Exhibition at the University of Oxford
May 30-31, 2014
Modest in size, extremely short in duration and limited in audience to those who happen to be at the Egrove Park building in Oxford for two days in late May 2014, the Future Things exhibition is fleeting and exclusive. The practices of scenario planning involve artefacts and materials of many kinds, the practices of designers more self-consciously so. The point of the exhibition is to bring these two fields together and showcase a few exemplars in order to trigger and deepen the dialogues at the Oxford Futures Forum.
Works for the exhibition Future Things were selected from responses to an open call to all OFF invited participants. Together they present a range of analogue and digital materials that capture some of the different ways that futures are materialised in scenarios and design practice. Calling them future things emphasizes how their objectness is tied up with the practices of commissioners, creators and users of scenarios and designs. Drawing on design theorists using the term “thing”[i], the title of the exhibition recognizes the irony of de-contextualising objects from their contexts of production and engagement. Captured in this exhibition, many of the objects are severed from the worlds they grew up in, although some of the works – notably Ilona Gaynor’s Paper Moon – are native to exhibitions.
Together, the ten projects in Future Things proposed by twelve OFF participants throw up some – although not all – of the tensions of making and engaging in the present with possible future things. These tensions are between:
· Relishing ambiguity and multiple and contradictory interpretations, and constructing artefacts to make things simpler;
· Creating parts, or assembling wholes;
· Making the unfamiliar strange and the strange familiar.
Future Things Exhibits
Scott Smith proposed Winning Formula, a project he worked on with the Near Future Laboratory that takes the form of a newspaper sports section dated April 2018, exploring the future of data-driven football. Although this exhibition includes only the newspaper, it is part of a larger project commissioned in 2014 by FutureEverything, the National Football Museum, Centre for Contemporary Culture Barcelona and Fundación Telefónica.
Michelle Kasprzak proposed Ilona Gaynor’s Paper Moon, which she commissioned as part of an exhibition at the V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam in 2013. Paper Moon explores the emerging legal and economic consequences of territory claims in outer space in the form of an assemblage of papers, and found and printed 3D objects including a cake and a printer.
Sanae Charibi and Dzmitry Aliakseyeu of Phillips Research proposed a project about the future of retail lighting launched in 2010. New Ways to Control Lighting features a booklet describing the scenarios and a digital demo of the lighting controller.
Kit Lykketoft and Christian Bason from Mindlab proposed a game they and designer Laura Winge created for the Danish Ministry of Education in 2013. The game was designed to create a shared understanding of the objectives for the Ministry’s new initiative aimed at Denmark’s 65,000 teachers.
Trudi Lang and Kristel van der Elst from the Strategic Foresight team at the World Economic Forum brought two projects: The Future of Government scenarios (2013) and Scenarios for Mongolia (2013), here as posters.
Stuart Candy and Jake Dunagan of Found Futures proposed two projects. Postcards from the Future is a set of four postcards showing contrasting versions of Hawaii in the 2020s and 2030s, created in 2006 for a workshop at the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies. Their Bird Cage project from 2007 comprises future artefacts created and installed in Hawaii and photographs of them in situ.
Aisling Kelliher presents Re-Emerge. This shares results from the process of designing and representing futures scenarios to diverse audiences during the Emerge event at Arizona State University in 2012.
Noah Radford proposed artefacts from the Museum of Future Government Services, an interactive design futures exhibition launched at the UAE Government Summit in early 2014.
[i] Binder, T., de Michelis, G., Jacucci, G., Linde, P., Wagner, I. (2011). Design Things. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Curated by Lucy Kimbell and Cynthia Selin
Assistant curator and photographs by Kerri-Anne Chisholm
Assisted by Eleanor Turner
Said Business School, Egrove Park, Oxford OX1 5NY
May 30-31, 2014
future-oriented scholar and practitioner