Another Final Frontier explores architectural habitats at the margins of habitability on earth by producing a site specific work on an artificial island shared between NASA and a wildlife refuge. Currently exhibited At Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Florida, January 2020 + public program with MINWR . June 2020 will be exhibited on Governor’s Island, New York City.
Spoil islands are unexplored worlds forgotten in plain sight. The three-thousand mile string of dredged islands from New York City to Brownsville form an exceptional but ignored archipelago on the cusp of changes in climate and land use. Another Final Frontier presents work in territory shared by Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In the shadow of explorations that abandon the planet, the exhibit explores how nature and technology co-exist on earth. The exhibit places findings within the context of the spoil island archipelago and its unprecedented public commons. Decamped from the Atlantic Center for the Arts and re-installed on a spoil area of Governors Island, the full-scale architectural installation (tools, instruments, multimedia presentations, maps, and speculative site designs) reflect on alternatives for occupying places where nature is spoiled but thriving, and artificial land is naturalized but constantly changing.
Another Final Frontier exhibits work that combines artistic production with design and field research carried out on a spoil island that occupies both the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Dredged for Intracoastal Waterway, the island is one of thousands that make up a linear archipelago that stretches from New York City to Brownsville, Texas. The center of the exhumed dirt, shell, and limestone feels—and looks—like the surface of the moon, while the island’s edges bristle with native and exotic species of plants and wildlife. A frontier between land and water as well as nature and human intervention, the island serves as a test case for alternative habitats on the margins of human habitation, not on far-flung moons or planets, but here on earth, in a place that is essentially hiding in plain sight, just offshore (but harboring mainland truths). Given this context and as a mode of critical reflection, the project appropriates and modifies strategies developed by NASA to explore the lunar surface, turning those instruments and tools back onto the terrestrial and aquatic landscape of the spoil islands. Composed of three years of intensive work and previously installed at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the exhibit seeks to understand architecture’s place amid the complex natural and technological ecologies of both refuge and space center. Another Final Frontier’s collaborative team, an architect and two multidisciplinary artists, also tests the capacity of creative practice to study marginal places and built environments where change, rather than stability, is the rule. The Governors Island exhibition takes place on land built from dredged spoil. On one level, the exhibit creates another permutation of the spoil island expedition and camp and invites the public to experience architecture tuned to sites where nature is spoiled but thriving and artificial land is naturalized but constantly changing. At another level, the exhibit places the evidence gathered—such as taxonomies of spoil island wildlife that update natural histories and emergent topographies that catalogue “artificial histories”—in the context of broader questions of architecture’s role in conservation, exploration, and development. At a third level, with a speaker series and ready relocation to other critical sites in the archipelago, the exhibit speculates about the future of existing waste sites where techno-ecological hybrids make up another frontier of research and habitation.
Artwork by Shona Kitchen and Aly Ogasian
Writing by Charlie Hailey
Publication design by Ji Kim
Photography by Jessina Leonard
With thanks to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, NASA, A Day Away Kayak