groWorld Design Week 19 - 25 August 2007

Participants: Maggie Buxton, Cocky Eek, Nik Gaffney, Theun Karelse, Lina Kusaite, Maja Kuzmanovic

Exquisite corpse travel

(exercise from the Lonely Planet guide on experimental travel)

A small cup with 6 scrolls was placed in front of the group. Each person picked one scroll. Inside each scroll was one question:

  • where are we going?
  • for how long?
  • how will we get there?
  • what will we carry?
  • what will we do while there?
  • what will we eat?

The person with the question 'where are we going' began by writing the destination on a long piece of paper, after which he folded it over and passed to the next person. The journey is in this way decided collectively. The journey that we designed was:

  • where are we going? A park with trees (Tervuren Park)
  • for how long? 4h44m44sec
  • how will we get there? public transport - tram
  • what will we carry? wood
  • what will we do while there? climb trees, dig and become invisible
  • what will we eat? something Asian


What has come before today?


  • three forces able to transform the world on the human and ecological scale:
    • design (sym)
    • permaculture (bio)
    • technology (sys)

(showed slides from Doors of Perception)

Luminous Green:

  • be the change you wish to see
  • power generation, consumption and recycling
  • traditional crafts and new technologies
  • play as an environmental tool
  • patterns and whole systems thinking
  • technological and design solutions to ecological problems (as opposed to retrograding to cave-men)

Guild for Reality Integrators and Generators: » grig

  • storytelling, alternate realities, magic
  • bionics and human-plant interfaces
  • art and design in/of everyday life:
    • synaesthetic situations, 5 skins
    • relational aesthetics
    • nourishing arts

What's the plan for this week:

1. diverge: expand horizons, form a shared understanding of:

  • the wider context of the project (contemporary currents, influences, field of operations)
  • future potential (trends, uncertainty)
  • common goals (from individual to collective)

2. converge: prioritise and distill:

  • (design) principles (criteria and priorities to guide collaborative process)
  • design concepts (new directions, focusing on imagination)
  • future work (planning, translation into concrete designs)

Mapping the territory: Hybrid Reality

Group exercise

Goal: to get a sense of the field of operation, as perceived by the individuals in the team; finding connections and/or conflicting topics.

Task: On a large paper on the wall each participants writes down their answers to the following questions:

  • what are the salient aspects of the field?
  • what forms of experience does hybrid reality include?
  • what features does hybrid reality have?

Result: Interconnected diagram

The diagram is discussed in the group, with everyone clarifying their entries and connections. Jointly the group looks for patterns and clusters of strong relationships, mapping out places of dense and sparse connectivity

Reality seeding

Individual → Group exercise

Goal: Abstraction of a situation, in order to look for particular values and qualities of experience

Task: Think of a situation in which you felt connected to and a part of something larger than yourself, where your contribution mattered and shaped reality around you.

How would you describe this situation (which includes yourself as a part of the situation) as a character? What kind of personality does this character have? What powers? Weaknesses? Physical, emotional, spiritual qualities?

Visualise the character in a drawing, collage, photo… on one side of the character card. The back side of the card should include the name, description of the character, including its powers, qualities, etc.

Result: 6 character cards. See groworld characters

At the end of the exercise, the group is gathered together for a short discussion. Each person describes the character, without mentioning the situation that the character represents. Others can ask questions and make suggestions.

Tangental travel

Individual → Group exercise

Story: Our characters embark on different trips, hosted by different members of the group. The hosts take the characters along for a tangental ride, taking into account the characteristics of the guests, as well as their own interests. Where would you end up together?

Task: Pick out a character from a pool of scrolls (it shouldn't be yours) and take the character on a tangental crawl (through websites, books, places…)

Think about:

  • what would the character care about?
  • what kinds of things are interesting to it? are there any resonances with your own interests?
  • who would the character want to meet?
  • what would it notice?
  • what picture of your world would you paint for it?

Result: a mixed media travelogue and an additional list of powers and weaknesses that the character gained during the travels. See groworld travelogues

At the end of the exercise, the travelogues are presented to the group, character cards updated with new powers, and sites of travel noted.

something that might be good to do in the future is do some 'scrying' tangental travel - digging out historical and contemporary reality generators and/or HPI examples)

Reality generation

Breakout groups → whole group exercise

Goal: To generate a world (including its spatial, temporal and relational dimensions) from relationships, knowledge and powers of characters.

Story: All characters meet. By meeting and connecting in different ways, they begin to generate the skeleton of a world. Their powers and weaknesses allow them to connect in different ways, shaping different parts of the world.

Task: Generate a reality from the qualities, powers and relationships between characters.

Think about:

  • what kinds of relationships do the characters form?
  • Which aspects of these relationships are 'life-giving'?
  • What kind of eco-systems could begin growing on their world skeletons?
  • What kinds of forces would get generated from the relationships?

First we split in two groups, later come together and connected all characters to each other. Depending on their resonances (physical, emotional, activities, scales…), different landscapes could be formed

Result: diagrams of relationships and forces that shape the new reality. See reality generation exercise

Homework: Pick a region in the new reality in which you would like to start a garden. Bring an edible plant from your own world, whose seeds could propagate in this region.

On growth and form

Individual → group

Goal: hands-on exercise aimed at raising awareness of physical materials.

Story: In the newly generated reality, the physical forces that shape the world different from the ones shaping ours. Several seeds from our world have been blown over into the nets connecting the characters. New eco-systems are ready to grow. How would they grow and evolve?

