Produced while in lockdown, Welcome to Nütropix is the latest instalment of the E-Z Kryptobuild video series. E-Z Kryptobuild is a speculative real estate company that offers high-net-worth individuals the opportunity to invest in a luxury life raft for the end of times.
In this video, viewers embark on a virtual tour of Nütropix, E-Z Kryptobuild’s signature palm tree-shaped floating island. Located somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean (for now), Nütropix offers a variety of eco-friendly architect- designed residences for its clients to call home. Named after Nootropics, a type of cognitive performance enhancing drug popular among Silicon Valley acolytes, the island is a vision of a free-wheeling technological utopia. Liberated from disease, centralized government, and sales tax, it is a neoliberal’s wet dream, rendered in a glittering CGI alter-reality where the party never stops and the sun never sets.
Representing a total integration of Instagram-friendly eco-chic environmentalism and cutting-edge technology, Nütropix boasts such innovations as solar- harvesting algae panels, “Smart Palm” routers providing 5G connectivity, and a modular cell structure enabling the island to reconfigure itself limitlessly. Complete with swimming pools, casinos, speed yachts, dozens of restaurants, and health clubs, Nütropix enables its residents to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic in style.
Welcome to Nütropix responds to what the artist describes as a slow apocalypse, recently sped up by the largest public health crisis since WWII. The steady creep of alt-right politics, climate change, and economic instability over the past decade has accelerated through the indefinite closure of national borders and the collapse of the global economy. With the arrival of COVID-19, we have fallen into a panic-driven isolationism: the total opposite of the limitless connectivity and sci- fi utopias dreamed up in the globalization years, the wealthiest era of human history.
Departing from these conditions, which have become intensified in a new level of global instability caused by the pandemic, Welcome to Nütropix presents the irresistible fantasy of a “fast-track ticket out of crisis”. It reflects on the language and aesthetics of disaster capitalism and the techno-utopian belief systems that govern technological entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to the Dubai Desert, and it examines the ways that architecture and design are embroiled in these fantasies. It is a hijacking of consumer dopamine, a seamless solutionism, a hallucinogenic vision of an alternative future that’s freed from the impending global meltdown we were teetering into, anyway. In many ways, Welcome to Nütropix is an obvious scam, but it also a warning sign of things to come.
With a background as an art and architecture critic, Alice Bucknell current work utilizes speculative fiction to address contemporary ideas of technological utopias and the role of architecture in contributing to global inequity and ecological destruction.