Journey through the universe of Buckminster Fuller, an inspirational figure of the 20th century, an inventor and visionary who worked across multiple disciplines including art, science, architecture and design, with the aim of changing the world. Opening on 22nd January 2022 as part of Singapore Art Week, Radical Curiosity: In the Orbit of Buckminster Fuller at ArtScience Museum celebrates Fuller’s work and his enduring legacy.
Best known for his invention of the geodesic dome – which later inspired the Spaceship Earth ride at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot theme park, Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport and countless other children’s playgrounds – Fuller’s obsession with tensegrity and the rules of geometry led him to revolutionary discoveries in balancing compression and tension in building. Despite his success in this field, Fuller did not restrict himself to a particular area of study. Instead, he worked collaboratively and across disciplines as a self-declared ‘comprehensive anticipatory design scientist’, working to solve pressing global issues including housing, shelter, transportation, education and energy. He foresaw many of the major crises of the 21st century and once said, “My ideas have undergone a process of emergence by emergency. When they are needed badly enough, they are accepted.”
Fuller’s true impact on the world today lies in his everlasting influence on generations of designers, architects, scientists and artists working to create a more sustainable planet. He played a crucial role in the discovery of a new carbon molecule and was a key influence during the early career of renowned architect, Moshe Safdie, amongst others. Radical Curiosity brings together works by contemporary artists, architects and designers including Safdie and Neri Oxman who have drawn inspiration from Fuller’s lifelong experimentation.
“Radical Curiosity celebrates the confluence of art and science through the works of one of the greatest minds in the 20th century. Buckminster Fuller’s vision comes full circle at ArtScience Museum, which was designed by Moshe Safdie, one of the many architects Fuller inspired. At the Museum, we believe in taking multi-disciplinary approaches to form new ideas that will impact the world. Through Radical Curiosity, we hope not just to pay tribute to his brilliance, but to also inspire visitors to be a little more curious about the world around them and be a little more radical in the way they think too. We are thrilled to open the exhibition during Singapore Art Week 2022. We invite visitors of all ages to step inside Fuller’s world with family-friendly, playful, interactive galleries designed to open the show to children and visitors young at heart,” said Honor Harger, Vice President of Attractions and ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands.
A co-production between Fundación Telefónica, Madrid and ArtScience Museum, Radical Curiosity is curated by Rosa Pera and José Luis de Vicente. The exhibition reveals Fuller’s greatest inventions, core ideals and the many experiments he undertook to design a more inclusive and sustainable world.
“It is truly an honour to have worked so closely with the material from the Buckminster Fuller archive at Stanford Libraries, and draw together his key projects and ideas. They remain extremely relevant in the 21st century, illuminating our challenges today in fields like housing, urbanism, education, the data economy or sustainable design inspired by nature. What we have created is not simply a hagiographic exhibition of his work, but rather an exploration or unpacking of his approach to problem solving, questioning and experimentation. What is most memorable is his hope for a better future. Fuller wanted us to take charge of our environment, and take responsibility for those who are less fortunate, to “make the world work, for 100% humanity”. His inspiring message and drive to innovate for the better are what we hope will be most memorable for this exhibition,” added Rosa Pera and José Luis de Vicente, guest curators of Radical Curiosity.
Radical Curiosity is a journey through seven key ideas in Fuller’s work that will lead visitors of all ages through his way of thinking, inspiring them to observe, ponder on and challenge the world around them with the same sense of curiosity. In 1917, 22-year-old Fuller embarked an experiment where he created a detailed archive of his own life, known as the Dymaxion Chronofile, which would also chronicle the world´s transformation over the course of the new century. Fuller collected and archived any personal document pertaining to his daily activities. These included the letters he sent and received, handwritten notes, drawings and plans, newspaper cuttings, brochures, train and plane tickets, and even his medical prescriptions. Part of the Stanford University libraries archive since 1999, the 145,000 personal documents that comprise the Dymaxion Chronofile make Fuller’s life one of the best documented in history.
Fuller was most well-known for developing the geodesic dome. The geodesic dome was created out of Fuller’s belief in “doing more with less” since the structure created the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area, making it incredibly efficient and cost-effective. In the 1980s, Fuller’s geodesic domes provided the key to the discovery of a carbon molecule which was subsequently named “Buckminsterfullerene” in his honour. Since his death in 1983, approximately 300,000 geodesic domes have been built worldwide.
Tetrascroll was the title of a three-dimensional publication that Fuller, who by that time was in his 80s, produced in order to share his ideas on the universe “in an empirical and scientific way”. Based on the tetrahedron, the Tetrascroll expressed Bucky’s ideas on time, physics, synergy and the cosmos in 21 lithographs divided into twenty-six sections, each of which forms an equilateral triangle.
Inventions: Twelve Around One brings together a series of Fuller’s most important inventions, and comprises eight illustrations, each superimposed with technical data, printed on transparent acetate. Each drawing focusses on a key Fuller invention: the 4D House, Dymaxion Car, Dymaxion Deployment Unit, Dymaxion Dwelling Machine, Tensegrity, Submarisle, Monohex Geodesic Dome and Tensile-Integrity Structures projects.
The Duo-Tet Star Polyhedra was designed by Fuller in the early 1980s to explore structural design. The three-dimensional sculpture functions both as a work of art and as a model of the mathematical and geometric properties underlying its construction. Fuller used various contrasting colours and materials to accentuate the internal geometric relationships of the polyhedra sculpture.
Besides Fuller, other mid-to-late 20th century visionary artists and utopian architects began to look at how population growth would drive people to leave solid ground and build cities on the sea, up in the clouds or even in space. Between 1946 and 1972, Argentinian artist and poet Gyula Kosice produced a number of sculptures and models that gave form to his vision of a habitat that defied the laws of gravity. In his Hydrospatial City, people would live by using electrolysis, separating hydrogen and oxygen to produce water and energy.
To encourage visitors to observe, ponder and change the world around them with the same sense of curiosity that Fuller did, ArtScience Museum has developed a series of interactive elements in the exhibition. Inspired by the Dymaxion Chronofile, Radical Curiosity will provide visitors with the option to own their personal scrapbook which will guide them through a series of curated educational offerings featuring hands-on, playable activities that bring several of Fuller’s key projects to life.
These activities can be found throughout the exhibition and in a spectacular full-scale geodesic dome. The activities have been specially curated to engage and create fun family activities for children and young adults.
Radical Curiosity: In the Orbit of Buckminster Fuller runs from 22nd January 2022 at the ArtScience Museum. Tickets and more information available here