Notes from Tomorrow Today @ ICA


ICA Tomorrow Today
Should design fictions have a socially beneficial impact?

Reality bites – design fictions as grimm tales
Nice boat analogy – everyones jumping on design fiction and soon it’s gonna capsize.

Design and violence, speculation is a realm of privilege? possibly no, because speculation is open and free to access. 3d printed gun generated the realisation that design is not always good, duhhh (this late realisation is a problem)

Steven Pinker – why violence has declined, perhaps its not, its just that we invented new ways to be violent. 2001 as a water shed – because in the US, that was when home grown violence became a thing.

Book – How to Kill people

Lethal injection treated as design object. Interview Ricky Jackson, who got off death row.
Process of understanding objects by curating unlikely writers, really nice.

John Thackara, spec design is in the realm of privilege, crit design preaches to choir. Crit design as a method of Neo-lib. How could SCD have affected ideas of modernism? Would posing questions and challenging modernism pre-empted issues?

Book – Past futures, MIT

Fiction as a method for empathy – fiction encourages you to be able to see others perspectives. Objects as communication – beauty is not important believability is. SCD needs to be communicated to everyone, whats the role of the museum in there? How does MOMA bring academia + museum + public + new publics.

Whose Utopia? – Jocelyn Bailey
How design is being used in gov. Dominant political rhetoric is: what shouldn’t be done who’s to blame. There are No more utopias. Instead, what could be done, whats possible, whats exciting?

Design moving from objects to policy etc. Its entered the mainstream.
Corb, – men who thought they new better. Straight lines, rationality, does not allow plurality. Design history is littered by men who thought they knew better.

User centred design always seen as a force for good, this has become, mainstream, without question, there should be a question. What’s important beyond use? There are groups other than users that are important!

Two fighting views: Deliberative democracy – public reasoning, always possible to reach rational universal through discourse (dominant ideology, though it is a fiction). Agonistic pluralism – recognising pluralism, and power shifts, conflict will always exist.

SCD challenges limited because of audience and potential to create change. Policy and study is auto political – deciding what to study etc.

GDS is the new corb – rational, logical user centred design.
Designers take the mantle of morality.

Daisy Ginsberg
The dream of better, design to understand better
“BETTER” – who owns better?

Abundance, the future is better than you think

design is the physical agent of better.
Design always functions in time, time = future.

Faster cheaper more abundant is the current paradigm in design. GDP is our current measure. Economics is set in the past, data from things that happened makes new data.
GDP is missing lots of elements, disasters are good for GDP

Design fiction, becoming real, creates problems, designing future to affect present.

Alternative roads. Don’t just offer alternatives – think about the process of designing better… Question how we define better. Synthetic biology to save nature – design was so utopian it wouldn’t work, the objects are thought of as machines not living things.

Platform 13 – leave traditional methods of production and engage publics directly, designer as activist… Speculation in a more immediate, direct sense. Cildo Meireles – coke project – this somehow started the platform, dual use of system, it critiques and becomes and space for new narrative. working interventionally/insertionally.

Sam Dempseys boris bike – how to collaborate on a boris bike – designed new training methods and trained. Matt Houses clones- starts with tech becomes quite a lovely investigation into identity. Tom Marriott production of evidence, live production tech to cinematically enhance live feeds from police, Surveillance for entertainment
…. visual justice in relation to cinema. Police as new protagonists in soap opera.

Socially responsive vs social responsibility

Practice in terms of ethics, the practice is to discover where ethical boundaries lie – students are free to poke this and find out. Daisy – There are grand scale corb-esque things being made but they are in tech, objects and advertising – the apple watch as new distopia.

End national frontiers – belly of the beast
Jerszy Seymour
Dirty art …. The amateur society ..? Building the school as a practice, – this becomes a reality of the work – how does this work occupy and build space in the world.

Which design fiction for the post-anthropocene
Betti Marenko
Non human actors affecting us – artefacts, animals, forces, etc.
In humanity has it’s own force,
Deleuze and Guattari – Life cannot be reduced to what exists already. In order to be human, you define what is not human

Book – Villem Flusser – vampyroteuthis

Human – non human where does human end and bacteria begin? Neuromorphic chips – learning, used to transform objects into companions – here is the same, where does the human end and silicon begin? “Silicon Neural co habitation”

New anthropocene materials are being made already e.g. plaostigomerate, these are the IRL versions of Tuur and Revital’s objects.

Subjects remain anthropocentric – An accurate observation of the present more revealing than design fictions – narratives of diversion other than engagements. How do you design fictions for the non-human and what does that mean for the designer?

What is the role of design in disrupting the dominant human, non-human relationship?

Paul Graham Raven
Design is inherently design fiction, YES! As are manifestos, pledges, climate models etc.
extrapolation vs speculation
graphs vs gambles
The mega text – a little store room of possible futures and tropes that writers will borrow from.

Design fiction goes out into the world, is an object and has effects.

Liam Young
Exaggerating the present – images with drawings.
City everywhere
Post human – google earth means we’re pixels
Kim K – post human as an actor in phone networks, if virtual communities are closer than in physical cities, cities are networks more than physical space.
Fiducial architecture – new aesthetic – could this be RAL colours.
Fictions can be made real by uploading, editing, making, sets and props. Launch a fiction with force. Landscapes that exist only as data.

What extent does Hollywood fiction have on the films, sounds etc or is it actually that IRL borrows from fiction – blade-runner world made real. Smart city is a hyperobject. Product design is a removed landscape design.

Old activism of bearing witness doesn’t work, need to find new spaces for action and agency.

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