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Imagining the Changing Weathers – Physical narratives (Part I)

Time's Up

The white paper in your hands is our attempt to summarise our activities within the Changing Weathers project in the light of previous developments and where we are aiming to develop in our next stages.


When I talk about today, I am planning for the future.

When I talk about the future, I am thinking about today.



We have been drawing together ideas, expertise and experience in the fields of futuring, design, physical narratives, facilitation and a whole range of related topics. These have bundled themselves into a collection of practices that leave us in a very interesting position with regard to the development of new projects. While we are enjoying this position, we hope that others might gain from some of our experiences and have thus collected them into this document.

The first chapter is an explanation of why we think that physical narratives and futuring work well with one another. This chapter emerged from an article we wrote with our friends and colleagues Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney from FoAM Brussels and contains significant overlap.

The second chapter is a summary of our data gathering process in the form of four transiencies, i.e. residencies in motion that we undertook in 2015 and 2016. This is perhaps most specific to the themes that we developed for the background for the development of our experiential futures installation Turnton.

The third chapter is a short narrative of the development process for Turnton, explaining some of the steps we took and showing how the ideas mentioned in the first chapter were applied.

The audience for this document is probably threefold. There will be people interested in the use of physical narratives for futuring, who will be interested in the first chapter and the third as a case study. A second audience will be people interested in the emerging practice of sail and fair cargo, who will find many ideas from the loose community in the second chapter and ways that some of these ideas landed in an exhibition in the third. The third group of readers might well be those interested in what we did in Turnton and wanting to understand some of the background to the project.

We welcome feedback and questions, as this work is by no means concluded, as is apparent by the piece meal nature of the Trasiency chapter. We are continuing to develop in all the fields that we touch upon in this document and look forward to hearing about other ways of approaching these themes.


Stumbling into a Possible Future

Exploring possible futures is a fundamental skill in periods of disruption and change, which many indicators imply ours is. Whether this is the emergence of Ziauddin Sardar's Post Normal Times, another cycle in one of the many cyclic models of society or the mere perception that we are special, makes hardly any difference. While we have many ways to think about the future, from speculative fiction to family planning, too many of them are filled with implicit expectations and allow the importation of propaganda and other elements that undermine any sense of objectivity, or moreover introduce anything other than what we expect in the first place. While futuring can never be truly objective, attempting to break out of the subjectivity that traps us into thinking about only certain futures is vital, as is attempting to escape from propaganda, wish fulfilment and pre-ordained perspectives.

The academic and professional area of futures studies attempts to work around this by developing formal methods to examine computed prognoses in order to include as many influences, expert points of view, ways of knowing and specialist knowledge bases as possible. Of course there is no accurate prediction possible, but techniques allow the exploration of scenarios, systems of structures that, together, allow the creation of multiple viable plausible futures, spanning a wide collection of intermediate possibilities. A less academic approach to futuring, which we have found to be of value in our developments, involves bringing together a disparate group of participants in order to examine the possibilities that they, together, can create. Building upon techniques such as Art of Hosting and Unconferencing, we regard those present as the relevant experts and examine possible futures that are of importance to those participants. By gathering many possibilities, participants are made aware of the vast range of possible futures that they can prepare for, aim at, or work to avoid. By working with diverse groups, further restrictions in the development are removed. These techniques are derived from relatively technical and formal expert futuring techniques that allow a relatively non-expert group to explore possible futures in a structured way, this opening the exploration of futures to a wider audience.

One of the more important techniques, developed and disseminated by Peter Schwartz and the group at Global Business Network, takes the ideas of a possible future and creates not only parameters but a complete scenario, a view of the world that includes not just some of the effects of possible future developments, their repercussions and interactions at a societal level.

We have been working with futurists, artists, cultural workers, social activists, entrepreneurs and others in order to explore the ways in which these techniques can be used to explore near future possibilities on a human scale. We observe that the mere creation of a scenario is not enough. We think that more insight into possible futures can be obtained by the creation of entire worlds and then detailing slices of them containing the necessary systems, institutions, social groups, fears, hopes and other social changes. Breaking this down to the effects of possible futures on everyday life, we arrive at the fields of everyday futures or small storyworlds, where we look at characters and their stories within these fictional possible futures.

