Shaping Our Future

Last weekend, the innovation charity Nesta held the third Future Fest at the impressive Tobacco Docks. The purpose of the event is for thinkers, inventors and performers get together and to stimulate, engage and challenge how we all play an essential role in creating the future that we want to live in around four themes of – work, love, thrive and play.

Attending for the first time, I was keen to get into and absorb every single talk, debate and performance, which turned into an impossible task. Nevertheless, my highlights included the following.

Firstly, Brian Eno’s talk “Remaining in play” was about the importance of play not only in the education system (a flashback to Ken Robinson TED talkDo schools kill creativity?) but also at work. By arguing that learning is about being serious, (“It’s fun, it must be useless”) he encouraged people to be more ironic and playful in life and not to be afraid of failure. As he put it “failure is so much better as it makes you think harder.

Secondly, Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, and his talk “Future of love music” brought a wider and deeper perspective as to how the technology development has been affecting and transforming the music industry in the last few decades. He shared a documentary called Copyright Criminals which looks well worth watching.

Then the debate about “Future oCollective Realityf Storytelling” brought on stage the truly interesting speakers Rob Morgan, Laurie Penny and Rhianna Pratchett. They shared key storytelling trends that have emerged in the last decade where stories are experienced through either virtual reality (VR) or/ and augmented reality (AR). Building on that, Dean Johnson in his talk “Duality: welcome to the future” expressed the view that eventually experiencing VR and AR will become one.

Next, I was naturally navigated to experience the “Collective Reality.” It was an installation that comes ‘alive’ when people come together.  Through their movements, people create unique visualisation and sound.

Finally, I walked into the Timeless shop where I had a multisensory experience of the future of fertility. I smelled, sampled, listened and watched a range of fictional products that unlock the facts around egg freezing. I left the shop with mixed feelings, lots of questions and it’s opened up my mind to take this conversation further, which is the aim of the project. The Liminal Space created Timeless, in partnership with the LSE and The Welcome Trust, in order to raise public discussion about how biomedical science may have an impact on society, work, relationship and family planning.

Needless to say that I left Future Fest not only with sheer joy, excitement, and curiosity but also with lots of new food for thought, inspiration and innovation. My perceptions of the future and my role in it have been questioned and challenged. Thanks to Nesta and all the speakers and curators, Ruth Amos, Ghislaine Boddington, Dr. Morgaine Gaye and Pat Kane, for designing and sharing their perspectives on the future.

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