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future_fabulators:foam_az_lecture [2014-12-17 12:37]
maja
future_fabulators:foam_az_lecture [2016-08-10 18:33] (current)
maja [FoAM's A-Z Lecture]
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 ===== FoAM's A-Z Lecture ===== ===== FoAM's A-Z Lecture =====
  
-by Maja Kuzmanovic, at [[Future Fictions]], Z33 in Belgium on the 16th of December 2014+[[:/Lecture notes]] by Maja Kuzmanovic, at [[Future Fictions]], Z33 in Belgium on the 16th of December 2014
  
 http://design.cultuurplatform.be/archief/event/123-a-z-lezing-foam-be http://design.cultuurplatform.be/archief/event/123-a-z-lezing-foam-be
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 All of this might sound quite abstract, so i’ll explain it by using one of our current projects as an example. It is called [[start|Future Fabulators]], and it is through this project that we got involved in the [[Future Fictions]] exhibition and co-created the Futures Lab with its programme of workshops and aperos. This talk is about FoAM’s approach to futures and how this translates into our activities in the Futures Lab and Future Fabulators.  All of this might sound quite abstract, so i’ll explain it by using one of our current projects as an example. It is called [[start|Future Fabulators]], and it is through this project that we got involved in the [[Future Fictions]] exhibition and co-created the Futures Lab with its programme of workshops and aperos. This talk is about FoAM’s approach to futures and how this translates into our activities in the Futures Lab and Future Fabulators. 
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/16030369762/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/16030369762/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
  
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 The idea that we should have an image of where we’d like to go, while keeping our eyes wide open to see what emerges (and adapt accordingly) is nothing new. Pre-historic shamans and fortune tellers through out the ages called these tactics 'divination' and 'invocation'. Divination concerns seeing emergent patterns in a chaotic world, and invocation focuses people’s intention on creating a preferred future. Reading coffee grounds and tarot cards, holding rites of passage, writing sci-fi novels could all be seen as ancestors of the current practice known as foresight, futurology or futures thinking. In the Futures Lab we compiled a visual overview of the "history of futures", that puts our work in a longer perspective. Nowadays when we talk about foresight, we usually mean the formal discipline that exists more or less since the second world war, known as 'futures studies’ and 'strategic foresight'. As appropriate to the late industrial and information age, it developed as formalised methods focusing on analysis of massive amounts of data and creating predictive models of where the future might go.  The idea that we should have an image of where we’d like to go, while keeping our eyes wide open to see what emerges (and adapt accordingly) is nothing new. Pre-historic shamans and fortune tellers through out the ages called these tactics 'divination' and 'invocation'. Divination concerns seeing emergent patterns in a chaotic world, and invocation focuses people’s intention on creating a preferred future. Reading coffee grounds and tarot cards, holding rites of passage, writing sci-fi novels could all be seen as ancestors of the current practice known as foresight, futurology or futures thinking. In the Futures Lab we compiled a visual overview of the "history of futures", that puts our work in a longer perspective. Nowadays when we talk about foresight, we usually mean the formal discipline that exists more or less since the second world war, known as 'futures studies’ and 'strategic foresight'. As appropriate to the late industrial and information age, it developed as formalised methods focusing on analysis of massive amounts of data and creating predictive models of where the future might go. 
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15235319877/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15235319877/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 In the last decade or so, there have been developments in and around futures studies that brought the field closer to design, performance and experience. As we at FoAM have been growing towards futures, the futures have also grown towards us.  In the last decade or so, there have been developments in and around futures studies that brought the field closer to design, performance and experience. As we at FoAM have been growing towards futures, the futures have also grown towards us. 
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 Both making the futures more experiential and approaching the future as a commons have been our motivations for designing the Future Fabulators project. Together with our partners, [[http://www.timesup.org/|Time’s Up]] in Austria, [[http://futurefabulators.m-iti.org/|M-ITI]] in Portugal and [[http://www.altart.org/|AltArt]] in Romania we set ourselves a goal to 'unshock the future' as the futurist [[http://wiki.physicalnarration.org/wiki/index.php/DE14ScottSmith|Scott Smith]] likes to say. Both making the futures more experiential and approaching the future as a commons have been our motivations for designing the Future Fabulators project. Together with our partners, [[http://www.timesup.org/|Time’s Up]] in Austria, [[http://futurefabulators.m-iti.org/|M-ITI]] in Portugal and [[http://www.altart.org/|AltArt]] in Romania we set ourselves a goal to 'unshock the future' as the futurist [[http://wiki.physicalnarration.org/wiki/index.php/DE14ScottSmith|Scott Smith]] likes to say.
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/16041527382/}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/16041527382/}}\\
  
