Future scenario analysis

When we began the futuring process for a possible future in 2050, we as a group performed an analysis of four quadrants of a double-variant.  Using the two variables of free vs dehumanised; and personal vs communal, we could postulate on four future societies in the context of love and compassion found in the prison system.

We all found the prison system a very interesting space.  The documentary Solitary Nation [1] sparked our interests in the prison system through looking at the treatment of inmates who find themselves in solitary confinement and experience the extreme degradation of mental health in these conditions.  Further research into prison reform led us to a series of interviews with Reina Gossett and David Spade [2] that centred around prison reform within the structures of violence.

Lengthy research of crime statistics [3] allowed us to backcast our futures and thus project our four potential futures, thrusting each scenario along the vectors of probability and possibility.

As a group, we decided to take a more positive direction in contrast to a dystopian future.  The idea of a rehabilitation community as opposed to an isolated and dehumanising correctional facility sat well with our free and communal criteria.  The community explores the autonomy of the human condition through architecture and the abstraction of space and its interaction with the senses.  Kenneth’s exploration of line and shape in our scenario presentation drew a visual link to this autonomy we sought after in our future scenario.  The free movement of line establishes a self-determination and regaining responsibility of our actions and emotions.


Artwork by Kenneth Pan

The path one takes in life is not a clear-cut linear path.  Rather, there are decisions and forks in the road that allows us to find our own answers.  In a similar way, the rehabilitation community lets those within seek their own progression by allowing them to understand their emotions and actions in a sanctuary away from the rigours of life.  By engaging with the water therapy treatment as we proposed for our artefact in our future, the user will be able to self remedy and heighten their own awareness of their sense of self, fostering a rehabilitation culture and a life of autonomy to pave one’s own way in life.

It is through this method of self-help that we in 3D envisage a positive future, with the abolition of the prison system as we see in 2016.


[1] Solitary Nation 2014, television program, Frontline, PBS, US, 22 April.

[2] Gossett, R. Spade, D. Dector, H. 2014, ‘Reina Gossett and Dean Spade (Part 1,2,3,4): Prison Abolition, videorecording, Vimeo, viewed 20/09/2016, < https://vimeo.com/83529142https://vimeo.com/83529275,https://vimeo.com/83529569https://vimeo.com/83529755>

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2016, ‘Summary Findings’, Corrective Services, Australia, June Quarter 2016, no. 4512.0, viewed 29 September 2016, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4512.0&gt;


A conversation with Alex Hartz – Radio co-host, musician, and online citizen.

The art of conversation is a tool, sharpened and nurtured by an individual through experiences and emotions throughout the course of one’s lifetime.  Conversation is the two-way street where two individuals exchange ideas, opinions, information, based on the last exchanged idea in an immediate sense; as well as the conversation being shaped and expressed by the space and world which the conversation is taking place.

Conversation as a research method yields a raw yet casual result of data collection.  This may contrast to a formal interview with all questions pre-planned; words scripted and rehearsed in front of a mirror (or in the shower).  The conversation instead lies at the other end of the human interaction spectrum, being a free-form of analysis; catering for the natural path selection process by the unique ability to adapt or add new areas of discussion to the conversation.

Silence in a conversation is never good, really.  It says that you’ve hit a dead end in the current topic, and a U-turn is imminent.  Just like silence (or dead air) over the radio waves is never preferable.

“We never let that (dead air) happen.  If it happens, one of us will make a funny noise or something and laugh at our stupidity, and the show keeps going.”

Alex “Hartzy” Hartz is a co-host on the radio show Indie Rock Café on the Central Coast radio station Coast FM 96.3, and a good friend of mine from way back high school days.  When he’s not on the airwaves, you’ll find the wild Hartzy ripping it up on the drum kit in the band Petrodollars, or “‘scaping” it up on Runescape, a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) where many online friends interact in and out of the game, and across various other social media outlets.

“Not many people know this, but I’m actually in the same clan as Zez (Peter Zezima, a famous Runescape player).  He’s a really cool guy. Absolutely insane, but.”

“It’s (Runescape) literally where I’ve met everyone … where I first met Alicia…”

We then turn the conversation towards Alicia – a gamer from Sweden a year Alex’s junior.  Alex and Alicia have been online friends for five years now, a substantial amount of time where they each have seen not only their in-game characters develop and level up; but also, been in almost constant contact with each other through Runescape, as well as through Skype and Facebook.

“If she’s not online for more than a day I’ll probably start to worry.  She’s always on (Runescape, Skype, connected to the internet), so it makes me be irrational and worry about her.  Stupid feelings. Although she’s most likely sleeping.”

