Week Thirteen

In this final week before the end of semester and before the presentations, our group gouged the reaction of people towards the necessity of eating bugs in the future. The range of samples of food we had, despite mostly all being edible foods that people would otherwise eat happily if they had not represented bugs, were mostly rejected when offered. There were only three slightly more adventurous participants willing to eat the food samples, from which only two ate something other than a cookie (although all three ate the cookies). Reactions and opinions of eating bugs were caught on camera and collated into a video for the final presentation. Most of the reactions were of mixed disgust and apprehension.

It’s not only in the class room but across the Western world that bugs are so feared and rejected as a source of food. Bugs can very well be the meat of the future, as “…the global livestock sector responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions and grain prices reaching record highs, cheap, environmentally low-impact insects could be the food of the future–provided we can stomach them.” [1] As such our ‘object’ as it were is a very evocative and relevant one, with very strong reactions from the audience. It causes people to think and react about the future, making it a successful object. Convincing people to eat bugs would definitely not be easy or something that would happen overnight, although by 2030 it may already be a reality.

[1] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1810336,00.html

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Week Twelve

This week involved two main things: bringing in some samples for the final food we will present to the class for speculation and giving our project a name which would bring out its core concept. The name for our project and hypothetical company that will be selling insect food and laboratory-grown meat will be Third Millennium Farming, or 3MF for short. Third Millennium Farming is an established concept [1] which focuses on micro farming, or farming insects, algae and plankton. Third Millennium Farming is likely the way of the future as the price of other food sources, especially meat, may likely sky rocket in the future due to demand and lack of land and food to produce more livestock. Insects can be farmed in huge amounts in very limited spaces. As well as this, insects and algae can be fed on human waste which closes the loop, creating a self-sustaining system unlike unsustainable modern farming.

We discussed some of the needs of the company – such as launching it towards investors who would need to be convinced that this was the future of farming and food. It may be necessary to show these people where the food of the future will come from, although it may be difficult for them to see this in action, or to “swallow the truth” as it were. However to the average consumer it may be poignant to present these items not as what they are but by giving them another name, such as how we call pig meat pork or bacon.

[1] http://www.cityfarmer.info/2010/02/12/third-millennium-farming-3mf-insect-farming-in-cities/

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Week Eleven

At this point in time our group had a few rough and vague ideas of where we wanted to head with our design; including trees that grew meat, designer food and machines that could rapidly print a meal with a certain number of calories and pickles. We were inspired by ideas such as a proposal for a 3D food printer called Moleculaire. [1] However, our focus quickly changed to something that was probably more emotionally and intellectually engaging:

The consumption of bugs as replacement for meat and cultured meats.

The reasoning behind bringing in cultured meats was largely from institutions such as SymbioticA [2] where animal cells can be used to create animal parts in a laboratory – without the need for raising and slaughtering an animal in the pursuit of food and materials such as leather. This brings in some questions such as the morality of a vegetarian eating this, the taste of the meat and so on.

The idea of eating bugs is definitely a controversial one but while it is an idea that is frowned upon in the West, many bugs are eaten in delicacies. Even in France and in French bakeries, snails can be easily sourced as food. It is very confronting, especially when it could be become considerably more likely in the future due to this being an environmentally friendly and sustainable way of sourcing protein-rich food. It again brings up the question on whether or not vegetarians would be willing to eat insects as food as well.

[1] http://www.metropolismag.com/pov/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Moleculaire-in-use_sm.jpg

[2] SymbioticA http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au/

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Week Ten

Reading

Loosely based on the novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Phillip K. Dick, Bladerunner [1] by director Ridley Scott has been a huge source of speculation and analysis. One of the themes I found most relevant here was the ideas of how we should respond to cyborgs and robotics. This links back to the discussions from the first week.

Lecture

The lecture this week, our final lecture for the semester, concerned speculative objects and what they should be, how to plan and develop them, as well as what they achieve. In discussing art vs design, I liked this particular quote from the lecture which defined a speculative object as being distinct from art – “speculative design helps us reflect on our relationship with technology.”

One of my favourite images from this week’s lecture was that of Dunne and Raby’s Huggable Atomic Plush [2], which contradicted fears of nuclear warfare with the desire to hug this cute and cuddly plush toy.