 What I mean by unshocking the future is that we want to build a bridge between the 'big future' - that tends to include jet-packs and flying cars - and the 'mundane future' - in which we decide to study at a well know university, find a job, get married and live a fulfilling life. We want to find connections between people’s dreams and reality, to develop an ability to integrate thinking and talking about the future in the experience of daily life. What I mean by unshocking the future is that we want to build a bridge between the 'big future' - that tends to include jet-packs and flying cars - and the 'mundane future' - in which we decide to study at a well know university, find a job, get married and live a fulfilling life. We want to find connections between people’s dreams and reality, to develop an ability to integrate thinking and talking about the future in the experience of daily life.
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 Keen embodied observation and interaction in the present are the beginning of a foresight process. Analysis of what’s going on is definitely needed, but this must move into synthesis, co-creation, as well as somatic and interpersonal experience. This might sound  as just a string of vague words, so let me give you a few examples to clarify what I mean. I’ll begin with our research of formal foresight processes, then talk about synthesis of futures in narratives, move on to prototyping and end with experiential futures. Keen embodied observation and interaction in the present are the beginning of a foresight process. Analysis of what’s going on is definitely needed, but this must move into synthesis, co-creation, as well as somatic and interpersonal experience. This might sound  as just a string of vague words, so let me give you a few examples to clarify what I mean. I’ll begin with our research of formal foresight processes, then talk about synthesis of futures in narratives, move on to prototyping and end with experiential futures.
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15523349617/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\ +{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15523349617/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\ 
  
