project_proposal_hackspiel <- click here
The definition of a vacuum is that there is a void of matter. Imaging being there and designing the void. First, for designing something, something has to present and you as designer would be the only matter in this void space. So your presence as person would destroy the vacuum. Also the void can only be design by a void. But implying this logic to a space, which is not a vacuum, would mean that matter could manipulate other matter. Before manipulating matter with intention, there has to be an understanding of right or wrong first. That you as matter can differentiate between right and wrong is the combination of all impressions you ever had. You’ll design as you expect as the right form for the matter you want to design. So not you the matter is responsible for the final outcome for the design of the other matter, it is a meta level of events, which you had experienced in your lifetime.
This meta level is described by Dan Hill in his Book “Dark Matter and Trojan Horses”, as the name implies, as dark matter. He takes this further as seeing dark matter as the problem which should be designed. Taking the analogy from physics, we’re far away of controlling dark matter, but probably the designers are nearer to this feat than the physicists.
Controlling dark matter is probably one of the hardest steps to take in physics as it is in design. Because this would mean to design the fabric of living and to design any experience everybody can ever have. In other words: Dark-Matter-Concepts are ideas about how we should live together and how set our rules to have a life which is seen as the best for the creator of the concept. So a new DMC is also a product of an existing DMC in which was designed in. Imagining future DMCs, there has to be an understanding how the future will look like.
But as there is, after Heisenberg, no way to predict the exact future, we can only think of possible ways of how life will be in the future. But finding those is where the design begins. Designing dark matter is complicated, because the outcome is hard to predict and we only can try to prove those theories by trying them out.
There was a time in which those DMC were created by philosophes. They thought they would know best which concept of living we should follow. One of these concepts they tried was democracy. We can expierence that effect still today. Many new groups of people followed to create those DMC and by trying them out, we think we found which one works best. The remaining of the last one was described from many historians as the end of history.
But those test, compared to a scientific approach, are be problematic. Many DMC were tested in different conditions and had unequal variables, that the conclusion, that the last remaining one has no alternative and would be the best, is scientifically wrong. So if after the scientific approach says that it is mistaken to title the last remaining DMC as the best, there should be a search after a better one. So who should design new DMCs? Best would be those people who are trying to understand dark matter. Those who know how dark matter forms and flows in the fabric of living should be the best to craft better DMCs.
But not only designing the DMCs should be the challenge, but also designing a test ground for new DMCs. Should it look like battleground like the last one? Or could it exist in a vacuum? Besides that the quest to find new and better DMCs, it is also important to think about how to implement or inject new DMCs in our own dark matter we live in.
What Wolfgang Streeck wants to tell us in is book “How will Capitalism end” is more about the probability why capitalism will fail than how. But he mentions a point which is entriuging: that late capitalism will end in a new unregulated mess, splintered up from every institution which could bring it back in its normal form. This reminded me of an old theme in history, especially anarchy. Anarchy itself is per definition just about that there is no institution or government which can or has control over the system.
But this is seen by many people as a not desirable future as they fear that an anarchistic time will end in a Mad-Max’esque Scenario. But as history has shown there are many anarchistic models out there and movements which live in an anarchistic environment. In Spain for example there still many left-overs from their anarchistic past from 1936-39. This period was seen in many eyes as the true legitimation of anarchism but way more interesting is how many projects are still alive today and helping more than 50.000 people to stay afloat and alive. There is a German book called “Zukunfts Almanach” which is about many those small projects. From the independent, worker owned brewerys to German international companies or private inicatives which are trying their best to help develop are good life for their workers, costumers and theirselves.
Those are the counter movements to a more and more splintered capitalism. Helping themselves in a anarchic way without intentions of anarchism will be probably be the evolution into our near future. We see it also stateside that there are many new small companies which are family owned and look after the community. New to that game, as Hurricane Harvey shows, are big companies showing social responsibility. But those intentions are questionable if their motive is just promotion work or do they know if there is no help from government, everybody need to help the others to save survival in a crisis. But is it desirable that big cooperation filling the social vacuum created by the government pulling back their funding from disaster relief?
Analogy we could probably find in other privatized sectors. In Germany there were many privatized sectors of normal living like the railroad system. Are those privatizing efforts any good? From a citizen standpoint there are on shorthand many advantages: no more high investment costs into new railroad system paid by tax money, no more new officials paid by tax money and many more. But 30 years later we learned that the railroad system isn`t financial stable, the overall cost per citizen has risen and now the profit margin is now going to a few people increasing inequality instead to the state to refinance the railroad.
Projecting this experience of privatizing onto the social role of the government there is nothing good to expect. As private owned company you have to profitable. But as you can imagine there is no countable income in disaster relief, there is just the work you have to put in that the status quo is preserved. So there is a interest from the company to hold their costumers alive and well feed but this will mean that everybody who doesn`t contribute to a company’s profit, like don`t shop in that specific location, will be left behind because there is no or just too little benefit to the company to help those people. So if we relief capitalistic pressure from those companies they could care about everybody. But as we are still living in a capitalistic world, privatizing the social sector, of the government, will lead to a sorting of people into those who are economical worth living and those who are not.
The book “Speculitive Everything” was about how to define critical design and in which context is should be set in. Mainly the biggest problem of critical design is the separation from design and art. That it is not one of them, but is deeply connected to both. Its problem that design is highly functional and non-critical and art is this only sometimes. So probably critical design is highly critical and non-functional art, which is used to focus and to invoke thought about how to live and in which future you want to live in.
It does that by using many technics which are found in other futurology fields, but it has more of an hypothetical approach to what could be than future predictions used in the industry. It`s trying more to show real implications of living in an utopia or dystopia than showing what they really are. Also critical design products should be set in plausible futures more than in possible ones to connect more to the user.
Mainly the critic is, that today’s design doesn`t create as freely as architectural design, transportation design or graphic design in which there are more prototypes and non-functional future predictions to test our taste. These taste testers are used to look in which directions their designs language should go in the future. Some of them are critical about what they are forecasting, but many just do it to show how they envision the physical manifestations of their predictions.
So why we don`t see this done often with products and services? Probably it is too easy to create one of them, but bringing them into reality is much more expensive than just printing a poster. Also probably the abundance of designers in those other profession are making it much more crucial to distinct themselves from each other. This drive creates more future predictions and pro-bono work because they want to be hired and a company is looking for distinct styles and\or directions designers are thinking in. So to get a job they do have to do fictional work which are not based in present developments.
This is different for product and industrial designer which way more asked and probably only seen as designer which make a product more beautiful and not more capable. As this prejudice is changing more and more to a state in which it is seen what ID and PD can really do, there will be more tendencies to ask ID and PD to also think about problems of the future.
So if you want to create a critical design piece the main priority should be, to search an future prediction. One of my favorites is “City of slaves” from “Atelier van Lieshout” in which the artist collective is trying to predict a fully autarch community of 50.000 people. They`re taking the premise of having no footprint on the outer world to the extreme by predicting that everything is made out of human material. From food to the building blocks of the houses. They invented a chart in which human are categorized based on if they are smart, edible or healthy. By showing a new reality in which only the sole reference point is what you can contribute physically to a community they ask if we really want to have future built on this premise. They extended it into a whole art exhibition about that idea and had a lot of manifestations in different fields.
Showing extremes can be a good way to invoke thought and should be a way to connect to people. Showing them a vision which is plausible but so strange to imagine happing in the real world invokes the thought on how we could achieve or prevent this possibility.