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21st Century Transition
21st Century Transition

Communities and Collections

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Augmented Reality as an extension of existing cognition - our symbolically mediated 'direct experience' of reality.

"AR works because it is not radical break into our engagement in reality, but mobilizes a structure that is already at work in it."

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Today we look at screens, increasingly we'll look through them.

"In the near future, instead of carrying stylish smartphones everywhere, we’ll be wearing stylish glasses. And we’ll wear them all day and we’ll use them in every aspect of our lives."

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Extremely Conscious: the 'diabolic vision' as apposed to the 'beatific vision' - polar extremes of the psychedelic experience.

"Once you see these things, it's hard to shut the door on that awareness."


In the seminal 1960s text The Psychedelic Experience: a Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the authors define "games" as "behavioral sequences defined by roles, rules, rituals, goals, strategies, values, language, characteristic space−time locations and characteristic patterns of movement." They define heavy game players as "those who cling to their egos" and convey that it is the mind that renders the psychedelic experience, and all life experiences, as "heaven or hell."

I don't think my use of psychedelics was the cause, or primary catalyst, of my mental illness. I would not consider panic attacks an acid flashback, as I was having panic attacks prior to experimenting with drugs. But I do think that my psychedelic experiences called attention to the frightening dichotomy between the flimsy construction of self and a more fluid, unified consciousness.

My experiences with psychedelics, as well as with mental illness, have presented similarities in the ways that they strip away various game identities. In that sense, the experience of depersonalization on psychedelic drugs is an apt metaphor for the feeling of decontextualization in the throws of a panic attack, and vice versa.

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Alan Watts on networking, privacy and technical artificiality.

"When we find out that we are electronic echoes of ourselves .. we will come to the astonishing conclusion that that's what we already are."

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Google embraces circular principles internally; now it looks towards the "circular city" as a framework for whole system integration.

“It’s not just how to make the mobility system more efficient, but it’s how it interacts with the built environment, and interacts with the food system in the city. How can we improve all of them at the same time?”


Today, products follow a typical path: Companies dig up materials and fossil fuels to make a product, ship it (often thousands of miles) to a consumer, who ultimately throws it out. In a circular economy, by contrast, products would stay in use as long as possible, and their components would be reused and recycled instead of heading to a landfill.

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From geopolitics to biospheric consciousness.

"The social commons is ignored by economists because it doesn't create finance capital, it creates social capital." – Jeremy Rifkin

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Digitalization and Materialism

Transforming cities with Catalonia and MIT – distributing manufacturing through globally connected self-sufficient cities.

"The Fab City is about radical transformation. It is about re-thinking and changing our relationship with the material world, in order to continue flourishing on this planet."


The Fab City, a locally self-sufficient and globally connected city, invites us to explore how digital manufacturing could relocate food, energy and industrial production in an urban setting.


[ Economic Digitalization ]

Digital production is more than just 3d printing! The Fab lab is really a base for a larger vision to digitize and relocate fabrication. It’s a playground for experimentation where we can prototype new distribution models and reinvent the relationship between consumption and production.

We are mainly researching fabrication models that allow people to make their own things closer to home, instead of buying everything from China.

[ Distribution of Production ]

Fab Labs are not about technology however, they are about the culture around technology. And they are spreading fast. Today there are over one thousand fab labs across the world, that together function as a distributed production system on a small scale. I can design something in Barcelona, and without using fossil fuel, create the identical product in Cape Town, Wellington or Tokyo.

Our approach is closely linked to the notion of circular economy, in the sense that we aim shorten and localize production loops. The right infrastructure and knowledge could reduce the amount of material that a city imports and rescale globalization, allowing companies to create social value and not only profit.


[ Economic Transition ]

Many large companies today rely on closed off and controlled access to production means and information as their main source of wealth and growth. So, naturally the concept of redistributing access disrupts this business model and poses a threat to several people’s interests.

[ Localised Factories ]

Today people buy unassembled furniture in a warehouse outside the city and bring it home to put it together with instructions. Soon people could design their own furniture on demand in micro factories that are located in city centres. This would not only avoid storage costs but allow for personalized and customized furniture.

[ Localised Consumption ]

Other larger enterprises interested in bringing production closer to consumption for example are Adidas, Nike, Airbus or Saint Gobain. They are especially interested in the culture around the technology as well as ideas on open society, open innovation, distributed networks and blockchain.


[ Liquid Work Society ]

There is a convergence between the evolution of work as something more independent, platform economies and digital automatization.

