This is a newsletter for designers and time travel facilitators. It has insights about the speculative practice and tools we use in our method that they could try as well. Today it is sunny and windy.
Speculative scenarios are often unusual, curious, occasionally even disturbing, but desirable and attractive prompts that create the suspension of disbelief about change. They are open-ended, offer the audience the possibility of personal interpretation, and frequently include humor, which activates the audience on an emotional and intellectual level, in a way similar to literature and film.
The designer’s challenge during Phase 1 of time traveling (scenario design) is a difficulty from participants to come up with original stories, with stories distanced from utopia/dystopia, or when it feels intimidating to blurt out new storylines.
Here are writing prompts that could rescue you, this week from our minds.
‘Smallest parklet’: there was once a game where someone picked a location in a map, someone else gave an area to work with (e.g. 6sqm), a third person brought a bench or two chairs, a fourth brought a moveable router, and the last person a computer. If you lived in this area you’d receive a text message the day before with the coordinates of the parklet and a time. The day after you’d be on a date with someone somewhere.
Phase 3 of time traveling is about rapid-prototyping. Artifacts are a view into a time traveler’s heart and soul (and values and fears and hopes and a conviction that they are indeed creative, a conviction which we as designers must protect at all times).
This is how we make artifacts rapidly, how prototyping works at The Time Travel Agency, or how this weird stuff is created.
In speculative design we communicate ideas with artifacts. During rapid prototyping we think with our hands and build physical or digital objects that contain a fiction, a scenario, a challenge inside that scenario, and a proposed answer.
When working in a group setup our job is to make links between the participants’ perspectives, helping them build on each other’s ideas. Designers sometimes have trouble working with a crowd that should build something together when everyone is in a different location and has different objects.
Here’s an example of an artifact: ‘The Philosopher’s Essence’ is a perfume or a scent one can “put on in order to behave philosophically”.
The traveling crew in this project was in different locations and needed to create one perfume together. For us, during rapid prototyping being abstract with objects works very well– when travelers mention an idea involving a vase or a book, we carry the idea forward calling them ‘containers’; if someone mentions they have flowers, we call them ‘organic matter’, and so on.
Suddenly everyone has ideas of objects to contribute with; what’s left to do is listen and find such containers in our studio too at the same time, and start building something ourselves guided by the crew.
The result in this case revealed a desire to make rituals “to philosophize and reflect” before going out and meeting new people. The future of socialization after the pandemic needed inner calm before engaging with others.
What we see when we aren’t seeing into a specific project.
We borrow from film, literature, games, the zeitgeist, the bus…
Twisty little passages is a book by Nick Montfort and “a critical approach to interactive fiction, as literature and game.” Fantastic text adventures are catalogued ready to inspire games that could help time travelers find challenges in the scenarios they invent.
From our community!
Glosario Pandemia is a collective experiment driven by Tipi (a sibling studio to ours) to map and create words to name specific issues that have arisen during these months of pandemic, confinement, and "new normality".
The project wonders, “Now that we are facing the challenge of reconstructing and redesigning many things, why not reflect on what is happening to us and give it a name? Perhaps then we can build from the good, discarding everything that we don't want to come back or is in danger of staying.”
This is a living project: you can send them your term and definition using this site or this form. Your word will become part of the glossary and will be visible on the web so that anyone can start using it.
Browsing through the glossarypandemic terms, they detected three interesting questions on which they would like to collectively imagine possible solutions:
1. Politics in the new normality– are social networks the new political arena, are there other possible forms of protest and popular organisation?
2. Post-covid health– how has it affected our mental health and how has covid impacted the caring-crisis? What can we do to make caring a collective issue?
3. Tourism in the new normal– what is a more sustainable tourism?
Starting October they will publish several conversations with experts, creators, researchers, and agitators where they will discuss these issues.