Inside

Kathryn Fleming

Show RCA work

Major project:

Endless Forms/Endless Species: Explorations in an Evolutionary Development Park

Examining the cultural institutions that have shaped human interactions and perceptions of wild animals (the circus, zoological garden, and safari park), the project Endless Forms/Endless Species endeavours to imagine a new era of wildlife parks. Within the first of these prototype parks, animal habitats have been specifically designed to re-enforce the re-adaptation and re-purposing of existing evolutionary genetic mutations of new species that have been engineered specifically (evolved through synthetic biology and artificial selection) for life in this post-industrial wilderness. Visiting such an ‘Evolutionary Development Park’ would offer the public a chance to embrace modern naturalism through a series of encounters with new species. Invited to become explorers in a new age of discovery, visitors could consider the impact that direct contact and observation of wildlife has upon the human imagination.

This project will take the form of several full-scale dioramas that illustrate new ecologies at work within this prototype park. Learning the craft of taxidermy and various techniques used in scientific model-making has enabled me to utilise these methodologies to present the audience with a picture of reality that convincingly conflates the potential of science with the possibilities of fiction. The aesthetics of these plants and animals, as well as their clever re-adaptations and neo-ecologies, should therefore appear wonderfully fantastic, but also not beyond what is possible. Grounding the anatomy of these new designer organisms in existing morphology (a branch of biology dealing with the study of the evolution of form and structure within organisms and their specific features), Endless Forms/Endless Species  is a means of speculative morphogenesis that should raise awareness of the remarkable adaptations already existing within ecologies, but also prompt viewers to question what types of experiences could be created by involving technology, human desire and imagination in the future of evolution. To that degree, my project is meant to educate the audience about ecological and evolutionary mechanisms while also inviting them to consider what type of science could make our experience of the world more intensely marvelous, and make us even more amazed by the nature in which we will continue to evolve.

Info

  • Charles Darwin’s concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ helped to reveal evolutionary mechanisms at work in a world in which humans played a minimal role. Today, in an era geologists refer to as the ‘Anthropocene’, humans have become the determining force of what other forms of life will survive, perish, evolve and emerge anew. Accepting our influence on evolution, we are faced with the conscious choice and responsibility of how to go about shaping our natural future. This understanding informs my belief that through designing and imagining new pathways of evolution and the new taxonomies and ethologies of the organisms that might inhabit them, we can embrace our emerging role in the natural world, and start to contemplate how our human desires will play a part in creating it.

  • Previous degrees

  • BFA Furniture Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA, 2005
  • Experiences

  • Lead designer, Basix Home Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 2004-6; Color and materials designer II & footwear designer I, Puma International, Boston, 2007-12
  • Collaborators

Royal College of Art Royal College
of Art Graduate
Exhibition

18-29 June

Royal College
of Art Graduate
Exhibition

The Royal College of Art has a deserved reputation for excellence in research and innovation, and a remit – embodied in its Royal Charter – to take that innovation out into industry and engage with real-world issues. 2013/14 is notable for the number of graduating MPhil and PhD students – 25 in total – as well as groundbreaking student projects that seek to expand practice and policy within their disciplines, many of which are represented here in Show RCA 2014. 

Established in 2012 and showing here for the first time are the programmes of Information Experience Design, Interior Design and Service Design.

Show RCA 2014 is presented across the College’s two campuses: Battersea and Kensington. This year, some 575 Master’s, MPhil and PhD students graduate from the six Schools of the RCA. 

As ever, the breadth, quality and originality of projects at the RCA’s annual Show is inspiring and energising. On behalf of the staff and faculty of the Royal College of Art, we offer our sincere congratulations to the graduands of 2014.

Dr Paul Thompson
Rector