We choose a particular way to then develop these storyworlds for the public, the so-called Physical Narrative. A physical narrative is an explorable installation that builds a fragment or slice of a possible world, inviting the public to enter and explore it. The fragment is immersive and character based, filled with the materiality of the possible futures and the actions, reactions and everyday life of the characters to be found within it. By creating these fragments, inviting the public in and then letting them explore, this technique invites and even demands the inquisitive discussion of the objects, actions and atmosphere of the space. The public is invited to conjecture, to make and then question assumptions, to share their feelings, hopes and reactions to this possible future.

One of the hopes is that such embedded experiences then imbue the public with a feeling of the possibilities and the fact that there are things in everyday life in which they are involved, that the changes in them are not immense and impersonal and unavoidable, but are part of their lives, their actions and their world, to create as they see fit.


Futures Literacy

There is an anecdote that cuts to the core of our issue. Working with a group of students, futurist Alvin Toffler led a discussion about the developments that the students expected to observe in the next decade or two as they became adults. He was impressed with their understanding of global politics, the rise of terrorism and political actions, potential conflicts about resources and technological developments from materials science through to space exploration. When he then went on to talk about their personal futures, the students talked about the size of their family, the locations of their houses and whether they would have a cat, a dog or both. He was surprised at this disjunction between the awareness of immanent and immense change and its effect on the everyday life of the students. This is one of the issues that we seek to explore, as we compose situations that explore the possibilities for the influence of possible futures on everyday life.

As the world enters something that has come to be known as Post Normal Times and many of the existing cultural and intellectual references fail to apply, it might be reasonable to strive for new ways of understanding, discussing and working with possible futures. As our intuitions and conceptions have been formed by what is thus known as normal times, many of these pre-conceptions will no longer hold. As with the children in the Toffler story, it will not suffice to think about the same issues that immediately concerned our parents as to what the future might bring, nor is it enough to fall back on the intuitions developed with our experience before the post normal times. We need to apply techniques that break with these preconceptions and ingrained ways of thinking in order to more widely explore the range of possibilities before us, to perceive, explore, adapt to and even benefit from the turbulence.

Such a period of turbulence will bring both constructive and destructive elements to the surface. In crisis, alongside the problems, we can see opportunities to create new tools, new cultures of thinking and acting, new structures for individuals, groups and communities to orientate and navigate. We need tools to enhance hindsight, insight and foresight in order to better understand the consequences of our decisions and actions. The future is uncertain, but some rough shapes can be perceived in the present. We can indulge in conjectural imaginations, tell stories about our current situation and imagine how things could be otherwise. We cannot convince one another that we are right because we cannot be right, right now; the future has not yet happened. The future must remain doggedly uncertain. Being prepared for uncertainty may appear paradoxical, yet this mindset could be exactly what is needed in contemporary global turbulences. The tools and knowledge of futures studies and other fields dealing with uncertainty may help people to make sense of the weak signals, trends and tangled forces felt from the personal to global scales. While the process of developing such a futures literacy does not make one immune to the effects of these forces, the process of developing everyday scenarios within possible futures reminds us that there will be an everyday within this and other possible futures, reinstating our capacity to respond and shape our reactions to the possible future, perhaps even to be part of shaping it, to read, decode and respond to the weak signals and emerging trends.

One set of tools that we have become aware of is that of Futures Literacy. We need some skills in order to decode these signals, a way of thinking out loud about the future. Futures literacy is the capacity to be able to think, speak, test, learn and share ideas about alternative and preferred futures. Futures literacy is a skill set that enables practitioners to investigate possibilities about the future, to disassemble monolithic future visions and look at variations and adaptations. Futures literacy is a necessary skill in fast moving times when the sureties of the past no longer hold. Futures literacy enables and motivates informed action in the present.


Physical Narratives for Futures

A physical narrative can be described as a theatre without actors, where spectators become engaged visitors, playfully discovering futures by exploring physical spaces, objects and (interactive) media. A physical narrative is an experiential world, rather than a singular story, to be explored and interpreted rather than consumed. Physical narratives take the form of immersive installations where entangled fragments of scenarios can be examined through all the senses as a self-contained, aesthetically coherent reality. Direct experience of scenarios presented as physical prototypes can engage visitors with alternatives to the status quo, and suggests that futures can be proactively influenced by all. Scenarios that are closely tied to everyday life bring the visitor's perceptions to a comparison with their own, experienced everyday, further inviting action and the conscious co-creation of a preferred future.

We use a physical narrative of a possible future to make the scenario more relevant that the bare facts of a combination of emerging trends, more life like and life relevant than the shininess of a science fiction movie.

