The auction from the future

Posted in culture, future, methods, politics, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 19 November, 2009

Which objects from our recent bonfire of the economic vanities will seem so strange in 2059 that they would become collectable? That’s the entertaining question posed by the artists Hollington & Kyprianou in their project with Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery, called, ‘Adams & Smith, auctioneers of late-capitalist period artefacts‘. It’s part of the Arnolfini’s ‘100 Days’ series, in the countdown to Copenhagen. The objects range from a packet of upmarket cigarettes to a golf ball and tee. (There’s a full list below the fold).

The auction has a catalogue and a blog, and will culminate in an actual auction with an actual auctioneer (on Saturday 28th November). There are a couple of neat conceits: Adams & Smith is founded in ‘2034’, and the auction is taking place, ostensibly, in 2059. Provenance has been provided by Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch, and it is as sharp as you would expect.

Here’s the full auction list – linked to their catalogue descriptions.

When I run futures workshops I sometimes do a warm-up exercise based on Douglas Coupland’s ‘Reverse Time Capsule’ article for Wired magazine, about artefacts in the present day which would have seemed absurd or unthinkable 15 or 20 years previously (pre-packed salad washed in natural spring water, for example). In 1997 one of Coupland’s examples was the Japanese luxury car. I think I’ll try adding an ‘Adams and Smith Future Auction’ exercise the next time I need to stretch people’s thinking.

Thanks to the RSA’s Arts & Ecology blog for the tip.


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Mahaffie, Josh Calder. Josh Calder said: What will be strange in 2059? RT @jbmahaffie: Great concept and thought provoker: the auction from the future: […]

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