Task: Bring an edible plant with you. Design a morphological study, looking at how the plant would slowly change and evolve in the new conditions.

Think about:

  • How would plants grow under the influence of the forces of stretching, changing, cycling, etc?
  • Where would it twist, bend, break?
  • What shapes would evolve?
  • How would it propagate?
  • With which other plants would it propagate?

Results: (1) Material experiments, photographs, storyboards of plant growth and evolution. (2) LUNCH (all experiments should be eaten after being documented)

Situational mapping

Individual → group exercise

Goal: Get a shared overview of the clusters of activities shaping the human world today, with the potential to have a strong influence on the future.

Story: Our characters have realised that their world will soon come into phase with ours. They sent probes (an bunch of Alfreds) to observe our world and report back about it.

Task: Make a literature survey current events and developments in our world. Write up lists of topics that attract your attention (for different reasons). Together we make a map of topics, looking for linkages and attractions.

Pay attention to:

  • How do you choose your sources of information?
  • What topics jump to the fore?
  • What patterns do you notice?
  • What topics feature prominently? Which ones are just mentioned in the margins?
  • Do any of the articles mention similar events in the past?
  • Is the topic a new one, or has it been in the news for longer?
  • Is it a short term event, or a long term development?
  • Note where hybrid/mixed/new realities are being mentioned.

Result: a situational map - complex diagram with clusters of currents and topics

note: this exercise should be repeated monthly!

Energy mapping

Group exercise

Goal: connect the result of first exercise (HR map) with the abstractions of the situational diagram into an 'energy map', that will allow us to see what world-events would influence the development of a hybrid reality.

Story: The characters have gathered all information they could about the human world. They are now trying to find allies and understand the forces that shape it, as well as finding allies that can help them integrate the two worlds.


0. Find connections between the HR map and the situational map. Based on the exercises in the past days, which aspects of the HR map appear more relevant than others? Make a smaller map, including only the situations/events/experiences that attract the whole group's attention. Find human archetypes for these situations (people who would most likely generate / participate in them). They will be allies in reality integration.

1. Find attractors of events and topics in the situational map.

2. Group the attractors into relational clusters.

3. Visualise each cluster as a force, or a source of energy. What kinds of energy does the cluster generate?

4. Find active, human archetypes to name the forces.

5. Find relationships between these forces and the 'allies' in the HR map.

6. Make energy maps between the forces and the allies that change the shape of the constructed HR map.

Results: Archetypes of forces shaping the human world, force and energy diagrams, condensed HR diagram, Relational diagrams. See groworld archetypes and energy mapping exercise

I Ching forecasting

Group exercise

Goal: finding alternative ways of scheduling the day and the progress of the workshop

Task: Perform an I Ching reading and design the remainder of the day accordingly


  • Where do we go from here?
  • What is the future of our hybrid reality?

Results: A design guide to inform the next steps.

Reality integration

Individual → group exercise

Goal: Finding concrete pointers to hybrid realities - places, situations, experiences…

Story: The reality of the characters and the human world are coming into phase, but only when particular aspects of both worlds align. Some of these connections are productive and are able to spawn new experiences and spawn new, truly hybrid realities.

Task: Find links between the world of the characters and the human world. Think about situations, places, things and events that embody this integration.

  • What conditions need to be there for the worlds to align?
  • Which media would these worlds use to communicate?
  • What new experiences can the integration spawn?
  • Which characters, forces and allies would be involved?

Make diagrams, storyboards and visualisations of places and situations in which the two worlds would meet. Discuss them with the group and look for similarities between the results: find common 'places' and 'activities' in which the realities are most likely to meet. Are there any clusters of activities or places that can be grouped?

Results: charts, stories and illustrations representing the concrete situations in which the two worlds would meet. Diagrams of activities and places (and their clusters) of reality integration. See reality integration exercise

Patterns of experience

Individual → group

Goal: Come up with concrete ideas for HR designs

Story: The worlds are integrated and new realities are beginning to spawn.

Task: Couple (a collection of) activities and places and make sketches of possible experiences. Think about the processes, media, materials, people, spaces, times, etc. needed for this experience.

Discuss the ideas together and find common patterns. Select patterns that appear in most people's sketches. Discuss them more in detail and note down the most promising trajectories (based on the experience of the week).

Results: Sketches, diagrams, collages and stories describing several possible design directions.

Reality check

Group exercise

Goal: Feasibility study and evaluation

Task: Evaluate the ideas and the process. Look at the feasibility of the ideas and the resources available. Define next steps and decide who will be responsible for them.

Results: Clear next steps, learning what worked and what didn't. See groworld directions

Home sweet home

Group exercise

Goal: Comparing the results of the week with FoAM's mission.

Task: Test the outcomes against the criteria for FoAM's project acceptance. Pay attention to FoAM's purpose, core values, audiences, and core activities. What is a clear 'yes', what still needs clarification, what needs to be built into the design?

Results: Lists of things to pay attention to, things to clarify and todo-lists.

Documentation and filtering

group → individual → group exercise

Goal: keep concise documentation of the week, as a reference document for future sessions and designs.

Tasks: Transcribe notes, diagrams and stories. Scan and photograph illustrations. Collect photographs. Distil the important components, make wiki pages and upload the documentation online.

Results: editable wiki pages accessible to the whole team.

  • groworld_design_200708.txt
  • Last modified: 2008-02-25 05:28
  • by nik