The futures of agency
Exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), 14:00-16:00, imagine3

Reimagining Wellbeing: Exploring Recognition Theory through Speculative Design and Immersive Technologies

The pursuit of sustainable societies signals a future scenario of downscaled global production and an economic landscape scoped by reassessed environmental capacities upholding our lifestyles. This scenario forces us to reflect on what constitutes wellbeing for a modern human, free to pursue lifestyles despite the impacts on the environment and on quality of life across the globe. Reduced material output and consumption may affect our sense of fulfilment of subjective needs and desires, and transform the paths to self-actualisation. Given that in Western societies these behaviours are associated with consumer capitalism, we require redefining the principles of wellbeing. In order to find footing in this future, I explore 'recognition theory' (Honneth, 2012) as a method for rediscovering equitable social relations, based on which more sustainable social transactions may build. Principles of recognition make it plausible to envision an emergence of alternative structures that compensate for anticipated changes resulting from a downscaled production. In a speculative design project employing immersive technology, I propose to simulate social interactions based in principles of recognition, and thus to put a potential future into a perspective, learning about materialism of wellbeing, and envisioning, interrogating and narrating possible futures. With this approach, we create an alternative space to delve into the ramifications of a downscaled production model and reimagine the parameters of wellbeing. I seek to challenge the prevailing paradigms, encouraging a broader dialogue about the nature of wellbeing and our relationships with material goods, and about mainstream sustainability strategies.

Founding Director
Institute of Advanced Design Studies non-profit
Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design