I have had a great pleasure and opportunity to be the tutor of the diploma project made by these three becoming architects. And through that, I have followed the Radical Futures Club for the Reorganization of Matter. And even though the name and the scope of the club are about futures, there is some distinction about futures I think should be addressed in this dinner and conference. First, I want to say something about architects and the future. More or less consciously almost all the work, the architect, does is somewhat projecting one wished future. We are designing buildings and spaces, always thinking about future use. And while we get quite good at projecting how these spaces and buildings will actually look and feel like in the future, I believe there is a lot to be said about how we think about how the buildings and spaces get used. Not only is it a difficult task to predict the future, but these visions of desired futures are also often influenced by the architects' understanding of their world, which obviously is different from other views on the world and probably is tainted by more or less conscious choices. Be that about politics, economy, race, gender, class, or the more basic views on how people think and act in the world.
In contrast, the radical futures club for reorganizing matter, don't serve us a fixed future vision. The lack of projections for futures makes it both easy and hard to discuss their project. If we consider what they show today and take this as a future projection, we can find dozens of problems. Why do we grind these materials and not others, what will happen with the things cooked, will they spread pollution, get the rats up from the holes, how does the kitchen relate to the future? Why have they invited their critical tutor to reflect on the past of the project and not the future? Aren't the asphalt shoes unsustainable, and wouldn't they contaminate the materials processed by them. And maybe more pertinent, especially now, can you call yourself radical if you are three architecture students making new materials of existing materials in Bergen. And all these are relevant critiques and need to be addressed - in the future. And here lies one clue to the project and this discussion, I would argue what is radical about the radical futures club is their relation to the future, the projects radicality isn't in the future but in the present, a present full of different potential coming futures.
Within these potential futures, we could find a solution to the climate crisis, or the earth can become an overheated desertified place where climate refugees fight for the last habitable and productive parts of the land. We could find futures where the world becomes juster, and the resources and the power would be distributed more equally amongst the world's population. The future can be vibrant. The future can be the end.
The project is not answering these questions around the future yet. Maybe it never will. What it does do is connecting us to a material world around us. By looking at the ground up materials used by the club, we get a sense of what is actually sustaining and how the material can be re-read and re-produced.
because it is not the architects' drawings that decide and produce the coming futures and in some sense, it is not the policies or practices that determine either. What decides the future is how we reorganize the matter around us.
My tutor for my PhD Randi will probably disagree with my oversimplifying of Elizabeth Grosz, here. Grosz is a feminist philosopher that introduced the term geopower. A power in the geological and the geographical. It can read both as a discussion with the biopolitical or biopower: the control life and death, introduced by Foucault. Still, it is also a way to discuss the potentials for different futures. Grosz is building her philosophy on Darwinian materialism, the fact that the human and animals are all material, all built by the same minerals and materials, and in some cases becoming living, and evolving to different species with different qualities. In the material, there is always a potential for change, for a new life, and material change. And the humans and animals in this material world try to maximize its actions in relation to what its bodily form allows within the material presents.
Understanding humans in the world this way also creates a vision of a humanity not as a master of nature, but rather a humanity partly forced to operate as one among many actors, and with one understanding amongst many understandsings of the material world, it always been a part of.
And if we look at the project with the analytical glasses of Grosz, one way of asserting the project is how it questions the understanding of the materials around us, and our relation to the components of the world, of the city, of the intimate spaces around us.
What the Radical Futures Club are proposing is, what we do in the present opens up the future to many potential outcomes. TRFCFTROM are actually dealing with the notion that future is uncertain and therefore needed to be continuously questioned and reconsidered in the present. And they have the courage to not falling into one of the architects traps of discussing the future, to make a utopian scenario of one future one outcome, with all the unthought and unconsidered problems arising from this suggestion.
As already pointed out, operating without a clear vision for the future also comes with its own problems. But to come to an ending, trying to combine the philosophy of geopower into this project. I take another oversimplified example. This egg is full of potential, made up of material substances given to a hen by a human, produced who knows where, processed by the hen to an egg, with the potential to become a new bird. Then I do this, and we see that the material inside the shell of the egg is already reconfigured by heat to become food for me. The shell can be used in the garden. But this egg and the material around could have had numerous other future potentials, and if we don't question or dream about these different potentials, we can never truly find a radical future, then it is only repetitions of the past.