Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed. (FT Marinetti, The Futurist Manifesto)
As societies evolve and communities expand and develop, what factors seem to emerge that would greatly influence the way we live? This was a subject I had briefly dealt with in Rhizophorous (BA thesis at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology).
After a few months of research and investigation, three key factors emerged:
- Traditional Knowledge Systems
- Science and Technology
Over the following two weeks, I am going to try and elaborate upon how each of these influences could play an important role in how our societies and civilizations might organize themselves in the future. Using case studies, facts and some interviews I hope I can try and raise some important questions and discussions.
The very starting point of ‘Rhizophorous’ and like that of most things in life was- Evolution. I speak of Evolution specifically in terms of human beings and the society we have constructed for ourselves as a species. Darwin stated that we evolved from apes (many have contradicted this theory), our body evolved and change- spine, limbs and the brain, till we reached our current form. This also had a direct consequence on the way we lived- the relationships we developed with each other and the traditions we created within our communities. Fast forward to the era of modern sciences and the de-coding of the DNA. When that happened, we as a civilization suddenly found ourselves in the possession of the power to ‘design’ our own evolution. The influence of technology (intrusive and otherwise) along with the change in our natural and urban environment also acted as catalysts to this process of designed evolution.
A few related bits out of many…
Trends and statistics indicate that people around the world are looking at philosophies to help them deal with the stress and pressure of their everyday life. They are looking for ways to change their lifestyle in order to deal with situations in a more holistic and satisfactory way. These philosophies exist within the current social structures and have adopted their teaching to ‘modern life’.
The main intention behind these philosophies seems to be the paradigm shift in the social values. Laying stress on community development, happiness and spiritual goals rather than success as defined by our current set of social values.
What then becomes interesting to observe is that why are people finding a need to look for such alternatives?
A lot of these philosophies have come in from the ‘past’ and are evolving with the changing trends. Was the past more evolved than the present? How much are we questioning the relevance of systems that are being introduced into our lives everyday? As Vandana Shiva says are we looking at ‘web of information and technology without looking at the web of life, the food web, the web of community, the web of local economies and local cultures?’
In today’s world science is largely responsible for the way we live. Modern science and technological development is what our present seems to be geared towards and what our future seems to be consisting of. What is our future going to be like when dominated largely by modern science and technology?
Modern science has rejected the existence of the spiritual realm. The debate on ‘Intelligent Design’ between religious leaders and scientists is a good example to go by. But at the same time there have been technological inventions and developments that are aimed at making people feel ‘happy and ‘enlightened’
There has been a constant surge in the number of people visiting therapists. Medicines are being made to relieve stress, to sleep better, to loose weight, to overcome fear and to even feel the sensation of being in love.
In fact now after acquiring the knowledge of DNA cloning we are hoping to control the natural process of birth and death- mortality. In the future we could be immortal and timeless. What is the future going to be like when modern science denies the existence of the spiritual side of a human being? What would be ones identity and sense of self if we can actually control the process of birth and death?
Does the reductionist approach adopted by modern science more appropriate rather than a holistic one?
Then there is the middle path have scientifically studied and understood the social systems that are functioning in our society right now. These are the people who have made choices and found middle paths through possible scenarios. The Naturalists have realized and embraced the existence of the spiritual realm.
They have also studied and understood the functioning of our modern society and the role of science and technology in it. Through this observation and understanding they are creating and finding solutions that are sustainable and work in harmony with the being and the environment.
These people have denounced the ‘modern way of living’ and set out to start their own community based on the ‘self sustainable economies’. They are looking at alternatives that combine science and spirituality to create a more holistic way of living. But these systems can not exist at a large scale. While the cities cater to a large population these sustainable systems work only on a small scale. Tomorrow if the cities dry up their resources we will be forced to adopt such a system of living. If that is the case then what would our future be like?
How can we make this system more effective on a larger scale?
Is there a way to combine the two systems and create a sustainable working model over the current ‘modern way of living?’
As designers, artists and thinkers how can we articulate and communicate the need, if any change in social systems and values?