This paper seeks to draw together a broader transdisciplinary view on Anticipation than that influentially proferred by Poli (e.g. 2010). Central is elaboration of the potential for closer intersection between two key approaches to future-oriented inquiry: Design and Futures (Celi & Morrison, 2017 in press). Futures research has expanded over the past three decades yet Design, perhaps the key profession and research multi-discipline that has come into its own in the same period, seldom features in studies covering areas such as foresight, scenarios, strategic planning and decision-making. The paper connects Design Studies and Futures Studies through a focus on the inclusion of practice-based experimentation with unnatural narrative theory and storymaking in the Norwegian Arctic. The insertion of the term Baroque is a deliberate Humanities centred selection to support and account for the building of anticipatory relations, expressions and analyses between Design and Futures. To turn to the Baroque in this way may seem excessive or superfluous, but this is the point. The Baroque may be approached as a conceptual, cultural and design affordance that burst beyond the historical boundaries of the 17th century culture where it had a frame breaking effect in art, architecture and literature (Eggington, 2010). Often studied in terms of aesthetics, the Baroque provides us with means to work beyond the frames of given approaches and assumptions. Buci-Glucksmann (2013) observes two main embodied aspects. In an historical view, drawing on the myths of Prometheus and Narcissus, a Baroque aesthetics was realised allegorically, materialised in relations of form-formlessness, attending to the marvellous and extending to furore. In contrast, engaging with the virtual of today leads to the figure of Icarus, with the Baroque manifested in a culture of flux.
As a mode of theatre, the Baroque was characterised, says Eggington, by fascination with certain aesthetics traits. In anamorphosis, the viewer needs to use a device or adopt a point of view in order to reconstitute an image that is deliberately distorted. The trait mis en abîme refers to the infinite reflections of playful signification and self-reflexive ocular view, such as in Velásquez’s Las Meninas. Another key aesthetic feature of was the application of trompe l’oeil, or perspectival illusionism that creates a 3D image through the construction of an optimal optical point of viewing. Juxtaposition was another core feature. It entailed the positioning of contrasting images and techniques to magnify effect and add to the sense of mediated engagement (e.g. chiaroscuro). The Baroque was also typified by a theatrical abundance of excess, largely motivated through the persuasive bids of the counter reformation Catholic Church. It is here in the dynamic, complex and emergent relating to Design and Futures that the Baroque is interesting (Calloway, 1994). The Baroque has been charted according to two main types, major and minor (Eggington, 2010). The first, is located within core centres of power and position in Europe, the latter developed in Latin America as a subaltern, resistant and alternative expressive and critical mode of knowing and being. Science Technology and Society (STS) has provided insights into the social construction of technologies and methodologies of science. Recently, attention has also been given to the Baroque as a mode of knowing that provides resources for STS (Law & Ruppert, 2016 ). Law (2016) suggests that we shift from a focus on Baroque aesthetics is to what a baroque register does experientially. This is what this paper attempts with reference to fiction, fact and narrative by exploring the dynamics of Baroque knowledge making. Law (2016) advances six techniques of the Baroque connected to ‘messy’ ways of knowing in social science that apply equally to narrative and Design and Futures: 1) Theatricality, 2) Boundlessness, 3) Heterogeneity, 4) Folding, 5) Distribution, Movement & Self-Consciousness, and 6) Mediation.
How then might we take up these techniques, narratively, in building realtions between Design and Futures as part of strategies and tactics for shaping designerly and communicative spaces for pitching alternate embodied and prospective futures? Working with Design Futures in the Arctic is certainly one way to physically and psychologically meet such contexts and challenges. The paper will illustrate this with three completed empirical examples of experiential engagement with the Baroque in design narrative futures cases located in the Arctic. The first case concerns a team of designer researchers in shaping a shared and fluid fictive voice to address key issues to do with moving between timescales (past, present and future) in unpacking ‘cultural landscapes’ in the context of the Anthropocene. The second concerns the interplay between two studio courses in landscape and urbanism held on Svalbard that toggled between the factive and functionary and fictive and fabulous as modes of anticipatory knowing. The third refers to an ethnographic narrative design futures account of moving from a spread scenarios for a ‘maker’ hub centred on cultural innovation for sustainable futures to specific, adaptive and flexible decision making strategies. In each instance key aspects of a Baroque aesthetics are taken up through the application of narrative in shaping relations between Design and Futures. I discuss how they might usher in an alternative productive discursive performativity that extends into design futures that are promising, if not wholly utopian. These cases function as sites for exploring qualities of the Baroque as conceptual, cultural and communicative resources for teasing out the dynamics, tensions and potential diversity of anticipation. From a design-centred view they allow us to shift into the conjectural and putative and to turn these back to both actual and projected Futures.