Landscapes of Color



Unknown Fields is a nomadic research studio that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth to bear witness to alternative worlds, alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness. These distant landscapes — the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine — are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives. Unknown Fields remaps and reimagines the city and the objects it contains not as discrete, independent collections of buildings and commodities but as a relational object that conditions and is conditioned by a wide array of local and global supply chains, a network of vast but elusive tendrils that twist threadlike over everything around us, crisscrossing the planet, connecting the mundane to the extraordinary.

For our 2016 Unknown Fields expedition, we picked at a loose thread on our garments to unravel them across continents from wardrobe to warehouse, from factory to field. 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. In the Indian cities of Pali and Ahmedabad iconic rivers run with the colours of the season as chemicals used in the dye process are dumped untreated to poison the land along their rainbow banks. These are the shadows cast across the landscape by the luminous colors of fashion.

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In a Pali dye factory a family fold sari fabric that has been hung up to dry in the breeze after going through the colouring process. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).
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In an Ahmedabad textile mill fabric is dyed and printed before being transport to the nearby garment factories. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).
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In the Ahmedabad textile mill two workers inspect a roll of pink fabric for defects. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).
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The Unknown Field’s drone flies above the dyeing city of Pali to capture images of a row of trucks from nearby factories dumping the toxic waste water into a drain beside a water treatment plant. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).
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Soon after the drone had landed Unknown Fields were encircled by several trucks and detained until the footage was handed over. The group had managed to swap the camera’s data cards before they were trapped and smuggled the images out so they could be published. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).
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The drone flies around the dye dumping convoy to map the flow of waste. Although the adjacent treatment plant has been designed to filter the factory chemicals the drone was able to record the effluent flowing directly into the nearby river. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).
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The Bandi River flows through the dyeing district and from the air its extraordinary pollution is clearly visible. Coloured stains from the dye industry can be seen over 50km downstream and much of the river has become undrinkable. / Liam Young/Unknown Fields (2016).