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Catalog For The Post-Human – Open Society Foundations (Futures)

Overview

In response to the Open Society Foundations’ Future of Work research program, we developed the Catalog For The Post Human, a discursive tool to raise awareness, among labor advocates, of the issues under-represented workers could face in a future where workers may be expected to augment themselves in order to stay competitive.

Focusing on human enhancement technologies (HET’s – technologies that temporarily or permanently overcome the limitations of the human body), our contribution had two components, a research report that drew attention to the range of HET’s being actively used, or explored in the lab, and a faux sales catalog featuring a variety of fictional ‘everyday’ products and services that our research suggested could emerge and impact upon the future of work.

The sales catalog format provides a platform to present fictional products in a non-hierarchical manner, in such a way as enable the viewer to infer the social and political context in which such products would exist. Our catalog intentionally mimicked the approach of the now defunct Skymall airline mail-order catalog in which often bizarre objects were described as vital necessities. This enabled us to extrapolate some of the less well-known technologies without their proposed application jarring with those around them. Unlike a museum exhibit where the curator’s intervention suggests the ideas presented have been vetted, the sales catalog format allows unmediated ideas to be assessed at face value by the viewer.