Interakcije 2018 — Speculative Design Workshop: Life After Disaster

27/08/2018

Workshops

This year’s Speculative Design Workshop (Interakcije 2018) will focus on one of the most relevant global topics: climate change. Workshop will take place 15-20 October at the Split Arts Academy.

In the course of the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to speculate about implications and reflections of global trends in relation to climate change in the local context. This year’s speculative design workshop will take place 15- 20  October at the Split Arts Academy. The workshop will be led by Ted Hunt, British speculative and critical designer based in London and Estelle Hary interaction designer from Design Friction studio from France. They will be assisted by Oleg Šuran from the Visual Communications Design Department at the Arts Academy in Split and two final year master students. Ivica Mitrović, in the role of the workshop’s coordinator, will hold a lecture on the current state of speculative design practice and how to image different futures in the so-called “real world”. Our special guest from Portugal, Francisco Laranjo, editor of the “Modes of Criticism” magazine, will give a public lecture on design activism in the post-truth and post-satire era.

CONTEXT: http://interakcije.net/en/2018/08/27/western-melancholy-how-to-imagine-different-futures-in-the-real-world

After the workshop, on Monday, 22nd of October, we are hosting open discussion about speculative design practice, including leading practitioners and educators from the Goldsmiths (UK), M-ITI (Portugal), Edinburgh Napier (UK), HER/Nefula (Italy) and ITD (Slovenia). More soon…

Life After Disaster

More than ever before in human history, the time of the so-called “Anthropocene” opens possibilities for extreme scenarios that are about to take place in the near future. Climate change is definitely one of the most dominating but also one of the most important global topics. Although scientists have been warning about the implications of human activities on nature for more than four decades now, radical reorganization in terms of technological development has not been achieved yet. In addition to that, while some of the most relevant scientific institutions have proven that climate change is undoubtedly linked to human activities, many still deny the relationship between climate change and human impact.

Extreme climate conditions (global warming, high temperatures, droughts, floods, storms, rising of the sea level, etc.) do not only imply changes in our living environment but impose the change of social, economic and political relations. They are bringing about many changes in the distribution of power, new forms of social inequality, and a much different distribution of opportunities. They also imply changes in the technological environment, new energy relationships, a possible comeback of abandoned technologies, analogue communication, mechanics and similar.

From an optimistic point of view, it is most probable that the “big” disaster or some kind of apocalypse will not happen instantly or immediately. Actually, there will be a series of small, aggregate changes that will have an impact on climate change on local micro-levels. Increased air temperature or sea level rising will not have the same impact on the population of the Baltic part of Sweden, the US east coast, the south of Sri Lanka or the population of the north Mediterranean, i.e. the Adriatic coast.

The intention of the workshop is to inform about contemporary multidisciplinary and critical design practices and use that kind of approach to create alternative scenarios of the expected extreme climate future in a local context, or scenarios that could prepare us for such post-apocalyptic future. However, the workshop also intends to try to offer some tools and methods which might provide help to individuals and communities to rebuild life after the disaster.

Workshop

Undergraduate and graduate students specializing in design, new media art, sociology, architecture, computer science, urbanism and other related disciplines will work in multidisciplinary teams and re-think some traditional definitions of design and contemporary social role of design within the scope of critical design practice.

Most of the workshop participants belong to the partner institutions in the region. Still, a certain number of places are open for additional applications that can be sent to the following e-mail address: interakcije@umas.hr. Workshop is free!

The Visual Communications Design Department at the Arts Academy in Split is the first educational institution in the region that has been continuously dealing with all relevant topics in this field. Annual workshops promote a multidisciplinary and critical educational approach, which is a necessary and inspiring tool for developing design practices. It was initiated through the programme of the Convivio International Summer School first held in 2004 and re-introduced a decade later in the framework of the European UrbanIxD project. So far, more than 280 students from the universities in the region and the EU studying in various fields, ranging from visual communication design, new media design, interactive design, product design, applied arts, architecture, computer and information sciences, video and film to sociology, participated in the workshops.

Speculative design is a critical design practice that comprises or is related to a number of similar practices found under various names: critical design, fiction design, future design, anti-design, radical design, interrogative design, discursive design, adversarial design, futurescape, design art, transition design, etc. Speculative design is a discursive activity based on critical thinking and dialogue that re-thinks design practice. However, the speculative design approach actually expands the critical practice and pushes it forward towards imagination and creating visions of possible scenarios.

Through its imagination and radical approach, using design as a medium, it inspires thinking, raises awareness, questions, provokes action, opens discussions and has the ability to provide alternatives that are so necessary in today’s world. The critics of the currently dominant approach to speculative practice characterised as “Euro-centric”, emphasising its excessive focus on aesthetics (on both visual and narrative levels), escapism to dystopian scenarios, self-preoccupation and separation from the “real world”. Critics of such “Euro-centric” approach highlight its privileged “western” position and point out that criticism may be achieved only outside of that comfort zone by taking a position and organizing activities in the “real world”.

Our, so-called “Mediterranean speculative approach” deals with “important” global technological, economic, social and political issues within a local context, as the context which is familiar and within which it is possible to act in the best way. This practice at the Split Arts Academy deals with dystopian scenarios according to the Mediterranean approach (“on the edges of Europe”, far away from the European urban and technological centres) from a human-centred perspective.

With sucessfull completion of the workshop, each student will gain 2 ETCS. The workshop is supported by the Croatian Ministry of Culture.