Project Title: Bubbles
Place / Event: Architectural Fairy tales 2016 Competition
Type: Architectural design competition entry
Organiser / Support: Blank Space
Invented by the Ephemera Collective in 2016 for the purposes of an Architectural Storytelling competition – Fairy Tales 2016– created by Blank Space, ‘Bubbles’ envelopes the most abstract qualities of the collective’s work. Both intangible and poetic, ‘Bubbles’ brought a story about not so distant future and the spatial challenges of the physical and digital overlapping worlds’ relations.
Once we realized benefits of new Bubbles, all our fears were gone and there was no turning back. You could connect and enter one of several hundred official platforms created for Bubbles. Those were amazing.
No earth, no ground, no gravity, just skyscrapers with no beginning and no end in sight, smooth surfaces whose tips got lost in clouds and light.
Bubbles was the reason I got into art. It was all there. Nothing to limit me but the moundanity of the ideas I have and concepts I can turn them into. Why would anyone settle for just one that is outside the door, when in my mind I can access wonders that don’t even exist in the world beyond it? Even if I wanted to, I can’t.
Bubbles is undefinable. Bubbles is limitless. Bubbles is borderless. Bubbles is endless.
Without me, without us, there would be no one left to create these worlds for others. There are many of us but we are all unique, all necessary.
I don’t really remember time before Bubbles. I got my first one when I was 13, my parents were very strict about that, but even before I used my brother’s whenever I got the chance. At that time it was just a visor with a nano-bionic glove. It allowed you to enter a platform @Bubbles virtual reality network, to see, hear and to move around. “A whole new world at the tip of your fingers.” That’s how they advertised it. By the time I got my first one, Bubbles started to look more like the one I have now. It was a network of neurological micro-processors that you put on your hands, legs, temples, back of your neck and chest. Perfect armor against the world you were in, and the only way inside a new one. At first people were little unsettled by the intimacy of this technology. They couldn’t accept something inhuman that became so organically connected to our bodies, like a second skin, a better pair of eyes and ears, prosthetics that made us aware more than any deity was ever imagined to be, vehicle that took us to worlds that no drugs could reach. Once we realized benefits of new Bubbles, all our fears were gone and there was no turning back.
Rivers of circuits ran in straight lines and turned under right angles, spreading across human bodies. These micro highways carried electric impulses to and from the brain, connecting the host to endless number of environments visible only through the Bubble. In the beginning new model of Bubbles allowed for the same thing as its predecessor. You could connect and enter one of several hundred official platforms created for Bubbles. Those were amazing. You could enter worlds where gravity worked differently than in ours, even ones where people floated between buildings that themselves hoovered in the air. No earth, no ground, no gravity, just skyscrapers with no beginning and no end in sight, smooth surfaces whose tips got lost in clouds and light.
Other platforms were more commercial. They were instalments of video game worlds. All the countless imaginary landscapes you knew over the screen were now available for you to enter, explore, and feel and touch and smell. Finally the players of these games got to realize why having a sea of sulfur was a bad idea.
My favorite ones were indie platforms developed by artists and former architects. For a small number of interested visitors they created amazing little gem worlds. They played with impossible geometries, creating worlds where up and down, left and right were terms of no meaning. Loops of endless surfaces, Echers drawings that came to life. Stairs and floors moved around, rotated under all angles, floated and disappeared in these new works of art. They were masters of creating 3d puzzles that transformed all the time, ungraspable, always changing, but still oddly familiar every time you entered them.
They also started to mess with size and proportion. In some worlds you can be tiny, smaller than a tea cup, so light and small you could ride a fly or swing around on spider webs, so diminished you started to observe a crumb of bread as a ungraspable monolith whose origin and purpose you couldn’t comprehend. Some of the platforms even allow you to enter atomic and subatomic levels, to mess around with energy and matter, to have your corporeal existence for a time mixed with existence of a wave of light and energy. Fi fai fo fum! That’s right: giants. Only not giants, but you, ordinary small you surrounded by tiny people that look up at you in amazement as you cover their sun, walking between their tallest skyscrapers like you were walking through Legos.
Bubbles is undefinable.
Bubbles was the reason I got into art. It was all there. Art, architecture, performances, even blockbuster movies moved to Bubbles. Audiences from all over the physical world gathered in the streets of fictional New York to look Earths mightiest heroes battle another villain that threatened to destroy our planet. Others saw a more practical use for Bubbles. It revolutionized tourism. Couple of years after it hit the market all major cities and tourist destinations had their identical replica on Bubbles. Well not identical. There were no traffic jams, no pollution, no homeless on the streets, and no threats of new extremist attacks; just wonderful weather and sights for tourists to visit.
Even beaches and spas have Bubbles now. You can put it on (if you ever take it off), close your eyes and wait. In 3-5 seconds you would hear the waves roaring, crushing against the coast. Then 5-8 seconds you can feel your bare feet sinking into hot sand, that creeps between your toes and salty ocean wind that hits your body. You can enter water, feel the cold and taste the salt, float or swim, and it’s just like you’re there.
Bubbles is limitless.
I guess that’s the reason we use it so much. By the time I got to college everyone was using it to go to school. You never had to leave your house, and you still got education from every institution in the world, no matter how far. Bubbles also made sure you were safe. No one ever got shot in the virtual classroom.
Bubbles is borderless.
Only thing Bubbles can’t give you is food. Good thing that take out predates Bubbles. Now you can even sign contracts with companies, so called caretakers that make a nutrition plan just for you, and deliver it on daily basis. Thanks to them, many of us didn’t have to go out for years. There is just no need to. Bubbles offers everything we could ever want, every experience, every need. Endless worlds are interconnected and contained in this web of nonconductors and circuits that slowly sink into our skin, becoming more necessary than veins and arteries, more precious than bone marrow. So many worlds, so many places just one thought away. Why would anyone settle for just one that is outside the door, when in my mind I can access wonders that don’t even exist in the world beyond it? Even if I wanted to I can’t. I have an obligation to my profession and to my work. I am an architect, creator of worlds. And in Bubbles I am better and more powerful than I could ever be beyond it. There are no materials, no constructions, no physics, nothing to limit me but the mundanity of the ideas I have and concepts I can turn them into. Here I can even change the nature of light if I will it. One thought and it’s gone. Just like that. It starts with no source, and it ends midway, just because I thought it should. Without me, without us, there would be no one left to create these worlds for others. There are many of us, but we are all unique, all necessary.
I should really get back to work now. I’ll hear the buzzer when my caretaker comes. I don’t remember when he came last time, but I’m starving. I wonder. Blink of an eye and I’m back inside it. I divide, imagine and call into existence. I create. I build.
Bubbles is endless.