Saturday, June 09, 2018

A Time Traveller's Story

This talk provides a short introduction to the experiential futures practice of designing and staging what I call Time Machines - immersive scenarios of possible worlds at 1:1 scale.

I've now run the Time Machine as an assignment with many groups in cities around the world – Singapore, Mexico City, and Toronto, among others. A short piece which appeared in The Economist describes several Time Machines created in experiential futures courses. A longer article from The Futurist provides a bit more background, although there have been four more years of experience and iteration since then.

Background to the talk: I spent last year as a visiting professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and this presentation was given at the 40th edition of the city's PechaKucha Nights in March 02017. (As some readers may know, PechaKucha is a format in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, advancing automatically, which keeps things nice and brisk.) Why am I blogging this now? I received this video months ago, but it had an audio issue that I finally had a chance to fix yesterday before posting.

Background to the topic: Time Machines have their roots in the four parallel experiential scenarios which we created for the Hawaii 2050 kickoff back in 02006. The process was subsequently modularised through teaching, first via a guerrilla futures experiment with undergrads at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 02008, then projects in the Strategic Foresight course of the Design MBA at California College of the Arts in 02010 and 02011, and then a prototype assignment culminating the intensive futures course at National University of Singapore in 02012. In mid-02013, I contributed an assignment to a published collection about the cutting edge of art and design teaching, and first used the Time Machine framing there. Later that year, having started as a professor in OCAD University's Master of Design program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, we introduced Time Machines as an end-of-semester studio project, where it became a staple. At SAIC last year, I ran two design/futures courses; one was on making documentary films from the future, and the other concluded with the 02016 election-related guerrilla futures project that's described in the talk (it went on to win an award from the Association of Professional Futurists last summer). I've had the privilege of being in something like 50 Time Machines to date, most recently at Carnegie Mellon School of Design during the academic year just ended.

A proper effort to capture the practical lessons from all this for design and futures is on the way.

Special thanks to PechaKucha Chicago organisers Peter Exley, Sharon Exley, and Thorsten Bösch. An alternative recording for the same talk, focusing on the slides, is at the official PechaKucha website. My previous PechaKucha talk, from 02012 in Melbourne, is posted here.

> Build your own Time Machine
> Time Machines in The Economist
> American Futures
> The Futures of Everyday Life
> Future documentary
> Travelling without moving

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