As there are no human guides in a physical narrative, visitors gather meaning and interpret situations in the same way they would in unfamiliar environments. They are invited to observe, investigate and discuss what it might be like to be a part of a possible future, in physical situations that can be freely explored. Reading a scientific foresight report or watching a design fiction video assumes a distance between the scenario and the reader or viewer. In physical narratives, the visitors are surrounded by the scenario, as if they landed in a parallel universe. The important difference being the lack of distance, which allows the visitors to inspect the scenarios using all their faculties, including somatic, intuitive and cerebral. Such immersive experiences can be intense and disorienting, especially with near future scenarios, where the slip between fact and fiction can be subtle. The future can feel quite up-close-and-personal, eliciting a strong emotional response or a desire to reflect on the repercussions of the experience for the visitors' own lives. Incorporating social spaces with physical narratives to decompress and share experiences is crucial for their critical assimilation. The visitors can exchange insights and extrapolate to their own aspirations and projections, thereby developing their capacity for (ambient) foresight and contributing to the spread of futures literacy.

We would like to note a particular terminological choice that we have made. While a performance will often have an audience or a spectator, we avoid these terms as they imply not only a certain passivity but also a restriction to an audible or visible perception. This passivity remains when we use the term observer, which can be construed to include all forms of observation including olfactory and tangible perceptions, but maintains its anthropological distance. Two terms that are often used to involve a person in the space are visitor and participant. The term visitor implies a certain form of hosting on our behalf, that a person is welcomed into a space and given some freedoms, but is expected to behave as a visitor, not creating the world. The expression participant indicates a further level of involvement, even co-creating the storyworld. This term is valuable when speaking of such practices as pre-enactments and pre-rehearsals, as practised by our colleagues at FoAM. For this essay, as we are focussing on physical narratives, we will remain with the term visitor as a way of describing the interaction. One comparison that can be used to describe a physical narrative is to imagine visiting someone in their office, but the host must leave for 10 minutes urgently, “take a seat, make a coffee, feel at home” as their parting comment. In the time available, our eyes scan the bookshelves and the hung paintings and a photo with a national politician, the coffee cups on the desk, the freshly used wine glasses on the coffee table and we begin to combine these traces to form an idea of the personality and the story of the office inhabitant. However, as a visitor in real life, we do not open the top drawer of the desk or unfold the hand written letter on the table. The artificiality of a physical narrative allows and encourages such snooping behaviours. As such we like to talk about the public in a physical narrative as a visitor, a particularly snoopy one.


Some approaches we have taken

We would like to share some of the approaches that we have used for composing physical narratives that we find to be particularly relevant when using them for constructing explorable possible futures. In the next section we will share some observations.


Strangeness and Familiarity

Like a good pop song, we like to understand the structures of what we perceive, but enjoy the small deviations that come along with it. Familiarity comes from many sources, encompassing the totality of our experiences and surprise comes from deviations that do not throw us off too far.

We sometimes think about physical narratives as a film set, where the experience of the visitor can be compared to the use and performance of a camera. Whereas film experts think of the opening or establishing shot as a reference creator, we use the first view in the same way, to give the visitor to the space an overview of what is to be found, to open their perceptions to what might be available, to allow them to explore and encourage them to dive in.

Our attempts to create multiple entry points for a visitor are part of this constructional basis. This uses the familiarity of the visitor, or their affinity for certain themes, in order to attract them to investigate and explore a certain aspect of the space, a certain part of the room, a particular object or display, screen or surface. Once a visitor has invested some time, they obtain familiarity with the storyworld and can then begin to dive into another part, deeper into the story world. While this subsequent subject of their investigations might not be so familiar or immediately attractive, it is connected to the first and allows a deeper understanding of the world portrayed in this installation. Thus the visitor is drawn into the story, following interests and references, building an understanding of the world in much the same way that we do it in everyday situations: by developing a provisional understanding and building upon it.

In the media saturated early 21st century, we have found that an important question arises as we endeavour to create familiarity. Authenticity feels like it should be important, but for most of us, the media landscape is that which creates familiarity. Most of us have never seen a real murder crime scene nor worked in a fisher's workshop, but have ideas about what is to be found in both of these things as a result of media exposure. The realities of each of these places is secondary, inasmuch as we are not involving people who have some experience in the field in question. While the authenticity of an environment such as the mathematician's office in 20 Seconds into the Future was confirmed by a number of visiting mathematicians, the overload of materials led to an unsatisfying dramatic and narrative experience due to the lack of clarity. The accompanying diagrams on the walls, something that a real mathematician regards as mere decoration, is familiar to visitors from series such as CSI and Numb3rs and feels thus more authentic as a mathematician's or scientist's workplace.


