Return of the Radical: Manifestos in the Digital Age
Manifestos can bring about change by presenting alternative possible futures, outlining concrete actions, and making it clear that the status quo is intolerable. They are the first stop for visionaries: scanning horizons, critiquing the present, and pushing forward new futures are the manifesto’s primary tasks. At the same time, if provocation is its principal mode, and utopian dreams are its content, failure is the manifesto’s most inevitable outcome. The failure rate of manifestos is higher than average. The last century is littered with manifestos full of broken promises and faded dreams. The return of the manifesto is double-edged – often violent, it is driven by emotion and immune to facts. Manifestos hold great potential for change, but they also reflect the dangers that come with extremism. The return of a form that was so ubiquitous in periods of crisis is symptomatic of our present upheaval. On balance, however, the manifesto is more cure than cause. Manifestos help us to think radically outside of incremental evolutionary models, safe predictability and narrow paths. They ask: Can we not do better? In this talk I will argue that the manifesto is an indispensible tool for working towards better futures in challenging and uncertain times. I will also describe a visionary card game, MANIFESTO!, that was developed to help people write their futures into being.
Julian Hanna is Assistant Professor at the Interactive Technologies Institute in Portugal. He was born in Vancouver, Canada and taught at the University of British Columbia and the University of Lisbon before moving to the island of Madeira. His diverse research interests include modernism and the avant-garde; movements, networks, and activism; and critical intersections between fact and fiction, culture, politics and technology. He has co-authored the critical futures blog Crap Futures with designer James Auger since 2015. In 2017, they won (with Laura Watts) the CCCB Cultural Innovation International Prize for The Newton Machine, a speculative energy project, and in 2019 they published a catalogue of their work, Reconstrained Design. He is currently part of SpeculativeEdu, a project on speculative design education in Europe. He also co-leads the Words in Freedom Project (2016-), which recently launched a card game called MANIFESTO! His next book, The Manifesto Handbook (Zero), will be published in January 2020.
Project site: https://www.wordsinfreedomproject.org