Design as a discipline is strongly infused by technology; interacting, challenging and coexisting alongside one another. And as history has shown, this bond only increases over time. Perhaps this is the cause of significant anxiety and questioning over the future and technology’s role. Will robots take over the world? Will we live on Mars? Travel on hover-boards? (unfortunately, still unlikely)
(Dunne & Raby 2012)
Design duo Dunne & Raby have presented far more compelling speculative futures through United Micro Kingdoms – particularly the kingdom of the Anarcho-Evolutionists. Abandoning most technologies, or at stopping development of them, Anarcho-Evolutionists concentrate of ‘science to maximise their own physical capabilities through training, DIY biohacking and self-experimentation’. (Dunne & Raby 2012) Humans modify themselves ‘to exist within the limits of the planet rather than modifying the planet to meet ever growing needs’ (Dunne & Raby 2012). Families undergo metamorphosis over generations, distinct physical make-up is associated with each clan and becomes a matter of pride.
“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
When asked to envision future universities by Ali, my group collectively acknowledged the tools we utilise shape us and our design practice. Realising that our current use of technology is moulded by our fields of study – ie. fashion: sewing machine, tenaka, digital printing, etc – it unwittingly highlighted technologies determination of our behaviour, lifestyle and personality. Thus, we wanted future technologies to mould behaviours that were profitable, desiring more exposure to industry technologies and networks that university did not currently provide. We were passionate that technology did not replace face-to-face social interaction as we found networking to be a fundamental skill.
By resolving key values in regards to technology, we developed a futuring scenario based upon an economic/industry skills axis. In our Utopian quadrant – UTS developed a department store that gave students the opportunity to work in commercial industry; involvement would not be compulsory as students apply for positions. Full-time employees run the department store whilst communication students prototype marketing, design students propose products to buyers and business students worked alongside the finance team etc. Realistically, there substantial flaws that we left unresolved – the increase of university fees, the loss of international students, the replacement of competition in friendly environments and even if this scheme produced a different, more successful kind of graduate. And yet, perhaps to my shame, we were all so captivated by the chance to integrate more technology into our degree that these flaws were seen of little consequence. Revealing the extent of which we value technological futures.
Perhaps this is why I felt so enthused when discovering Dunne & Raby’s collaboration with designer Michael Anastassiades – Do You Want to Replace the Existing Normal? (07/08). Their exploration of future technology appears frivolous but aims to address a, perhaps utopian, future where everyday needs become more complex, addressing imaginative and impractical needs and desires. (Dunne & Raby 2013) My personal favourite work Alignment, is programmed with the owners horoscope and on key astrological dates an ‘airbag is filled. An explosion of pinkness. It takes seconds, like an airbag in a car crash. Voluminous. Fantastic. A triclinic crystal: a form without 90 degree angles. Perhaps no one sees it, only the aftermath.’ (Anastassiades, Dunne & Raby 2007) It then deflates and the owner must decide what it means.
This is the kind of technology in the future that is exciting; the variety that questions design.
B I B L I O G RA P H Y
Anastassiades M 2007, Do You Want to Replace the Existing Normal, photographed by F.Ware, viewed 17 October 2014, <http://oldsite.michaelanastassiades.com/collaboration/Do+you+want+to+replace+the+existing+normal%3F/Do+you+want+to+replace+the+existing+normal%3F/83>
Anastassiades M, Dunne A & Raby F 2007, Dunne & Raby: Do You Want to Replace the Existing Normal? 2007/08, Accessed 17 October 2014, <http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/projects/75/0>
Culkin J, S 1967, ‘A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan’, Saturday Review, March 18, pp. 51-53
Dunne A & Raby F 2012, Anarcho-Evolutionists, photographed by J.Evans, viewed 17 October 2014, <http://www.unitedmicrokingdoms.org/anarcho-evolutionists/>
Dunne A & Raby F 2012, United Micro Kingdoms, Accessed 17 October 2014, <http://www.unitedmicrokingdoms.org/anarcho-evolutionists/>
Dunne A & Raby F 2013, ‘Design as Critique’, in Speculate Everything, Cambridge Press, pp. 33-46