IN THE SPRING OF 1949 a course by architect Buckminster Fuller presented students at the Institute of Design in Chicago with the problem of apocalypse-cum-homework assignment: “The city is to be evacuated. All residential and industrial concentrations of 50,000 persons or more are in immediate danger of annihilation. Consumable goods now directed toward these areas will be diverted to smaller decentralized communities. Seven days are allowed in which to gather all living mechanics necessary to maintain a high standard of living for a family of six—two adults, two children, two guests. Everything not decentralized will be destroyed.”
In the first decades of the twenty-first century, many artists seem galvanized ...