Liam Young: New Romance is the solo exhibition of an Australian-born architect Liam Young — one of the most distinctive and adventurous voices in contemporary architecture today. At the core of his multidisciplinary practice is a continuous interrogation of the present realities of cities. Through research expeditions, storytelling, documentary ﬁlm, and performance, Young extrapolates and exaggerates existing networks, systems, and technologies to imagine possible future urbanisms. The exhibition presents three short ﬁlms — In the Robot Skies (2016), Where the City Can’t See (2016), and the debut of Renderlands (2017) — and charts his recent work in ﬁction ﬁlm and his experimentation with new cinematic tools. Each framed as a love story, the ﬁlms reveal Young’s emerging interest in world building: the design of a cinematic universe in which narratives evolve.
In the Robot Skies tells the story of two teenagers who communicate through a hacked drone from within the digital conﬁnes of a high-rise council estate in London. Filmed by drones programmed with speciﬁc cinematic rules and behaviors, the ﬁlm embraces the drone as an instrument of visual storytelling, and as the catalyst for a network of surveillance activists and hackers.
Where the City Can’t See follows a group of young factory workers as they drift through a smart city in a driverless taxi. Shot entirely with laser scanning technology, the ﬁlm explores emergent subcultures in a city ruled by urban management systems and CCTV surveillance. Renderlands is a mixed reality romantic fantasy that chronicles a digital renderer’s virtual construction of a dream city. Set in an outsourced video game company in India, the ﬁlm uses scavenged VFX movie models and 3D game assets — remnants of cancelled production jobs on studio hard drives — to present a contemporary utopia in the thickness of the screen: a virtual city of demolished landmarks, drowned streetscapes, alien invasions, and synthetic actors.
Young harnesses the popular medium of ﬁction ﬁlm and cutting-edge visualization technologies to open up critical conversations on the role of current digital infrastructures in shaping future cities. Based on intensive research and innovative production methods, his cinematic worlds and speculative scenarios present creative advances in architectural representation and design.