Focus Artistic Research

Curiouser and Curiouser, cried Alice

Project lead: Anab Jain
Departmen: Institute of Design
One of the biggest questions is: How shall we live? That is a bit too big, so let’s think about how we can use the arts to develop new, unexpected and valuable ideas about how the future could be, how we want it to be. That’s a bit more realistic. Let’s imagine and create possible futures as a form of arts-based research combining utopias and dystopias. We have been constructing extensive physical environments and inviting the public to explore them, involving a wide range of audiences in exploring physical narratives with speculative content as a form of experiential futures. Curiouser and Curiouser, cried Alice (CCA) continues and deepens arts-based research into raising awareness and allowing contemplation of ways in which we can and want to live. We do this by collaboratively imagining and building possible and preferred futures, instigating as well as encouraging public discourse about individual and collective futures. We invite the public to investigate possible futures by walking through a built environment in order to experience and explore a prospective world. By creating immersive experiences, the public is encouraged to explore speculative cultures as well as possible, plausible, probable and preferable ways of being. We see museums to be places where not only understandings of the past and present are displayed and discussed, but also a place to explore understandings of possible futures and utopias to throw open the windows of the mind. Futures can be overwhelming. CCA will develop a series of public experiments and labs in order to investigate the ways in which possible and preferable futures can be experienced by the audience. We will create understandings and insights about ways to think out loud about futures, to enable and motivate informed action in the post-normal present. We try to make the future multiple, malleable and less daunting, able to be imagined and materialized, to help creating some enthusiasm for futures (Lust auf Zukunft) in times in which the fear of futures is predominant. The creation of plausible futures requires a balance between the positive and negative possible developments and trends. We want to explore not only possible, but more importantly preferable futures. Janus, the two-faced god of gateways and transitions, beginnings and endings, who is half the optimistic Pollyanna and half the doomsayer Cassandra, is perhaps the symbolic guide of this project. Janus keeps the optimistic and the pessimistic, the utopic and the dystopic in view and in balance, this tension opening us all to new creative ideas.