Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Look out, Banksy

Hello, Bristol!

I’ve just arrived for a month in the UK, where I’m excited and honoured to be a Bristol Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol.

Within this hybrid role, crafted to be part visiting professorship and part artist residency, my project is called From Experiential Futures to Social Foresight.

It’s about working with colleagues to share and explore experiential futures (XF) practices to use design, media and the arts for grounding ideas about futures in everyday life – and thereby helping shift our organisations and public cultures towards deeper, more diversified, and wiser embodied engagement with alternative possibilities.

Activities here through mid-June include a Public Seminar hosted by the Pervasive Media Studio, an XF Masterclass for researchers at the ESRC Centre for Sociodigital Futures, and Advisory Sessions with individuals and groups from across the university and wider community.

Something a bit ambitious that we’re also doing is the Bristol Immersive Futures Jam – a live, face-to-face, weekend-long experiential & participatory foresight intensive, including a collective worldbuilding and making process, as well as a public activation with additional guests. Basically we'll be concretely imagining, physically staging, and having conversations about how life here could look decades or generations from now.

This builds on work I’ve done with groups in Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and various parts of the US – most recently through a wonderful artist residency late last year with the immersive theatre community in Denver, Colorado.

It's the first time we’ve offered the process in the UK.

The Bristol Immersive Futures Jam (Fri 31 May 5PM – Sun 2 June 5PM), which calls for a commitment to participate across three days, is fully booked up. But folks who may be interested in joining the waiting list for the whole event, or who wish to join only for the activation / time travel part on Sunday 2 June, can register their interest here.

The Public Seminar (Fri 31 May, 1–2PM BST) may be attended in person at the PM Studio / Watershed, or viewed live online here.

I’m most grateful to my University of Bristol hosts Dr Paul Clarke, Prof Keri Facer, and especially Prof Helen Manchester of the School of Education, and really looking forward to all the future-shaping we'll get to do together.

Related posts:
Killer Imps – Bringing futures to the Royal College of Art (02009)
> Dreaming Together (02015)
Introduction to Experiential Futures in The Economist – outlines some of our Time Machines / immersive scenarios (02015)

Hello Again, World!

Over a year has passed since our previous post, which is easily the longest hiatus at The Sceptical Futuryst since things got underway at this address, long long ago, in 02006. But the stately peace and quiet that may seem to have settled over this ageing blog, its layers of digital dust, belie the busy and productive times that have been speeding by since early 02023. The signs of life might be sparse, but don't be misled.

So with a ton to catch up on, stretching back to that date and beyond, and especially since Twitter's sad implosion into X, I've been experiencing a mounting writerly constipation that for me comes from doing too much work stuff without making the time to reflect and share. I need to get things out of my head and into the world. That process in itself, quite apart from whatever happens or doesn't in terms of audience response, helps me move on to new thoughts.

What I want to do is ramp things back up here, and alternate for the next little while between posts about collaborations and questions currently taking up my attention, and posts on some completed projects and associated learnings that have been quietly accumulating in the background. I might put some of those on Medium or elsewhere, too. The post right after this one, about spending a month with collaborators in Bristol, England, is in this category of what's happening at the moment. It comes from something I shared today in a largely similar form on LinkedIn. 

Blogs aren't exactly peaking right now, and I don't quite know yet how this platform best serves or makes sense for what I'm up to (let alone what you all out there are doing) in the year of our lord 02024 – and I want to emphasise that working that question out is a distant second in motivation for doing this to just getting some more stuff written – but I'm interested to learn, and grateful for your interest in joining me.