Future Design - Artistic visions for Europe and BEYOND

Over the coming decades new technologies will change our lives and the way in which we perceive them beyond our imagination. Future Design is a creative conspiracy of science, technology, and art, an experimental laboratory for new art forms and perspectives on the social impact of technologies in a European context.

Future Design is concerned with the art of thinking about and shaping the future actively and consciously based on values, which are humanistic values, affirmative of the notions of universal human rights, including individual freedom, sexual emancipation, and environmental responsibility.

Future societies will have to find a way to implement the “asynchronous equation” in gender, multicultural, and multi-ethnic emancipation. Future Design contributes to people’s assessment of their local identity and appropriation of their local environment. At the same time it encourages cultures and helps to bridge between different sensibilities. Art is the means of social change and transformation.

Future Design is an interdisciplinary and highly intercultural European project based on mobility-led research, artistic and cultural creation. It focuses on the encouragement of peoples’ creativity and free expression availing itself of the latest and upcoming technologies leading to higher participation of the audience, changing their role from consumer to producer/creator. New technologies and emerging markets will change the environment, lead to sustainable economic development, social life and exclusion, housing, leisure and consumption.

Stereoscopic and autostereoscopic technologies, mobile devices with 3D capabilities, 3D lasers, laser scanners, 3D printersaugmented reality and new interfaces codeveloped by engineers and artists are finally fully presenting the third dimension to be creativly used in representation and expression, creating new business models in all industries and especially in the cultural and creative sphere.

People will have to adapt to societal changes and changing relations between humans, as well as interrelations of humans with machines, animals, digital and natural networks. And people will have to come to terms with artificial consciousness and sub-consciousness.

Virtual network worlds might become part of human life similar to our dreams, which are a nightly routine, somehow separated from our daily lives obeying to different physical rules. After surveying and exploring the outer or material world comes the surveying and exploration of the self. The topography of the brain, the anatomical and functional connectome of the various subsystems is being discovered, the neurological correlates of thinking processes and emotional states are on the way of being decrypted. Self-improvement and self-design through antropo-techniques like yoga, meditation and phyical work-out, also involving the aid of supplements, pharmaca, operations and electromagnetic brain-stimulation might become normal and will stimulate not only growth but also vertical tensions and stress on ourselves and others.

Intelligent clothing is continuously measuring respiration, blood preassure, heart rate and breathing etc. These data will be transmitted to a smart phone to assess physiological function such as stress, performance, tension or relaxation which will then be transmitted to our doctor or maybe even social security.

In the coming years the digitized body of „Homo Apparatus“, enhanced through technologies like Google Glass and head attached headdrives will be ever harder to distinguish from androids in science fiction films.

Future Design also explores the changing design and behaviour of multimedia and information consumption, the dynamic screen: expanded cinema and TV: “3D and BEYOND.”

In addition to current productions and trends of stereoscopic, multiscopic and autostereosopic films in cinema and television ”Future Design” will focus on new narrative forms, of “ space-time narrations”. Future Design is concerned with new dimensions of the “moving pictures ” to space-time stories and the quantum theory of digital dreams. Supported by higher frame rates, higher resolutions, micro-and macroscopic insights, super slow motion and super accelerations. OLED walls will bring immersive three-dimensional communication into our homes, teleconferencing, digital distribution and video on demand, live 3D landscapes will change the atmosphere of your living room like a “window to the world” and portable 3D-devices will enlarge the home-screen to wherever you go. Traditional television will be reduced to live events for example in sport, politics and news.

Most of the tools of the future will be supplied by new kinds of energyharvesters as every house and every cottage could potentially provide more energy than it consumes.

As soon as markets in developing countries will be saturated with general gadgetry such new equipment will become ubiquitous as in already developed countries. It will be highly personalized and connected to all kinds of social and professional networks.

