Michael Mogensen

Michael Mogensen is a US designer currently based in London and working in Saudi Arabia. He graduated with a MA in Interaction Design from Goldsmiths, University of London and has previously worked in research, analysis and risk, in tech, finance and consultancy, and has extensive experience in the Middle East, the Americas, Asia and Africa. He is interested in the use of creativity and design as a means to explore possible futures as well as what might have been.

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Presentation: “NIUN: A Saudi Future”

NIUN is a collaboration between US designer Michael Mogensen and Saudi artist Ahaad Alamoudi. It is inspired by the 13th C. writings of Arab Persian explorer Zakariya al-Qazwini. NIUN is a film, an installation and a series of talks in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, proposing an alternative Saudi future to those currently imagined in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in general, particularly the Neom mega-project (a 25,000 sq. km. proposed city where robots will outnumber humans).

Saudi artist Ahaad Alamoudi and US designer Michael Mogensen have created a NIUN future. They are are the first residents of NIUN, a future home created in the desert outside Jeddah that responds to a call to join “humanity’s next chapter”. They believe that they are laying the cornerstone of a new civilisation. They go into the desert as an act of faith in the future and their place in it. They inhabit RD (“ardi” in Arabic is my land) a black rock that they believe is an asteroid. She is an energy source who grants them access to the seven heavens and to layers in time of cosmology. They are never entirely sure which is which, one layer overlapping with the other.

NIUN is speculative, a short film, an installation, and also a series of talks where we discuss NIUN and how it responds to the future in Saudi Arabia. It is the precursor to a larger work. NIUN is a speculative work albeit in a loose sense. NIUN explores ideas of the future and Gulf futurism, and of utopia in the context of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and engages with current projects or plans such as Neom, a city proposed in Saudi Arabia.

The film was shot in December 2017 and the work was shown at Jeddah Art Week in February 2018.