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THE TIDELANDS

Creator • Speculative Designer

With Yumeng Wang • Carlotta Ayoun

Published in the Biennial of Experimental Micronations

 
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How are microorganisms responsible for human intelligence and creativity? How will the industrial age affect our interrelations? And what might a society look like that recognizes such inventiveness in nonhumans?

The tidelands are a micronation of nearly four quadrillion residents located in the coastal territory between high and low tides. Here, humans are the utter minority—generally left to their own devices to parse the political arrangements of its nonhuman citizens. Communities of post-Capitalocene microbes rapidly populate, consume and reinvent their habitat with the rising and falling of the water; humans wander the shore, attempt to learn from alternate forms of governance—even offer their own bodies as vessels for the evolving metabiome of the tidelands.

The tidelands are a speculative design project developed within Dunne & Raby's Designed Realities Lab at Parsons School of Design. The future micronation was designed to discuss the powerful agency of nonhuman species, the ways they might evolve past human industry, and the possible influence they might (continue to) exert over human civilization.

Some biologists have argued that the microbe invented the human.

We began with this argument, and developed the worldview of a citizenry in a saturated tidal flat. Here microorganisms would flourish. Human communities would organize and reorganize themselves with the ebb and flow of the tide. 

Our civilization eventually evolved: its denizens were driven by rapid cycles of destruction and reinvention—a creative process that drove the genetic diversity of its populace. Tideland politics eclipse anthropocentric law; humans have authority primarily because of their value as an incubator for billions of other citizens. The territory has attracted human legal and constitutional scholars from around the world, many of whom are both humbled and eager to extract the logic of a realm they believe is responsible for the human race.