Post Planets

May 2022
Speculative Design
3D Modelling
3D Printing

Post Planet is a speculative design that imagines an alternate planet from a non-human perspective. The goal is to bring a surprising perspective for audience to look at the planet and think about the possible alternate reality we live in. By thinking about a different possible reality, this project provokes the audience to form their own perspectives on the planet as a visual and physical site.

The Triangle

How should I find a point among those ambiguous questions to break into the design? Inspired by Humans, Animals, Machines – Blurring Boundaries, we’ve got a framework to rely on when thinking about decentralizing humans in the near future. This triangle means we need to include humans, technology and non-human elements in our concept. While the triangle naturally indicates a hierarchy, this triangle is laid flat so that humans are not on the top of it. Speculative Design sees humans as one small part of the world whose existence is equal to other species.

In the sense of presenting spatial relationships between countries, borders are one critical lens to look through. Marcus Wong found in 2016 (Figure 2.2) that Sham Chun River near the natural border between Hong Kong and Mainland China was invisible in Google while visible in the satellite map. Max Galka configured a river missing between the China-India border. Similar problems have been found near the border of Costa Rica and South China Sea. The reason behind these omissions might be a lack of consensus on sovereignty issues or a censorship by nation-states to protect secretive territories - concluded from a recent release from Google Maps about sensitive Russian government installations after the Ukraine incident.

Roads are productions of human civilization. Can we extract all the roads from the map and form a new one? Can that be a network of human vessels extending into the earth’s landscapes? To find the answer, I need to look at roads’ development in a chronological order to compare how roads are making the map into a map. I looked for extracted roadmaps and felt it a good way to deconstruct roads in a tile-map level to recreate them. But will the patterns of roads make sense to represent a sense of network in the planet? Will it still make sense if I exclude roads from the landscape and urban areas? How can I find roads that exist in other non-human species’ worlds and compare those with human roads?

Below is a famous world map projection according to fish made by the oceanographer Athelstan Spilhaus. Based on the fishes’ living environment, ocean instead of land, he shifted the center of the world to the Antarctica, made the Arctic an inferior center and shortened the distance between two original poles.

The altitude and latitude are the most consistent patterns in a traditional map. The earth is perceived and analyzed based on the geographic coordinate system (GCS). What3words[1]has translated every 3m square into a combination of 3 words, to replace the current GCS. For example, it’s north London if you put ‘knife.fork.spoon’ into their application. This project dumped the traditional science-proven way of analyzing the globe.

Finding checkerboard patterns is the ‘aha’ moment when roaming in the Google Map. In checkerboard patterns, the squares that remain dark green generally are lands that belong to the Bureau of Land Management. In some of those squares, there is clearcutting and regrowth taking place in this time frame. Adjacent squares, however, have a more noticeable change in tan or white spots, indicating more frequent clearcuts in the logging/reforestation cycle. Checkerboard patterns are a fun trace of human activities. I wonder if I can find similar patterns generated by other species using Google Maps.

Key Design Questions

How can I make the alternative globe more appealing and impressive at  first glance?
How can I make 3D more mind-blowing than 2D since 2D is informative enough to display alternate versions of the map?
Is there any possibility to tell why my alternate planet is impressive while showing it visually?

Earliest Intention