UTF: The Hopeychattybits – Julian Bleecker

Momotempo · Unsee The Future: The Hopeychattybits – meeting Julian Bleecker

Timo Peach meets artists, solarpunks and changemakers re-imagining the stories we think we're in.

In the fifth of this ten-part series, Momo meets the design fiction creative director, creative tech engineer, entrepreneur and founder of the Near Future Laboratory.



Find Julian at at:


nearfuturelaboratory.com >



Notes from the show chat:


“Real is a spectrum. Anything from something with a high level of acuity making people do a double take in wonder. To the other end of the spectrum where you actuallyphysically build the thing.”


“I’ve come to learn the very precise meaning of the word Prototype – putting a battery to isomething.”


The NFL General Seminar: “A flat round table with no experts in the room, to help people make sense of things.”


“You can hold onto a strong opinion by being open really working on the listening skills in that.”


“I think the kinds of polarisation that maybe’s always existed in human social formations but that I’ve been particularly sensitive to – I think a lot of people have – over the last seven or eight years how quickly we can lose our ability to listen and learn and understand and try o integrate into our own consciousness other points of view.”


“Silence is okay. There doesn’t need to be chatter all the time. And in that silence there can be some real work going on.”


“A key aspect of sense making or meaning making is to be able to simultaneously occupy multiple points of view in one brain in one head and shift perspective.”


“Let’s go in this other direction that isn’t just to do the job of visualising it but in the visualising of it have conversations and reflect upon okay so what we do we do with zones in the solarpunk imaginary that aren not idealistic? That have a complexity to them and a richness to them which is actually where the interesting work happens. That’s fun, that’s where I get excited.”


“When it comes down to it, the design fiction question is about going through the project of creating and activating and translating ideas about possibility into more material form.”


“Imagine that you went to a possible world and you found something and you brought it back to the present and you put it on the flat round table and you said what is this thing?… what does it imply about that world? Now you’re a time travelling archeologist and anthropologist.”


“The wonk is the fun part. Double take moments – you think you know what you’re looking at but…”


“Those things around us are symptoms of our consciousness. Things that effervesce out of the way we see the world. They speak society. They speak about culture.”


“The weakest part of most trends work is it doesn’t make the trend tangible.If VR is the trend,  I’ve yet to understand what that world is like when that is the case. What does that world look like when it’s not shiny and new?”


“What is the VR-saturated world to the fellow that sits on the corner of the street with s sign saying Spare Change? What is their VR world? When they have the second- third- fourth- tier crappy bought it last a flea market VR headset what are they seeing and what are they experiencing? We don’t really run those worlds through to see what are the implications of the decisions we’re making today.”


“I love imagining and I love doing the design fiction and I don’t mean to be negative, I just think the point of the work is to do things better.”


 “The futures that I was imagining most thoroughly were so heavily cyberpunk that I really hadn’t;t done the work of considering other possible futures. And once I realised that, It’slightly embarrassing, I started looking for other possible ways to imagine and I got more excited about the potential for the imagination. But I feel like the imagination hasn’t been activated to the degree that you can see other possible futures. That’s why I got excited about solarpunk.”


“I want us to find ways to remind ourselves that we have an imagination, it’s evolutionarily important its, maybe the one tool we can deeply to save ourselves from ourselves.”


I want to do workshops for kids to do imagine other possible futures.”


On C-suite clients understanding od design fiction.
“I think they’re trying to find ways to sell their future vision and do so more with the power of story. To active some other part of an audience’s ability to understand what they’re on about.”


ME: “Design is art putting emotional truth into engineering, because humans need emotional truth, because we are not purely mechanical.”


“I think of this work as bottom up, not top down. You don’t start fro whole systems, you start from the implications that that whole system already exists.”


“Design fiction assumes there is a bit of uncertainty.”


ME: “Baking in the uncertainty and being okay with it – that seems a crucial component.”


On prototyping rather than modelling.
“You’re rushing to see if the thing works, rather playing with form. You can get so enmeshed in the technical details that you’re not allowing yourself the wonderful opportunity to thinking about it.”


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