are underpinned with scientifically precise facts like Inverted World by Christopher Priest or Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement. All of the materializations suggested by Dunne & Raby have their utopian potential in common—utopian in the sense of a fundamentally different possibility of understanding the world. As such, the globe is not only a medium of representing the world but also a worldview. Their Archive of Impossible Objects does not present us reality as an objective entity but as a construction that is always tied to the manner in which we depict reality and which subjective position we take in the process.
Dunne & Raby (Anthony Dunne,
*1964 and Fiona Raby,
*1963, Singapore) have worked together since 1994 and are living in London. Pioneers of the critical design movement, they run their own studio in addition to working as researchers and teachers in the tension field between design, art, science and innovative technology. They have worked together with such companies as Sony UK, National Panasonic and France Telecom and have exhibited at numerous museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.