Tutorial

In this week we were issued a copy of Cosmos and told to grab the ideas and themes from the article or articles that seemed most important to us. After reading through the articles, which all proposed interesting ideas for the state of the world in 2030, we went with Food and Energy as our two topics of most interest. I feel that these two topics are both probably the most important issues and as such give the most room for particularly powerful speculative design. Our ideas and themes that we would like to pursue further can be seen in the following picture of our post-it note exercise.

[1] Scott, R. (1982) Bladerunner (Feature Film)
[2] http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/books/66/0

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Week Nine

Reading

“Although we cannot change reality, we can change people’s perceptions of it.” [1] This quote from Dunne and Raby is a great summation of speculation: it is how we make people feel and importantly think about things. Their project is called ‘Placebo’; a great name, as the idea of the placebo effect can be applied to all speculative objects to challenge people’s feelings towards the future. Even though the objects may not be functional, they will still give out a feeling to the person interacting with them.

For example, this Electro-draught excluder, despite not actually absorbing radiation, will give the user the feeling that it does simply by being told that it is the object’s purpose.

Posters

My final submission for this speculative design poster featured a character with six different scenarios. The character existed in a cyberspace, eliminating the need for travel and physical face to face communication with other people; as quoted by one of my interviewees “face to face communication will be supplanted by social media.” It was intended to speculate on the idea of our ever increasing reliance of social media and how we will come to depend on it in a future where there will be less and less resources available for travel, a long with some other ideas pulled out of the interviews conducted, such as convenience. It borrowed a lot from such as ideas as the Matrix and other sci-fi films, which have been a great source of speculation for a long time.

There were some other interesting and varied ideas for where we might be heading in the future. One poster by Megan Allison depicted ‘positivism’, a political ideology of the future where happiness was forced on the people with a 1984 twist. This is a very provocative idea because it brings in a moral grey area; is being happy really worth it if we don’t have a choice? There was also a recurring theme with a number of iPhone like devices which added convenience and a lack of privacy to our life, as well as one scenario where Apple seemed to have taken over the world, which I found amusing.

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Week Eight

This week involved thinking on and developing ideas for my final poster presentation for task two. I looked through my analysed notes and came up with the following themes and ideas that I would like to base my poster on.

greater reliance on technology and less immediate social interaction with other people.
Inspirations for the older generation from science fiction movies – they are not as relevant to the younger generation but are still a source of speculation for the older generation
A need to create systems and prototypes
A need to understand, forecast and protect the future, especially important to the younger generation
A possibility of using technology to forget about its existence entirely
Travelling in cyberspace to avoid wasting energy on transportation, although this brings up the question of how the cyberspace itself will be powered
Convenient Travel
Three dimensional face-to-face communication with others in cyberspace
A full immersive game

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Week Seven

Readings

In these readings, Paul discusses the medium of digital art – “Activist projects in the realm of digital art frequently use digital technologies as ‘tactical media’ for interventions that reflect on the very impact of the new technologies on our culture.” [1] This observes the ability of speculative artists to make greater use of the sorts of new or unusual mediums that can communicate more deeply and meaningfully the intentions of the artists. These sorts of thoughtful mediums work well for speculative objects. As discussed below, this week included a visit to CarriageWorks to visit an exhibition full of speculative artwork, which links to this .

Awfully Wonderful

This week involved visiting CarriageWorks to attend the Awfully Wonderful: Science Fiction in Contemporary Art exhibition [2], as curated by Lizzie Muller. There were a number of interesting and thought provoking pieces which reflected on the sorts of ideas of the future that we’ve been discussing throughout the course of this semester.

One interesting and interactive artwork was the depiction of the robot from Metropolis. Made of tissue, balloons and other fragile materials, it daintily walked around the exhibition. While the figure of Maria from Metropolis is a symbol of human destruction by technology, it is contradictory that this fragile sculpture could cause harm – “At the basis of many digital art projects addressing artificial life are the inherent characteristics of digital technologies themselves: the possibility of infinite reproduction in varying combinations according to specified variables: and the feasibility of programming certain behaviours…” [1]

[1] Paul, C (2003) “Artificial Life” (p.139-146), “Tactical media, activism and hacktivism” (p. 204-212) and
“Technologies of the Future” (p. 212), in Digital Art, Thames and Hudson, London
[2] http://carriageworks.com.au/?page=Event&event=Awfully-Wonderful-Science-Fiction-in-Contemporary-Art

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