Speculative Models for the Present

X:

Y:

P[03]Discourse
on Trends

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report
System map

Using

Critical discourse analysis
Semiotics
Historical genealogy
Scenario planning

To understand how concepts

Fluidity
Authenticity

And technologies

Augmented reality
Hyper-mediatization
Body modification

Will generate different

Conceptions of the self
Emergent markets

Where are our identities best expressed? Will we reach a point in time where a modified reality is normative? Have we reached that point already? Instead of naively trying to answer these questions, this project entailed an engagement with, analysis of, and critical reflection upon the key contemporary discourses on authenticity as they are manifested in culture, to map future scenarios and trends on identity.

C[00]Outline

[01]
A shift towards fluidity in the discourse of authenticity in gender, sexual, and racial identity is generating a new structure of power and knowledge.

[02]
As technology continues to dilute the lines between physical and digital space and persona, this shift towards more fluid behaviours and attitudes will become a macro trend in other arenas, thus reshaping our conception of ourselves.

[03]
Different levels of acceptance or refusal of this shift and the technologies that bring it will generate archetypical identities, each one offering attached market opportunities.

C[01]Authenticity as a Floating Signifier

From a semiotic perspective, authenticity can be understood as a floating signifier, as it is a symbol without explicit referents such as an object or an agreed upon meaning. Floating signifiers are a key element in areas such as branding or political communication. The meaning of these “empty” signifiers can vary over time and space, as they are built over different discursive formations.

C[02]A Genealogy of Antagonies

A multiplicity of terms, symbols, or even spaces, have been hegemonic to authenticity in different physical and historical locations. Some of these meanings, symbols, and locations are clearly antagonistic. How do changes in the hegemonic discourse of authenticity and its representation occur?

C[02]Reflexive Modernisation

These two antagonistic discourses on authenticity were generated by a common process that presents a previous state of things as authentic. Such phenomena are detected in the work of social anthropologist Adam Kuper (1988), who describes the previous state of things as “primitive society,” and deconstructs it as a discursive formation that works within the framework of “reflexive modernisation.”

How do new discourses on authenticity appear as a consequence of modernisation, and how do they influence the evolution of other discourses within the same epistemological regime?

C[01]General Patterns

Emulating Foucauldian genealogical research in a variety of disciplines ranging from
music and politics to arts and architecture, this insight led to the detection of shared patterns generated by the correlation of innovation, modernisation, and technological disruption with the generation of new discourses – and how the authenticity criteria of different demographics influence the acceptance or refusal of these new discourses as a regime of truth.

In this process, the receptor has to impersonate himself in the subject that a particular discourse produces. Subjects that match the self-conceptualisation of the receptor are approved as authentic. Those which do not match the self-conceptualisation are refused as inauthentic. To be accepted as authentic, the subjects which a discourse produces have to match the self-conception of the receptor, the epistemic common sense of its time.

The detected patterns are defined as follows:

General Patterns
Emergent technology

Creates an epistemic disruption that allows for new possibilities. New discourses emerge out of those possibilities.

Discourse 1

Accepts the disruptive innovation as authentic and generates a completely new discourse out of it.

Discourse 2

Accepts the disruptive innovation within the old regime of truth.

Discourse 3

Refuses the disruptive innovation as inauthentic, as it is considered
to be out of the previous regime of truth.

Assimilation

If Discourse 1 generates a strong structure of power/knowledge, a process of assimilation between Discourse 1 and Discourse 2 takes place. A process of assimilation is reciprocal and not necessarily balanced, but in this process, both actors change in order to generate a new apt regime of truth.

Re-start

Once again, the apparition of a new regime of truth generates alternative interpretations according to the authenticity criteria of different subjects, and those interpretations evolve into parallel discourses and so on.

C[02]Applied Model

Tool 1 defines innovation (modernisation) as the disruptive element that generates changes in the epistemic common sense allowing the production and adoption of new discourses. To forecast what authenticity could look like in a future episteme, one must define the disruptive innovations affecting our world and the new possibilities that the mentioned innovations would produce. In-depth research on innovations such as virtual reality, augmented reality, nanorobotics suggests that in the near future, the line that separates the virtual and physical world will blur, and with it self identity and the perception of what is authentic. This epistemic change corresponds to a process of assimilation as represented in the evolved version of Tool 1

In addition to the above-mentioned tool, a parallelism with the evolution of the discourses of gender identity was used to forecast the general trend on fluidity as the core value of the new episteme. While new surgical techniques on sexual reassignment generated discourses on gender performativity, new techniques on virtual and augmented reality and nanorobotics will enable new discourses on authenticity as identity evolves into something that transcends physical conditions and limitations, and blurs into the digital world.

