Micro-Fictions of Speculative Futures
Although capitalist economies have brought about great technological innovations and helped solve many issues plaguing humankind, the social and political organizations they entail entangle humans within the planetary ecology across spatial and temporal scales that escape human sensibility. Society is therefore incapable of adapting to the unpredictable consequences of this technological advancement and feels increasingly helpless in the face of rampant technological accidents and ecological devastation. In order to fully embrace the capabilities of technologies like A.I. as tools of innovation, many aspects of everyday existence will require defamiliarization and reinvention at both systemic and individual levels. Rapid large-scale technological transitions will continue to profoundly alter our relationship with the built environment both architecturally and ecologically, for humans and machines.
The problem, however, is what many philosophers and thinkers have termed “the atrophy of cultural imagination.” Contemporary individuals are so enmeshed within capitalist structures that they can’t see any viable way out of it, besides through fantasy or science fiction. And so, the famous dictum goes “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”
Yet, it is interesting to note how the terms “sci-fi” and “fantasy” are often not taken as seriously as “progress” or “technological advancement.” It seems that vilifying the speculative as mythical or fictional while glorifying its material product highlights a distinct ideological closure that accepts the constructs of capitalist production but rejects the imagination, through which itself was produced. The architectural discipline is directly implicated in this prejudice, since it is architecture that is deployed to make certain realities feel inevitable, and which therefore denigrates any products of the cultural imagination which might contest it. In so doing, the realm of possibility is reduced to the limits of corporate ideology—causing market systems to dictate which stories materialize, and which stories (and individuals) are excluded from the cultural construct of “reality.”
This thesis examines those constructs through a series of speculative vignettes and narratives designed to stimulate and diversify the cultural and architectural discourse. It is an exercise in world building as well as an interrogation of the current hegemony of technological imperialism as a product of capitalist structures.