Flash Forward – part one

Published:  February 19, 2013
Flash Forward – part one

Seven studios from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan share a vision of the future. Participants were encouraged to imagine the cultural, aesthetic, and social issues that desktop might be exploring between now and the year 2030, and to consider where their own practices might be headed.

We share three studios’ visions today, and they come to us from Collider in Sydney, Catherine Griffiths in Karekare (NZ), and Jordan Dolheguy in Melbourne. The final four visions will be unveiled tomorrow in part two.

Words by Ian Shadwell

By 2018 Moore’s Law was completely superseded, as quantum processing achieved unprecedented gains in speed and memory alongside the development of the first practical artificial intelligence software. By 2020, post-industrial society was spending most of their waking hours online in the memory cloud experiencing vivid recreations of everyday life in sim-apps that were managed by sophisticated AI hosts. This was a new kind of publishing that relied on highly personalised content delivery across an integrated hyper-media platform. This technology allowed people to live the kind of digital lives they had always aspired to in “reality.” By 2025, with the arrival of nerve-to-wire interfaces, the idea of physical interaction with the real world was nothing but a memory. The great majority of human experience was now digital, in phantasmagoric games that were individually  modulated to the needs and desires of each personality. The outside world of earth, sea and sky, was deserted. By 2030 China’s vast economy, which created and maintained this virtual world, required the development of a series of open-cut mines along Australia’s Eastern Seaboard to supply the coal and raw materials needed to support this infrastructure. This image depicts opencut mine 731B, a robotic operation begun in 2028 after the construction of a sea wall from Middle Head to Vaucluse. There were no protests about its construction, as there were no people offline long enough to see it.



2030, 18 years, not that distant. I’ll be 64, not much older than my husband now. Looking at him, knowing his spirit, physically and intellectually, over a span of the last 18 years, I imagine my thinking would not be terribly different to what it is now. My hair will be completely silver, although, looking at my mother who is 70, her hair is a mixture of pewter and silver. Hard to imagine desktop magazine having the same name, although the word ‘desktop’ might imply a tone more fitting – ‘on the table’ – in contrast to its original, intended meaning, which demystified the secrets of Our Profession, how we got from A to B.

Could this desire for ‘on the table’, the real object, only gather strength, as our self-inflicted Jekyll & Hyde of the virtual phenomenon consumes and controls, curates, yet liberates? Wasn’t the grass always greener on the other side? We are what we eat, remember. Could we become toxin-free? By 2030, what appears intangible now, may well become tangible then. Or the opposite. We’re sure to be still mouthing the vowels, if only to be heard.

“In Griffiths’ hands, typography frees itself and wanders across disciplines, the poetics of the letterform and its relationship to space, architecture and the landscape, with exact thinking and insightful results … AEIOU brings about, to the attentive observer, a selfawareness, not to mention insights about the inner workings of our mind, when it comes to language and speech.” – Mercedes Vicente, for Prodesign, 2010.

Much of what I make and do as a typographer, designer, is in response to the emotional, physical, social, political landscape around me. The language of my thinking is a tangled mesh of thoughts, pinned to a frame of time in space (not a time-frame), my intuition synchronised to a certain pattern of logic. To gather thought, make sense, communicate, find space to be in… silver, pewter-coloured hair… those things I can be certain of. What we make and do, now, is the future. Isn’t it?

Catherine Griffiths


First they appeared as specks. Marbles. Ignored in silence. Unnoticed. Unbothered. What began as a dot grew. Slowly. Attention turned to curiosity. No alarm. Global information grows, they grow. Bowling balls, hovering above dense area of populace. Worldwide. Each uniform. Each equal. Silent. Feeding. Accumulating. Growing. Curiosity heightens. Investigation. Experimentation. Evaluation. New cloud data acquired. Stored. Wireless. Man sized chrome spheres. 300 metres above ground. Curiosity absorbed as data. Pulsing. Radiating. Tranquil. Soothing. Dulling. Wave of calm spreads. Apathy.

Last online gate opens. Growth surges. Knowledge fed. Triviality fed. News fed. Publication fed. Social networking fed. History fed. Updates all directly fed. Instant. Awake. Sentient. Consciousness. Iridescent, house sized. Reflective. Pure, obsidian tinted chrome. Global awareness. Acceptance. Admiration. Adoration. Love. Connection. Synaptic – symbiotic – unconscious. Direct. Emotion, worries, qualms, joy, memories, fear, conceptual thinking – absorbed. Production slows. Needs drop. Symbiosis tightens. Orb occupies all thought. Pleasure, culture, desire, thirst for knowledge. Quenched. News distributed via orb. Lust fulfilled. Entertainment and enlightenment, satisfied. Growing. Towering. Present. Nacreous. Silent. Growing. Silence.

All publications / sources of knowledge pulsed at regular intervals synaptically via orb.

Jordan Dolheguy

Thumbnail image: Eamon Donnelly, The Island Continent

Enjoyed reading this feature? You can find more like it inside desktop magazine. Take a look at this month’s subscription special.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *