Solarpunk Futures
2020โ€“2022
Artist's game
Game box (8 x 4 x 2 inches); Cards (116 qty., 4 x 4 inches); Gamebook (32 pages, 8 x 4 inches); Game board (24 x 4 inches); Notepad (100 tear-off sheets, 8 x 4 inches)

Project website

Solarpunk Futures is an artistโ€™s game for collaborative utopian visioning, working in (and against) the conventions of tabletop role-playing whereby players use backcasting and modified consensus to collectively โ€˜rememberโ€™ the stories of how their ancestors built a social ecological utopia.

The primary game, called the "Festival of Remembrance", revolves around four sets of illustrated cards. Over a series of four phases, players are guided through a collaborative storytelling process in which they collectively decide how their Ancestors worked together and why it took all of them to overcome the Challenge.

Mechanically, the game employs backcastingโ€”whereby players reverse engineer presupposed utopian outcomes grounded in present material realitiesโ€”and modified consensus, in which collective decisions are made non-hierarchically via consent (subverting traditional โ€œGame Masterโ€ roles of tabletop role-playing games). These techniques are designed to: create conditions of collective, rather than individual, utopian imagining; avoid the banal extrapolation of present trends into dystopian imaginaries; and provide low-stakes opportunities to practice directly democratic decision-making in relationships of epistemological equality.

The gameโ€™s visual language engages the iconographic traditions of Art Nouveau stained glass, German expressionist woodcuts, and Japanese karuta through a pastel palette informed by palliative design. Computer augmented printmaking techniques involving a robotic drawing arm and AI-image processing concretize a microcosmic example of technology integrated within democratic social processes and emancipatory goals. The entire game is free to play forever and released under a Creative Commons BYโ€”NCโ€”SA 4.0 license. The social relations inaugurated by the game enable players to approach the seemingly insurmountable challenges of today's material world through serious play, interdependence, and radical possibility. This unity of means and ends in design, production, practice, and distribution is intended to integrate its politics of utopia-as-process, in which every component forms a supportive aspect of the whole.

Solarpunk Futures can therefore be conceived as a processual systemโ€”a dialectic between the printed matter, technics, design, and illustration, as well as the relational arts of gameplay, utopianpolitik futuring, and dialogue itself. Through the collaborative performance of memory, visionary narratives emerge of a free and ecological societyโ€“rooted in the limitless potentialities of our interrelations in the present.