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Re-Writing the Script

Future Thinking methodology


The end is a fearsome phenomenon of humankind. But our relationship to it has changed over the centuries. In a rarely starving, hyper-weight society in the Global North that can develop pharmaceuticals at lightning speed, we try to approach a future in which we want to overcome the limits of the human body in the relation to time and space by coating our own transience with Instagram filters and put trust in the genetic research of Silicon Valley, which promises us immortality and eternal happiness. Especially because we live in the age of acceleration, where a new innovation hits the market every day and we have a disproportionately widespread accessibility to everything we want to find out about the world, we are stuck in a culture of impermanence. We feel overwhelmed by the unlimited abundance of information, and crisis stories provoke alarmist reactions in populations. They witness a boom and at the same time a gap between media hype and everyday social life. It seems as if our cultural model is caught in a paradox between eternity and finitude. But how can we give the end a positive meaning in our society again?
"Re-Writing the Script - A New Relationship to Finitude" is a composition of Denise Hirtenfelder's Bachelor Graduation Project at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. The field in which the project operates can be assigned to the domain of Future Thinking. Future Thinking deals with the analysis of the present, how our society is progressing, how we communicate with each other, how to ask the right questions about societal challenge areas, and figuring out how resilient we need to become in possible futures
The project is divided into three elements, that result in a theoretical and practical development of a cultural methodology for questioning current standards of social behavior. The elements overarchingly represent a broad critical cultural analysis that addresses the position of the end in our prevailing cultural model in the 21st century, and attempts to develop a new relation to it for contemporary future research.
The first component of the project is a book comprising about a hundred pages of research. From this research part, which deals with the theories of numerous cultural scientists, sociologists, philosophers, economists, writers and artists, a future research relevant formula developed. The purpose of the formula is to look at present-day societal challenges from an end point - an expiration date - in the future back to a beginning point - production start - in the present, and to fill the scope of action that lies in the middle with active counter-models - heterotopias.
The formula that emerged from the book's research evolved itself into a toolkit that consists of a handbook, which serves as a guide for applying the formula to users' own issues, and four puzzle pieces. The four puzzle pieces are used to visualize the four heterotopias that users develop during the process, and in a workshop with other participants assemble them in the end into a new picture of our cultural model of the future.
The toolkit was first tested at the "Re-Writing the Script of the Future" conference at Foundation B.a.d in Rotterdam. The conference was a two-day event, which was partly intended as field research, but also was a presentation of the previously developed components of the project. The first day of the conference was spent actively discussing the topics covered in the book and creating a joint manifesto about what new reference to the end our cultural model needs. On the second day of the conference, the toolkit was tried out for the first time together with eight participants from different artistic disciplines.