The moment Bruce Sterling claimed the “video” is the most successful design fiction to date, made me start to pay attention. The Hugo award winner and massive Design-Fiction advocate says that the moving image was arguably the most loved and well received artefact of design fiction due to the sex appeal of people interacting with other people or objects………..and then wanting to show other people or objects.
Two videos were shown as examples comparing two different types of video. The first showed the content being derived from robots tracking car and pedestrian movements through the medium of closed circuit television. This showed that there was a concept of vehicle tracking for whatever purpose in a designers alternative reality and through a real world need and application, such as traffic management, the design was refined and brought to life. The second video pitches a reality where almost every domestic interaction involved touching a piece of glass. Whether it be temperature sensitive, or smudge resistance, the glass would act as an evolved computer monitor displaying information and being able to interacted upon. Much like an giant iPad in every room. This was interesting because it wasn’t actually a new device born out of an imaginary reality, but an evolution of existing tablets and touch screens.
The second reading, a summarised manifesto of the teaching of design fiction education, details Matthew Ward’s adaptation of DS and the almost crucial need to embed it in design students for their own benefit.
The piece regales how Ward forces his students to imagine a alternate or augmented reality and its contexts, such as people, cultures, governance etc, and then design appropriate artefacts to help them communicate these practices.
Ward then goes on to make a very real and thought provoking point, that designers are never in the here and now, that that they are always designing for the future. Now this notion made me think that if they are never in the here and now, then should there be any need to teach them about design fiction as their line of thought would already be on the outer??
He aligns design fiction with speculative inquiry and concludes by confirming that “By focussing on the speculative and fictional, design is no longer constrained by the practical reality of todays material and economic restrictions”. And it is with that final sentence that I finally realise why DF is so important in enabling moving people forward.