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 films answer.
This transmission proposes that four films answer each of our usual sections.
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, stories distanced from utopia/dystopia, when participants feel intimidated to blurt out storylines amongst peers, or when the storyspace is not divergent enough.
Nimic is a Yorgos Lanthimos 11-minute meditative scenario proposing that we take stuff from others and become them.
How would anyone use this film to inspire scenario creation? What if, to come up with stories, participants created new roles for themselves by using traits from each other?
A “spark” phrase from the facilitator resets the takeover (in the film it’s “Excuse me, do you have the time?”), or starts a new bond between two new people.
During the storymaking, it’s only allowed to imagine using this new persona– sort of like jumping lives to shake identity a bit.
Bonus for cleverness: the title of the film, Nimic, is designed to be “an almost mimic” <3
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:
Petroterapia is a speculative film commissioned by our studio to artists Vicky González and David Ortiz Juan to explore a scenario in 2145: What if the caring economy had extended from humans to earth?
Vicky’s speculation was that rocks had become the most important being we cared for, “as they still remembered the damage done to nature by humans, and needed healing“.
By expanding that scenario so that the conversation revolved about what it meant, emotionally, to take care of someone else, this speculative piece shed light on the perspective of caring economy workers in 2019, and the emotional challenges they faced when clients ended gigs with the touch of a button.
It is the future of the future, what they call now.
After the recovery of the years of unconsciousness.
When there were still lags of ignorance,
they were determined to imitate the most developed countries.
Where the care economy was already fundamental.
Then the urge of being seen stopped
And instead they start looking at others,
To take care of them.
And they earned more money
But instead they bought less.
Because they were able to see the dementia in seeking happiness through objects.
And they realized that the love that emanated from caring and being cared for
Then a bigger house was no longer necessary
Not a faster car.
But there was still cold and darkness.
Or so they described.
There was no point in having harmony among humans
if the rest was suffering.
So it was then when they learned the language of earth.
And through listening closely they understood that rocks couldn’t let go.
That they were still keeping all the evil from the humans of the past.
The evil that’s transferred to the most noble and innocent creatures.
And without knowing it, they vibrate infecting everything that approaches
That’s why we created the Petroterapia.
What we see when we aren’t seeing into a specific project.
We borrow from film, literature, games, the zeitgeist, the bus…
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, a 1975 arthouse film by Chantal Akerman, is a slice of life portrayal of the life of a housewife. The film examines a single mother's regimented schedule of cooking, cleaning and mothering over three days.
The slight alterations to Jeanne's existence is a technique we use to imagine tiny changes in speculative stories that could branch unexpected results (and that we can leave alone to develop without as much interference). It’s a way to advance stories without trying to change the plot so much.
We found a visual essay remix (produced by Dr. Drew Morton, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Texas A&M University-Texarkana), which serves like a tool for formal analysis. It layers Chantal Akerman's three days upon one another in order to facilitate the analysis of visual patterns and temporal rhythms:
From our community!
Children of the Singularity is a short documentary series by Megan May Daalder that invites young people to push back against any singular story of “progress”.
With a speculative sensibility and verité documentary style, Children of the Singularity encourages young people to question the forces that shape pervasive digital technologies, and imagine alternative futures.
The trailer is below and Megan has shared its three episodes over here.