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New Survivalism: The Decision Maker (Futures)


Commissioned for the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial, New Survivalism uses designed objects and storytelling to explore the survival strategies of a disparate set of protagonists, each with a very different take on what they “need”. The project consists of the survival kits of these protagonists, containing a mixture of found and designed objects, and accompanied by short narrative texts. Conventional survival kits address only the bottom of Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs (the physiological and safety needs of food, water, shelter etc.). Rather than replacing such kits, the alternatives proposed here represent the higher concerns of our protagonists.

The Decision Maker is primarily concerned with losing the ability to make decisions under the pressure of a post-disaster scenario. Her kit is a jacket containing all manner of decision-making and ideas generating aids, from I-Ching coins, Rorschach cards to Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies.

The following short text accompanied the kit.

The Decision Maker
Never make your most important decisions when you are at your most vulnerable they say. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass they say. But what if the storm never passes? What if I find myself in the storm indefinitely?

How am I supposed to make decisions, be self-reliant and prepared if I don’t know what is going to happen next? And I have no idea what is going to happen next. They say it might happen, the coming turmoil. What am I supposed to do? What is the best thing to do? What are other people doing? And do they know any better than I do? What makes common sense? And who defines common sense in a crisis anyway? Do I pray for a miracle or set up a committee? Where should I go? Inside? Underground? Away from here? How do I know what to take with me? “Just in case” provides too many options.

The kit, the kit, the kit. I need the kit. Roll the dice, shuffle the cards, ask the I-Ching. Breathe. So many tools…but which one to use?