Group 3 & 4

April 8, 2019

Alternative Friends

Jimmy Loizeau, Matt Ward, Dash Macdonald, Goldsmiths, the University of London (UK) & James Auger, Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Portugal)

This workshop takes the 1990s TV sitcom Friends as a format to discuss the future. Using a series of exercises, activities and processes, Loizeau, MacDonald, Auger and Ward will take participants through an experience where they become the script writers for an experimental, non-normative version of this popular representation of friendship, urban living, employment and love.

In recent years, Friends has been criticised for perpetuating normative ideas of gender, body image and sexuality. Throughout the workshop participants will be challenged to imagine a speculative sitcom that explores the changing dynamics of global economics, politics, race, gender, sexuality and technology. It casts a critical eye on key themes and technological effects of the 21st century as the structure of new scripts for an alternative popular format.

The aim of this workshop is to examine how artists and designers can utilise new mass media formats, alternative narratives, “fictioning” and performance to activate alterity and challenge dominant social norms. The workshop utilises the skills and experiences of the organisers (in critical design, narrative construction, workshop mediation and media manipulation) to challenge participants to discuss, debate and become script writers for the new “norms” of our collective future.

We build on work such as Gerard Byrne’s 1984 and Beyond and Joshua Newman’s Social Science Fiction to explore the interplay of fiction, role play and performance in creating and producing popular understandings of alternative speculative futures.