Speculative publication: The design of Transformative Scenarios

SESSION C.2: Artist Talk: Time, Space, Matter
Day 2. Friday, 28th October.
18:30 – 20:30
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

Speculative publication is an actionable model of contestation of realities and norms constructed by hegemonies of discourse (culture, logic, the state and the academy). The process of speculative publication could be defined as “the performance of reality until reality complies.” This double use of the word reality in itself is a negotiation of the taken­for­granted terrain of the real. The speculative publicist does not consider what they are doing as fiction, but as a potential reality being born. The word ‘speculative’ in speculative publication cements the imagination as the foundations of this concept. In this paper I intend to qualify the non­data­driven, non­informational rhetoric as a valid counterpart in designing the future.

The word ‘publication’ in this context means “to­make­public” expanding the traditional understanding of what a publication could be and emphasizes an inherent quality of accessibility and being­public of projects and proposals under it. Websites, visual arts, literature, film and more fall under speculative publication. Speculative publication is both a proposal for a mechanism of active cultural production and a reading of existing patterns of reification of ideologies. In that sense, it is both a lens to read with and a method to produce work.

Through examples from Afrofuturism, magical realism, political pop counter­propaganda as well as personal artistic explorations, I intend to discuss, propose and advocate methodologies of collapsing reality using the speculative effort thriving against the facts, and in complete trust of the possibility of possibility. These moments of collapse, to speculative publication, are the generators of a radically different tomorrow.

Raafat Majzoub
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Raafat Majzoub (b.1986) is a Lebanese architect, artist and writer. He is the co­founder of The Outpost, a Beirut­based magazine about possibilities in the Arab World and wrote weekly columns for various pan­Arab news platforms. His children’s story, “L’Origine(s) du Monde” was adapted for the theater in Beirut. Recently, he co­wrote “The Beach House” a feature­length, dialogue­heavy film portraying identitarian decay in an Arab World whose characters are trying to inhabit the ruins of its obsolete modernity. He is a master’s degree candidate in MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology.

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