Liam Young: Worlds Less Traveled
Liam Young is a speculative architect and director who operates in the spaces between design, fiction, and futures. He is cofounder of Tomorrows Thoughts Today, an urban futures think tank exploring the local and global implications of new technologies; and Unknown Fields, a nomadic research studio that travels on expeditions to chronicle these emerging conditions as they occur on the ground. Described by the BBC as "the man designing our futures," his visionary films and speculative worlds are both extraordinary images of tomorrow and urgent examinations of the environmental questions facing us today.
As a concept designer, Young visualizes the cities, spaces, and props of our imaginary futures for film and TV. For his own film productions, he is a BAFTA-nominated producer who has premiered on platforms ranging from Channel 4, SXSW, the New York Metropolitan Museum, Tribeca Film Festival, the BBC, and The Guardian. His work has been collected internationally by museums such as MoMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery of Victoria, and M Plus Hong Kong. He is acclaimed in both mainstream and design media and has been featured in Wired, New Scientist, Arte, Canal+, Time Magazine, and many more publications. He has published several books, including the recent Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post Anthropocene and Planet City, the story of a fictional city for the entire population of the earth. His fictional work is informed by his academic research, and he has held guest professorships at Princeton University, MIT, and Cambridge. Young now runs the groundbreaking Master of Fiction and Entertainment program at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles.
Our perception of the world is largely shaped through the mediums of fiction. Through film, we have always imagined alternative worlds as a way of understanding our own world in new ways. A critical role of science fiction is to provide a counterbalance to the prevailing media narratives around emerging urban technologies. Typically, our imagined futures are based on a solutionist view of technology and are marketed to us as simplified worlds of better and brighter, often ignoring the complexities, subcultures, and unintended consequences that result when technologies are democratized and rolled out at scale. Young will narrate a series of stories from these worlds less-traveled—small glimpses, fragments, vignettes, and snapshots, from a series of his films that come together to create a portrait of an alternative future of technology, urbanization, and automation.