Familiarity and surprise, perhaps even cognitive dissonance, is further amplified in a futures based physical narrative, as there is less familiarity to be dealt with. In Lucid Peninsula, we approached this problem by using consciously atemporal technologies such as gridded monochromatic screens and oversized test tubes, creating an environment that was clearly not embedded in our current reality, but also not in the past, thus leaving some kind of future, but an unfamiliar one, as the only option. A similar situation has been part of the development of the physical narrative as part of our work within the Changing Weathers consortium. Dealing with issues of water pollution and ocean ecosystem collapse as we imagine responses to these and other challenges that have led to a structurally changed Europe, we are building a world that is emerging within the changes we are witnessing at the start of the 21st century. This world is filled with familiarity, being only a generation into the future, but also dissonances with a toxic ocean and high-tech sustainable transport with antique-seeming shipping alongside new cuisines and a vibrant migration-based social system with social wealth redistribution at its core. Please see the extended notes on the Scenario development and the storyworld in the next chapter.


The Everyday

Our media and mind landscapes are filled with possible and plausible visions of futures, spectacular technological advances and social change. These changes are often overwhelming and awe inspiring, sometimes to the point of being awful. In many cases, they lead to the response of deer caught in the headlights, stasis and panic. Or perhaps we “play possum” and pretend to be asleep, uninterested in the changes and letting them sweep over us.

By breaking the changes down and looking at effects on the leading of everyday life, futures-thinking becomes part of our everyday arsenal of ways of thinking. Big budget Hollywood science fiction films have teams that develop aspects of the everyday within their films, with details such as the slippers in the movie Moon relegated to the background, but creating a stronger feeling of depth in the world and the characters. Perhaps the most unsettling part of Minority Report is not the way that criminals will misuse power and technology to cover their own traces, rather the implications of retinal tracking to provide tracking of purchases and eliminating personal privacy on an everyday level.

By bringing the scenario developed in a futuring workshop down to the level of the everyday, we investigate implications for “the rest of us” and avoid the feeling that the future is something that is done to us by experts and higher powers.  We feel strongly that Jose Ramos' comment about abstract futures can be well dealt with by considering everyday futures.


“... the future shouldn't be an overly abstract concept lacking relevance, but rather an inspirational call to action with traction.” 


By translating to the everyday, we deliver our efforts into seeing what can be done to respond to and shape the effects of current and emerging trends. We can remove ourselves from the headlights and regain some perspective on what is possible, plausible and probable, thinking about how it will affect us.


Some things we have done and things we have noticed

With physical narratives we design speculative situations and scenarios (future, present or parallel) as tangible environments. Physical narratives generally incorporate several key aspects in their design: playful exploration, tactile/immersive experience, the mixture of familiarity and strangeness and social interaction. The following paragraphs provide a brief overview of our rationale and several examples from our practice.


Explorable Spaces

In a physical narrative, scenarios become ambient narratives, with no predefined beginnings or endings, and no linear progression from one story fragment to another. As the scenarios are scattered across the space in hints and fragments, it is impossible to experience a physical narrative as a clear-cut, singular future: there are many possible stories hidden within. Characters and storylines are implicitly discovered, rather than explicitly described. Like a good horror film, physical narratives affect the viewer just as much by what is left unseen as by what is presented. The physical narratives invite the visitors to actively discover, interpret and co-create a range of possible scenarios; to weave the story-fragments together from physical artefacts, media snippets and dispersed segments of the characters' stories. They create meaning on-the-fly, akin to free play (Kane), where the making and breaking of rules and hypotheses about the world simultaneously creates the world itself.

In Stored in a Bank Vault, visitors take on the role of a detective, stumbling into the underground lair of a group about to rob a nearby bank vault. As they explore the basement, they uncover various aspects of the story - in hacked computers, tapped surveillance cameras, architectural plans, sedatives, by overhearing a character's phone conversation behind a locked door, or chancing on a plan of attack. Dedicated investigators discover that the heist may not be just about cash, but some enigmatic seeds. They may find a trail of the group's previous exploits that reveal deeper layers of motivation. Just like in a good thriller, this leads to surprises and unexpected plot-twists, seducing the visitors to delve deeper into the story.


