This spring, speculative design studio Superflux invited humanity to reassess its place in the natural world, emerging from the grid-like ashes of fire-blackened trees into resurgent greenery – and a glistening pool with a surprise below the surface. Invocation for Hope was commissioned by the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) for the Vienna Biennale for Change 2021 in response to the event’s theme ‘Planet Love: Climate Care in the Digital Age.’
▼项目概览，preview (render) © Superflux
Invocation for Hope is a vast, immersive installation that examines the complex interconnected relationships throughout the natural world, and which raises the possibility of a more-than-human future–a post-anthropocentric planet in which humanity is just one part of a dynamic and multifaceted ecosystem.
▼装置在维也纳应用艺术博物馆现场，Invocation for Hope installation at Museum for Applied Art © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
After traveling through a grid-like forest of burnt and blackened pines – the unexpectedly graceful skeletons of a former time – you find, at its heart, a resurgent living forest, where multiple species living in harmony with humanity offer a promise of alternative life. In this cradle of biodiversity, you come to a freshwater pool, which reflects, not your own face, but another creature – a wolf, a lynx, a bison – coming to the water to drink.
▼淡水池，the freshwater pool © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
Accompanied by a soundscape created by visionary musician Cosmo Sheldrake, the installation leads viewers one by one on a personal journey from the ravages of climate crisis to the possibility of renewal and a deeper connection with nature.
▼森林路径，forest path © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
室内森林 | The indoor forest
The creation of Invocation for Hope has required the sourcing and installation of more than 400 trees to the MAK. In collaboration with the forestry and fire departments of Austria’s Neunkirchen region, Superflux were able to salvage and transport trees that had been burned in a recent wildfire.
▼森林调研，Forest Research © Superflux
▼设计过程：模型，design process – model © Superflux
The trees are arranged in a symmetric grid so, as the viewer passes through them to the living oasis at the centre of the installation, they move from an imposed, rigid order to the organic exuberance of nature. The pool at the centre is surrounded by a cluster of 20–30 different living trees, including oak, hornbeam, apple, silver birch, and mounds of biodiversity where mosses, grasses, lichens and shrubs will grow symbiotically together over the course of the installation. These living ecologies nourished by regular watering, grow lamps and natural light from the large skylight on the museum ceiling.
▼中央水池被20-30棵不同类型的树木所环绕 © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
The pool at the centre is surrounded by a cluster of 20–30 different living trees
▼由烧焦的松树构成的黑色森林， The grid-like forest of burnt and blackened pines © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
To achieve the moment of revelation at the heart of the work – when the viewer looking into the pool is confronted with the sight of a living animal reflected back at them – Superflux has collaborated with Alpenzoo Innsbruck. By installing underwater camera rigs in the water troughs of the zoo’s native Austrian wildlife, they have been able to capture footage of various animals as they drink. These are then projected onto a screen beneath a two-way mirror at the bottom of the pool, enabling the viewer to experience an unexpected and evocative moment of connection with their ‘opposite number’ in the animal kingdom.
▼水池底部装有双向镜面和投影，观众将从水面上看到其他动物的倒影 © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
When the viewer looking into the pool is confronted with the sight of a living animal reflected back at them
▼水池细部，detailed view © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
重生 | The afterlife
Once the Biennale ends in October, Superflux plans to donate the living trees to schools, and to use the burnt trees as compost, which will then be used to nurture a garden of contemplation in Vienna, thus helping to enrich the biodiversity of the urban landscape – a lasting reminder of the web of interdependence that underpins all life on earth.
Both the living trees and the burnt trees will be reused after the Biennale © Photo courtesy MAK, by Stefan Lux
▼设计草图和模型，sketches and model © Superflux