Many people nowadays don’t want to work as full-time employees anymore. I like to connect it with the Zygmunt Bauman concept of “liquid society”: Time, work, family, love… all the structures that we considered to be fixed and to which we hold on to are becoming more and more liquid and fluctuating.

Being able to adapt to these changes means building more resilient organizations and networks. The Fab city could in a way be considered the productive organ for this liquid life.


[ Degenerative Growth ]

More than two hundred years since the Industrial Revolution, global urbanisation keeps accelerating. United Nations projections indicate that 75% of the human population will be living in cities by 2050.

Newly created cities and the urbanisation process in rural areas replicates a lifestyle based on consumerism and the linear economy, causing destructive social and economic impact while compromising the ecological system of the planet. Extreme industrialisation and globalisation have turned cities into the most voracious consumers of materials, and they are overwhelmingly the source of carbon emissions through both direct and embodies energy consumption. The rise of offshoring and automation indirectly leads to a decrease of the practical and cultural knowledge on how and where things used to be made locally in our cities. These dynamic hubs lose their livelihood.

[ Reinventing Urbanism ]

We need to reinvent our cities and their relationship to people and nature by re-localising production, so cities are generative rather than extractive, restorative rather than destructive, and empowering rather than alienating. In these cities, prosperity flourishes and people have purposeful, meaningful work that they enjoy and that enables them to use their passion and talent. By connecting citizens with the advanced technologies that are transforming our everyday life, we need to recover the knowledge and capacity on how things are made in our cities.


[ Fabrication Initiative ]

The Fab City is an international initiative started by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms (CBA), the Barcelona City Council and the Fab Foundation to develop locally productive and globally connected self-sufficient cities.

[ Nonlinear Econmics ]

The project is connected to the global Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory) network and comprises an international think tank of civic leaders, makers, urbanists and innovators working on changing the paradigm of the current industrial economy. In the latter, the city operates on a linear model of importing products and producing waste. This should change to a spiral innovation ecosystem, in which materials flow inside cities locally and information on how things are made circulates globally. Fab City is about building a new economy based on manufacturing infrastructure and distributed data.

[ Emerging Movement ]

For more than ten years, Fab Labs have provided widespread access to modern means for invention and production. They began as an outreach project from MIT’s CBA, but Fab Labs have spread from inner city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the most northern tip of Norway, counting approximately 1,000 Fab Labs located in more than 78 countries today.


[ Localised Production ]

Activities in Fab Labs range from technological empowerments to peer-to-peer project-based technical training. Projects being developed and produced in Fab Labs include, for example, solar and wind powered turbines and custom housing.

[ Globalised Knowledge ]

Fab Labs share core capabilities among each other so that people and projects can be shared across the world. These labs work with components and materials optimised for use in the field and are controlled with custom software for integrated design, manufacturing and project management. This inventory is continuously evolving, towards the goal of a Fab Lab being eventually able to make a Fab Lab.


[ The Barcelona Pledge ]

In 2011, the Fab Lab project was launched at the FAB7 conference in Lima, Peru. A few years later, at the FAB10, the Mayor of Barcelona invited his colleagues around the world to join the Barcelona Pledge: a countdown for cities to become at least 50% self-sufficient by 2054. Ever since, several cities have pledged to join the network. Amsterdam joined the movement in 2016 at the first annual Fab City Summit, held at the EU2016 Fab City Campus. The Fab City movement is open for other cities, towns or communities to join in order to collectively build a more humane and habitable new world.

[ Material Transformation ]

Fab City takes the ideal of the Fab Lab – the connectivity, culture and creativity – and scales it to the level of the city. It is a new urban model for transforming and shaping cities that shift how they source and use material from ‘Products In, Trash Out’ to ‘Data In, Data Out’. This means that more production occurs inside the city, along with recycling materials and meeting local needs through local inventiveness. A city’s imports and exports would mostly be found in the form of data: information, knowledge, design and code.


[ Networked Ecosystems ]

At the core of the Fab City strategy is the development of a global network of cities that are a part of a sustainable ecosystem of production and knowledge: from a 3D printer at home to the neighbourhood’s Fab Lab, and from the city factory to global production infrastructure.

[ Scaling Local Capacities ]

In a Fab City, the number of imported goods – like food and resources as water and energy – need to be reduced. To make this possible, urban farming needs to evolve from experimental practices to a larger scale infrastructure. Local production of food at domestic, neighbourhood and city scales create a closer loop system for food production and harvesting. The use of recycled, raw materials for the production of objects in cities should be increased.

This way, we create added value in every iteration of a new product, in a new spiral economy approach. It rescales globalisation and provides the means of innovation to empower citizens. This process involves a huge cultural shift. One that promotes the empowerment of cities and their citizens.


