Collaborative speculation: anticipation, inclusion and designing counterfactual futures for appropriation
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-12, 08:11 authored by Ann LightAnn Light
How do people become conversant with futures-in-the-making? This paper explores speculative design from the position that futures have agency in the present and therefore forms of speculation – as well as futures - need to be inclusive. Regarding this as a democratic right throws attention on engagement processes, noting that speculation is often centred on the designer's interests rather than seeding appropriation by publics. I argue that situating speculation in a way that is accessible for negotiation requires careful attention to the hybrid process + objectartifacts that result from designing both a provocation and a process for encountering it. My central case study describes one such hybrid artifact, a counterfactual workshop for considering futures by exploring different imagined pasts and making a journey towards alternative presents. This play of temporalities – and the accompanying methods for opening and narrowing the creative work of taking these journeys – suggest a means that speculative design might be situated with participants, thereby simultaneously reflecting on and mitigating the anticipatory nature of the materials. I deconstruct this instance of curating speculative artifacts to reveal not only its mechanisms, but the many points where engagement processes reflect political choices.
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