In response to the liminality brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, FoAM Filfla started a self-study of tools and techniques for creative exploration of futures. We wish to develop our futuring skills and encourage an engaged re-imagining of possible futures in liminal times.

Liminality is a state in between – or in transition – from one state to another. It can be period of transformation, yet also of disorientation, waiting and indecision. Old habits, identities and beliefs begin to disintegrate in liminal states, making space for something new. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown many of us into a liminal state with no clear path forward. Multiple futures are almost within our grasp, but discussing or otherwise engaging with these futures can be overwhelming.

We are interested in futuring as a creative process, capable of restoring a sense of agency and possibility. We explore imaginative approaches to futures by combining tools from Futures studies, hosting and process facilitation, performing arts, visual art, design and storytelling, among others. We use collaborative action research methods to learn about futuring in the fields of arts and design and Appreciative Inquiry to build on what is already working well. In conversation with our mentors, futurists and designers, we collect and experiment with future-probing methods. We are particularly keen to learn, develop and document tools that can be adapted to online workshops with teens, young adults and culture makers.


Phase I

Literature, method and tool research


Turner, Victor (1974). “Liminal to liminoid in play, flow, and ritual: An essay in comparative symbology” (PDF). Rice University Studies. 60 (3): 53–92.

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete.

Trickster archetype As destroyers of duality, Trickster archetypes expose illusions, challenge worldly rules, and celebrate holy madness. Deep down, our inner Trickster craves to break taboos, revel in the destruction of the known, and shatter decrepit ideologies. If there is anything Trickster archetypes teach us, it is to “lighten up” about life and to not take ourselves so seriously. However, when we deny the crazy wisdom of the Trickster both within and without ourselves, we find ourselves becoming rigid, bull-headed, narrow-minded and humorless.

Some trickster characters: Loki (In Norse Mythology, he was the shape-shifting god who is portrayed as playful, nihilistic and self-serving) Anansi (In African folklore, he was the sneaky, sly, but ultimately benign spider god of mayhem) Kitsune (In Japanese mythology these are trickster-spirits that often appear as intelligent and mischievous foxes) Eshu (In Nigerian tale, he is the sneaky god of uncertainty and change) Krishna (Hindu god portrayed as seductive, entertaining Supreme Being) Saci (In Brazilian folklore he is portrayed as a one-legged malevolent prankster dwarf) Hermes (In Greek myth he was the cunning and thieving messenger of the gods)

Tim Maughan -

Someone had come up with a solution — that’s so often the Silicon Valley way — to find a problem, then find a solution to it so that you can then make a product that fills that solution, and think that you’re being helpful without really considering the wider implications of what you’re doing. And what you’re actually doing is building this kind of extra-stratified society.

Crazy futures : Why Plausibility is Maladaptice - Wendy Schultz . APF Compass - October 2015

“‘Crazy’ - and the sense of nervous apprehension it engenders in viewers- highlights and problematises the assumptions and points of view that compose the normal. If the various futures we face are composed of surprises, of novelty - of the abnormal - then crazy is just what we need: it exposes our blind spots, the dangerous limitations of our assumptions.”

“The most important future is the future the greatest number of people believe in most: it is the future on which they are basing their decisions and actions.”

“Is your future crazy enough to help you, your organisation, your community evolve?”….“In order to thrive in whatever futures we pass through, it helps to rehearse what our values, assumptions, decisions and actions - our very sense of self - might be in those futures. ”

1. All products will have become services. “I don't own anything. I don't own a car. I don't own a house. I don't own any appliances or any clothes,” writes Danish MP Ida Auken. Shopping is a distant memory in the city of 2030, whose inhabitants have cracked clean energy and borrow what they need on demand. It sounds utopian, until she mentions that her every move is tracked and outside the city live swathes of discontents, the ultimate depiction of a society split in two.

Mansionism 1: Building-Milieu Fit

In politically turbulent times, when it is not clear which way the arc of history will bend, it is useful to reframe the question of political futures in terms of built-environment futures. Instead of asking, what kind of milieu will we inhabit, you ask the potentially easier question, what sort of built environment will we inhabit? You then try to infer the future of the milieu from that. The question can also be asked in more specific ways, such as what sorts of futures contain mansions? Besides allowing you to focus materially on what you likely really care about, such questions allow you to finesse more fraught political questions.

Article from Changeist about how to keep your sensing abilities from getting overwhelmed -

“actively sensing,” or being someone who is generally always attuned and open to new signals, requires taking care of the equipment that allows you to do so.

Breaking official futures. Susan Cox-Smith - Changeist -

The stories we tell ourselves about the future, whether it’s the timelessness of a particular business model, the hegemony of an economic system, the durability of an ideology, or the boundaries of social or political acceptability can become barriers to change if they’re not periodically revisited, revised, and adapted for present realities which point to shifting future possibilities…

Perhaps the best way to describe an official future is as a positive, up-and-to-the-right-forever mission statement….

A more productive process is to frame a better question through researching the landscape of possible issues ahead that might influence or affect emergent futures, then, if appropriate, developing a few conceivable scenarios based on how future goals and the possible landscape might interact. This is the time to consider how best to navigate toward a preferred future in which those goals might be met within each scenario.

Clinging to an official future not only leaves us with outdated beliefs and ineffective plans, but it potentially deprives many of us of the agency to realize the futures we want and deserve.



Online Collaboration

Group scenario mapping tools?

Impact mapping

Use the following questions to imagine the impact of the change at the centre of your futures wheel during the next 20 years: Define - How will this driver affect the concepts, ideas and paradigms we use to define ourselves and the world around us? Relate - How will we live together on planet earth? Connect - How will this driver affect the technologies we use to connect people, places and things? Create - How will this driver affect the processes and technologies we use to create goods and services? Consume - How will this driver affect the kind of goods and services we create, how we consume and destroy them?

Phase II

Interviews & Conversations

Phase III

Analysis & Reflection


Tangent Notes


  • liminal_futures.txt
  • Last modified: 2020-08-07 12:34
  • by greta