Facilitator: Kitti Borissza, Adoption & Community, TZ Connect
📜 Course Description
A three hour session where we will collectively explore Possible and Preferable futures, followed by a reframed scenario and a contrast exercise on how we imagined these futures. Phases 1, 2 and 3 of FL Lab.
🗝 Key learnings
📚 Readings (optional)
Today we are imagining the future prototypes WAC Fellows will engage with.
We are led by Museum of Tomorrow International, a think tank and spin off from the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro. They invite us to engage with a world in an imagined future through a session guided by ethical dimensions such as sustainability, regeneration, and communality.
Our facilitator for this session, Loes Damhof, is an expert on futures literacy as a capability. In today’s lab we’re not only going to think about the future, but think about how we think about the future. We seek to understand how we can use our future images to construct what we find important, as well as how an imagined future could invite us, not so much to set distant points on the horizon, but rather to identify and challenge our blind spots. The future itself holds no data. But the images we collectively project, what we imagine, what is discontinued, these are what propel our future myth-making. It is here that we will explore these fictionalized truths. This session provides us with time to stand still, slow down, and talk about what aspects in this current journey through future designing might we be overlooking.
We start by making our future images more explicit. Specifically, we are curious to probe what the future of Web3 and arts & culture looks like. Our initial goal is to make those tacit images more expressed. If we think about the future of Web3 and its role in arts & culture, do we actually have the same image, or are we just assuming we do?
The Landing: Arrive and acknowledge you are here
Before we engage in any future gazing, let’s bring ourselves to our unique fundamental baselines, and ask: ‘what moves me’?
Fallingwater, a house nestled deep in the rocky hillsides of Pennsylvanian, sculpted in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright. Usually buildings feel imposed on nature, while this one felt in tune with its surroundings.
The sculpture LOVE by Alexander Milov, because it so beautifully shows what's broken and how it could be fixed.
Mark Rothko’s color fields, because they're both meditative and quiet, yet still dynamic.
An art project called Grow Your Own Cloud, where data can be stored in a plant's DNA.
David Young produces AI art that makes machines create (or dream about) textures, flowers, and rethink the use of AI in art.
Ali Demirel and Richie Hawkin showing how a digital piece can have a huge resemblance with nature and the eternity of time.
Georgia O'keefe's New York Night Scene, painted in 1925. How strange it must have been to have the city suddenly grow upwards around you.
Henri Rousseau Self Portrait was hanging in our kitchen in Croatia, where I was born. The image is still in my head.
Coming to the context now, let’s mind travel to the year 2062. What are the specific snapshots we see in the future? We start in the future of our dreams: if you had to design Web3 in a way that would do the world the most good, that would bring about a net positive impact, what would that look like? What would be the most ideal outcome of a symbiotic relationship between this future and arts & culture? What makes you happy in that most desired future?
Stay in the future, in the year 2062 and look back. How do you think we as a society have developed over the last 20 years? Over the last 40 years? What is the extent to which technology impacts our lives? In your probable future, what things remain and what things are discontinued?
A possible and desired future would embed a sense of care, consciousness, and transcendentalism in a world alive with Web3. We imagine a world in which Web3 is a tool used in arts & culture to amplify our sense of reality through a physio-emotio-bio-creative-technophilic manifestation.
With Instagram announcing their engagement with NFTs, what if tokenization becomes the standard to an extent that it renders an NFT meaningless? Our values and what we prioritize in NFTs will not be what it is in 40 years time.
These next few years could potentially be very polarizing if we continue projecting a trend of escapism through Web3 and Metaverses - a Ready Player One sort of scenario. Perhaps the role of arts & culture in this space is to educate and build communities.
In a desired and probable future, one unburdened of capitalism and algorithmic biases, we imagine we will want fewer physical goods and that Web3 will allow us to enhance our capacity to interact more with nature, enabling us to see the invisible in nature. What could digital nature look like in a Web3 future, and can we already see instantiations?
One imagined future might be in the proliferation of NFTs, which would have the possibility to greatly increase asset ownership among buyers.
