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 we call-connect.
This transmission is about feeling connected through layers and through calls.
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 or stories distanced from utopia/dystopia; also when participants feel intimidated to blurt out storylines amongst peers.
You arrive to a building you’ve never seen. Staring at it outside for a few minutes, you contemplate the questions to ask it– Knowing what’s inside will be good (and enough), you decide.
A mechanical noise coming from the second floor’s window catches your attention, and a list of numbered rooms, each room with 3 words, flies out and lands at your feet.
At the bottom of the page, a text says that these words are objects scattered inside each room and that you can use them to keep switching rooms. The words are used by making sentences made of at least 2 words, and threading the sentences as you go.
Every time you move, past and present will be revealed at once and this cannot be controlled.
Here are three rooms that get you, Transmissions Reader, started:
ROOM 1: sustenance, couch, key
ROOM 2: writing, glitter, transparency
ROOM 3: photograph, the letter B, bees
STAIRS: up – down
CLEANING ROBOT: swipes what you say every four rounds
Phase 3 of time traveling is about rapid-prototyping. Artifacts are a view into a time traveler’s heart and soul… and into values and fears and hopes and a conviction that they are indeed creative (a conviction which we as designers must protect at all times). In speculative design we communicate ideas with artifacts. During rapid prototyping we think with our hands and build physical objects that contain a fiction, a scenario, a challenge inside that scenario, and a proposed answer.
This is how we make artifacts rapidly, how prototyping works at The Time Travel Agency, or how this weird stuff is created:
One day, experimenting with (or channeling, or ouija-boarding) “games that could generate narrative threads”, we played with a Go board using different rules.
One of us re-imagined via the birds-eye view of a building (so that each square became a room), and then we played How could one move in that building, and How could that movement be traced (the trace = a story).
What if a story is the one moving, and some Live Entity is keeping track of it?
This artifact became The Writer’s Game, a game–tool to enter a metaphorical and divergent storyspace before getting to relevant scenarios.
A relevant scenario is a scenario that pertains to why travelers want to travel; it’s the topic that interests a client, an industry. It is a piece of knowledge, something we already know. TWG takes everyone one step back to enter storyspace from a different angle– an angle of symbols and questions.
The Writer's Game is a story-making tool that produces "layered stories" for the scenario phase of the speculative design process.
During time travels at The Time Travel Agency, TWG supports Phase 1– Scenario Design, so that folks enter the metaphorical and divergent space with original storylines before getting to relevant scenarios.
The stories that have been created during time travels will be printed and collected with non-regular frequency in new issues of The Writer's Game. Each issue will contain a different board to explore, and a different list of words for each room.
If you want to use TWG, one issue of its digital version will cost you just a story. Contact us on Instagram to book a time :D
What we see when we aren’t seeing into a specific project.
We borrow from film, literature, games, the zeitgeist, the bus…
We signed up to Dialup the other day while feeling disconnected and have been jumping from line to line. There is a curious, chatty, non-performative cloud over those skies right now and we’re gladly thinking of it as ICQ in the 90s: a random start with a random brain.
Here’s how we’re using it as research: each line can be used to write about its theme, exploring it via direct questions and answers.
For instance, are you interested in why people choose certain names? Join Whois. Interested in what may exist in people’s pantries, and if those objects like each other? Join Cooking. Interested in being told by yourself in new ways to get to work? Join Your Boss. Want to find out a new speculative breakfast to start a fictional restaurant? Join Breakfast.
Each line opens to any item inside the main concept.
(OBS: From the 16 calls we’ve had, 10 people jumped straight into this Q&A exchange)
Please, no one suggest a line about speculative design.
From our community!
Southern Sweden Design Days is an international design event to happen this May in Malmö, Sweden, and online. We got in the program with a virtual event related to The Laboratory of Optimistic Futures.
This is a 4-day event highlighting and building knowledge about design, focusing on sustainability, collaboration, development and innovation. The main theme is proximity.
So far we are the only speculative/futures design initiative and we’d love to have some company (or even a collaboration?!) to keep introducing this discipline in Southern Sweden. The application is open until January 31st, and only physical events have a cost. If anyone wants to do a joint game, we’re right here!