Major Studio II


Week I:

We need to imagine new worlds, look at the bigger picture, and expand our vision of what is possible. What we put out there affects the world we live in and the world we live in or want to live in should in return affect what we are designing. Imagining these worlds allow us to envision and analyze different scenarios or trajectories that are inspired by the research we do.

Extrapolation Factory:

The human capacity to perform mental time travel distinguishes us from almost all other beings: we’re able to recollect specific past events, as well as to imagine possible futures.” - Montgomery and Woebken

Design futures might never have a singular definition because it is comprised of a diverse range of design disciplines that play a major role in conversations that shape our future. There are four significant arcs when it comes to narratives about the future: growth, systemic collapse, conservation, and transformation.

Visionary Fiction:

I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live. “ - Ursula LeGuin

Visionary fictions allow us to imagine new just worlds. More than one world can be possible because we each can bring a different perspective based on our own narrative. Different people see the world very differently than we do, which quite possibly means they also see a very different future than we do. All of these worlds that we imagine or dream of that shape our futures, and so we must not see them as something completely disconnected from our reality.

Fergusson is the Future:

Without new visions we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down.” - Robin D.G. Kelley

Fergusson is the Future tells the story of Aiyana, a victim of racism, both in the past world and a future world. The color of her skin leads to her death in the past and in the future, and in the future, it allows people in power to take advantage of her. History repeats itself; specific groups of people are abused because they are seen as disposable.

Week II:

What Football Will Look Like In The Future:

Why are people still playing football?” - Nine

I initially thought this was a love story between machines, until I found out the machines were sisters. I thought it was a very entertaining and peculiar reading. I think I found it a little bit ridiculous because I do not share the passion for American Football that a lot of people have. I think the idea of changing the football field and making it a cross state game is really interesting, I think that could actually be a lot of fun if we could run for so long. Another thing I found interesting is that the third machine (I forget its name) asks nine what she/he/it identifies itself as in terms of gender, and it caught my attention, apart from them being machines and not really having a gender, that this is still a big part of identity even in 17776.

Week IV:

Folding Beijing:

“In the early dawn, the city folded and collapsed. The skyscrapers bowed submissively like the humblest servants until their heads touched their feet; then they broke again, folded again, and twisted their necks and arms, stuffing them into the gaps. The compacted blocks that used to be the skyscrapers shuffled and assembled into dense, gigantic Rubik’s Cubes that fell into a deep slumber.” - Hao Jingfang

This has been my favorite reading so far, I was sad when I finished reading it. In general I find the idea of a folding city completely fascinating, the way Jingfang described it helped me imagine it completely. One of the things that I found most appealing was the story of Lao Ge, because it is something that occurs in many countries right now. The story says": “Lao Dao understood that anyone who could work and live in First Space had extraordinary skills” and before that, it says: “but since his work involved government officials and he had to coordinate and manage, he was allowed to live in First Space.” Even though Lao Dao had extraordinary skills, he was still only “allowed” to live in First Space, just like international people with extraordinary skills are only “allowed” to live here while they are making money for the country. Lao Dao deserves to be in First Space because of his talent and hard work, but he is still not really part of First Space and probably never will be. He is there because “his work involved government officials and he had to coordinate and manage,” because they need him.

I also found the ending extremely moving, I never expected the baby he was doing this for to be adopted or to have been dropped with all the garbage.

Week IV:

Do Artifacts Have Politics?:

What matters is not the technology itself, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded.”

- Langdon Winner

I found this reading very interesting because although when I design, I think about the consequences of designing something, I never look at them in such a big scale. I never stop and think that something I design can have the same impact on society that a law or rule could have. Like the reading says, adopting a technical system is often compatible with specific social and political relationships. It makes me wonder if we can ever really know how our designs will be used? How can we know that something we made will help develop something bad a thousand years later?

Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction:

”Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence.”

- Walter Benjamin

I do not fully agree with Benjamin when he says the aura of a piece of art is lost when it is reproduced. He says that reproduction changes the cultural context of the piece, making it lose its originality and authenticity. I believe that under his definition of aura, the aura is lost way before it is even reproduced. We take pieces of art out of their context all the time, by placing them in galleries and museums, sometimes in countries that are really far away from the place of origin of the art. Right here in The New School, we have a mural painted by Jose Clemente Orozco; the environment in which we are able to appreciate it is not even remotely connected to the context of the painting. The aura of this mural was lost the moment it left Mexico. Is seeing a mural of Orozco in a white room in a building in NYC, the same as standing in front of a wall in Mexico and looking at it there?

Another thing that I don’t agree with is the fact that he says photographies do not have an aura. He says that a photograph is an image of an image, while a painting is not, but I do not believe photographs are just an image of an image, because I think images are an instant in time and no instant is exactly the same as another one.

Society of the Spectacle:

“We recognize our old enemy, the commodity, who knows so well how to seem at first glance something trivial and obvious, while on the contrary it is so complex and so full of metaphysical subtleties.”

Debord talks about how are society is dominated by things that are both tangible and intangible, by spectacle. I honestly did not fully understand this reading, so I am working on rereading it and reading some summaries. :D

Sofia Von Hauske