Then there’s also the time-zone thing.  For Alex in Australia UTC+11 to talk to his Swedish friend living in UTC+2, there are some compromises to be made. One of them is his sleep cycle.

“Yeah, it’s (Alex’s sleep patterns) been f***ed lately. 

He continues to tell me about his routine of waiting for Alicia to wake up at around midday Stockholm time, equating to 9pm Sydney time.  This makes for an overall tiresome ordeal that Alex has learnt to live with, like so many others in trans-continental relationships.

“If we (the band) tour Europe, we definitely need to stop in Sweden.  Thing is, I don’t know if I’ll come back.”

Now this was the game-changer.

So far we were talking about Alicia as an online presence; she would only exist on a computer screen or as her online avatar.  Her physical location in the world only mattered because of time-zone difference.  Now Alicia is a very real person.  Her presence in Alex’s life means the willpower to travel vast distances to affirm their companionship in the flesh.  It is as though no matter the distance or circumstances we find ourselves with love, that there will be no replacement for the physical confirmation of love with true face to face contact.



Future of Love and Land

By Salvatore Tropiano

The Land to an Aboriginal community contains inextricable spiritual and physical links to the past, present, and future generations.  The metatemporal nature of the Dreaming means that links to ancestors gone by through the Dreaming stories, dance, song, and rituals are a continuing present for the clans and communities.  The agents of love that act in an Aboriginal community are the transmission of these traditions down the generations via a strong oral tradition; as well as the love of the land in the careful maintenance rituals.

In the documentary Putuparri and the Rainmakers, Spider is determined to pass on the traditions of the Kurtal people to the young generation.  Kurtal contains a waterhole in the heart of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia.  In the documentary, Tom Lawford along with Spider lead an exhibition party to reclaim the Kurtal lands for their community.  The use of video footage provides evidence for their land rights claim, to determine that Spider’s people were the traditional custodians of the Kurtal land.

Traditions and rituals used include digging out the dried up waterhole by hand.  The waterhole provides clean drinking and cleansing water for these people.  They bathe and celebrate their gratitude for the water in the otherwise desolate desert.  Traditional headdress and dance are taught to the younger generations, and they soon take on the continuation and the living nature of the Dreaming.


Traditional headdress used in the dance of the Kurtal waterhole.

Sick: A Documentary

This documentary had some intriguing insights into rehabilitation processes, looking closer into the mental health sphere.  I pulled some audio from the interviews to add to the orb audio to create the voice-scape. The YouTube video can be found here.


The beat goes on..

By Salvatore Tropiano

In this subject we are encouraged to postulate on a future that has the potential to form into extreme case scenarios.  At the furthest ends of the spectrum of possible futures lie either a utopian or a dystopian future.  It is when these parameters are pushed to their limit that the hypothetical future society runs into much more exciting challenges for designers to tackle.

Of course it should be said that future thinkers don’t just pull these scenarios out of the air without any reference.  The process of futuring involves consulting areas of big data, lengthy (but often shocking and scary as with world population) statistics, as well as futuring methods such as backcasting.

The wild and wacky futures that futurists develop allow for all sorts of possibilities.  Advancements in material science could lead to civil structures and architecture taking on forms that are considered impossible and unthinkable by present day thought.  The development of carbon nanotubes (CNT’s) can pave the way in the electrical, mechanical, and structural sectors due to the material’s free flowing electron current and the extremely strong atomic bonds.

Processed with VSCO

Designers find greater challenges when their future scenarios are wild and wacky.

While radical futures are an exciting prospect for the designer, some may argue that life may just go on as normal. There will always be the vices that turns brother against sister, left against right, and nation against nation.  So unless in your future scenario all thought and consciousness is controlled by moral algorithms based on a consensus of what’s right and wrong, then there will always be the flawed minds of the selfish sex-crazed monkey spawn (aka, human beings) that just wants all the bananas for his/herself.

..The Beat Goes On is the first track of the 1967 record In Case You’re In Love by Sonny and Cher.  The lyrics of this song looks at love as well as other aspects of modern society; such as fast cars, electric scoreboards at baseball games, homelessness, and war. The future that The Beat Goes On presents is one that does not deviate into the impossible, and is more aligned with a realist or even a pessimist.  “Little girls still break their hearts, uh huh / and men still keep marching off to war”.  The fact that these things “still” occur point toward questions of why do these things still occur? Why do nations such as the US splurge billions on their military year after year if the most profound result of such conflicts is mass bloodshed and the ptsd’s that ex service personnel suffer?

