To The Lighthouse
Olive Ouyang and Nathaniel Gillette

Commencement: July 19, 2019. 8:21 p.m.
Opening Reception: July 26, 2019. 8.15 p.m.

Our planet is becoming unlivable at a much faster rate beyond our imagination. Our cities are subject to entropy and degradation: climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of agriculture, rising sea levels and depletion of ozone layer that exposes all living beings to dangerous levels of cosmic energy… are threats that accelerate exponentially within our deeply interdependent ecosystems. The condition of our future is transience; survival is only made possible by the dynamics of change: we have no choice but to adapt. The political, technological, epistemological and personal efforts in adaptation under extreme conditions created by destruction offer distinct parallels with the theoretical work of Lebbeus Woods, whose mythology engages the consequences of destruction, neither attempting to erase nor memorialize them, but to use them as the starting point for a new sensibility, a new basis for creative action.

The lighthouse is a symbol of power, warmth, consistency, and safety. As a structure that historically serves as both a landmark and a navigational aid, it marks both dangerous terrains, hazardous weather conditions and safe passages to harbors. By appropriating the symbolism of a traditional lighthouse, this short film envisions an interplanetary network of un-manned “lighthouses” that are made obsolete, yet still in operation long after the destruction of planet earth and the displacement of the human race. Influenced by Woods’ designs, each structure originally serves as an autonomous relay station for survey drones that gather data from its surrounding environment, and communicates with other lighthouses about its analysis. As we observe the lighthouses’ futile repetitions of monitoring, investigating, analyzing, and sending signals that echo within the deep, vast space, the viewer is invited to openly speculate on the precarious fate of our planet earth.

Olive Ouyang is a Chinese-born designer, artist and writer based in Chicago, IL. Her work combines a background in architecture with an intense academic interest in how spatial experiences are produced and disseminated through mediating technology. Olive recently received her Master of Architecture and a certificate in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the First Prize Winner of the 2018 Schiff Foundation Fellowship for Critical Architectural Writing. Drawing upon the promises and conflicts of digital media at particular cultural and political junctures, her graduate thesis explores modes of virtuality through experimenting with 3D scanning, point cloud modeling, motion-capture and animation to construct immersive landscapes of memories and lived spaces. Currently, Olive is invested in subjects relating to the collective fear of the disappearance of physical objects/places, and in parallel – the active architectural production and proliferations of the virtual realms. 

Nathaniel Gillette is a digital artist based in Chicago, IL. He recently graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in Animation. His on-going projects speculate on the potentials of modern technologies in creating new forms and attributes of our future landscapes. Through animation, VR, game and sound design, Nathaniel’s work engages the dream-like implications of virtuality amidst the dissonance of our anxiety-ridden and increasingly tech-dependent everyday life. He seeks to challenge the notion that escapism is fundamentally and exclusively negative by exploring elements of emancipation and cognitive autonomy in the attempts to refigure a different reality.