  
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 We began to [[background|unpack]] the heavy, long and involved processes used in foresight into a set of agile techniques that could be combined in different settings, by amateurs and professionals alike. For example, a common futures process might cost tens of thousands of Euro and last for months, if not years. We are developing open source techniques, so that anyone could apply them in their own contexts, with the process taking hours, days or a few weeks - depending on availability of the people and resources. We’re currently putting together a publication to collect these different techniques and make them available as [[prehearsal_pocket_guide|recipes]] for futurists of all persuasions to try out and adapt. Several processes used in the Futures Lab, by FoAM, [[http://www.extrapolationfactory.com/|Extrapolation Factory]] and [[http://www.pantopicon.be/|Pantopicon]] will be featured in this publication, which we aim to launch by June 2015.  We began to [[background|unpack]] the heavy, long and involved processes used in foresight into a set of agile techniques that could be combined in different settings, by amateurs and professionals alike. For example, a common futures process might cost tens of thousands of Euro and last for months, if not years. We are developing open source techniques, so that anyone could apply them in their own contexts, with the process taking hours, days or a few weeks - depending on availability of the people and resources. We’re currently putting together a publication to collect these different techniques and make them available as [[prehearsal_pocket_guide|recipes]] for futurists of all persuasions to try out and adapt. Several processes used in the Futures Lab, by FoAM, [[http://www.extrapolationfactory.com/|Extrapolation Factory]] and [[http://www.pantopicon.be/|Pantopicon]] will be featured in this publication, which we aim to launch by June 2015. 
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15458259596/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15458259596/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 One aspect that has allowed us to shorten and lighten the process is that we began working with people’s assumptions rather then spending months collecting data and 'horizon scanning' or collecting information about emerging trends. This appeared to produce more cliches than when experts bring new information, but it also allowed the participants in futures workshops to be more engaged and also observe how their assumptions distort the images of the future. For example, when working with a group of environmentalists, their futures obviously favoured environmental over social or economic developments, a cultural transition network created futures where culture was always an alternative to the status quo and a group of mothers with children desired a future where work and life aren’t as separated as today. If the process is well designed, these "distortions" can show the participants where their blind-spots and resistance to change lies. One aspect that has allowed us to shorten and lighten the process is that we began working with people’s assumptions rather then spending months collecting data and 'horizon scanning' or collecting information about emerging trends. This appeared to produce more cliches than when experts bring new information, but it also allowed the participants in futures workshops to be more engaged and also observe how their assumptions distort the images of the future. For example, when working with a group of environmentalists, their futures obviously favoured environmental over social or economic developments, a cultural transition network created futures where culture was always an alternative to the status quo and a group of mothers with children desired a future where work and life aren’t as separated as today. If the process is well designed, these "distortions" can show the participants where their blind-spots and resistance to change lies.
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 As an example of creating stories together with a community I’d like to mention a recent workshop on  [[Godsheide Futures]], for a green neighbourhood of Hasselt. As part of Futures Lab, FoAM worked with the University of Hasselt and the Godsheide Inhabitants’ Union to create future scenarios for the neighbourhood and translate them into a newspaper "{{:future_fabulators:arck_godsheide_krant_prev.pdf|Het Belang van Godsheide}} in 2024. The abstract mega-trends and 'big futures' came to life as 'day-in-a-life' diary entries, newspaper articles and tableau vivants.  As an example of creating stories together with a community I’d like to mention a recent workshop on  [[Godsheide Futures]], for a green neighbourhood of Hasselt. As part of Futures Lab, FoAM worked with the University of Hasselt and the Godsheide Inhabitants’ Union to create future scenarios for the neighbourhood and translate them into a newspaper "{{:future_fabulators:arck_godsheide_krant_prev.pdf|Het Belang van Godsheide}} in 2024. The abstract mega-trends and 'big futures' came to life as 'day-in-a-life' diary entries, newspaper articles and tableau vivants. 
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15838869758/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15838869758/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 The inhabitants created the stories and headlines, as well as acting as the protagonists of the staged photographs. Students and researchers then put together the newspaper that was launched in the exhibition last Friday. The newspapers are now spread across the city to fuel discussions about urban planning, community building, infrastructure and green spaces in Godsheide. More importantly though, the stories also became seeds for actions that the inhabitants can initiate themselves: a neighbourhood co-operative, a crowd-funded school, or a new co-caring and co-working space in the church. If we believe that foresight has some elements of invocation, some of these stories might become reality by 2024.  The inhabitants created the stories and headlines, as well as acting as the protagonists of the staged photographs. Students and researchers then put together the newspaper that was launched in the exhibition last Friday. The newspapers are now spread across the city to fuel discussions about urban planning, community building, infrastructure and green spaces in Godsheide. More importantly though, the stories also became seeds for actions that the inhabitants can initiate themselves: a neighbourhood co-operative, a crowd-funded school, or a new co-caring and co-working space in the church. If we believe that foresight has some elements of invocation, some of these stories might become reality by 2024. 
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 Prototyping futures also includes [[design fiction]], where people create objects from the future. Designers often use a familiar context (say a product catalogue, or an educational video), but then infuse the content with ideas about the future. A few weeks ago in Futures Lab we had a workshop by the collective [[extrapolation_factory_workshop|Extrapolation Factory]], who worked with the participants to create speculative products and then design infomercials for a fictional TV shopping network. Similarly, Pantopicon hosted a workshop on the [[agoras_workshop|futures of democracy]] that ended in creating a range of objects we might find as archaeological curiosities in a museum in our far future. Prototyping futures also includes [[design fiction]], where people create objects from the future. Designers often use a familiar context (say a product catalogue, or an educational video), but then infuse the content with ideas about the future. A few weeks ago in Futures Lab we had a workshop by the collective [[extrapolation_factory_workshop|Extrapolation Factory]], who worked with the participants to create speculative products and then design infomercials for a fictional TV shopping network. Similarly, Pantopicon hosted a workshop on the [[agoras_workshop|futures of democracy]] that ended in creating a range of objects we might find as archaeological curiosities in a museum in our far future.
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15805943096/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15805943096/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 In another Futures Lab workshop that FoAM hosted, we used [[futures card games]] by [[http://situationlab.org/|Situation Lab]], [[http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/|Near Future Laboratory]] and [[http://www.changeist.com/|Changeist]] to create future objects through play, thereby significantly lightening the process. What such prototypes do is exercise your speculative muscles and make different futures more tangible. There are many similar examples to be found [[design_fiction|online]], but also in the [[http://www.z33.be/sites/default/files/z33-futurefictions-minicatalogus-nl-en_0.pdf|Future Fictions]] exhibition next door - so if you haven’t yet, have a look in the coming weeks until the 4th of January. In another Futures Lab workshop that FoAM hosted, we used [[futures card games]] by [[http://situationlab.org/|Situation Lab]], [[http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/|Near Future Laboratory]] and [[http://www.changeist.com/|Changeist]] to create future objects through play, thereby significantly lightening the process. What such prototypes do is exercise your speculative muscles and make different futures more tangible. There are many similar examples to be found [[design_fiction|online]], but also in the [[http://www.z33.be/sites/default/files/z33-futurefictions-minicatalogus-nl-en_0.pdf|Future Fictions]] exhibition next door - so if you haven’t yet, have a look in the coming weeks until the 4th of January.
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 The simplest pre-enactment is a set of instruction cards that can be used in people’s daily lives. The instructions are distilled elements of a scenario that can remind the participants to alter their routine for a while and act as if they were living in a different scenario right here, right now. We have developed such instruction cards for the [[toekomsten_van_nietsdoen#instructies|Futures of Doing Nothing]] and [[lucid_elucidations|Lucid Dreaming]] workshops. You can find them in the Futures Lab at the exhibition. The simplest pre-enactment is a set of instruction cards that can be used in people’s daily lives. The instructions are distilled elements of a scenario that can remind the participants to alter their routine for a while and act as if they were living in a different scenario right here, right now. We have developed such instruction cards for the [[toekomsten_van_nietsdoen#instructies|Futures of Doing Nothing]] and [[lucid_elucidations|Lucid Dreaming]] workshops. You can find them in the Futures Lab at the exhibition.
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15839372260/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15839372260/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 A more complex pre-enactment is the one we created for the opening of Future Fictions. It was an 'edible pre-enactment', where we designed a [[Food Futures]] reception in which you could taste what foods in alternative futures might taste like. In a collapse scenario for example we might eat primarily fermented goods, cultivated mushrooms, seaweed and insects, while in a transform scenario permaculture, food science and design make eating into an art-form. You can find more about the [[food_scenarios|scenarios]] and the [[future_fictions_menu|menu]] in the process notebook in the Futures Lab. In a similar vein we also designed cocktail parties and tasting dinners where the participants would come as themselves in a particular future and would 'network' and exchange stories and tasks as if the party happened in another time. This required them to reflect on what might have happened to them from now until then and what kind of person they might have become if they would be subjected to a different reality. This approach to pre-enactment is characterised by creating a known situation where you know what to do (e.g. a party, a symposium, a market…) but you arrive as your future self, with different experiences and stories than what you might have in the present. It requires you to be believable, speculate and improvise conversations with other participants.  A more complex pre-enactment is the one we created for the opening of Future Fictions. It was an 'edible pre-enactment', where we designed a [[Food Futures]] reception in which you could taste what foods in alternative futures might taste like. In a collapse scenario for example we might eat primarily fermented goods, cultivated mushrooms, seaweed and insects, while in a transform scenario permaculture, food science and design make eating into an art-form. You can find more about the [[food_scenarios|scenarios]] and the [[future_fictions_menu|menu]] in the process notebook in the Futures Lab. In a similar vein we also designed cocktail parties and tasting dinners where the participants would come as themselves in a particular future and would 'network' and exchange stories and tasks as if the party happened in another time. This required them to reflect on what might have happened to them from now until then and what kind of person they might have become if they would be subjected to a different reality. This approach to pre-enactment is characterised by creating a known situation where you know what to do (e.g. a party, a symposium, a market…) but you arrive as your future self, with different experiences and stories than what you might have in the present. It requires you to be believable, speculate and improvise conversations with other participants. 
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15272835309/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15272835309/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 <blockquote>The goal of forecasting is not to predict the future but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present. -Paul Saffo </blockquote> <blockquote>The goal of forecasting is not to predict the future but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present. -Paul Saffo </blockquote>
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 Finally there are the full-blown pre-enactments that can last for hours, days or months, where you place yourself in an unfamiliar situation and observe how you act and react to it. The situation can be either already existing or it is created by the participants.  Finally there are the full-blown pre-enactments that can last for hours, days or months, where you place yourself in an unfamiliar situation and observe how you act and react to it. The situation can be either already existing or it is created by the participants. 
  
