I had the pleasure of participating as a panelist in two BK Talks: a series of talks organized by TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture.
The first session was titled ‘Apocalypse: An agenda for a World in Crisis‘, and can be viewed here. Other participants included Stavros Kousoulas, Felix Madrazo, Pinar Sefkatli, and Naomi Stead, and it was moderated by Lisa Doeland.
The secular use of the metaphor of ‘Apocalypse’ refers to the total destruction and end of the World, and originates from the last biblical book, ‘The Book of Revelation’. Whether or not the end of the World is coming is difficult to predict. However, when we read the newspapers or watch the news, the term ‘Apocalypse’ helps to describe the situation in which our Planet is at the beginning of the Anthropocene: climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, societal inequity, political unrest – to name just a few of the urgencies – can make us feel the fear of impending doom.
Nonetheless, this BK Talks is an invitation to address these urgencies with the belief that humankind will prevail. Moderated by Lisa Doeland, philospher and professor at Radboud University, Nijmegen and the University of Amsterdam, a panel of experts from different disciplines will discuss emergencies and agendas to tackle climate, justice or biodiversity emergency.
Can we speed up official agendas? Can we as citizens do more, faster? How can we reach true social and ecological justice? How can we address rampant urbanisation, overpopulation, migrations, aggressive misogyny, imperialism, white supremacy, capitalist exploitation of the Earth or an artificial intelligence takeover?
Can we refer to the actual meaning of ‘Apocalypse’ (from the Greek apokálupsis: “uncover, disclose, reveal”) and elaborate on the guidelines of actions to follow?
We need to do so. We are running out of time.
The second session was titled, ‘Probable, Plausible, Preferable, Possible: Imagine the future before it is too late‘, and can be viewed here. Other participants included Jesse Hoffman, Félix Madrazo, Angeliki Sioli, and Heidi Sohn, and it was moderated by Chris Marcinkoski.
Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s Speculative Everything characterized speculative design as a form of creative practice concerned with elaborating design projects that imagine possible futures not as a form of prognostication, but as a means of identifying and reflecting upon crucial issues facing contemporary culture and society—whether we recognize them or not.
In this edition of BK Talks—moderated by Prof. Christopher Marcinkoski of the University of Pennsylvania—we will consider the utility of speculation as a tool of critical practice; the use of systemic methodologies as a means to think about the future; and the elaboration of scenarios in order to gain insight into actions we might take in the present. We will contemplate work that departs from both large-scale systemic drivers of change and weak signals emerging at the margins.
What forces affect the future? Is there even such a thing as the future, or are there only futures—in multiple? Can we truly prepare for imminent realities and anticipate impending needs? Are designers of the built environment stunted in their capacity for imagining and elaborating worlds other than what we know today? What might be considered legitimate methods of futuring? Is it possible to know and anticipate probable, plausible, possible, or preferable futures in view of the myriad planetary crisis of the 21st century?
We certainly cannot know what the future will bring. But we can no doubt imagine what it might.