Emerge: A Festival of Futures

Artists, engineers, bioscientists, social scientists, storytellers and designers build, draw, write and play with the future.

Co-founded by Dr. Selin in 2012, the Emerge festival engages public audiences with innovative, multisensory experiments regarding future visions and the roles which we may play in their formations. Hosted by Arizona State University, each year the transmedia art, science, and technology festival focuses on different themes, like the future of food (Eating on the Edges 2023), the role of invention in society (2020) and the enduring legacy of Frankenstein, the 200-year old novel that still motivates us to think critically about our creative agency and scientific responsibility (2017). The festival invites interdisciplinary scholars and artists to inform and excite visitors with experimental futures methods, challenging all involved to find new, creative ways forward.

More information may be found here.



Much has been written about Emerge, including:

Merging art and design in foresight: Making sense of Emerge
Cynthia Selin
Over three days, and in nine different workshops in 2012, participants created games, products, monuments, images and stories in an effort to reveal the texture and feel of emergent futures. The Emerge workshops drew from a burgeoning field of future-oriented methods that infuse art, design and information technology into the development and delivery of scenarios and design fictions – a constellation of practices I call “mediated scenarios”...

Studying Emerge: Findings from an event ethnography
Sarah R. Davies, Cynthia Selin, Sandra Rodegher, Carlo Altamirano Allende, Michael Burnam-Fink, Corinne DiVittorio, Cecilie Glerup, Cameron Keys, Mindy Kimball, Miao Liao, Chad Monfreda, Brenda Trinidad
Methodological techniques were tested through nine workshops, each of which made use of a different format; Emerge as a whole, then, offered an opportunity to study a diverse set of future-oriented engagement practices. We conducted an event ethnography, in which a team of 11 researchers collaboratively developed accounts of the practices at play within Emerge and its workshops...

Narrative futures and the governance of energy transitions
Clark A. Miller, Jason O’Leary, Elisabeth Graffy, Ellen B. Stechel, Gary Dirks
Today's societies confront an enormous challenge with regard to governing complex energy systems change. We argue that futures approaches based on narrative strategies that encourage individual and collective storytelling and meaning construction offer a valuable tool for enhancing societal capacity to meet this and similar governance challenges. We report on a two-day scenario planning exercise that sought to implement and test these ideas...

Starting with Universe: Buckminster Fuller's Design Science Now
Gretchen Gano
Increasingly, decision makers seek to harness “big data” to guide choices in management and policy settings as well as in professions that manufacture, build, and innovate. Scholars examining this trend tend to diagnose it at once as techno positivist in its insistence on design yoked to quantifiable variables and computational modeling and, alternatively, as an imperative integral to realizing ecologically sustainable innovation. This article investigates this tension. It reflects on the role of futurists, designers, architects, urban planners, social scientists, and artists in interpreting and utilizing comprehensiveness as a design frame...

Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge
Michael Burnam-Fink
Scenarios are stories. In the diverse field of scenario planning, this is perhaps the single point of universal agreement. Yet if scenarios are stories, their literary qualities are often underdeveloped...


The Redesigning the Future exhibit based on the inaugual Emerge was held at the ASU Art Museum in 2012.

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