Ultimately, it is difficult to project and extrapolate what is there and what is not there, as we cannot see what the future holds. We suffer from the poverty of imagination. We plan for something we desire and prepare for something we predict.
Reframe: Recast your blind spots
We remain in a future forty years from now, and look back to the year 2022 and what we have done with Web3 development. Consider the role it has played in arts & culture specifically.
After finishing the expert above, observe your first response and consider what it provokes. Is there something uncomfortable? Why don’t you like it? Is it something you took for granted? Or was it something you never believed in? Moving beyond this reactive layer, consider if the response might be individualistically or collectively driven. For example, when we read ‘all forms and expressions of art are no longer formed by place and culture,’ what prompts that potentially unsettling feeling? What is assumed in that statement when we consider severing art from its societal structure as we know it? We might have a knee-jerk reaction of chaos, loneliness, fear of lacking a heritage. But what might collectives look like in a world without borders? Humans are socially informed creatures. We crave collective identities informed through behaviors, practices, and circumstance. To that end, what places and cultures can be imagined without the pressure of governmental systems, walls, hedges between cultures, and centralized entities which dictate who we are, and what we are allowed to create and cultivate?
Questions without an answer - yet
We arise to the reality of the present, with our dreams of an imagined future in full rearview. Within the context of Web3 in arts & culture, we pose the following questions: What do you imagine? What are you curious for? What makes you afraid? Taking these as inspiration, we ask the 4 groups to arrive at 3 questions each, for a total of 12 open questions. This set of questions will serve as fodder for scoping the projects developed in this program, the prototypes we hope to build and operate at the intersection of Web3 and arts & culture.
The learning curve we just traveled through is a skill building activity taken from the methodology of the Futures Literacy Laboratory. Narrative capacity, capacity to reframe and making the familiar more unfamiliar, are all techniques used to probe our tacit definitions of the future. Low hanging definitions of a future are stored in our bodies as memories; they serve to fuel our imagination with fictionalized truths, which ultimately bears a potential to become reality. In the reframe we go beyond a tacit definition of future as an inevitable self-fulfilled prophecy. We analyze what might be accounting for our blind spots by journeying layers deeper and following other alternatives. Recasting the future is a chance to pause, explore our own learning journeys and assumptions, and to remain open and playful in forecasting a desired and possible future. These activities tend to enhance perception and prompt a sense of agency in forward-facing decision-making.
We wrap this session by getting a taster of the potential topics that emerged from groups when posed the set of open-ended questions.
How can museums be exploration fields for Web3 enthusiasts? How can audiences access the art without intermediaries? Is a local or ritual context missing from the proposed outcomes of Web3 development?
How can arts & culture create moments of disruption? Who has a say in Web3 development? Is Web3 possibly being driven by Web2 old world values parading as new? This field is novel and it is important that arts and culture have a role in guiding that process.
Within the context of Web3, how can art stay authentic and does any part remain to the author or the creator? Is Web3 also a belief system and if so, can we use art as therapy on a societal level to make a smoother transition in onboarding and committing to this technology?
How can we challenge a-priori assumptions to see if decentralization is really the best practice? How do we maintain the feeling of belonging in a global and decentralized world? How will Web3 enable artists to create?
Futures literacy: a core movement
Futures literacy serves as a compass within an artistic & cultural context to engage with the world of tomorrow, guiding some of the most interesting interdisciplinary forces to meet together and embark on a journey to destinations unknown. Forms.International (Future-Oriented Museum Synergies) is a program born out of a new generation of forward-thinking museums, who came together to imagine new futures and co-create. The program forms cross-pollination between art, science, nature, and technology.
Participating museums and institutions in Forms understand the need to diversify their role in society to spark transformation in the broader public. More than broadcasting information, these ‘future-of’ museums, indeed museums at large, are keenly aware of the need to reframe experiences and connect with audiences. Forms will host a summit conference in Barcelona on exploring the act of re-wilding the future, and plan a festival for September 14th in Berlin, which invites participants to embrace uncertainty and allow the imagination to run wild again. Stay tuned for more details!