ADS7: Something in the Air – Politics of the Atmosphere
Nico Alexandroff is graduating from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Architecture. Nico completed his BA Hons Architecture at Manchester School of Architecture in 2017, graduating with a 1st Class honours degree. Nico was awarded the Academic Excellence Award and the Faculty Alumni Prize for Highest BA mark. He went on to work at architecture practices in London; Hawkins\Brown Architects and Burrell Foley Fischer before joining the Royal College of Art. In both practices, he was involved in civic and cultural projects. Nico was also involved in the V&A Exhibition Road Day of Design 2019 where he took part in the design and build of a modular furniture set that doubled as solitary bee habitats. In his first year at the Royal College of Art, Nico was a member of Architecture Design Studio (ADS) 3, led by Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe, who together form Cooking Sections. His resulting project, Handicapping Golf, was included as a selection of works of RCA students at the 2019 Seoul Biennale of Architecture & Urbanism.
This year Nico’s research and design work for ADS7, led by Elise Hunchuck, Marco Ferrari and Jingru (Cyan) Cheng, will be featured in Sky River, a two-part digital and physical installation that is part of Critical Zones: Observatories for Earthly Politics at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (Germany), curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel with Martin Guinard and Bettina Korintenberg and will be on display May 23, 2020, until February 28, 2021.
Nico has been nominated for the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Dissertation Medal Student Awards (Announced 1st December 2020) for his dissertation, Life at the [L]edge After Extraction, which exposes methods of greenwashing and loopholes within resource extraction industries in the UK.
Nico’s practice engages in the entangled relationship between politics, ecology and planetary metabolic processes. Taking a multidisciplinary, multiscalar approach, Nico is interested in how aesthetics can be used to initiate action to combat the unfolding catastrophe of climate change.
Coronavirus is a fast catastrophe, it operates at a pace that evades collective human cognition. Societies, via decision-makers, are forced into a mode of action that is of a viral temporality, the action itself severe, with a trans-national reach. We understand climate change as a slow catastrophe, but climate change is subject to radical simplifications as it weaves between scientific fields, bureaucratic systems, and public domains via the media.
The virus, coined by US President Trump as an ‘invisible enemy’ has left very visible ‘marks’ in its wake. Coronavirus is a climate emergency geoglyph, a catastrophic revealing of habitat destruction, industrial farming practices and species extinction in a globalised world. These ‘marks’ are autographic visualisations—a visualisation that is of itself—differing from data visualisations, the interpretations of data sets. Other autographic visualisations in recent memory are the Australian bushfires of 2019 and the Siberian peat fires currently burning. These phenomena provide an urgent and necessary reflection of their entanglement within planetary metabolism—which includes human entities.
Indexical Ice—Nico’s thesis project—constructs a methodology that attempts to illustrate climate emergency geoglyphs occurring on Greenland's ice sheet, with similar temporal pressures to the pandemic. The project aims to hold actors accountable, along the vectors of positive feedback. After graduating from the RCA, Nico plans on continuing the research he has developed during his thesis project, operating within the fields of research architecture, spatial design, visual cultures, and political ecologies.
This project employs three recently discovered environmental phenomena that occur on Greenland’s south-west coast. The phenomena—blooms, plumes and flour—indicate that, compared to climate model predictions, the ice sheet is melting at an amplified rate due to the triggering of positive feedback loops. In tandem with the plumes, blooms and flour, Indexical Ice reappropriates three active mineral extraction sites in Greenland to expose both the phenomena and the industrial activities taking place adjacent to and within the planetary flux.
Indexical Ice questions the relationship between the problem and the model we use to understand the problem. Action is taken based on how decision-makers preserve the problem. Indexes define the boundaries of models. They are the parameters within which we project and understand the changing earth system. Indexes are constructed—and therefore inherently political.