“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem
Ecological designer, sustainability planner, industrial designer, hack engineer, artist, shadow puppeteer – Stephen Mushin is a creative tour de force. In one corner of Mushin’s world reside projects designed to operate within real-world constraints – water shortages, food shortages, hostile climates and urban density. In another corner, radical ideas for future ecological machines germinate, suggesting solutions to issues relating to climate change.
Mushin’s most recent ‘real world’ project is a zero-waste, human-powered, low-cost aquaponics system for growing food in developing countries. This project saw Mushin and his collaborators, biologist Dr. Wilson Lennard and engineer Neil Faragher, win the British Council’s ‘Big Green Idea’ grant in 2011. CUSP profiles how this system works, whilst also revealing the fascinating ethical design process that enabled Mushin to weigh up issues of material choice, cost and other environmental impacts to create the most sustainable and accessible aquaponics system on the planet.
CUSP will also present a series of satirical illustrations from Mushin’s upcoming graphic work, a visual dictionary of ecological design called Now, If, What, Then. As wildly captivating as his aquaponics systems are inspired, the illustrations reveal a world where science flirts with imaginative play to create a series of intriguing possible future worlds.
“I’m interested in the power of imagination and the allure of wild new inventions as panaceas for big global problems. More specifically I’m interested in how we can use humour, satire and outlandish future narratives as positive devices which open our minds to radical and very serious ideas for change.” – Stephen Mushin
Mushin ensures that every fanciful invention is scientifically possible. Whether sketching up plans for suspended micro-café’s powered by farting cows, or designing public amenities that compost human waste for use in urban fruit farms, every aspect of Mushin’s designs are grounded in technical and mathematical certainty. As Mushin puts it, his work is an exercise in “logical absurdity”.