Multisensory Spaces

Physical narratives are interactive environments in which fragments of scenarios are transformed into physical spaces, objects and tangible media. When people explore possible futures by touching, standing on, handling or smelling speculative artefacts, they rely on their mental, emotional, as well as somatic faculties. Engaging all senses allows for multimodal learning and stimulates imagination. The immersive, interactive nature of physical narratives invites visitors to “fill in the blanks” between scenario fragments presented as tactile media. As in the adage “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”, in physical narratives the visitors can relate to abstract concepts as experiential phenomena, which makes them more approachable and easier to understand. Rather than read and analyse, or watch and absorb, they inhabit the scenario and learn by doing.


In Lucid Peninsula, visitors find themselves in a hotel room, in a future where pollution and environmental degradation have lead to peculiar developments in medical and consciousness technologies. An airtight window is fitted with the OrganoClean air purification system, the room breathing mechanically, as the air bubbles past plants growing in oversized test tubes. The buzzing of a detox shower can be heard through the locked bathroom door. Clothing items are tagged as having been decontaminated. The bed is flanked with a General Infection Negation blood cleansing device and a DreamNet system for “sharing dreams with friends and colleagues.” Upon entering the room, visitors are absorbed in the hypnotic breathing rhythms; many lay on the bed with their eyes closed, while others pensively investigate the copper-tubed breathing apparatus and brass window viewer, showing an overlay rendering of the outside world.

The creation of a physical, haptic space enables not only a heightened form on immersion, but also authenticity. Instead of developing complex models of hair movement or a simulation of velvet curtains, instead of the creation of a simulation of the scraping of a chair across the floor, we can simply take the object itself, with all its intrinsic features including weight, smell, light reflections and material stiffnesses. Building a possible future is however difficult, as many of the technologies do not exist or do not work as they should. However as we are not concerned with the actual use of such future technologies, rather in the effects of their use on the culture and everyday life in that future world, we can avoid the object and only include its effects, embedded in artefacts, reports, narratives and processes. For instance we do not need to create ultra light steel in order to discuss the implications of such materials, as the visitor to a physical narrative will see steel and read about the ultra light properties, not hefting it to test its actual mass.

The design and creation of a physical narrative can be a complex and involved task, with all its advantages of becoming explorable and tangible, also carries with it the downsides: there is typically precisely one version of the space, it must be maintained, transported and repaired, the functionality of a machine or system must be made believable, rather than just simulated. A downside that again can be seen to be of value. The visitor to a physical narrative recognises the uniqueness off the piece and the effort that has gone into the hand crafting of the space. In this age of ubiquitous visualisation, the creation of physical objects carries a lot more impact, and with that, the preparedness of the visitor to invest time in exploring the space and its possible meanings.


Social Spaces

Physical narratives provide a shared experience of speculative scenarios. Before and after experiencing a physical narrative, the visitors pass a “threshold” between their present and a possible future. A period of “compression and decompression” can help relate this experience more closely to people's lives. Like people who have shared an intense situation or peak experience (e.g. a natural disaster, mountain climbing, punk rock or psychedelics) visitors often have a need to spend time together sharing, comparing and learning from their experiences.  They may re-enter the physical narrative after discussing it with others, looking for details which others alerted them to, things they missed the first time around. Social interaction can enrich the story and the experience for all involved. This can be facilitated by surrounding the physical narrative with familiar social situations, such as a lounge, a bar, or a waiting room. It can be as simple as including a pair of period chairs on a carpet in Unattended Luggage, where the visitors would sit and closely examine elements of the story together. A more extensive approach was the bar of the Sensory Circus or the SubCity environment for BodySPIN, where visitors reclined and quietly conversed over drinks. They were surrounded by small screens and other “windows” into the physical narrative, keeping them connected to the actions taking place in the installation, only a few meters away.

While these spaces are thematically linked to the physical narrative scenarios, they are obviously in the here-and-now. By “holding space” and informally engaging with the visitors, we do not leave people “hanging” after experiencing (sometimes disturbing) futures. If we are interested in experiential futures affecting thoughts and behaviours in the present, hosting the visitors' conversations and reflection is as important as creating a compelling futures narrative. This allows the experiential insights to echo in the visitor's work and life, raising ambient awareness of possible future repercussions, moving away from consuming futures as entertaining speculative fiction and towards a more widespread futures literacy.

