Z33 - FoAM - Futures Lab. A laboratory for experimental world construction

Z33 - FoAM - Futures Lab. A laboratory for experimental world construction

Z33 - FoAM
Futures Lab. A laboratory for experimental world construction — ongoing

Futures Lab is a research archive, workshop and reading room where one may explore possible futures. Scattered throughout this lab visitors can discover traces of a wide range of futurists and their investigations: research materials and working notes, a small library collection and a range of works in progress. On display is a video feed with background information on the unique worlds of Future Fictions, the projects and the people behind them. The Lab hosts a programme of futures-related interventions, workshops and conversations from a.o. FoAM, Arne Hendriks and Monnik, The Extrapolation Factory, Pantopicon, Pieterjan Ginckels and the University of Hasselt.

Futures Lab reading references:

FoAM in the Futures Lab

For the duration of the exhibition, FoAM occupies the Futures Lab where they invite visitors to explore what it might mean to prototype and rehearse possible futures in the present. While in residence, FoAM collects and shares materials for and from their Futurist Fieldguide, a manual for those interested in trying their hands at scenario building, design fiction and other world-construction practices. Alongside its ongoing research activities, FoAM offers a selection of participatory events specially designed for Future Fictions, including an experimental Food Futures menu for the exhibition opening, as well as a workshop and pre-enactment on the theme of Futures of Doing Nothing.

FoAM is a network of transdisciplinary labs for speculative culture. Guided by their motto 'grow your own worlds', FoAM explores possible futures at the edges of art, science, nature and everyday life. Fostering dialogue with a diverse range of individuals, they encourage an appreciation of the future as a shared 'commons'. FoAM's contribution to the exhibition is part of the Future Fabulators project, in which they work with diverse audiences to imagine, experience and investigate life in a range of possible futures that have been designed as artistic experiments here and now. With the support of the Culture Programme (2007 – 2013) of the European Union.

Arne Hendriks and Monnik in the Futures Lab

The ultimate logical extreme of present urbanization patterns is the emergence of one city for the entire world population. But while humanity unconsciously yearns for this ultimate state of being, we are heading towards it in a clumsy, blind way. What if all of us, the whole world population, were to – voluntarily and consciously - move towards such a city? What if we start to plan our journey today?

Touching upon and extrapolating existing trends of migration flows, the growing world population and urban development, artist Arne Hendriks and the Monnik collective bring together a team of experts in the Futures Lab to research, imagine and visualize an evacuation plan for the city of Hasselt.

This new body of research can be understood as the preface to research into the premises of creating one city for the entire human population in 2025.

The Extrapolation Factory in the Futures Lab

"Popular notions of the future often get stuck in a kind of glossy rut - gleaming buildings and whiz-bang inventions – (...) it's not often that we see the futures of everyday life brought into focus."
— Stuart Candy*

How will we live 30, 50, or 100 years into the future? What new benefits will we enjoy, and what sacrifices will we have to make? How will our designed artifacts represent us as people, as a culture? The Extrapolation Factory occupies the Futures Lab to hold a two-day workshop centered around these questions.

The Extrapolation Factory, co-founded by Chris Woebken and Elliott P. Montgomery, is a design-led futures research studio which focuses on developing future scenarios, embodied by artifacts in familiar, presentday contexts. They propose a method for collaboratively envisioning possible futures with diverse participants, experts and non-experts alike. The strategies they employ, however diverse, remain accessible at all times. The studio's previous projects include 99¢ Futures, Futurematic, Junk Mail Machine, Futures Capsules and Pawn Tomorrow. With this work, the Extrapolation Factory explores the value of rapidly imagined, prototyped, deployed and evaluated visions of possible futures on an extended time scale.

 "We're not asking people to predict, but more to dream," said Montgomery. "Or produce nightmares, if that's what will help us make decisions in the present."
— Elliot Montgomery**

*Stuart Candy about The Extrapolation Factory in Sheena McKenzie. Animal DNA and Mars kits: Christmas gifts of the future? CNN December 11, 2013.
** Elliot Montgomery in Sheena McKenzie. Animal DNA and Mars kits: Christmas gifts of the future? CNN, December 11, 2013. 

Speedism — Pieterjan Ginckels in the Futures Lab

With this Speed Trip, Ginckels puts the ideas and concepts behind Speedism into practice and into the real world: the value of speed – and superficiality in experience – is pushed to the limit, resulting in a copy-paste landscape of icons and elements, building bricks of a megalomaniac image construction; a collapscape pushed to the extreme.

In the words of Pieterjan Ginckels: "This SPEED TRIP is part of a research project called SPEED SPACE in which I look at the relation between speed and the way the practice and its architecture are shaped and informed by an increasingly theme-based, spectacular, and accelerated society. The changes I look into occur both at the level of mediation (blog culture, archi-pornography) and theory as well as styles and form (non-stop remix, microfutures, the hyperreal). [They are exemplified in] buildings and realities that (...) play an important role in, or have at one point been touched by speed and are already 'cooled down' again." Previous Speed Trips were held in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Beijing.

Pantopicon in the Futures Lab

What if political parties no longer constitute the organizing principle? What if governing periods are no longer a linear given? What if the local and global administrations become intertwined? What if participative democracy demands more of its citizens than just a vote? ... In Agoras, a two-day work atelier, Nik Baerten (co-founder of Pantopicon) will take a multidisciplinary group on a trip into the future of politics and democracy. From distant fictional futures, they will look back on the coming decades. Using their knowledge and imagination, participants will design objects and stories that bear witness to the fictional governing systems of tomorrow: dreams and nightmares, made tangible, as catalysts for further debate.

For more than 10 years, Pantopicon has supported public and private organizations in their search for long term futures. With a speculative and analytical approach, they design tools and processes to stimulate change focused debate, which translates into visions, strategies, products and services. The studio is convinced that our choices today determine the world of tomorrow, but also that – by the same token - our future imaging affects the choices we make today.

UHasselt in the Futures Lab

In the fall of 2014 Prof. dr. ir. Oswald Devisch and PhD student Sarah Martens will go in search of new methods to involve a diverse range of agents in the spatial management of a district. In the nearby village of Godsheide, they will explore, together with the community residents, to which future the current transformations might lead. They will gain insight in these (spatial) transformations, how they are perceived and the various roles one could assume. The idea is not to formulate a future vision in the format of a plan or a policy document, but to explore the future by building upon ongoing transformations. In collaboration with the community residents they will reflect on what can change now, and which role they could play today. Together, they will visualize and test envisioned futures.

Prof. dr. ir. Oswald Devisch and Sarah Martens are members of the research group ArcK of the Faculty of Architecture and Art at Hasselt University. The group conducts fundamental and applied research modelled on the Faculty's slogan 'Design for Life': adopting a multidisciplinary and human centered approach, the group addresses important societal topics. Key concepts for the research group are: design for experience, capacity building, sustainability, adaptive reuse, research by design, participation, retail design, scenography and universal design.


 BRUSSELS PARKING GARAGE DERIVE - © Pieterjan Ginckels 2014
Futures Lab - Future Fictions
Futures Lab - Future Fictions
Futures Lab - Future Fictions
Commusense by Nik Baerten (c) Nik Baerten | Future Fictions - Futures Lab - Workshop Pantopicon: Agoras
The Chair by Michael Van Lieshout (c) Nik Baerten | Future Fictions - Futures Lab - Workshop Pantopicon: Agoras
The Well by Daniel Rossi (c) Nik Baerten | Future Fictions - Futures Lab - Workshop Pantopicon: Agoras


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