Note — Jul 17, 2022

An Archeology for the Future in Space

Perhaps a bit more ‘diving into the practice’ than usual for articles featured here, but I loved this pretty detailed view of the multi-year process and the various components that went into creating Level 5 of the Orbiting Space Station (OSS) HOPE for the Dubai Future Foundation’s Museum of the Future. Some of the topics: mundane futures, an archaeological approach to the study of the ISS, the design of the Soviet Soyuz Orbital Module, a future history of design, low-gravity wine bottles, and a ‘space pidgin’ “formed with expression mixing both technical terms and informal matters.” Excellent stuff!

As American writer Ursula K. Le Guin once put it, “The future is a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas in, a means of thinking about reality, a method.” […]

[W]e imagined technologies not just as a palette of tools, but as a culture. The culture of human behavior, human possibility, and human potential with technologies. We extrapolated weak signals that came from analyzing the background stories of the Space Race, the current private and public initiatives in the space industry and politics, the technological roadmaps, the historical and fictional tools and architecture designed to live in orbit and the potential future worlds depicted in science-fiction books and movies. […]

If you think about it, a vintage jacket worn in 2071, might have actually been made in 2030 or so, so even what ‘old’ and vintage is in this context, it’s actually already the future for us. So to design a product that would be used in this future context, you have to put yourself in the mindset of a designer from different future times, being 2065, 2040 or 2030. And as we have to admit to ourselves, we all design influenced by the cultural, societal and technological times that we live in.