Design Fiction: how to make the future graspable
From Fast Company, this is a round-up of a range of companies whose business it is to make the future concrete - in objects, experiences, installations, audio-visual - for business and other organisation. An excerpt:
Tellart is at the forefront of an industry that doesn’t really have a name. What it does is sometimes labeled “design fiction,” a genre that might be defined as “prototypes that allow you to suspend your disbelief about the ways the world is changing around you,” says Alexander Porter, the co-founder of Scatter, a virtual reality storytelling studio in Brooklyn.
Design fiction is created by a loose confederation of agencies, artists, engineers, and designers who are shaping our expectations of technology and society in decades to come by showing us what that incipient world might look like, down to its cliche brand logos. It’s science fiction made real in the form of interactive exhibitions, product demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes consulting work. And it tends to pop up at any event Davos-ish enough to include the word “influencers.”
Alongside Tellart, the industry is made up of organizations like Barbarian Group, the now-defunct BERG London, Fake Love (acquired by The New York Times Company in August 2016), and Google’s Creative Lab. Even if you’re unfamiliar with these names, it’s likely you’ve seen their handiwork in high-tech viral videos, like this rendering of a mundane living room turning into an immersive intergalactic VR video game, created by the studio Marshmallow Laser Feast for Sony; Superflux’s 2011 “Song of the Machine,” a prophetic rendering of VR technology as seen through a walk in London; or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s miniature quadcopters caught assembling a rope bridge in midair.
We are interested in how - and who - can make what could otherwise seem like a scary future into something livable and useable, that everyday humans can direct and benefit from. How does "design fiction" come out of the corporate realm, and into communities, schools, local theatres? Is it just resources? Or can those who make it see the social responsibility they have, to equip citizens for the demands of the 21st century? Who can make us less scared of the future?