[ Data-based Knowledge ]

To become a Fab City requires having a more precise knowledge of the way that cities work. The evolution of the movement will make it possible to create better systems of capturing and analysing data, developing knowledge about each city and sharing it, and it will require the implementation of an evaluation system and detailed monitoring: the Fab City Dashboard.

[ Global Objectives ]

The Fab City strategy is unique in that it addresses a range of environmental, social and economic objectives (carbon reduction, waste minimisation, relocation of manufacturing and work) in a system approach to harness new technology and production approaches.

[ Glocal Solutions ]

All of this is brought to a practical level, by connecting with the existent Fab Lab Network and complementary productive ecosystems; a vast source for urban innovations being shared already globally by makers in more than 70 countries and 1,000 labs. The first city to become self-sufficient – simultaneously increasing employment by creating opportunities through open innovation, and radically reducing carbon emissions by relocation production – will lead the future of urban development globally.


[ Smart Citizen Movement ]

‘The shared starting point is that we have to take responsibility for our own behaviour. We cannot wait for systems to change. We have to be the change. This Do-It-Ourselves, or rather Do-It-Together, mentally unleashes a powerful dynamic in society. It shows that civic movements are at the heart of change. We need an innovation paradigm shift. Not shareholders value, but social value, open instead of closed, cooperative instead of competitive. Smart citizens instead of smart cities.’ – Marleen Stikker, director Waag Society

[ Civic Participation ]

The Fab City approach can contribute to achieving a range of city objectives. It helps civic leaders to develop locally productive cities in collaboration with local communities, companies and institutions by revitalising manufacturing infrastructure and offering incentives towards a new economy. Fab Lab and makerspace-based innovations could be a source for solutions to connect to real problems in cities, opening opportunities for businesses, research and education through projects in the digital realm.

[ Empowered Citizenship ]

In this approach, citizens and cities are empowered to be the masters of their own destiny as their resilience is increased. With the circulation of materials and associated energy consumption, a more ecological system is developed in which carbon emissions are drastically reduced; atoms stay in cities while bits travel globally. In order to make this happen, the city must be locally productive and globally connected to knowledge, economic and social networks. In this connection, the cooperation between cities, citizens and knowledge centres form the basis of scientific knowledge.

[ Resilience and Capability ]

A concerted and coordinated response must be made to reimagine how, where and what we make if we are to live harmoniously within the bounds of the planet’s resources. Fab City proposes a model for cities to be resilient, productive and self-sufficient in order to respond to the challenges of our time. It also proposes the recovery of knowledge and the capacity to make things, to produce energy, to harvest food and to understand the flow of matter, in order to empower its citizens to be leading agents of their own destiny.

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Replacing transplants with - lab grown and bioprinted - implants. As lifespans increase, so does the market demand for organs.

"The future of regenerative medicine is synthetic organs that could easily, affordably, and reliably be printed for patients on demand."


Recent data from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) showed that the number of patients waiting for a heart transplant in the United Kingdom has grown by 162 percent in the last ten years. Now, 50 years after the first successful heart transplant, experts believe we may be nearing an era where organ transplantation will no longer be necessary.

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The future of object fabrication looks set to be holo.

"A new holographic printing technique makes it possible to create the entire thing at once — in as little as a second or two."


Most 3D printers have a critical weakness: they simply take a long time to actually make anything. That’s because additive manufacturing generally works by putting down an object one microscopic layer at a time.

The advantages of holographic printing are plenty: you could, for instance, produce structures with other structures freely moving inside of them, like gears in a gearbox. There’s no need for support structures underneath overhangs, so certain shapes that were impractical or impossible when printing from the bottom up or top down are straightforward to create this way. You also could quickly print multiple structures simultaneously.

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The distributed brain of the Octopus is a mind without a self.

"The modern evidence for a sentient octopus is increasing. Perhaps it is the octopus’s talent for trickery that has blinded us to its qualities."


The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, writing in 1567, suggested that we might consider our own solipsistic perceptions somewhat lacking, and that we could learn from this multi-sensual shape-shifter.

Montaigne was nearer the mark than he knew: scientists have established that each of the octopus’s arms contains an independent “brain”, to the extent that one might fight with another. Montgomery describes this as an intelligence “without a centralised self”.

This is an astonishing, different kind of existence, and it challenges our own physical selves and our assumptions about life on our planet. The octopus evolved on an entirely other evolutionary branch than us; it is not subordinate, but parallel. It really is the alien among us.
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