How did your working relationship with Neasden Control Centre develop, and what was it about his work and approach that felt appropriate for this project?
LY+KD: We first approached Steve when we were planning our expedition through Chernobyl. We invited him to travel with us, documenting the trip graphically and developing the visual language of the studio. In the same way that a journalist embeds themselves within a military division, we were interested in having an artist chronicle the sites we were visiting in the same way. As our work is engaged with narratives around technology, we wanted to collaborate with an artist that still works by hand, where the processes of making an image are embedded in its final form. His work has an authenticity and a grittiness that contrasts with the dominant media representations of technology. The mythology of technology is that it is produced in clean rooms by autonomous robots, but in reality a device like a mobile phone is handcrafted by a million fingers scattered around the world. It is this provocation that is evident in his design for the Unknown Fields books.
What's next for Unknown Fields—are there more projects and expeditions in the pipeline?
LY+KD: Our next project and book will be based around our expedition behind the scenes of fast fashion exploring the factories and textile mills of India and Bangladesh. Before we wear them, our clothes make journeys of tens of thousands of miles in their process of production making textiles the most globalized industry on the planet. Fast Fashion’s rolling tide dumps mountains of cheap clothing on the high street shores. Worn for one wild night and destined to be discarded, the whims of the style-minded have set in motion a global industry that is reshaping developing economies half a world away. We delve in the dressing up box, into the wild, whimsical, weird and wicked world of fashion, and look deep beyond what is reflected in its glittering gilded mirror.
Here along the supply chain, we are making a new textile that chronicles this journey, and a film that witnesses the last generation of traditional weavers and garment makers whose ancient practices are now almost extinct—an unexpected byproduct of our desires for cheap clothes and fast fashion.