Across October and November 2017, the Graphic Futures project team has been working with Benoît Peeters and Claire Dean to explore ways of imagining different futures, based on our present world. We took inspiration from Les Portes du Possible, an initiative by Benoît Peeters and Francois Schuiten in 2005 to reintroduce drawings to Belgian newspapers by reporting on imaginary everyday future scenarios. They fooled a few people! We’ve been following this lead, trying out automatic writing, line drawing, cutting, gluing and sticking to take a few creative hurdles along the way.
In an academic environment ruled by email, we also started sending each other postcards. Take a look inside our postbag to see what we’ve been up to.
(1) The Kinistopic University
What would happen to a university if, in a new drive to improve the student experience, it invested in buildings that moved – how would a fully mobile campus affect institutional practices, staff-student dynamics, the relationship between the university and local businesses? Johnny and Claire share the experience of trying to make their way around the Kinistopic University, asking themselves: would something positive emerge if our basic structures were no longer fixed?
(2) Tourism along the Belt-and-Road
In 2067, Andy has finally visited all 35 Pearl Towers. Modelled on the original one built in Shanghai in 1994, they have been replicated all around the world since the successful completion of the belt-and-road project that secured Chinese-led global infrastructural dominance. He shares what life is like as a tourist in this new normality with Professor Emerita Astrid.
(3) Future Reflections on 21st-Century Narcissism
How will archaeologists of the future make sense of what people left behind when the total wipe-out happened in 2020? Richard, Taj and Emily share their excitement as they begin to realise that the ‘black mirrors’ they keep uncovering contain wires, precious minerals and coding. How surprised they are when they finally unpick frozen images inside of human faces, all adopting a similar pose and expression! What does this cultural practice signify: who was gifted with these curious images, and why?
(4) At the Coal Face of Technology, Learning to Write
In 2087 the only currency worth having is bitcoins, and the only job worth doing is generating them. Erika and Joe who work in the universally owned mine begin to worry how all the world’s power is being taken up generating money. Foreseeing a near future where there will be no power left for humans, Erika figures the smart money is on learning to write by hand, a skill that largely died out decades ago.
(5) Not Being Human
How do you get a perspective on the future? Rebecca, Charlie, Liz and Catherine wondered what it would be like to inhabit a world where words are tangible objects that make their own sort of past, present and future, and where everything that exists is automatically mediated through multiple frames. What stories would machines tell of us in their own language, and how might we (or the machines) value and classify the results?