Tag Archives: futures

Holiday at the Airport

The latest in tourist holidaying is the “Holiday at the Airport”. There is no longer the need to actually leave the country but to enjoy the experience of being at the airport about to leave for a fantasy trip abroad.

Similar to the theme park experience, at the end of the security queue you receive a photo of your xray baggage and footage of you and your friends/family queuing with fear and excitement.

You receive photos of the people you meet, the places you loiter, the food you consume at the many vending and fast food chains.
You relish the moment you find that your flight is delayed and the electricity in the airport has failed. The moments you share with strangers will never be replaced, they are unique and you savor every angry word, stressed and confused face. You audio record the moment the airport representatives fob you off and the budget airlines blame each other…

This is the new ‘Holiday At the Airport”, just as Ballard might have depicted.

via flickr

Thrilling Wonder Stories symposium at the AA


Two weeks ago i attended a one day symposium entitled ‘Thrilling Wonder Stories: Speculative futures for an alternate present’
This was an event hosted at the Architectural Association and co-ordinated by Liam Young, architect practitioner and tutor at the AA amd Geoff Manaugh who writes the well written blog, BLDGBLOG about architecture, fiction and speculative storytelling. Geoff introduced the event by discussing his interests in how buildings can become part of a narrative for future plots or events or settings just by going that extra couple of steps into speculative storytelling and how framin wht a building might this could be demonstrated through writing ficition, sci fi, literature, poetry what a building might do or the event the building might frame.

The symposium was a 6-hour event with a line-up of practitioners from various genres including gaming, film, comics, animation, literature and art each discussing the thematic, imaginative, technical, and even structural connections between speculative storytelling, futures and architectural design.They each discussed storytelling and the use of their medium to imagine and describe their own alternative ways of telling stories about possible futures of wondrous possibilities or dark cautionary tales.

Speakers included:

—Sir Peter Cook, cofounder of Archigram and CRABstudio, and designer (with HOK) of the 2012 London Olympic Stadium

Warren Ellis, comic book author and graphic novelist who uses the creation of stories in his comics for sociocultural commentary covering topics and transhumanist themes such as nanotechnology, cryonics, uploading, and human enhancement.– with a portfolio ranging from X-Men and Iron Man to Ellis’s legendary Transmetropolitan, FreakAngels, and Fell.

—Architects Francois Roche and Stephanie Lavaux of R&Sie, designers of, among other things, the awesome Spidernethewood house

—Novelist Ian MacLeod, winner of the 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award and author of The Light Ages and The House of Storms

—Journalist and games critic Jim Rossignol, author of This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities

Viktor Antonov, art director for Half-Life 2 and production designer for Christian Volckman’s film Renaissance

Squint/Opera, independent media studio and producers of last year’s widely publicized Flooded London

Nic Clear, director of Unit 15 at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Those who I found to be quite insane and fantastical were the architects R&Sie who discussed their approach
to creating architectural stories based on investigations into new biopolymers, time restrictions, temporary structures becoming permanent, buildings as parasites, self-sufficient pacyderm powered structures etc

SquintOpera make visually delicious 3d renderings to tell pure eyecandy fuelled stories. One piece of work they briefly showed were their visual speculations of how London might look if it were flooded. They told us how to make the world in 6 steps:

One practitioner in particular who struck a chord with me was Ian Mcloud. A science fiction writer who has written a variety of novels, none of which i unfortunatly have not read, discussed his opinions on the difficulties of writing about the future in a time where the idea of the future has become saturated and people no longer buy into the myth of progress and optimistic change generated by European and American ideals since the 30s.

What interested me the most about his talk were the outcomes from various scifi writing workshops he has conducted with children. He found the children needed very little prompting when asking them to imagine how their world might become as the grow older.When writing their stories they were not full of tales of monorails, takin food pills and jetpacs but he noticed that the modern child will write dark, catastrophic tales that describe more of a continuation of now, a variety of ways of looking sideways rather than a progressive forward looking vision. Mcloud suggested this maybe the result of young people being surrounded by the news of the future that was not the same for news of the future when Mcloud was in the 60s. Everyone bought into the western dream of progress even though at the same time there were realities of cruelty of Atomic bombs, Auschwitz and carpet bombing.

How do young people address the issues of imagining what is going to happen in their lives?

Excerpts from Ian’s talk of various childrens own speculative storytelling…

“The room stank of last nights pasteurized steak and chips with a hint of that disgusting grass-seed juice. I’m just so glad thy I don’t have to put that down my throat …I’m lucky I don’t have a throat.”

“Nowadays noone speaks to each other in the community, you don’t even know your next door neighbours name. Noone walks anymore they either drive or fly. This may sound exciting but it means traffic is on more than one level. …Cars just get programmed to take you from A to B. But it can be hard to understand the technology thses especilly for old fogeys like me…”

He also had 8 points to make about what the world has in store:

1 the future won’t be dominated by western culture
2 people won’t be people
3 space travel won’t happen
4 science is becoming increasingly incomprehensible – we can’t understand the world
5 real aliens if they did exist would barely be comprehensible to us and they would be here already
6 we are as incomprehensible to the past just as the future is incomprehensible to us
7 language and communication is going to be completely different as to it is know
8 we are all going to be dead

Motorola creates future mythologies

facial tattoo

‘Motorola 2033’ is a recent brand visioning from 31 Motorola designers around the world who were all asked to envision the future of telecomms in 25 years time as a celebration of 25 years of the mobile phone.

Yes it is great that Motorola is putting there thoughts out there with fantastic visual delights and as stated by Motorola this is about expressing their ‘design mythology’ a way to express their brand. But are they telling us any interesting stories? Where is the real mythology ie. no actual speculative scenarios or storytelling. Or reference to potential implications of biotechnologies on our everyday understanding of how we will go about our lives.

But it does create a buzz for Motorola which they obviously desperately need seeing as their current phones have not competed well. A good start but bring on the complexity of synthetic biology and how communicating with people may just be about sharing personal genomics…could engaging “blue sky” thinking be about creating discussion to then lead to inspire the future of Motorola’s brand? Perhaps they need some external participants; some sort of co-critical open design platform?…

Design Provocations: new perspectives on design

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…

Japan April 2009

So i have returned back from the future (Japan) and will soon be uploading my piccies to flickr. But i thought i would try to also put something together, perhaps a diary thing, to tell you all about what i did and what i saw! So here is a little teaser:


Day 6: Relaxing times at Bic Camera 4th Floor


Day 4: Tokyo's salary men and otaku read anime comics and pump lots of money in the greedy grabclaw machine


Day 12: Okayama- Bloodtype Horoscope vending machine offering your future according to your personality defined by bloodtype


Day 14: Tokyo - Self-health machines test your blood pressure and test your thigh muscle strength in the automated Exercise Rodeo Chair.