a sonic environment for sensory cognition and embodied experience

Futurity Island is an architectural structure conceptualized as a space for acoustic experimentation by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with Indrė Umbrasaitė and Nicole L’Huillier. It serves as an infrastructure that hosts sound compositions and performances that open space for learning.

With a built-in system of sensors, it translates toxic pollution data into a sonic environment to activate sensory cognition and provide a physical space for an embodied experience of environmental data.

A network of water/sewer pipes, Futurity Island is assembled into an artificial skeleton that channels the sounds of “nature.” As an instrument used to drain swamps, the pipe is a metaphor for human-centered ecology and environmental domination, and a prime symbol of the Anthropocene. Futurity Island appropriates the pipe to bring humans and nonhumans into a more symmetrical, collaborative relationship, aimed at listening to and hearing the silenced voices of our planet. The sonification of environmental research data—the physics of the soil, land, and wind—is in dialogue with the sounds of Hydropsyche, a genus of caddis flies that are amphibious architects and natural sensors of clean water.

Futurity Island was commissioned by the Blackwood Gallery, the University of Toronto Mississauga, for The Work of Wind: Air, Land, Sea curated by Christine Shaw in 2018.

In the summer of 2023 Futurity Island was installed at the edge of Curonian Spit – sandy grounds of the Curonian Lagoon by the Baltic Sea. It is the site where citizen‘s movement started in 80‘s resisting the environmental destruction by the Soviet totalitarian modernity. Since 2000, the Curonian Spit was listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage under cultural criteria “V” (“an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture […], or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change”).

The launch of Futurity Island in 2023 is part of the Partially Swamped Institution, a retrospective exhibition by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas at the national Gallery of Art, Vilnius.
The installment on site was organized by curator Giedrius Gulbinas, consulted with architects Jonas Žukauskas and Jurga Daubaraitė, installed by Jurgis Paškevičius, Antanas Gerlikas, Gediminas Akstinas.

Video: Eglė Marija Želvytė