On Tuesday night I was kindly invited to an event organized by Ludic Group as part of their Creative Capital series of events hosted by the Hospital Club.
Entitled “DESIGN PROVOCATIONS: DEBATING DESIGN & DESIGN FOR DEBATE” the evening was a great opportunity to bring together those who design alternative futures to discuss the implications of emerging technologies in our lives. Obviously this is a topic close to my heart being as I am a graduate of the Design Interactions course at the RCA. I will always be someone who is investigating the bigger picture and the wider impact of this approach; applying the skills of the designer with art, science and technology as a way to discuss the continuation of now, the preferable, the probable, the potential.
The one thing I have felt since graduating is that there is no opportunity to actually discuss and debate what it is that we are doing, there is no obvious path for this way of working yet there has always been a way for people to express their ideas of speculative futures by telling stories.
Not that I feel that there is only one way to be a designer, but there could be a 3rd way, a pluralistic approach that applies design as a tool to highlight the importance of the complexity of humanity and the normative social and political systems we live in that we fit into or try to mashup or destroy.
Speakers included James King, Anab Jain, James Auger, Jack Mama, Dr.Marcos Cruz, and each were depicting their own way whether using objects, film, animation, architecture photography or ethnofictions to deal with the possibilities the impact of new and emerging technologies will and do have on our everyday lives and enforce us to reinterpret our social and political structures.
As quoted by Paola Antonelli design is evolving in response to the hugely complex changes in the world ..“Is the recent dialogue between designers and other disciplines mutating design and therefore mutating our world?”…and in doing so the audience and the facilitators to this approach in design is also changing.
Is this kind of design and futures thinking futile? Who should it be addressing, where can this way of working be most affective? Is it design to facilitate? How will it change public engagement and our individual understanding of how our futures could go? Does anyone care about the future or should we stick to designing new FMCG and ways to solve current misunderstandings of our world from a ‘social’ design perspective and deal with the now?
Anyway, just some thoughts…
Went to a great alumni event on Thursday night hosted by Design Interactions and Architecture departments at the RCA about speculative storytelling called ‘Parallel Worlds’. An opportunity to see projects that hint at alternative sets of underlying values and alternative political/economic/social situations.
It was a real opportunity to see some graduates and current students work in a 7 minute pecha kucha style presentation format. It had the essence of being in a crit but with beer and without the criticism!
For me it was the first time I had seen architecture student’s work from the platform run by Gerard and previously Fiona. As it was a night of storytelling about possible, preferable, plausible, potential futures each presenter had a particular concern relating to social and cultural implications of technologies/scientific developments ranging from the post-antibiotic era and atavism, nuclear waste and the cyborg self to energy pasts, biometrics and gait analysis at the airport. Each was expressed with an opening question and then a description of a scenario/ investigation using film, montage, design prototypes etc.
The real interesting thing for me that came out of that evening was the chance to see the similarities and differences in how the two courses speculate, communicate and develop projects. There are obviously different guidance curriculums for DI and for ADS4. DI deals in broad scope and in depth but with no direct methodologies or ways of exploring something and not always a defined end point i.e. services, products, films or installation or interventions. I realised the ADS4 have obviously very different end goals to any project explorations, they will inevitably design a building.
Presenters and their project summaries:
DRIVING WITH THE JONES_NICOLA KOLLER (ADS04 2003) Driving with the Jones explores a world in which the English countryside might finally succumb to tragi-pathogens, falling EEC subsides and ever decreasing profits.
THE RACE_ MICHAEL BURTON (DI 2007) www.michael-burton.co.uk Can human metagenomics give us new ideals of health, enhancement and success as a “super-organism”?
THE GREAT INDOORS _ TOMAS KLASSNIK (ADS04 ) _ [www.klassnik.com] Do we still want to participate directly in society? or would we prefer to interact solely through the comforting distance of the internet?
ORGANIC HYBRIDS AND THE POSTBIOLOGICAL WORLD _ REVITAL COHEN (DI 2008) revitalcohen.com Could cross-breeding of the natural kingdoms give birth to new sorts of cyborgs?
THE RADIANCE RESORT _ RACHEL HARDING (ADS04 2009)
Can embracing the health benefits of toxicity persuade society to trust nuclear power?
THE GOLDEN INSTITUTE _ SASCHA POHFLEPP (DI 2009) What would have become of the future of energy if Ronald Reagan had never happened?
ETERNALLY YOURS : HUMAN(ITY) SHIELD _ CLAIRE JAMIESON (ADS04 2009) Can the disposal of nuclear waste be ensured for 10,000 years by the creation of a synthetic mythology?
SELF DEFENSE : BERNHARD HOPFENGAERTNER (DI 2009) How will the disclosure of our private emotions alter the way we see ourselves?
CHAMBERS WHARF _ SAFIA QURESHI (ADS04 2010)
Can a new school typology remove societies fear of children?
THE PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE- NELLY BEN HAYOUN (DI 2009) “How can I make a galaxy in my kitchen sink, professor?”