Rania Ghosn’s Blue Marble Circus
2017 Fay Chandler Faculty Creativity Grant
Blue Marble Circus is a monument to industrial humanity’s plastic footprint, which—although at a planetary scale—remains outside our geographical imagination. The installation appropriates Rome’s ancient Pantheon, known for its spherical “architecture of the cosmos,” to take aim at the dissonance between our individual worries and the vast environmental transformations the Earth is undergoing. The geodesic sphere appropriates “Blue Marble,” the iconic symbol of the environmental movement. The blue shrink-wrapped globe is also a camera obscura, an optical device that projects site-specific views of the surroundings into the chamber. All white inside, its plastic material expression invites another planetary imagination, with greenhouse gases and greenhouse agriculture as subject matters for architecture. The blue miniature is hence an aesthetic invitation to re-learn, like Atlas, how to carry the world—and all there is above it—on our shoulders.
The installation was produced for Design Biennial Boston in the summer of 2017. Recognizing architects with innovative practices, the juried biennial program commissions a series of four small-scale installations on the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. The DESIGN EARTH contribution, Blue Marble Circus, engaged the public with an immersive and critical experience of their environment.
Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST).
Further funding is made possible by the Design Biennial Boston and the MIT School of Architecture + Planning Faculty Discretionary Funds.
Rania Ghosn is assistant professor of Architecture and Urbanism at MIT and founding principle of DESIGN EARTH with El Hadi Jazairy. The design research practice examines the geographies of technological systems to open aesthetic and political concerns for architecture and urbanism.
The work of DESIGN EARTH is widely recognized, including a Young Architects Prize from The Architectural League of New York. She received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Faculty Design Awards (2017 and 2014), a Jacques Rougerie Foundation’s First Prize (2015) and honorable mentions for their competition entries in City Vision, Organic Skyscraper, Archinect Dry Futures and The Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Awards in Architectural Representation. DESIGN EARTH has exhibited internationally at Venice Architecture Biennale, Oslo Architecture Triennale, Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Parsons School for Design at the New School, MIT Keller Gallery and Sursock Museum in Beirut. Some of their recent writings are published in Harvard Design Magazine, Pidgin, Volume, Journal of Architectural Education, San Rocco, MONU, Avery Review, Thresholds, Bracket and Perspecta.
Ghosn holds a Doctor of Design degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she was founding editor of the journal New Geographies and editor-in-chief of Landscapes of Energy (2009). She is co-author of Geographies of Trash (ACTAR, 2015) and the forthcoming Geostories.
More at the artist’s website: DESIGN EARTH
Boston Society of Architects: 2017 Design Biennial Boston
Conceptual Design Aaron Weller, Larisa Ovalles
Fabrication Justin Lavallee, Christopher Dewart, Cristina Clow, Lex Agnew, Rawan Al-Saffar, Ching Ying Ngan, Marc Smith, Sabrina Madera, Michael Epstein, Paul Short, Jongbang Park, Xin Wen
Structural Engineer Paul Kassabian, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Optics Consultant Lee Zamir, Tom Gearty
Facilities and Support Autodesk BUILD Space (Athena Moore, Taylor Tobin, Adam Allard), MIT (Jim Harrington, Jennifer O’Brien, Maria Moran)