Back to the Future(s)

“Who gets to speculate and to what ends,” asked media theorist Shannon Mattern, at the start of an afternoon of panels presented by Critical Speculations. While part of the Papanek Design Anthropology symposium (which continues for a second day on the subject of spatial ecologies), the series kicked off early on in the pandemic, when Mattern, then teaching at the New School, and Alison J. Clarke, a design historian at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, began hosting talks on this new thing called Zoom. In a different vein, various speakers described the slipperiness of simultaneity that accompanies any attempt to limn a futurity from fragmented histories and following the dense ethics of collective making.

Salome Asega, an artist and director of NEW INC, presented several far-seeing projects, including Crown Heights Mic, a pirate radio conceived with community members, and the Iyapo Repository, a working museum for Afrofuturist media she founded with . Bodhi Chattopadhyay, who cultivates futures literacy through transmedial artistic collaborations, outlined his o…

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