Juxtaposition and Jest

There is juxtaposition; there is jest. Scaffolded by spectator-based features like observation, empathy, and humor, Joshua Reiman’s works seem to navigate the space between both. Nearly every piece viewed prompts, provokes, or implores its observers to come to terms with some version of “truthiness”. It’s quite fascinating, entertaining even. Reiman challenges his audience (sometimes participants) to examine their own pre-conceived assumptions of the world, its history, its structure so that they might begin to consider possible outcomes. By augmenting literary rhetoric (i.e irony, aphorism, satire etc.) with interaction and observation, Reiman buillds confrontation out of visual language, double-takes out of our own hollow assumptions.Why do those objects work the ways in which they are depicted? Why do those questions that enter first as innocuous counter-intuitives that later resonate deeply within us?

Simple—Reiman has perfected the art of “critical suggestion”.

edit:

source for my “Lord T & Eloise” comment during the lecture

Devotion

Increasingly, the fan-athlete relationship has led to extreme acts of devotion: from tattooing to riots, superstition to shrines, sports fans have long been compelled to prove their allegiance to their favorite athletes. However, as dedicated as these individuals are, many athletes do not acknowledge or interact with those fans, instilling a sense of desperation amongst many of their loyal supporters. With the recent surge of international sports coverage, broadcast media has delivered emotional manipulation to audiences worldwide.

In this critical fiction, the construct of spectacle has been radically ingrained into the creation of a new sport, Devotion, where the traditional athlete-fan framework has collapsed. To play, participants must individually demonstrate their own commitment to The Object, a lab-created, ovoid-shaped being that senses extreme acts of commitment, responding only once the Standard of Deviance has been reached. Created by a team of psychologists, Devotion represents the first psycho-social sport fully constructed with psychological intention. As a result, sport is no longer team-based, but internalized; Spectacle is no longer public, rather private and ritualistic.

For years now, athletes have self-inflicted countless acts of emotional and psychological abuse upon themselves–all for the prospect of one-day proving themselves to these seemingly apathetic entities. As a result, Devotion has lured countless players to commit the most bizarre and extreme rituals, once reserved for their own fans, now, their only chance at “winning”.

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Cinema & Culture

Finally.

Design has sought to rest its diegetic laurels on the bedrock of film, well, more rather, embed them into of film production.

Whilst reading Kirby’s work, I found myself (continuously) sighing in relief. Finally, the language of film has been found in conversation with the intentions of design. More than that, someone has compiled, published, and distributed a convincing testament to the historical role of film to advance design and thus shape culture.

Why? Well, I felt it all harkened back to DnR’s claim about Speculative & Critical Design:

“We need to design implications, not applications.”

What does film do well? just that.

What else does film do? touch culture. Why? Because we have grown up with quite the appetite for creative consumption (thanks Netflix), with high-resolution expectations (thanks Vimeo) and short-attention spans (thanks Vine).

So, all you Speculative & Critical Designers, forego your neat little mobile device wireframes, discard your colorful service blueprints and delete your poorly rendered video-sketches—-it’s time to make films. Amen.

At the heart of this declaration exist several claims and terms drawn from the reading that I found of particular relevance:

Claims:

First, that film can establish a designed object’s “necessity”, “normalcy”, and “viability” through a constructed narrative.

Second, the noteworthy attribute of the filmic medium is it’s “combination of a visual rhetoric along with [the] narrative integration”.

Third, that film can provoke good discussion and creative thinking.

Terms:

“performative artefacts’: prototypes that establish in the social realm the viability and possibilities of a nascent technology

“speculative scenarios”: highly implausible and impractical situations and technologies that film-makers and science consultants

“diegetic prototypes”:  that have a vested interest in conveying to audiences that these fictional technologies can and should exist in the real world.

‘Perfection’: a mistake made with most cinematic depictions of technology, because it is portrayal that does not mesh with most audience’s experiences.

References:

David Kirby’s The Future is Now: Diegetic Prototyping and the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-world Technological Development 

Bergman, Lund, Dubberly, Tognazzini, Intille’s Video Visions of the Future: A Critical Review

Design Fiction is The New Breakfast Club

Having read Anab Jan’s (and co.) The Power of 8: Encouraging Collaborative DIY Futures, I found a few of her notes quite curious she made that raised questions and a larger narrative that I sensed woven throughout much of the paper.

“In contrast [to single authored visions], building a collaborative vision with the input from a range of people involves dealing with conflicting aims and viewpoint, both in the process and in the outcomes.”

Yes, Sure. Working with others helps us frame our own wants, our own contexts–while this isn’t particularly groundbreaking, stating it up front set the tone for an essay that goes through great depth to demonstrate just how collaborative and transformative this experience was for the eight ad-hoc members.

“Thus despite an initial aim to be ‘democratic’, at times the designer played the role of facilitator”

Right. Where there is democracy, there are elections. Had the others in the group elected the ‘designer’ into this position, simply because of her praxis’ stereotypes. Or was there something in her posture? Were there any clues to her profession? Was her ‘title’ self-confessed or did she give off ‘designer’ vibes? See, this is an area of reflection: could this assignment have been done just as well or as nuanced if no one was allowed to state their profession and all were required to wear a similar uniform? Something tells me that there were distinct taste-regimes at play…In any case, I’m glad Anab was able to reference this difficulty with ‘democratic futures’.

At a higher level, whilst I found this article incredibly encouraging, I felt the entire project outcomes a very anti-disciplinary approach that sometimes felt a bit light-footed. By this, I mean that whereas these outcomes are important, I did feel that some were either unsurprising or unimpactful. Perhaps the discipline of design fiction is just in need of these wild, shared, collaborative new approaches to designing in order to build its public opinion or lure sci-fi writers and bio-scientists. Maybe there just needs to be something, out there, some new documentation for a very old tale of collaboration. Perhaps that will give the field a leg up on its more practised counterparts, social design, interaction design, policy, architecture, engineering, etc.

Alas, some point in the article, I simply could not get the opening/final scene of The Breakfast Club out of my head:

I mean, can’t you hear it? Just reimagine the scene kept coming up with a script translated to this project:

“You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a speculator, an educator, an interaction designer, a permaculturist, a policy researcher, an urbanist, a retired Civil Servant, and a Biomedical Scientist. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, Design Fiction.”