This entry for 2021 is the foreword. The words before the other words. It is also a laying out of coordinates or thought-ways for subsequent invitations to contribute to this project.
The foreword of this foreword, could be corporate ‘vision documents’ such as The City of Stockholm Vision 2030 or Stockholm Royal Seaport 2030 , or that of Norra Djurgårdsstaden, one of Europe's most extensive urban development areas.
“We specialize in resolving knots in municipalities and regions by finding synergies between policy goals and our clients' offers.” A Beautiful Soup
Turning an eye to corporate visioning literature is to ask what does it mean to identify it as a literary genre at all? What can we extract from the extractors? What can we draw from readings of the future from property developers, commercial architects and city-issued future narratives? Nor are the aesthetics of these documents separable from the texts themselves. We are accustomed to a particular kind of ‘smoothness’ in the CGI depictions of the corporate-issued future. The literature is not separable from the architectural modelling, a generation of desire through pixelation and sleight of hand.
Seaport 2035 is an exercise in counter-speculation, a form of pluralising visions of the future. Just as the corporate architectural visioning imagery obscures any element of social dysfunction, or bad weather, streets perpetually clean, glass shiny. The texts are invited to puncture such images of deceptive futurity. RETURN OUR DYSTOPIAS.
How can we begin to imagine the micro-politics and daily lives of future residents, the interpersonal relations between those residents and those non-residents, those who are employed to maintain the area but could never live there for example. What are the textures that speculative fiction can explore between the pixels, beyond the resolution of the rendering?
Mirroring such corporate visioning documents, different artists, designers and writers will be invited to generate scenarios in the years leading up to 2035; focusing on the Royal Seaport Stockholm. Each guest will be allocated a given year. These visions of the future are liable to expire quickly. What does speculative fiction in the near-fiction offer us?
What then becomes the value of a speculative fiction that is out-dated by the point of circulation? Part of this might lie in re-thinking the notion of out-dates. The near-future, in this instance anything less than 20 years, is very different temporally from the far-future of typical science-fiction. Its expiration date undermines the expectation that the value of such fiction lies in its capacity to ‘predict’ accurately. Instead it emphasises predicting alternately. There is a pleasure in ‘catching up’ in real time to the year of fiction; take Blade Runner, a film released in 1982, based on Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, set in Los Angeles in 2019. We are ‘two years ahead’ of the literal date, while its world technologically-speaking, and the questions it raises in that world, remains ahead of us.
To a degree all speculative fiction is a score for future actions, that may be veered away from or towards. These texts can also function as scores and predictions for myself, specific individuals and other groups, even the writers themselves to be realised over the next 14 years. These actions maybe documented to expand the project in ways we cannot foresee. Invitations to walk down streets that havent been built yet, to introduce myself to residents that are not yet here, to plant seeds in gardens that don’t yet exist.
Harun Morrison, 2021