Acclaimed design studio Superflux and King’s Culture are pleased to announce The Quiet Enchanting, an installation of digitally generated artworks displayed along the newly pedestrianised Strand Aldwych from 17 October 2023.
As visitors walk along the Strand, The Quiet Enchanting will place them in a speculative world where the surrounding Borough of Westminster has been rewilded. A series of digital screens and printed artworks, installed on the external façade of Bush House South West Wing, will imagine a mythic time of ecological abundance, where London’s recognisable landmarks exist in harmony with the natural world. The project has been inspired by Superflux’s ‘Cascade Inquiry’ research initiative, based on a year-long residency and conversations with researchers across King’s College London and developed with King’s Culture.
The Quiet Enchanting draws inspiration from The Great Resignation, the economic trend in which employees resigned from their jobs en masse during the COVID-19 pandemic. This moment marked a transformation from mass disillusionment with the status quo, to a rewilding of the soul, and city, through sustained care and ecological cultivation. In Superflux’s mythic world, culture and nature are no longer separated, but rather adapted to collaboratively thrive.
In preparation for the work, Superflux conducted an in-depth, deep-listening inquiry to surface insights and encourage imaginings from across the King’s community, which have been re-interpreted into speculative scenes in reference to pre-modern poetics, pagan folklore, animist societies and belief-systems. A context board included in the installation will shed light on the multidisciplinary academic research that has fed into this vision.
The Quiet Enchanting supports King’s Climate and Sustainability action plan, which seeks to accelerate climate research, education and action across the University with the aim of influencing climate adaption and enabling just and fair transitions to net zero. The pedestrianised Strand Aldwych, which transformed one of the capital’s most congested and polluted streets running through King’s Strand Campus, will provide a new ‘creative thinking quarter’ for students and the wider public.
Superflux, led by Anab Jain and Jon Ardern, said: “Thanks to the generosity and support of the team at King’s Culture, and the wider King’s community, we spent a year investigating the knotty complexity of the climate crisis through intersecting lenses of neuroscience, geography, governance, economics and more. Our conversations with academics, researchers and policy-makers, made apparent the need for positive imaginaries and guiding narrative visions. We also heard a unanimous call for interdisciplinary thinking that speaks to our interdependence not just across sectors, but across species and with our planet. And from that emerged the idea of The Quiet Enchanting: a mythic journey into deep transformation, within ourselves and the city around us. Rather than portray a direct picture of one possible future, The Quiet Enchanting poses questions to invite imaginings and wonder. We ask: How do we rewild ourselves? And, could rewilding ourselves change the world?”
Beatrice Pembroke, Executive Director, Culture, King’s College London, said: “Despite conclusive scientific evidence, it is still difficult for us to fully connect with the scale of the climate crisis and the actions that we need to take – big and small – to avoid further planetary destruction. Imagining a way of life that feels sustainable for our planet and positive for individuals requires a huge shift in mindset and behaviour; a radical rethinking of what we hold dear. Working with the pioneering studio Superflux on The Quiet Enchanting has enabled us to bring new perspectives to leading climate research at King’s and create a space for possibility on the Strand – to reflect, imagine and renew.”
Professor Frans Berkhout, Professor of Environment, Society and Climate at King’s College London, added: “At King’s, we are committed to embedding climate and sustainability into everything we do. We want to contribute to understanding of the climate and nature crisis; we want to empower our students to take action and we have a commitment to achieve net zero as an organisation. At its heart, this is a cultural transformation, and the arts, including public-facing works such as The Quiet Enchanting, will play a fundamental role in helping us imagine what is possible, and bring meaning to the changes we are going through to achieve sustainability.”
Image: The Quiet Enchanting – a mythic re-imagining of Strand Aldwych, London © Superflux