/futures jan 15 '17
Last week I met with Ron Whyte, a Futures collaborator and friend of mine, for coffee to discuss programming for the public phase of Philadelphia Assembled. We talked about finding specific ways to empower engaging in the future. We talked about sustainable energy; better building solutions; ways to survive climate change; community presentations and discussions; interactive games for role-playing future crises; and developing visual and experiential models that make the choice between the “good future” and the “bad future” more immediate.
We concluded that these efforts aren’t important because they will "save the world," but because they aim to strengthen resilience in the face of what is already coming. It isn't about selling dreams to supplant reality; it's about preparing our minds to make choices for the forces already shaping the future.
This is how things happen behind the scenes. People get together to say what they want to do and how they want to realize that vision. It's really that simple, but surprisingly complicated too.
I'm new to all this, and it seems like so much of this project is about managing relationships. Corporations and institutions mechanize human relationships to make them reliable and consistent, but art is often messy and uncertain - pushed forward by passion, bound by precarity, because change-visionaries are generally underpaid. Capital accrues in the status quo because by its nature, it's been around long enough for said capital to accrue there. But art breaks the status quo by its nature, because it dreams something radical and new. An art institution is a paradox. I'm sure I'm not the first person to have this thought. It permeates the project.
This is also part of managing relationships, with the Museum, and our unequal ecosystems of skills, capital, and desire.
(image caption: Places Where Things Happen, by Marlon MacAllister, 2017)