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Workshop – Negotiating Themes in the fiction of Futures and the Imaginaries of Consumption

In late August, the consortium had the pleasure of finally meeting in person. On the 30th of August, Work package 5, EXCHANGE, arranged a workshop at Kulturhuset in Oslo.

Contextual Framework Session

Negotiating Themes in the fiction of Futures and the Imaginaries of Consumption

In the first session, Rick Dolphijn and Tamalone van den Eijnden presented their findings from WP1.

Rick first presented the reasoning for the work with the contextual framework.  This is linked to Paul Ricoeur’s ideas of imagination as an ecological project, existing not just in the human mind but fluctuating between reproductive and productive imagination.  As a result of their explorations, Rick and Tamalone have come up with some proposals, common threads and ways to look at the imaginaries. These themes were presented for discussion and negotiation.

Tamalone presenting the themes.

Tamalone then presented the findings within each theme, which was followed by a group discussion and feedback in plenary.

Their analysis of popular cultural imaginaries identified themes in films, novels, cartoons and advertising, specifically looking at the project’s three cases, dressing, eating and moving.

In the different themes, different aspects drive the future: technology, social innovation, de-colonisation, external factors like weather and catastrophes etc.

Stories around technology, where technology drives the future, dominate the findings,  but the other themes that might be considered more marginal should definitely be part of our project. The work shows that there are many narratives going on already which can help us de-territorialise and decolonise how we think about the future and capture other power structures and narratives. They may help us imagine other stories and ways of being, as well as objects and things influencing our imagination.

Thoughts about the future imaginaries

Some commonalities were found –  the sources always relate back to the nature of human beings and discuss this; in many of the catastrophe films it is almost irrelevant what the element is or why the catastrophe has come about, they serve as constraints for humans and reflections around human nature/behaviour.

It was striking how few utopian imaginaries are presented in popular culture – in our day-to-day, we usually think of technology as a force of liberation but in representations, it often represents a threat or constraints of some sort.

The ways in which some of our current practices resemble some of the imaginaries were also discussed, e.g., how protein shakes have become a common source of nourishment but that the highly processed food in some films does not seem so appealing.

Group Work Session

Group in deep discussion about one of the themes

This was an opportunity to discuss in person the ongoing and upcoming work and plan ahead.

WPs 1&2

The group discussed how the conceptual framework for the project consists of both the contextual framework from WP1 and the theoretical framework from WP5, and how these two frameworks interact. Rick and Tamalone’s summary report of their findings will give a contextual framework and a few directions for continuing the work with the theoretical framework.

So far, the work with both frameworks has shown that their development needs to be an ongoing negotiation, a dialogical process, starting from the online workshop in June. Furthermore, Dan Welch proposed to base it on Ricoeur and Practice Theory –  practice theory being the common ground for most of the project participants and Ricoeur being at the foundation of the project application, combining imaginaries and practices.

We were happy to learn from Audun Kjus that 71 stories about the future had been collected for WP2 on minner.no, approaching our goal of 100. The stories are not just about what the future is going to be but also about how, and they contain a lot of emotions. There is also much more heterogeneity than we are led to believe. The group then discussed how we can start to analyse these stories.

WPs 3 & 4

WP3&4 discussing the upcoming course

The group discussed the development and implementation of the upcoming 6-week course for the Product Design students at OsloMet, due to start in November. During the workshop, it was decided to engage students from Drama, Art, Fashion and Product Design together and make a joint exhibition. Here the inclusion of drama students will allow for performative confrontations that explore the future through other means than things.

Program

10 – 10. 15 am: Face to Face (!) Welcome by Dan

10.15 – 11.30 am: Contextual Framework Session  – Rick and Tamalone present work in progress and discussion

11.30 – 11.45 am: Coffee

11.45 – 1.15 pm: Group Work  

Group 1: (WPs 1 & 2) Atle, Harald, Virginie, Dan Welch, Rick, Tamalone, Audun, Lisbeth

Group 2: (WPs 3 & 4) Nenad, James, Marie, Dan Lockton, Henry, Joanne, Heidi, Niels Peter

1.15 – 2 pm: Lunch

2 – 3 pm: Feedback from Group sessions & Next Steps

Group Session questions:

– What are the upcoming activities and tasks this autumn?

– What are the main challenges?

– What do we need from other WPs?

– How can we collaborate within and across WPs?

– Does the theoretical framework work help us and in what ways (or not really)? Is there anything we would like to feed into the theoretical framework? (NB: the ‘theoretical framework’ is not intended to constrain WPs or set boundaries for theorising in IMAGINE, it is a WP5 work-stream in dialogue with the other WPs).

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