Superflux co-director Jon Ardern started the ARK-INC project while studying at the Royal College of Art. Born of his frustration with resistance to the mounting body of evidence about the dangers of growth, the project found its first platform in 2006, as an installation and trio of short films.
Since Jon's graduation, ARK-INC has continued to grow, reflecting the challenges and tensions of the current societal environment. As a superfiction, the company has three main functions – selling products and services; gathering, crunching and distributing data; and providing infrastructure for a grassroots network of resilient ARK collectives.
ARK-INC's stable of products are designed to fit comfortably in the domestic environment of the current techno-economic paradigm. They also possess a set of covert properties to be activated, cultivated or harvested when the point of crisis hits.
The flagship product in this line is the ARK RADIO, which sits innocuously on a living room or kitchen table. The radio is designed with three functions One key grants access to the ARK RADIO SHORT-WAVE worldwide paradigm index broadcast. The second key lets you listen in on your local collective's FM transmission. When the time comes, a third key will permanently change the device's design, adding the capabilities for encrypted transmission and the reception of incoming audio and data – effectively enabling two-way communication with collectives and ARK members.
The radio also has solar PV cells inlaid in its rear panel, such that the failiure of our main communication and utility networks would not prevent the ARK member from communication, allowing them to combine components from the radio with other ARK products to construct their own ad-hoc network.
A disaster is not the event itself, but the trauma of the event. By adjusting to looming collapse in advance, your lifestyle can change gradually, at your own pace. ARK-INC offers holidays in apocalyptic landscapes, low-tech home comforts, and materials for self-evaluation.
A selection of publications including Learning to Love the Crash, Staying Positive in the Face of Adversity, and the award-winning Pets as Protein are tailored to help you mediate your response to disaster and collapse.
Alongside these products and services, ARK-INC produces a Paradigm Index, a reworking of stock and share infrastructure that monitors the value of ARK assets. The index is derived from a set of data, including CO2 levels, peak oil projections, and a basket of social and political trends. Alongside this Index, the ARK Trust promotes a popular movement rooted in the aspirations and alternative economies of ARK-INC.
The ARK-INC superfiction was shown at MoMA's exhibition 'Design and the Elastic Mind', and again, later, at London's Victoria & Albert Museum.