We have had similar experiences with entrances. A classical entrance to a media enhanced space is often not much more than a doorway or a light trap in order to ensure darkness inside. We have observed that situations in which the visitor is momentarily held up immediately before entering the space, perhaps to engage in a short conversation, or to sign a disclaimer, can help with a mental resetting and a preparation that the following experience will be distinct from current everyday. By making the moment of entry special, we are making the experience special. By crossing a threshold, the visitor is made aware that something is there, a place to be explored with somewhat more depth than the usual experiences. Expectations are enhanced, reduced or shifted, allowing a stronger experience of the details provided. By requiring the visitor to answer some short questions, they are reminded that this is not normal, a disclaimer heightens the awareness that the following experience is not only not trivial, but possible also dangerous and requires significant attention paid to it. A negative example of such an experience is allowing a visitor to take a written description of the piece as they approach the entrance: as a result, the visitor uses this writing as a bridge into the space and does not engage with a conscious shift. On the other hand, we have had positive experiences with devices applied to the body, especially ones that act to separate social groups, where the visitor is left alone to have an initial experience of the space rather than experience it within a social context that will often buffer their immediate reactions.

As we begin to formulate our contributions to the Maltese European Union Presidency in 2017, we are looking at ways to integrate the social into the appreciation of possible futures and the ways that Malta's “colours of the Mediterranean” can contribute to this and co-create  “a citizen's Europe” as we move out of this European crisis. We will be working closely with our partners at FoAM, building upon their experience with Food Futures in a number of their projects. For instance, in Godsheide Futures, fragments of scenarios concerning the future of a residential neighbourhood were experienced at a reception. While visitors engaged in the usual mingling and networking, the scenarios began to enter their conversations via recipes and menu design. Translating scenarios into “edible futures” created an informal atmosphere that encouraged conversation between the policy makers, urban planners and the inhabitants. One of the key points raised both in the scenarios and while socialising was the need to create more communal and shared public spaces in Godsheide. Over food and drinks, almost imperceptibly, the first commitments were made to bring some of the scenario elements into reality. A year after the reception, the inhabitants have successfully repurposed a local church into a community-supported school and plans are underway to form a co-operative for more ambitious projects.

It is precisely this tactic of developing and presenting speculative culture, embedded in physical narratives and the possible futures of the everyday, that allows and encourages a playful but still inspired interrogation of futures and what they can mean in the creation of today's everyday.


Uncertainty and Hope

Physical Narratives help us create futures in all the rich detail of corporeal reality, futures that are tangible and approachable. Touching and thus experiencing a fragment of a possible future demands speculation about what it is and what it means, instigating a process of thought and reflection.  Visitors are encouraged to think about future possibilities and invited to deepen their involvement. The exploration of futures through physical experience could be seen as an entry into futures literacy, where talking about the future is thinking about today. By thinking about today, we aim to create hope.


“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency.... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”

Rebecca Solnit


Hope is not meant to deny or remove uncertainly, hope is one of the tools that we can use in order to be prepared for those things that remain, regardless of planning, efforts and luck, uncertain. We cannot deny uncertainty, we must inhabit it. Inhabiting uncertainty can be seen as a counterpoint to strategy, which tends to focus on risk assessment and careful adherence to a plan. However, inhabiting uncertainty does not imply indecision nor does it eliminate the need for planning and analysis. Instead, it offers different types of adaptive, real- time and experiential decision making processes. It invites us to hope, anticipate and openly explore possible futures.

Working with physical narratives as a means to experience future scenarios has taught us the importance of bringing futures to a human scale, connecting them to mundane, personal and social aspects of everyday life. By refraining from spoon-feeding the visitors with a singular future vision, but diffusing fragments of futures in physical spaces, we aim to stimulate a sense of agency – while experiencing the physical narrative, as well as long after the experience ended. Freedom to play with and interpret scenarios in physical narratives invites the visitors to uncover the multiplicity of possible futures, and their capacity to co-create them. Without succumbing to the illusion of control, the freedom to interpret a future scenario, to imagine the many ways that it could pan out and how one would react to and act within the situation, allows and encourages a process of inhabiting uncertainty and learning to accept this uncertainty as a challenge but not necessarily a threat. Embedding physical narratives in social interaction aims to reflect on the ability to change things in the present, thereby cultivating the futures people prefer. Futures that encourage wonder, hope and engagement. Leading away from monolithic dystopian visions towards something more malleable and elastic.


Continued in Part II: Imagining the Changing Weathers – The experience behind Turnton



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