Crystal: Navigating Uncertainty

In “anarchiving” FoAM’s multi-decade existence, different projects and preoccupations have been threaded together in a set of colour-coded routes. These routes describe a reader’s journey through the publication, and their experiences with the material they encounter along the way.

This is a guide to the crystal route, which probes different approaches to navigating uncertainty. We invite you to proactively engage with whatever crosses your path, prototype possible futures, seed new realities, and grow your own worlds.

The crystal route has no clear beginning nor ending. It starts wherever you are, and the destination keeps shifting, refracting and responding to all who walk its paths. It is unnerving but also exhilarating. Hesitantly, weThe we, here, is an invitation to engage. We are a wider we, including you, the readers, and us, the people involved in bringing this publication to life. We are all here, alongside and with each other inside the experience, if not all at the same time. Nobody walks the path alone. take our first step, holding on to each other through uncertain times, sinking hip deep into the thick present, and skirting the adjacent possible.

These Uncertain Times Hip Deep in the Thick Present Skirting the Adjacent Possible

For all its crystalline clarity, this is an ambiguous route, traversing grey areas and interstitial space. With few signposts or clear boundary lines, our wayfinding falls back on stories. Finding ourselves in the darkness, we reach out for words which matter to people. Some stand on soapboxes, issuing proclamations, spouting forth. Others will run over hot coals to distill meaning from noise. Little by little, we tiptoe away from the familiar and towards the unimagined. Exploring the many dimensions of experience. Shifting paradigms for a changing world.

Words Which Matter to People With All Caveats Gonzo Futurish Manifesto Arts Thinking in a Vuca World Dimensions of Experience Maybe We Were Birds

We seek shelter in the hollow of a shimmering geode, a crystal cavity refracting the vastness of all possible futures at a human scale. It takes time to find our bearings and figure out where to land in the yawning gap between the present and the future. Bending and stretching, we wind our way between entangled fragments of possible worlds. Our senses tether us to physical reality, as we roam through our collective dreamscapes; tasting, studying, and whispering new worlds into being.

Futuring at a Human Scale Calibrating Experiences of the Future Making Things Physical Experiential Dreamscapes Food Futures A Study Room in the Desert Whispering Worlds into Being

Nothing on the crystal route should be taken for granted. Its ascents point to divergent futures, daring us to gird ourselves for the worlds to come. It suggests ways to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst; to hedge our bets, prehearse living with uncertainty, and learn when to do nothing at all.

Future Preparedness Everyday Hedging Prehearsals and Pre-enactments Futures of Doing Nothing

Toying with the absurd as the route disappears beneath rising seas, we are hoisted aboard a sailing ship, joining its crew to prefigure nomadic life in a porous and borderless future. Diving deep in speculative waters, we encounter a rowdy cackle of cultural invigorators brawling over the governance of their ramshackle flotilla. While we listen to their accounts of the Anti Apocalypse Day, a circuit breaker trips, and we’re thrown back into darkness, finding ourselves all at sea. Our ears ring with echoes of the Long March of 2020, as the divisions between people widen, despite our shared predicament. Adjusting to being adrift, we gaze into the eye of the storm, where all certainty is limited.

Tsunamipants Arka Kinari The Flotilla Circuitbreaker Viruscraft Certainty Ltd.

Rolling up our sleeves, we make contact with the world. Gathering what we know about acting in unfamiliar environments and fast-changing situations, we start to experiment. Our makeshift lab holds space for the unexpected and unforeseen, evoking the smell of ozone, the energy of shared purpose, and the promise of adventures to come. Yet how do we pick a direction? Should we break from the trail?

Lab Approach The Future of the Lab Taking Risks or Making Risks

One of us unfolds a map and moves sideways, picking a direction. He trips over a crumpled notebook. In it, a scrawled list of things to consider when embarking on transdisciplinary pursuits. The list encourages us to work through our differences, to take our places in the circle, where we linger. A gathering of recovering experts, we coach each other to break through siloes, piercing closed archways of evidence and expertise.

Some Notes on Transdisciplinarity The Circle Recovering Experts Breaking Down The Economy

Absorbed in our experiments, we miss the sky turning a foreboding shade of grey, a herald of looming trouble. We can’t turn back, but there is no clear way forward. All we can do to survive well together is to start where we are. First, we reclaim administration as a space for play and intervention. Then we venture to reframe business as unusual. Diverting and obfuscating, pursuing beauty and complexity over size or scale.

Grey Skies Thinking Radmin Does it Scale?

We mine the human body’s creviced interior, seeking rare earths and mineral resources. We wield the dark arts to petition the faceless bureaucracy, using the vessels and paraphernalia of business to manifest the worlds we want. We commune with externalities, opening lines and channels to other-than-human worlds.

Tiny Mining Granting Models to Magic Communing with Externalities

Just when we thought that we knew where we were going, our vision blurs and the world shifts on its axis. Everything is cracking, fragmenting, blocking old paths while opening new kaleidoscopic vistas. Where there is life, hope remains. Multitudes persist as ghosts upon the bubble’s shell. A carved green pebble with a hole in it, rough to the touch. Part of the network, in the moment, aware of the times.

Further Adventures in Practical Ontology A More Than Human Manifesto Within the Screened Circumference of the Minds Eye The Naming Desakota Uncertainties

Time becomes momentary, time cycles and spirals, time slips from the now into the now… and the now. Here, and now, and tomorrow. Quietly, persistently, drawing our attention. Then: a poet is yelling. A multilingual polyphony of voices ricochets through the troposphere, entwining raw hope with the darkening times. Futures written in wisps of smoke. Resolutions shattering into scores of micro-revolutions. An invocation, a seed crystal. Shards of grace for graceless times.

Life, Life Support, and the Afterlives of (Im)possible Worlds Apero Prismatic Refractions

At the tail end of the crystal route, a rainbow.