Posted: July 28th, 2009 | Author: Anab | Filed under: Events, Speculative Futures, Sustainability, Workshop | Tags: brentford, cityscapes, futures, landscapes, London2012, making stuff, open weekend, public engagement | 2 Comments »
The Power of 8 project was invited to take part in the London 2012 Open Weekend events, at the Watermans Gallery. While the project is still in progress, this kicked off our public presence in the gallery and we have exhibited our ideas and sketches done in the last 6 weeks.
However, for the Open Weekend, the central element was a big table on which we placed an abstraction of a map of Brentford, where the gallery is geographically located. Although it may now appear to be a remote suburb with big motorways and dead pan office complexes, Brentford pre-dates the founding of London itself, with settlements from the Brigantes tribes before the Roman occupation of Britain. Our idea was to engage with the local people by situating some of our imagined scenarios over the map, and inviting them to do the same.
The map over the table, before the doors opened to the public.
The new landscape that grew over the map, at the end of the Weekend.
Saturday afternoon, people in ‘action’.
Over the course of two days we had a steady stream of participants ranging from the radically activist to the playfully naive populated this map of their local area of Brentford with walking houses, snow stimulators, solar powered airships, public free boxes, trees that could talk to one another, new wireless connectivity, new species of underwater organisms and human spinning tops. The table was transformed into a landscape of fantasy and possibility in what appears to be a distant edge suburb of London. More images here.
Immediate impressions of the two days suggest that many of the ideas from the participants were not far removed from what we have been thinking of. As one would have guessed, the desire for a ’sustainable future’ topped the wish list, but alongside it, were desires for quite fantastical living spaces and dangerous play areas.
We are decompressing the weekend and thinking of ways in which some of the themes that emerged could juxtapose with ideas that eight of us have been toying with. It has been a very exciting weekend. To conclude, I’ll quote Darryl:
“Much like a heist movie that assembles the maximum human potential with the greatest chance of internal conflict, Power of 8 has gathered together the perfect cast to take on the future: an interaction designer and filmmaker, bionanotechnologist, advertising guru, emotional intelligence trainer, social policy advisor, permaculturalist and political commentator, an architect and urban designer. Now there’s a plot worth paying the rights for! Final exhibition in September promises to be spectacular. Keep your eyes peeled to this channel for more updates.”
Posted: July 4th, 2009 | Author: Anab | Filed under: Interviews | Tags: film, futures, hopes, Interviews, people, voxpops | 3 Comments »
Small part of this project is to try and engage in different ways with the ‘general public’ - with people down in the local pub, by the tube station, in the corner shop and so on. Its not always easy to go upto strangers and ask them about their personal dreams and about what the word “future” means to them, but hey, I love talking to people and am up for this challenge!
Doing interviews voxpops style is only one of the many ways that I want to explore, and I decided to give it a go yesterday. But how do you go up and talk to people, given the exposure to online video channels and a general understandable discomfort about being filmed? Not to mention the omnipresent ‘chuggers’ (charity muggers), who have created a complete distrust amongst people to talk to anyone who looks like he or she wants something out of you.
Some of the lines I thought for the sign include this one:
“Hi, I am NOT A CHUGGER and I dont want your money.”
Then, thanks to twitter, Rory and I had a brainstorm, which finally led to this :
“Hi, I AM A DESIGNER. I dont want your money, JUST YOUR MIND.”
I managed to get some interesting conversations, and I will continue doing more of this over the course of the project. Hopefully this film will be be shown in the exhibition as well.
Posted: June 22nd, 2009 | Author: Anab | Filed under: Events, Sketching, Speculative Futures, Workshop | Tags: cities, collaboration, derive, futures, futurescaping, map, maps, post-psychogeography, posturban, Sketching, trajectory | No Comments »
And again, I am going to present the workshop in images, and give a very quick summary of the happenings of the evening.
For the second workshop we started off in the Bar Music Hall and ended up spending a good few hours in Liam’s studio, settling in for sketching amidst his collection of stuffed animals. The idea in this workshop was to select key themes, and begin to think of ways in which we could make our ideas tangible. After some exciting conversations, heated debates, crisps and humous, we decided to focus on Curtain Road, where we were physically located at the point, and think of ideas that “we would like to see on the street that are not there today”.
From “bikes that never crash”, to “invisible buildings” we came up with a range of fun and thought-provoking ideas. We mapped these ideas under our key themes and gave them a spatial boundary, as if they existed in a town or a suburb. Each of us then drew our own pathway or trajectory through this ‘town’ marking ideas along the trajectory that appealed to us. We were making our own journeys of this map of the future, almost in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way. Except that we had thoughtfully put down the ideas we wanted to play with, and that this ‘map’ still did not exist in the real world.
As Darryl said, our process became “a kind of post-psychogeography where the derive is reverse-engineered. Instead of drifting aimlessly through unknown cityscapes, we have plotted a route through a psychogeographic territory of our own making… with yet unexpected consequences.”
Posted: April 4th, 2009 | Author: Anab | Filed under: Posts by Anab | Tags: aspirations, call, futures, participation, powerof8 | No Comments »
Formal exchanges and signatures are done and the deadlines are in place, so the project is now officially ‘live’. The full details about the project are in the ‘About’ section. Here is just a little blurb:
“The Power of 8’ is a collaborative project, which aims to build a public discourse around people’s individual aspirations for the future.
Today, in face of, what seems to be, a melt down of economic systems, the foreboding environmental crisis, not to mention regular threats of war, terror and even the remote possibility of a technological singularity, we are (once again) living that moment in history, where images of a ‘dark future’ have become mainstream. Scientists, futurists and artists have commented about this crisis in their own way, and we are bombarded with predictions about the possible worst case scenarios.
While the fact that we live in a world of finite resources stands true, how do we, as members of the civil society, translate, what might seem to be relatively abstract predictions of the future, into our everyday lives? Where do they collide with our individual aspirations of the habitable, or even ‘perfect’ future worlds we desire? In ‘Power of 8…’, I would like to meet the voices of concern and the faces of gloom head on, and offer counter points by engaging directly with people. I will work directly with 7 people to explore what their ideas of a ‘future’ constitutes.”
In the first phase of the project, spread over the next couple of weeks, I am looking for team mates from different walks of life to come on board: teachers, civil servants, economists, politicians, nurses, doctors, students, shopkeepers, accountants, entrepreneurs… I am looking for people who may be tired of the ‘collapse’ and all these predictions of the worst case scenario future, people who are eager to talk about their own dreams, people who will be happy to get some money to just try make stuff on a 3d printer or a laser cutter, or just have someone make a film for them. Or maybe they want to stick a poster somewhere. Or just talk. Anything.
If this sounds like something you may be interested in, or know of anyone who may be interested, email me: email@example.com
Over the months of May, June and July, 8 of us will develop ideas for the show, which will open in the Watermans gallery from 26th July. However we will continue developing the work in the gallery space, for the private view in September.