“Are We Human?” Workshop: Speculative Design, Baghdad 800 – Istanbul 2048

Jussi Parikka and I are organizing a speculative design workshop titled SPECULATIVE DESIGN, BAGHDAD 800 – ISTANBUL 2048, in collaboration with Istanbul Design Biennial, “Are We Human?”

The workshop is inviting artists and designers to engage with questions on alternative pasts and futures and design fictions in relation to the Islamic and Middle-East legacies of technology and design. As a point of reference, the workshop will use “A Media Archaeology of Ingenious Pasts: Middle-East Pasts and Futurisms” exhibition that features technical objects reflecting the legacy of mathematics, astronomy, architecture, technology and automata in the Middle East.

The workshop will discuss and try out methodologies and ideas towards such speculative design pieces. The outcome could be works of design and science fiction based on a “what if”: What if this legacy has been able to gather such momentum that the advanced technological age would have been branded by this alternative technological heritage? What if the computer age would have started already in 1200? How do we start thinking design differently with such a set of imaginary media, speculative design questions that also focus on alternative lineages of geopolitics?
Through a speculation of an alternative past and alternative future of technological society and a geopolitical situation, this workshop would seek to draw conceptual inspiration from similar speculative sense in imaginary media and media archaeology; afro-futurism, alternative modernities and design fiction.

Workshop questions include:
○ How can we use that wider rich body of material as a basis for alternative ideas, approaches, geopolitics etc. in media/design.
○ How can we connect it to already existing topics such as Gulf Futurism, or Arab Futurism, media archaeology, or other sorts of ways where histories of technology and visual culture from that period to for example Ottoman periods can be also tweaked in relation to imaginary histories, designs and critical debates.
○ How can such design and artistic work contribute to a different set of an understanding of contemporary culture of technology?

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