'Alternative Futures': When Alterities become Norms - An Analysis of Future Scenarios in 'Speculative Design'
Martina Eberle (University of Bern)
Paper short abstract:
Arguing that in the practice of 'speculative design' reality and fiction form one continuous space where what is and what could be are merged to represent what should be this paper explores how scenarios of 'speculative design' are constructing norms of the present through imaginaries of the future.
Paper long abstract:
In a contribution in the Economist in 2010 Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of architecture and design of the New York Museum of Modern Art, suggested that "one of design's most fundamental tasks is to help people deal with change". The design practitioners Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, both professors of Design and Social Inquiry and Fellows of the Graduate Institute for Design Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School in New York, expressed similar views with regard to the future of design in their publication "Speculative Everything, Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming" (2013): They wish to use practices of design to "unlock people's imaginations", to encourage people to experience "that everyday life could be different" and to invite people to explore "how things could be". Methods and tools inherent to the practice of design - experimentation, materialization and documentation - are used to create 'designerly' artifacts in order to map future scenarios situated between fact and fiction and present and future connecting possible futures with the familiar present. This paper argues that in the practice of 'speculative design' reality and fiction form one continuous space where what is and what could be are merged to represent what should be. Through this configuration fluid possibilities are turned into fixed realities, and social dreams are transformed into capitalist norms. Scenarios depicting potential social alterities become normative social realities. This paper explores how future scenarios of 'speculative design' are constructing norms of the present through imaginaries of the future.
Sense and sensibility: investments of emotion and rationality in the charting of future scenarios