The future is a whirlwind of possibility, potential, and the wild and wacky.  Designers and other planners use futuring tools to speculate on a future that contains the most diverse, complex, and exciting problems and solutions.  Yet we must remember that a society will alway be made up of people; the good, bad, and ugly.  People aren’t perfect, and there will always be the challenges of knowing the difference between good and evil, right and easy.


Worldometers, 2016, Worldometers – real time world statistics, Dadax, viewed 6 September 2016, <http://www.worldometers.info/&gt; .

Nanocomp, 2016, Nanocomp technologies | nanotechnology, Merrimack NH US, viewed 6 September 2016, <http://www.nanocomptech.com/what-are-carbon-nanotubes&gt; .

Google play music, 2016, Google play music, viewed 6 September 2016, <https://play.google.com/music/preview/T47ethbcecqumvur4dgdjpg2ks4?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics&gt; .

Eder, B. 2016, In case you’re in love, Allmusic, viewed 6 September 2016, <http://www.allmusic.com/album/in-case-youre-in-love-mw0000030930&gt; .

Dinah, W. 2016, Trends in US Military Spending, Council on foreign relations, viewed 6 September 2016, <http://www.cfr.org/defense-budget/trends-us-military-spending/p28855&gt; .




Technology and love


Technology and love: Her (2013)

By Salvatore Tropiano

Digital technologies invite us to shatter our preconceptions of the possible. These technologies achieve this by bridging together the impossible and the real; a similar bridging process that has transformed our once isolated and undiscovered planet into the interconnected global community and marketplace of the 21st century.

Social media platforms such as Snapchat and Facebook’s Messenger app challenge the impossibilities of time and space.  These platforms allow for those in love to maintain relationships  in an increasingly global community where timezones and distance inhibits. The latest incarnation of Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones – the S7, is being marketed with the phrase Redefine what a phone can do. Without going deeply into the history of telecommunications, it is this type of technological status quo-shattering thinking that transforms the way lovers in 2016 engage with their partners though the facilitation of digital technology.

But what if the technology was your love?

So far I have discussed technology as the facilitator of a relationship between two human entities.  In this regard the technology is merely the messenger boy; the one who conveys, not receives.  What is still considered a bit of a novelty in digital technology is the concept of an artificial intelligence (AI) that can be engaged with using spoken words.  Despite technologies such as Apple’s inbuilt assistant Siri emerging from the need to utilise hands-free phone operation, her learning algorithms are based on information fed to her, and can not reciprocate the more complex personality traits expressed by others.

The movie Her, directed by Spike Jonze, futures a retro-utopian reality where the operating system (OS) behaves with inextricable human-like personality traits. The OS, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), experiences a broad spectrum of human emotions such as joy, frustration, and heartache. She even has the capacity to compose witty gags based on her own experiences as shown in the double date picnic scene.  Perhaps the most interesting trait Samantha has is her ability to reciprocate the love that her lover Theodore (Joaquín Phoenix).  Communication between the couple can happen at any moment, yet she decides to wait until Theodore gets home to talk about an issue pressing on her.  Does this further reveal how advanced the OS is to take empathetic considerations of Theodore, or does it reveal that in this 24/7 world that there is still an idea of the right time and place for more serious talks to take place?

There are also ramifications when ethical choices interfere with the advancement of technology. When a surrogate body is used for Samantha to assist the pair to engage in sexual activity,  it goes horribly wrong when the surrogate realises what she has done and breaks down into tears.  Other areas of advancing technology include the CRISPR genome editing tools that currently assist the agricultural sector to achieve desirable crops.   However there may be consequences when entities selfishly decide to use CRISPR for potentially devastating experiments. It is these dangers of engaging with the artificial that Theodore learns of the hard and heartbreaking way.


Apple, 2016, Siri: Your wish it it’s command, viewed 28 August 2016, <http://www.apple.com/au/ios/siri/&gt;.

Hobbs, B. 2016, CRISPR: The new tool in the gene editing revolution explained, ABC, viewed 29 August 2016,

Knight, W. 2015, This AI Algorithm Learns Simple Tasks as Fast as We Do, Technology Review, viewed 29 August 2016, <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/544376/this-ai-algorithm-learns-simple-tasks-as-fast-as-we-do/&gt;.

Lewis, H. 2013,  ‘Her’ Named Best Film by National Board of Review, viewed 28 August 2016, The Hollywood Reporter<http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/national-board-review-awards-announced-661763&gt;.

Samsung, 2016, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, viewed 28 August 2016, <http://www.samsung.com/au/consumer/mobile-phone/smartphone/smartphone/galaxy-s7/&gt;.