Pauline Alt

Speculated geology

Accelerating the geological phenomenon. A future scenario.

The main project is a speculative design project about the humans impact on the earth.

Over a long time we humans have become a global geophysical force intertwined with the most powerful forces of nature. We spread specific elements in nature, which will become prevalent sediments in the far future.

In an imagined future, novel rocks resulting from human activity will be mined.

What ?

I am developing material tales out of artificial and natural materials we are using nowadays.
These speculative material tales should give an outlook about potential substances which can be mined in a far future.



I want to raise awareness of the impact of humans on earth.
The project is an outlook of how the future could look like, if the most “unnatural” remains – human made materials such as plastic – become a commonplace part of nature.
So I am asking myself right now, when does something artificial become natural or rather when does a material become artificial?


How ?

The earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula.
Geological change has been a constant of Earth’s crust since the time of its formation – all rocks are the product of extremely long geological processes.
Observing and catalysing this slow geological phenomenon, will help me to manufacture a human-made mineral out of materials we produce, such as plastics, aluminium, steel, concrete, glass or textiles.

Therefor I am experimenting with various materials by heating them up, trying to connect, combine or mix them. Exploring how they react to one another.



Elaborating different possible materials is one part of my project, but the second part is the story behind.
A clear communicated story facilitates imagining and understanding the material-outcomes, that I produced.

In my project I am zooming out of the planets history.
When we are looking at the human history in comparison to the long history of our planet, it  becomes a very small part in the timeline.
Having a look at the very first days of the humans, in the Stone Age, we find some simple working tools, with which they influenced their environment for the first time.
Tools they built out of raw materials which they have found in their surrounding.
For my project, I am manufacturing prehistoric working tools out of my artificial-natural future minerals – something primitive which exemplifies the beginning of the civilization.

In the end you will see a collection of artifacts, which have been found by the future generations/ life forms. It will be a archaeological site with notes, sketches and transcripts “they” made, that help to rebuild the formation processes of the found natural (-artificial) “minerals”.



  1. I wonder whether the strong part of this project is really the moral implication of an extended awareness (“If we keep going like this we will all disappear”). Instead I find it intriguing how you imagine a future in which humans are – quite naturally – a thing of the past. And even their most “unnatural” remains are considered a commonplace part of nature. It illustrates quite nicely the difficulty to distinguish “natural” from “artificial” material. Or am I totally off track here?

  2. Thank you for your feedback, Ralph.
    You are totally right. My project gives an outlook into the far future.
    I´m speculating how the human (made) legacies could look like by dealing with the question: when does a material become artificial? As you said its hard to distinguish natural from artificial. I hope to solve it approximately or else to present a possible solution.
    I don’t want to push people into a direction, that they feel bad and guilty after they´ve seen my project. I´d rather be a neutral observer that shows his thoughts to this topic.

    Nonetheless I think, you always should have our enormous impact on the earth and its negative consequences in mind. 🙂

    I will rewrite my blogpost to make it more clear.

  3. I think the objective of your project is stable enough to think about the next steps. If I understand you correctly you are telling two stories:
    One is the story of present humankind and what they leave behind for future generations (or even life forms) to discover and utilise those remains as “raw material”.
    The second story is your speculative experimental exploration of imitating the processes that might lead to such “artificial-natural” raw materials.
    In both cases you might want to lay out and specify exactly how you want to tell those stories. Are you going to use photographs, video, artefacts, illustrations? I recommend to be very specific now and plan the visual (and haptic) telling of your stories since these are at the heart of your project.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *