Three aspects of the demon we adore: (1) it is an affront to all that pretend itself absolute and settled once and for all, as the one God, the truth, the good; (2) it acts in transgression of all established ontological divisions, being at the same time physical, metaphysical, and psychical, and yet neither, for it renders null the very division; (3) it has no defined shape, being presented not only in a variety of forms, but usually as bizarre hybrids mixing human and non-human elements, neither has it unity, and can be called legion, for it is many. Turning this into a series of titles, we may call the demon the destabilizer of the absolute, the flattener of reality, the dissolver of identity — credentials that make it particularly suitable to represent the theoretical framework informing the work of this lab, whose main philosophical references are Friedrich Nietzsche and Bruno Latour.
Design was once thought to be the prerogative of God, and when God was found dead, the spoils of His agency were divided between a powerful but blind nature and a weak but enlightened human. Most design philosophies to this day have taken this bifurcation for granted — more than that, design has often been defined by its artificiality, in opposition to nature. The demon, usurper of the privileges of nature and humans, is the harbinger of a new design philosophy. Demonic design has no center and cannot be classified beforehand as blind or intelligent, natural or artificial, good or evil, for any classification can only be the effect of designing — and is, in this sense, a fiction, like everything else. Thinking with the demon, we must ask of everything how it was made and what it does. And the answer can only point to a swarm of other precarious fictional entities that, standing in relation to the first, sustain — with bat wings and calf thighs — its existence and act with or against it.
Inspired by the demonic, we work on three fictional fronts: design philosophy fiction, design history fiction and design futures fiction, thus articulating design and fiction with the disciplines of philosophy, history and future studies, respectively. At the first front, we study the projected world as connected to the imagination of those humans that have partly designed them, but that are also partly designed by them in turn. At the second front, we trace the different ways design has been understood, evaluated and practiced in the past, and look for the things that exist in association with these understandings, evaluations and practices. At the third, we consider which futures are being opened by the current understandings, evaluations and practices of design and by the designed things that help to sustain them; we explore their relations to the imagined futures pictured in novels, movies, and other media, this comparative study serving as groundwork for speculative exercises about the future.
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Alina Rani, Andrea Marroquin, Ana Barcellos, Bruna Baylão, Caio Pimentel, Flavia Soares, Gabriela de Laurentis, Julia Souza, Miguel Sarzeda, Nathalia Matsuda, Renata Spolidoro, Silvia Pollis Davis
Coordinators: Daniel B. Portugal & Anders Michelsen
This project focuses on the construction of possible futures scenarios for some cities around the world, offering a speculative panorama of possible consequences of climate change in urban life.