Smart Grids and ambient intelligence – most of twhich we will be unaware of – will improve our lives and efficiency but bear the peril of serving as tools for totalitarian control and dictatorship.

Artificial Intelligence is already here – still confined to the capacity of a cockroach – but it will increase daily to an extent that AI will make own decisions and not only serve the desires of individual humans but will help to integrate individual behaviour into the overall eco-system of the planet and on climate control.

Not only will natural green energy and modern energy storage techniques radically change our forms of mobility, the third industrial revolution in conjunction with the help of computer-controlled devices will completely transform the economy mainly production and distribution. With 3D printers human veins, glass objects from sand and sun even entire houses can be reproduced. Organs and meat can be created out of stem cells and printed in 3D. The consumer becomes the producer or “maker”. And the “maker” will not only be a manufacturer; he will be also be creator, designer, and artist. 3D scanning will allow to compute all spatial data of objects, buildings and landscapes and use them for redesigning, reshaping, reconstructing with almost complete loss of control over copyrights.

Future Design” explores the future of digital distribution from atoms to bits and from bits back to atoms and highlights the adoption of these technologies in different cultural contexts.

The consumer in times of digital reproducibility produces sculpture, dwellings, even organs in the timespan of their printability.”

Audio-visual sculptures will transform buildings and landscapes into ambient art. Vertical gardens and plantations will change our cities and produce 8-times more food than traditional farming. Biotechnology will allow creating new life forms: designer plants and animals. New concepts of sea-water-desalination could not only solve the problem of too much salt water and not enough sweet water but could also produce enough energy to contribute significantly to our energy needs.

Supercomputers can simulate various outcomes of future crises. Future Design though takes a new approach to problem solving. Future Design will not simply extrapolate probabilities. Future Design will imagine and simulate a possible and desirable future as starting point and than regress from this point backwards in time to the present in order to find paths we can follow to arrive at that future. We will create visions of the world we would like to live in and resolve the antagonism between nature and technology.

With these new technologies and approaches we will open up beautiful new vistas and make new discoveries which will lead to new visions for the adventures awaiting us at the time horizon of the near future.

The “Future Design” project participates in the promotion of new emerging art forms in Europe and their dissemination to and assimilation by a broad audience through the work of professionals. In order to facilitate the circulation of artists, works of art and cultural operators, the co-organisers of the project are committed to give birth to a European network of “Future Design” research and art production. As a key mission the network will act as a European observatory on art, science and new uses of the latest digital technologies, thus promoting the role artists play in the anticipation of social change and making the future technologies democratically accessible to European individuals.

Main objectives are to attract wide attention on these technologies and generate debates and interest to stimulate their use by independent artists and unrepresented groups in the community, to bring emerging new artistic practices into visibility inside the framework of European cultural dialogue, and to recognize the potential these technologies offer in shaping and strengthening the cultural identity of minorities.

Future Design will encourage people’s creativity and offer tools to appropriate one’s surrounding. Future Design will stimulate the use of innovative creative tools and integrate those experiences into a bigger narrative of utopian realism. Future Design involves a “quantum leap” in dramaturgy, a paradigm change in audio-visual media, from image to stage, and from historical structure to space-time architecture.

Hence, three-dimensional presentation of hughe datasets and immersion into such datasets will play an ever more important role in a scientifical simulation of the future – we can no longer afford to fly blind and on autopilot.

Future Design will give new and critical views on imagination and new insights into reality with international festivals, exhibitions, symposia, workshops, artists in residence, and artistic projects and research.

Considering the risks and possible collateral damage connected to these new technologies scientist and artist have to take a stand for their values openly discussing the potential and the risks and formulate a vision for EUROPE and BEYOND.

Future Design could become a virtual road map to abundance and sustainability and an approach to creativity and management of future development in the environement of the present high uncertainty and disorientation of major parts of the European population.

The future has already begun.”


Ludger Pfanz,
BEYOND | ZKM Karlsruhe