Solarpunk - glimpse into the future
In the midst of a world filled with dystopian imagery and uncertainty, the solarpunk movement is an opposite, a captivating aesthetic and ideology that envisions a future where sustainability, greenery, and remarkable architectural structures coexist to bring about a more sustainable and pleasurable existence. It highlights the origins and inspirations of solarpunk, showcasing landmark examples such as the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore and the Golden Bridge in Vietnam, while also exploring its intersections with afrofuturism. It emphasizes the movement's call to immediate action, encouraging individuals to actively contribute to the realization of a new world that thrives within the limitations of the old one. By engaging in initiatives like seed swaps, Open Source Ecology, and ReGen villages, people are empowered to shape their desired realities and manifest a future that balances both beauty and sustainability.
Have you ever wondered what the future will be like? How will it look, smell, sound, taste, and feel? In a world filled with chaos and uncertainty, these questions might seem irrelevant. However, the future sensory experiences will serve as a testament to our resilience during these challenging times. As human beings who perceive the world through our senses, ensuring that our sensory encounters are pleasurable becomes paramount. Essentially, the aesthetic quality of our existence determines whether it is painful or delightful.
Interestingly, the beginning of this decade has exhibited a more cyberpunk aesthetic than we would prefer. The streets resemble scenes from Blade Runner and Hong Kong, blurring the lines between reality and dystopia. We witness the ultra-wealthy launching rockets while people wearing cloth masks demand justice, and SWAT teams deploy surveillance drones and teargas. The sun turns red as wildfires rage, and powerful storms ravage cities, causing flooding. Elon Musk's truck design, reminiscent of an apocalypse, does little to inspire visual optimism.
Mike Pondsmith, the iconic game creator often associated with the cyberpunk aesthetic, has emphasized that his work was a warning, not something to aspire to. Science fiction works often strive to deter us from undesirable paths or caution us about the consequences of our actions. However, in the realm of science fiction movies, not a single film envisions a world more beautiful than what we currently have or have left behind.
One might argue that doomsday scenarios are easier to depict than realistic utopias. Yet, as the year 2020 unfolded with an uncanny resemblance to an extended episode of Black Mirror, the creator of the series, Charlie Brooker, decided to take a break from his fictional dystopias. The need for psychological ease, soothing imagery of impending solace, and concrete beliefs to strive for became profoundly pronounced.
In response to this longing, an aesthetic and ideological movement known as solarpunk emerged. Solarpunk encompasses an aesthetic and ideology that emphasizes biomimicry, greenery, and breathtaking architectural structures designed to promote sustainability and self-sufficiency. It could be considered a high-tech art nouveau movement—a forward-looking, engineered take on "the natural," rather than a return to a rustic lifestyle.
While solarpunk originated in 2008 on the blog Republic of the Bees, it is not a centralized movement. Anyone inspired by its visuals and principles can contribute to its evolution and become part of its ongoing iterations. Notable examples embodying the solarpunk aesthetic include the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, the Golden Bridge in Vietnam, various awe-inspiring structures by MAD architects, and the visionary concept of Hyperions—skyscraper gardens—conceived by Vincent Callebaut. In the realm of literature, works like Kim Stanley Robinson's "2312" and Mars trilogy, along with Octavia E. Butler's "Parable of the Sower," align with the solarpunk ethos. Notably, the vision of Wakanda portrayed in the movie "Black Panther" also exhibits a significant overlap between solarpunk and afrofuturism—a movement eloquently summarized by Ytasha Womack.
What distinguishes solarpunk is its continuous call to immediate action. It urges individuals to materialize their visions and contribute to the creation of a new world within the cracks of the old. Seed swaps, projects like Open Source Ecology, and initiatives such as ReGen villages—the "Tesla of ecovillages"—are empowering people to grow, build, and manifest their desired realities. Communities like Schoonschip in the Netherlands, built on water with innovative legal frameworks, and the multitude of intentional communities listed on