-When I say existing situations, I mean visiting places that already exhibit aspects of our possible futures. For example in the beginning of Future Fictions Nik Gaffney, one of FoAM’s collaborators travelled to the Russian Arctic and experienced what it is like to live and work in a contested geopolitical zone of industrial expansion and pollution. Most of us know about it, but it is so abstract that it doesn’t mean much for our daily life. But for Nik to experience it meant that he could more easily make parallels between such a [[https://medium.com/@zzkt/dark-ecology-3586c0833f42|dark ecology]], his life and our work. To feel the impact of sulphur pollution on his lungs and skin is very different to seeing it illustrated as a graph. The present in the Russian Arctic might be similar to an apocalyptic future of Belgium in a few decades, or it might not. That’s not the point. Being able to experience it today can help understand its potential and how we can adapt to uncertainty and possible futures.+When I say existing situations, I mean visiting places that already exhibit aspects of our possible futures. For example in the beginning of Future Fictions Nik Gaffney, one of FoAM’s collaborators travelled to the Russian Arctic and experienced what it is like to live and work in a contested geopolitical zone of industrial expansion and pollution. Most of us know about it, but it is so abstract that it doesn’t mean much for our daily life. But for Nik to experience it meant that he could more easily make parallels between such a [[http://medium.com/@zzkt/dark-ecology-3586c0833f42|dark ecology]], his life and our work. To feel the impact of sulphur pollution on his lungs and skin is very different to seeing it illustrated as a graph. The present in the Russian Arctic might be similar to an apocalyptic future of Belgium in a few decades, or it might not. That’s not the point. Being able to experience it today can help understand its potential and how we can adapt to uncertainty and possible futures.
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15539212241/in/set-72157648369903218}}+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15539212241/in/set-72157648369903218}}
  
