Artistic fiction project examines how the world would look in 2035

Aug 05, 2018, 08:25 IST | Kusumita Das

The Futures Project by The Busride Lab and Design Fabric is considering the possibilities not in a fantastic, but a more substantial vein

Artistic fiction project examines how the world would look in 2035
Avilambh Mishra, Cyber-Farmer, Bhopal 2035

What does the future look like?" This is a question we often lose ourselves in. But, seldom do we really examine the possibilities. The Futures Project by The Busride Lab and Design Fabric is considering the possibilities not in a fantastic, but a more substantial vein. And, towards that end they are using artistic fiction as a device. Ayaz Basrai, founder of The Busride Design studio calls it a "multi-headed project". "We are excited about where it can go. India is on the brink of a rather large revolution. I don't think we've quite grasped the magnitude of change that's headed our way. It's unsettling and exciting at the same time," he says.

The idea is to create a systems map for the year 2035, through detailed visualisation, bringing into play more collaborations, student engagement, projects, and prototypes. Think relationships between developments in science and technology and esoteric culture paradigms like the after-death, marginalised communities and art.

Ayaz Basrai
Ayaz Basrai

"Any future vision is a compelling story. Like the one, for instance, about inhabiting Mars, that captures the imagination of the world, garners interest and therefore funding. It excites governments and private players, and essentially increases its own probability of actually manifesting. This is how fiction becomes reality," Basrai explains. On offer is an interesting spectrum of futures to inhabit - there are compelling, everyday stories of farmers and carpenters, to Xerox guys and grandmothers, of waste and gloss, of crimes and victories and so on.

The future stories, understandably, borrow a reference point from the present. In what is called a "Cyber Manifesto" put together by Design Fabric, supervised by Sanket Avlani, there is a story about a farmer from 2035. Of course in the future year, he is being referred to as "cyber farmer". A portrait in snazzy colours, that marries traditional style with sci-fi and fantasy accompanies the story - the subject is evidently a cyborg, one with both organic and biomechatronic body parts.

The story tells us that he has 46 unique implants that allowed him to create a new combination of organic pesticide, his fingertips and toes have hydro-thermal implants to help him determine how much irrigation is required Fantastic, yes and Basrai goes on to explain the reality of it. "The seed of this story is the farmer suicides we are surrounded by. The 2035 farmer's implants come with serious implications, where he's offered up his body to become a village resource, using himself as part diviner, part mobile super-computer, at the expense of becoming a bit of a freak." There's also a cyborg carpenter and a conservation architect.

Cyborgs could well be the future, if you ask him. "I feel some of us, me included - I have a rod in my arm - already are. It's just that the implants we have right now are either life-saving or genuinely important, and we don't call ourselves cyborgs. As intelligence grows smaller, and computing power increases and some of our heroes start using them, public acceptance will become super quick. What may begin as performance enhancers for the rich will quickly be hacked into affordable kits for everyone." But, being a cyborg may not be as exciting as in the movies.

"It will probably be sold to us as minor upgrades, moving us along till we can't figure how we lived without them," Basrai says The project will see regular labs and workshops with progressive minds in their respective disciplines. Basrai says, "We've already incubated experiments with a few progressive minded companies who are interested in what the future has in store for them. We want more participation from interested individuals."

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