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the cyberiad: telling stories of power relationships in future wor(l)ds

How might the future (re)shape power relationships? What might define power, what will it consist of? How might such prospects challenge the way we design the world around us? How might this render our lives different?

On June 15th, Nik Baerten (Pantopicon, Antwerp, B), Elisa Bertolotti (University of Madeira), Virginia Tassinari (LUCA School of Arts, Genk, Belgium) and Susan Yelavich (Parsons, The New School of Design, NYC, USA) engaged about 15 participants of the NORDES 2017 (the 7th Nordic Design Research Conference) in a 3 hour workshop of worldbuilding and storytelling. The workshop was inspired by the writings of Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem (also the source of inspiration for our earlier performance – The Neological Insitute) and the approaches and style figures he used to construct and evoke future worlds.
Step by step, participants identified objects, places, situations or rituals which might disappear under the influence of future developments. Through their disappearance they lose their functional value. Their value, their meaning changes as the world around them shifts shape. Participants placed such new meanings at the centre of their future world. They wrote short stories to evoke a feeling and understanding of the world’s key dynamics. Furthermore, they ‘Lemmified’ their story fragments as a way to enhance their poetic, literary dimension and gain new insights.

The solitary, silent act of writing was experienced as a breath of fresh air in these collaborative times. When participants did exchange story fragments and built further upon each other’s fragments, many pathways to new insights opened up and proved enriching in view of the discussion on shifting power relationships.

Stay tuned to enjoy some of the stories that came out of the workshop …

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