Whenever I go to a dinner party, and I’m asked what I am doing. I always say that I’m doing a PhD project about creating better sustainable futures. A bit vague, I know. But the long version – That I´m investigating art, games, play and mobilities research, looking at how the different disciplines creates stories and new visions of the future, free from present-day track-dependencies – always seems to make people smile awkwardly and say something like “….sounds interesting”. But I just know they mean it sounds kind of odd.
So I stick to the story of creating better futures, which also seems to trigger interesting conversations. One thing, however, that often strikes me in these conversations is how change almost always is associated with the future. Obvious change is something that happens in the future, but for it to happen something has to be done differently in the present! And people seem to forget this.
Another thing I’m often asked is, if I have found any ways to fix the problems that we have today. And people tend to be quite surprised when I say that the solutions aren’t that difficult to identify. Take, perhaps the ‘easiest’ solvable of the problems, the pollution and congestion of our cities.
And then imagine fewer cars…
We know this would work, right! But people never seem to like it whenever I suggest that a limitation of cars could be a solution. Well, they will agree, maybe a solution to the environmental problems, but for the rest of the world it would mean a societal setback to a time before the industrialized age.
The thing is that we like our cars. Nay, we need our cars. We need the way that they organize the movement of our world and we feel confident that they, like no other means of transportation, can support our demand for high mobility.
And I understand their reaction. Because a world where I have to give up my car does not feel like a solution. It feels like a punishment. It feels like going back on progress. And what’s more, I know that it would be just me doing it, since no one else would be so stupid.
However, most of us want the world to be sustainable. I mean, does anyone really want the legacy of being the generations that messed it all up? But we will not, cannot, do it if it means that we have to ‘stand still’, or give up our hard earned privileges – no sorry wrong word – our hard earned rights. Not if we are the only ones doing it, at least.
The point is though – no matter if we talk about limiting private car use, using less energy, producing less waste and so on – that if we do not find a way to make our lives more sustainable, we will not leave much room for future generations to even consider achieving any kind of ‘betterness’ in the world at large.
And there is urgency in this task. I don’t think we can wait until we discover new technologies, or the timing is better. So even though I like the idea of being in a project where I aim to investigate better futures, I fear that it in time can become part of the problem – because the orientation towards the future indicates change as something that belongs to tomorrow, which can prevent us from realizing, that it is the here and now that needs changing.
…And with all this said I once again find that I´m questioning myself. Because without the goal for better futures, what will be the force that drives us towards anything? These are some of the questions that I will be investigating in this blog. By diving into the mindsets of arts, games and science I aim to explore different dreams, hopes, ´truths’, fears and images of the future that see how they either maintain or challenges the way of the present.