How to Build a Social Sculpture

For the team behind this eco-futures festival, optimism is radical. But is it enough?

Courtesy Joshua Brott

At Expo 67, the 1967 world’s fair in Montreal, the United States’ pavilion was the Biosphere, a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. At the time, it was the largest freestanding structure ever built—big enough to contain a 135-foot escalator and hanging NASA spacecraft. In the decade that followed, geodesic domes became emblematic of an idealistic, forward-thinking hippie lifestyle. The fact that the Biosphere went up in flames in 1976 feels, now, more than a little symbolic. (Fuller himself said that the choice between utopia or oblivion “will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment.”)

Still, the positivist influence of the Biosphere and world’s fairs remains. At the Visions2030 Earth Edition Festival at CalArts, it showed up in the configuration, a series of separate “nodes” housing different provocations and visions for our future on earth, as well as in the contents of the central node: a trio of geode…

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