1. Co-producing design fictions as part
of everyday utopian practice
Paper presented at: Utopias, Futures and Temporalities: Critical
Considerations for Social Change, Bristol, 19th – 20th 2015.
Dr James Duggan
University of Lancaster
5. Design Fiction
• Design fictions - science fiction, science fact
and design to create diegetic prototypes
• Prototypes exist within ‘story worlds’
• ‘Suspend disbelief about change’ (Sterling
• Design (use and utility) and fiction (utopian,
narrative, plot and story etc)
• Future mundane (Foster 2013)
7. Design Fiction and Everyday Utopias
• Everyday utopias (Cooper 2014)
• Similarities - design fiction and everyday
• Opportunities - intentionality and the collective
authorship of preferable futures (Garforth 2009),
driven by the aspiration, anticipation and
imagination of individuals and communities
• Co-produced design fictions as everyday utopian
articulation and enactment?
“The police, to begin with, is defined as an organisational
system of coordinates that establishes a distribution of
the sensible or a law that divides the community into
groups, social positions and functions. This law implicitly
separates those who take part from those who are
excluded, and it includes a prior aesthetic division
between the visible and invisible, the audible and
inaudible, the sayable and unsayable.”
Sans papiers to sans duty
13. The Sans Duty Project
• Brixton Pound (B£) – a local currency and
everyday utopian community
• Aim: do for tax what the B£ does for money
• Create a community-based, practical alternative
• Co-produce design fictions
– Develop artefact
– Film community members (in 2018)
– Present speculative documentary as stimulus for
discussion about tax at workshop
Design fictions combine elements of science fiction, science fact and design to create diegetic prototypes, that is prototypes that exist within ‘story worlds’ (Bleecker 2009). Design fictions use videos, physical objects, text, or any other combination of media to ‘suspend disbelief about change’ (Sterling 2012) and create arresting scenarios and provocation of the future, what might be, and so what might be possible or preferable in order to rethink the present (Dunne and Raby 2013).
checking the instrumentality and apolitical problem solving in design (Bleecker 2009; Dunne and Raby 2013)
The ‘future mundane’ aesthetic is indicative of a way of engaging with the future and change in relation to a continuity with the present, with everyday people struggling to operate old and new, futuristic and broken technology while living their everyday lives (Foster 2013).
Everyday utopias are ‘networks and spaces that perform regular daily life… in a radically different fashion… forging new ways of experiencing social and political life.’ (Cooper 2014: 2)
(We interpret the B£ local currency as utopian or more specifically as an ‘everyday’ utopia (Cooper 2014). Coined in More’s (1516) pun between no-place (ou-topia) and good-place (eu-topia), utopias are broadly understood as ‘expressions of desire for a better way of living’ (Levitas 1990). A common feature of utopianism is the focus on creating or exploring otherness and the opportunity for political hope of alternative modes of social organisation (Cooper 2014). There is a rich, inter-disciplinary and multi-stranded set of utopian literatures and approaches (Levitas 1990, 2013). One can demarcate these approaches to utopia by those found in literature or fiction, political and philosophical theory, and intentional utopian communities (Garforth 2009). The research engages with the realised or enacted utopias of intentional communities (Firth 2012), ‘real’ utopias (Wright 2007) or, more specifically, ‘everyday utopias’ (Cooper 2014).)
There are therefore many similarities with traditional utopian thinking and methods, in relation to considering future scenarios holistically, reflexively and with attention to mundane, everyday behaviours and needs to interrogate the present in terms of what is possible, preferable and open to new forms of social organization…
This approach enables us to engage with and explore interesting themes in the utopian and social change literatures, such as, intentionality and the collective authorship of preferable futures (Garforth 2009) in relation to the aspiration, anticipation and imagination of individuals and communities (Appadurai 2013).
Eric Olin Wright (2007) Real Utopias Project > ‘tensions between dreams and practice… what exists than can exist… engage with the unintended consequences and perverse dynamics’
There are certain forms of information/ signals provided to help us make our decision: brand, a nice inside, prices, food on display, fair trade information, a community board
ADD HEALTH AND SAFETY INFORMATION… but not tax
The thing is WE KNOW…
Things have gone on “in the same old way” sounds odd… given the Internet etc… but we still buy (some) things in shops
These are genuine spaces for democratic politics, which, as argued by Rancière, is defined by ‘the part of action of those who have no part’ (1999: 29). This is an experience of self-determination, a political movement that ‘blurs both the given distribution of the individual and the collective, and the accepted boundary of the political and the social’ (Rancière, 2006: 84): a crack.
Research in architecture in design has shifted from behaviour to sensibility (McCullough 2013)
“architecture “arranges interpersonal distances in space, configures everyday processes, represents organisations, and shapes everyday habits within them, it also unobtrusively supports sensemaking”
Maybe this is more of a co-design process
We make the case that by collectively imagining and interrogating the near and preferable future through design fictions communities can engender the capacity and desire for change.
What’s interesting about this is that it’s 2017, it’s happened/ happening…
What was your first reaction?
“It can’t work. It’s pretty much not possible [glance at the camera suggesting this is despite the suspension of disbelief] but after a time and they began ironing out some of the issues… it’s found it’s place”
The role of Terry Veblen… policies have agents and backstories, Devo Manc and George Osborne, Michael Gove and ‘free schools’
Working backwards and forwards through the iteration