The thesis proposes the Garden of Synthetic Delights, a curation of objects and living material across a Superfund site while maintaining its federally fenced boundaries. As a convention, the “garden” program frames an artful intervention on the land, traditionally created for human pleasure. However, by removing humans as the main subjects experiencing space, the proposal enrolls other beings and speculative relationships in an open dialogue between ambiguous occupants and local, ecological processes. The Garden is full of co-constitutive, relational parts. It contains objects and living things, other gardens and future gardens. Far from dormant or inert – all actors of this garden are animate and variably scalar. Specimens initially seeded within the boundaries of the fence influence each other, affecting the landscape and creating their own wild attractions and seductions. These are moments of autonomous disturbance and indeterminate change over time. The playful irony of a garden that cannot be entered by any peoples provides an enticing reading of partial moments while obscuring the complete whole. And thus, at the edges of the garden, all people can equally delight in actors and processes that the human species normally cannot perceive or choose not to engage with.
The exercised territory is a Superfund site – a federally categorized polluted territory that actively causes injury to human health and is deemed national priority. Superfund sites represent the ultimate, human landscape. Instanced across the US, they are moments of critical mass in which the after effects from networks of infrastructure, production, and consumption, spill over and begin to articulate themselves in a way that demands immediate attention.
At the scale of the Superfund, anthropocentric distinctions flatten and cease to matter. Binaries, such as on//off, occupied//unoccupied, polluted//cleaned, etc., are quick encapsulations of visible conditions and are convenient to help categorize relationships whose definitions have a tangible counterpoint. However, humans perceive reality differently from one another and from others. The thesis offers a series of little visual misalignments to demonstrate the limits of these dualities. Each is an interruption to bring pause and allow others to consider their relationship within these conventions.
For most humans, the mole is an absurd creature. It is a misanthropic, fossorial nuisance, rippling through soil and proliferating within the subsurface of lawns. But it is for these characteristics and abilities that the mole provides a useful counterpoint to the image of the able-bodied human. The familiar mole as both animal and image probes normative categories and actualizes other modes of engaging with the world. The Synthetic_Mole study aggregates, scales, and digitally manipulates the simple form of the animal mole to create new forms of intrigue. As a play on the traditional foundations of design composition, the principles of point, line, and plane reorient the otherwise humble potato figure.
The discourse around the Anthropocene often invokes a sense of guilt and despair. This rhetoric recognizes our responsibility but denies us agency, by presenting a world gone wrong and out of control. Instead, the idea of the SYNTHETOCENE frames an explorable reality of synthetic material moving through the fibrous tissues of the earth and the guts of its various inhabitants. This material study created a series of handy hyperobjects, crafting new ambiguous natures that provoke a heightened awareness of environment and space.