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robertogreco : failedstates   4

Failed States: A Tactical Design Workshop | superflux
"In early May, Jon and I were invited by the HEAD MEDIA DESIGN faculty in Geneva to lead a week long design futurescaping workshop for the first-year students on their postgraduate Media Design programme. Having not previously encountered speculative design, futurescaping, or design fiction, we were tasked with finding a way to drag this bundle of themes and techniques into the participants’ familiar everyday lives. We could easily have spent a week exploring different processes and methods, but, instead, we chose to develop a challenging context-specific brief, through which the HEAD students could start to grapple with some of the questions we ourselves have been exploring through our lab and studio activities.

Drawing on our recent work, talks, and ongoing personal encounters with immigration and the contemporary nation-state, we were drawn to a central theme of political complexity – challenging students to probe notions of borders, territories, and the fragile, increasingly precarious relationship between people and their governments. Developing the brief in collaboration with Justin Pickard, our spooky, mostly virtual studio associate, we wanted to leave workshop participants fully primed and poised, ready to develop their own original work on these and similar issues."



"We kicked off the workshop with a presentation expanding on the initial brief, describing how the workshop would use the notion of ‘failed states’ to ‘explore how political visions of the future fail to account for the complexity of the world, and in doing so, struggle to consider unforeseen events and uncertainty.’ We showed real-world examples of the ways in which unanticipated events – the collapse of the USSR, the Great Depression, etc. – have triggered paradigm shifts in national and international politics, the consequences of which we continue to experience in our everyday lives today, in 2014.

With this as background and context, we confronted the workshop participants with a future Switzerland of the mid-2020s; a small, federal state in a world where an increasingly powerful Chinese state holds controlling shares in a number of critical Swiss infrastructure projects, a network of surveillance UAVs have been deployed to monitor and pre-empt civil unrest, widespread food shortages have been met by the nationalisation of many Swiss food companies, and the persistent overuse of antibiotics has led the world into an era in which even minor infections can prove terminal.

Sharing our timeline of events from 2013-2025 based on current trends and weak signals, we tasked participants with digesting the interplay of a range of future developments, considering their implications for the everyday experience of future Swiss citizens and inhabitants, and designing a response to the challenges and consequences of this future world. We asked them to engage, critique and infiltrate the dominant political and economic order through a proposed service, product, experience, movement, campaign, or anything else that felt appropriate.

After the initial splash presentation, participants ran through a series of discussions and initial brainstorms, touching on the recent immigration referendum, the incipient anxieties of French students, and the visual language of Swiss political propaganda. The students were asked to consider the elements of this future world that resonated with their own passions and personal politics; what their own lives – and those of their friends and family – might look like in this proximate future; and alternative roles for their own design practice in an unexpected or divergent environment. Over the first few days, participants made extensive use of mapping and fiction and they sought to orient themselves in relation to a series of much larger, interlocking social and technical systems.

After a round of early brainstorms we suggested the students write short stories, that situate them or their loved ones, within this world. This became a great mechanism to create deeper connections with the things that they otherwise did not consider.



Participants’ work explored the various ways in which they might be able to either infiltrate the system, or design for it from within it. As workshop convenors, we found it emotionally and personally challenging to see how far they were willing to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, in order to explore new thematic and design territories.



The set of final presentations was inspiring and rewarding, and the students who took the opportunity to engage with this complex and chaotic bundle of issues did remarkably well in such a short period of time. "We learnt how to ask questions" was possibly one of the best feedback we could have asked for. Many thanks to Daniel Schiboz, Nicolas Nova and Marion Schmidt for the hospitality, we hope to be back at HEAD soon. "
superflux  anabjain  failedstates  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  designfiction  speculativecriticaldesign  criticaldesign  justinpickard  immigration  migration  future  government  switzerland  design  complexity  uncertainty  prediction  2014  surveillance  networks  danielschiboz  nicolasnova  marionschmidt 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Keynote: Bruce Sterling (us) on Atemporality | transmediale
"If progress is to go beyond the banal indulgences that give rise to a never-ending array of car shell designs then we need to analyse our present time with regard to its aesthetics and its media. The second conference session is being introduced with Bruce Sterling's Keynote on Atemporality."

[transcript here: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/atemporality-for-the-creative-artist/ ]
atemporality  brucesterling  future  history  culture  art  technology  design  philosophy  time  creativity  theory  research  2010  media  community  sciencefiction  scifi  roleplaying  favelachic  informationvisualization  williamgibson  humanities  databases  literature  collaboration  multitemporal  analog  digital  gothichightech  futuritynow  collectiveintelligence  networks  networkculture  postmodernism  failedstates  collapse  narrative  resilience  decay  failure 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Global Guerrillas: HOLLOW STATES vs. FAILED STATES
"So, if the question is whether Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, etc are in danger of becoming hollow states, the answer is yes. In fact, I suggest that they are already there. Are we headed in the same direction?"
johnrobb  mexico  government  politics  us  pakistan  nigeria  failedstates  hollowstates  terrorism  crisis  2009 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Zimbabwe: State of despair [Monocle]
"Zimbabwe is a country on the brink of economic collapse. With inflation running out of control, the supply of food, fuel and electricity is dwindling. Posing as tourists, Monocle reports from a country where international journalists are banned."
failedstates  zimbabwe  africa  economics  inflation  via:cityofsound  collapse 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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