C[03]Resulting Archetypal Identities

If a new regime of truth on authenticity and identity is built around the concept of fluidity between the physical and the digital, a multiplicity of secondary discourses will appear as reaction or as fetishisation of these two worlds. This overlapping generates four extreme subjects with different perceptions of authenticity. They can be defined in the above mentioned terms as follows:

Where there is power, there is resistance.

Michael Foucault

Projects

Description

Client

P[09]Bio-Fold
FRAKTA Fetish for a Biodegradable Material Culture

IKEA: SPACE10

[+]

Bio-Fold stands at the intersection of material technology and cultural strategy. It deals with critical global issues such as plastic waste, soil scarcity, and deforestation due to agricultural development. Playing with cultural heritage, the project uses FRAKTA, IKEA’s iconic tote bag, as a symbolic device for the introduction of an already existing technology: vacuum bagging, in this case applied to biocomposite materials.

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Copenhagen [Denmark]

Year

2019 - Present

Output

Fabrication method | Digital interface

P[08]Seiche
Automated Bureaucracy as a Pathway to Fluid Citizenship

Strelka Institute: The New Normal

[+]

Overlapping jurisdictions and supranational infrastructures generate an increasingly complex network topology; the design, management, and mapping of their interactions is therefore a crucial task. Seiche is a speculative proposal for a visual programming platform enabling the definition and management of techno-legal procedures of information exchange between institutions that regulate such systems and the organisations that operate within.

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Khorgos [Kazakhstan]

Year

2018 - Present

Output

Speculative short film | Article | Interactive installation

P[07]Siren
Audiovisual Arctic Poem on Connective Alienation

Strelka Institute: The New Normal

[+]

Siren oscillates between the silence of the now deserted destination node of Magadan and the fullness of the fragmented archives that capture its evolution from a place of extraction to a place of archive. It emerges from statistical and interview-based research into port automation and the global inversion of gender patterns in supply chain employment...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Kolyma [Russia]

Year

2018

Output

Speculative short film

P[06]Æffect
Acid Infused Journal on Innovation Management

UAL: Central Saint Martins

[+]

Æffect grew as a bottom-up student-led initiative to create a strong and self-perpetuating community connecting innovation management students at CSM with alumni, staff and industry leaders through a mentorship scheme, an academic journal and web platform...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2017 - 2018

Output

Mentorship scheme | Academic journal | Web platform

P[05]Electric Cloud
Decentralised Networks of Energy Exchange

EDF: Électricité de France

[+]

The combined disruption of smart home devices and decentralised energy production and storage systems favour a progressive switch to ‘prosumerism’ in the energy market. Electric Cloud provided a strategy for EDF to adopt an ambivalent position as managers and traders in energy exchange networks, a role that would help them thrive in both a centralised or decentralised scenario...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Business model | Strategic road map

P[04]Critical Firm
Political Conflict as a Business Strategy in the Age of Purpose

Self-directed

[+]

With ongoing, deep, systemic trust crises across western societies, the rise of populist politics can be understood as a failure of corporate social responsibility - the hegemonic identity of the corporate establishment during the last two decades - to engage extensive sectors of a highly polarised population. To reinstate trust among those sectors, the corporate world needs to perform a parallelism that offers symbolic resolutions to the ongoing societal tensions...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report | System map

P[03]Discourse on Trends
Assembly Toolkit for Authenticity in the Digital Fluid

Self-directed

[+]

A shift towards fluidity in the discourse of authenticity in gender, sexual, and racial identity has already established the generating of a new structure of power and knowledge. As technology continues to dilute the lines between physical and digital space and persona, a new regime of truth on authenticity and identity around fluidity between physical and digital environments will follow…

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report | System map

P[02]Radical Swissness
An Architectural Framework for the Swiss Vernacular

group8

[+]

Define and perfection a framework and methodology for the development of architectural competitions within the Swiss context (a.k.a. domesticating the creative willpower of multidisciplinar international teams to fit the swiss vernacular...

[ ]See Full Project

Location:

Genève [Switzerland]

Year:

2014-2015

Output:

Architectural competition [with several awards]

P[01]UNOG
Energetic Renovation of the United Nations Palace

group8

[+]

In a demonstration of its commitment to the Strategic Heritage Plan, the Swiss Federal Council participated in the renovation of the “Palais des Nations” through a voluntary contribution of CHF 50 million. The aim of the renovation project was to bring The United Nations Palace into line with the concept of a "green building"...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Genève [Switzerland]

Year

2012 - 2014

Output

Restored building | Automated energy management system