Growing concerns with climate change, energy scarcity, security, and economic collapse have turned the focus of investors, planners, designers, engineers and scholars towards the term “infrastructure” as a site of value production and potential salvation from a seemingly ever more catastrophic world. But how do large-scale technical infrastructures – in the form of built environments and digital networks – produce different futures? How do human beings conceptualize, measure and implement infrastructural projects that confront global insecurities, while retaining ideas of progress and evolution both at the personal and at the collective level? What are the different political and ethical implications of different conceptions of technology, environment, and (in) security ? How do concepts of temporality, environment and life get shaped and in turn shape large-scale high-technology infrastructural projects? Perhaps most importantly, how do we imagine a future that will be more plural, diverse, and just then the current modes of resource extraction, extinction, and violence being propagated in the name of security, technical progress, and growth?
We propose one of the first large scale collaborative research-creation and education projects integrating arts and design, the social sciences, and media studies, to conduct multi-sited artistic, ethnographic, philosophical, and historical research and creation on the material ways that designers, researchers and entrepreneurs negotiate the future, and translate ideas of life, speculation, and temporality into technology and the built environment. In collaboration with scholars, designers, and artists across the world from North America, Europe, South and East Asia, we are setting up a platform to collaboratively work together to develop new methods, pedagogies, and practices by which to study and the impact of technology at a planetary scale and to rethink the design and use of disruptive technologies in order to create a more sustainable, just, and plural future. To do so, this project systematically examines a series of “prototype” high-technology, capital intensive sites, ranging from “smart” and “green” cities to oil extraction platforms to data centers where the future of planetary life is being envisioned and crafted.