Speculative Universes

Critical making at the British Museum





"There is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one."
-- Jean Luis Borges

"The City -- all cities -- is a collage."
-- Darran Anderson

"The black hole would have to be large, and if it was rotating, it might have a passage to another, parallel universe..."
-- Steven Hawking

For this critical making workshop which I designed for the British Museum Future Makers series, young people and their families were invited to engage with the museum’s Korean pottery collection through participatory and creative learning methods inspired by science fiction and speculative futuring. We began by asking participants what it would feel like to visit the museum as a complete outsider - an alien coming from one of the seven planets that orbit the Trappist-1. With these identities in mind, participants interacted with the Korean Pottery Collection as their alien selves, beholding Earth-made pottery artefacts for the first time and recording their encounters on a variety of digital tools. Returning to the museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre, they were then invited to rebuild their favourite artefacts in the style of their alien culture, using clay, craft materials, collaging, glitching apps and other materials and methods. We concluded workshops by providing participants the space to feature these works in the space through a collaboratively-designed Trappist-1 art exhibit, and they worked with projectors, digital storytelling tools, cameras and other multimedia to draw their parallel universe creations together as a team, building colourful, living artworks that had been curated and nurtured by all.