Critical Speculative Fiction

This was an interesting lecture where we got to see some speculative / critical design. Many projects can look silly at first glance but if you dig a little deeper they quite intriguing and could lead to interesting discussions. Dunne & Raby with their A/B Manifesto, might be drinking their own Kool-aid a bit too much, but the manifesto is interesting and thought provoking. We have to question the status quo and try to reframe our line of thinking to not get stuck in the capitalist money making machine. On the other hand it has a lot of the same problems and can easily feel a little like upper middle class privilege. That said, I still think it can contribute to a societal debate just as art can, even though it seems hard these days.

Of the two concepts I like critical design the most. I do love science fiction but I like the critical and social aspects of it, not the technological. Star Trek or Star Wars can be fun but they are not as interesting as 1984 or some of Philip K. Dick's short stories. It's interesting to see how this kind of design is edging closer to art and future studies.


The Facezam example was a bit interesting, I'm pretty sure that The Astonishing Tribe in Malmö were working on something similar before being bought by Blackberry. I remember a video about it speculating on how the phone could find different social media accounts for the person in the viewfinder. I can't remember if it was a real product they were working on or if it was a specualtive design project. It wasn't as critical as Facezam is though, and didn't spark any controversy. I guess it was simpler times. These kind of projects can form a basis for discussions on privacy and who own our data. In an article in Mashable Facebook defends themselves and says that such a thing couldn't happen as they are very responsible. A year later the Cambridge Analytica story broke.

The Camera Restricta is a more playful and fun critique of how we document our lives and what we think is a unique and interesting picture. It reminds me of pictures I have seen of Kodak Picture Spots, those are sadly not critical design.

Since the course I have found something that relates a bit to this. We were shown a child's smog alarm "toy" that wanted to raise the question of what we do about the air quality in cities today. On a trip to Stockholm I found an ad for a air filter pacifier, I don't know if it was a critical design project but I doubt it, I think it was just a sad way of making money on peoples fears.

A baby pacifier with air filter