 <blockquote>The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed. -William Gibson </blockquote> <blockquote>The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed. -William Gibson </blockquote>
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 Finally, in FoAM’s spirit of participatory foresight, I’d like to invite you to finish with a short closed-eye visioning exercise that might be appropriate for this time of night. I invite you to travel to your desired future, eight years from now.  Finally, in FoAM’s spirit of participatory foresight, I’d like to invite you to finish with a short closed-eye visioning exercise that might be appropriate for this time of night. I invite you to travel to your desired future, eight years from now. 
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15547089660/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15547089660/in/set-72157648034884067}}\\
  
 //Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. In and out… with this breath a month further from now, with this outbreath another year passes… in and out, in and out… until we arrive at Z33 in this room on the 16th of december 2022… // //Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. In and out… with this breath a month further from now, with this outbreath another year passes… in and out, in and out… until we arrive at Z33 in this room on the 16th of december 2022… //
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 Welcome back & thank you very much... Welcome back & thank you very much...
  
-{{>https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15422689413/}}\\+{{>http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/15422689413/}}\\
  
 ---- ----
  
-More [[https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/sets/72157648034884067/|FoAM's Future Fiction photos]] can be found on Flickr.+More [[http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/sets/72157648034884067/|FoAM's Future Fiction photos]] can be found on Flickr.
  
  
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  • Last modified: 2014-12-17 12:37
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