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Strelka Institute

Archaeologist of the future: the failed architecture of the supply chain.

The Strelka Institute, located in Moscow, Russia, is a highly selective research program that encourages exploration of various disciplines through architecture and design projects. The New Arctic, a short workshop led by Liam Young and Nathan Su in the "The New Normal" project timeline, is comprised of six films set in Magadan, an isolated port town along the Sea of Okhotsk. Read more at the end of the article.

Set in the future, "Siren" introduces the idea of piecing together "data fossils" left behind in Magadan with the hopes of learning more about this lost society. The team - Solveig Suess, Daria Stupina, Asia Bazdyrieva, Anna Paukova, Tomas Clavijo, Paul Van Herk - uncover Magadan through the fictional experience of a data mining archaeologist, tasked with synthesizing embedded data left behind in xenoboxes that litter the area.

These xenoboxes take the form of shipping containers, former residences of workers who oversaw the transition from mechanization to automation through small portal windows. Scenes of exploration through the xenoboxes are interrupted by a compilation of data, via colorful data point graphs, interviews of Magadan workers and old films.
The recordings end abruptly, suggesting the end of the archeologist's findings. Audio recordings of her voice continue to explain how the findings have changed her, as she realizes how the monotony and rigidity of the "supply chain infrastructure" within Magadan relegated residents to xenobox prisons, observing the machines to their end.

The technique of framing the future as an environment meant to be analyzed as though it were the past is a clever way to highlight the flaws of the current infrastructural and social issues of Magadan today. Furthermore, the archeologist point of view is easily relatable, considering that is one of the primary methods of understanding human evolution and thus informs our future.

The film itself is presented through the eyes of the archeologist who wanders alone, searching for answers in artifacts. The film follows a chronological sequence, from the retrieval of the xenoboxes, to her compilation of findings and final thoughts. The digital compilation gathered from this society steeped in technological infrastructure stands out sharply in contrast to the natural environment, leading viewers to reflect and think critically of their own technological footprint.

Since its conception in 2010, the Strelka Institute has released new project themes each year centered around urbanism, public space, global trends and emerging technologies. The current theme, The New Normal, is a three-year program that focuses on the proposed connections between urbanism and technology in 2050.

(Story by Pilar Pereyra, The Architecture Player)


Written and directed by: Asia Bazdyrieva, Tomas Clavijo, Paul Van Herk, Solveig Suess, Daria Stupina, Anna Paukova
Mentioned project: The New Arctic (2018)
Project location: Magadan, Siberia, Russia
Tutors: Nathan Su and Liam Young

Russia 2018
Duration: 6'47"