Fashioned from architectural model kits that Coupland has collected for more than a decade, The World is an urban landscape that was inspired by two early forms of Land Art that Coupland saw as a student on slides in an art history class—Robert Smithson’s monumental earthwork Spiral Jetty and Walter de Maria’s The Lightening Field which consists of 400 stainless steel poles installed as a vast grid in an open field. Coupland has created an urban landscape which includes references to these two seminal works which celebrated the earth and the monumentality of art through a central spiral and the evenly distributed poles. However, there is a decidedly dystopic undertone to this cityscape which includes train tracks bearing corporate logos such as Dow Chemical Company, Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto and other companies related to pesticides and genetic modification. Black “oil” drips over the globes and leaks from the tanks and pipelines, a symbol of the environmental degradation resulting from our fervent drive to secure natural resources, a fragile situation amplified by the dead bees scattered throughout.
The twenty-first century has been shaped by many events but in Coupland's view perhaps most profoundly by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, environmental degradation and the ubiquitous presence of new technologies.