• How to Make and Un-Make a World; an Incomplete Catalog of Questions and Answers
    Fred Scharmen

Fred Scharmen, “Specificity” animation still, 2021. Courtesy the artist

In 1975, at a Princeton conference on manufacturing in outer space, The Museum of Modern Art architecture curator Ludwig Glaeser was asked to remark on the possibilities for the architectural design of human dwellings in space. Glaeser resisted the impulse to provide easy answers about new worlds, and remarked instead that a catalog of “conceptual questions” would be a more relevant project to undertake. Some 45 years later, with the benefit of hindsight looking back on decades of human past experience in the construction of new worlds in space and on Earth, and with another eye towards possible future worlds, this project seeks to contribute to Glaeser’s incomplete catalog with more questions (and a few answers). Drawing on sociology, astrobiology, ethics, the history of art and design, and spatial practices in architecture and elsewhere, How to Make and Un-Make a World; an Incomplete Catalog of Questions and Answers, is an attempt to give shape, space, and form to these provocative questions and answers, however speculative and abstract they may be.

Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. He is the cofounder of the Working Group on Adaptive Systems, an art and design consultancy based in Baltimore, MD. His first book, Space Settlements, from Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, was published in 2019, and was the beneficiary of support from the Graham Foundation in 2018. His second book, Space Forces, was published by Verso in 2021. He received his master’s degree in architecture from Yale University. His writing has appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, New Geographies, Places Journal, Atlantic CityLab, Slate, Log, CLOG, Volume, and Domus.