IMAGINE is a research project led by Consumption Research Norway at Oslo Metropolitan University. Funded by the Research Council of Norway.
When you think about the future, what do you imagine? Flying cars, tubed food, or high-tech clothing might be among the images that come to mind. IMAGINE sets out to study these images of the future as imaginaries. Imaginaries are the many ways in which we humans think about the future and ways in which they can become possible. Our project looks specifically at how we imagine sustainable futures.
How we lived in the past and how we live today affect our ways of imagining a sustainable future. Some imaginaries become key cultural stories that guide and legitimize what we do, while others are not given much attention and influence nothing. That makes it crucial to bring current imaginaries about our sustainable future entail to light. How do we imagine eating, dressing, and moving sustainably in the future?
To identify imaginaries, we engage with those who design, produce, and sell food, clothing, and means of transport, those who consume these products and services, and those who regulate production and consumption. We look for imaginaries in strategic documents, media, and popular culture, and ask people to share their imaginaries with us.
Imaginaries often take the form of abstract images and ideas that are difficult to convey. To allow for the transference of images and ideas between people, we use design and art. We will represent imaginaries in tangible ways by making an experiential exhibition that will enable people to engage in imaginaries through their senses – by seeing, hearing, and touching. This makes abstract images and ideas more explicit and accessible for critical discussion and reflection.
Just as the imaginaries of the past influenced our present, current dominant imaginaries about sustainability will influence future technological, cultural, and societal development. IMAGINE helps us critically engage with these important ideas. Why are some dominant and others not? Who has the power over them – the power to shape how we imagine the future?