The museum of the future: A sedimentary cloud

Jonathan Bremner, Laura Bernadet

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Taking our cue from the impact of Joseph Kosuth’s 1965 conceptual artwork One and Three Chairs, there has always been one and three museums—the cosmos is the museum of light, the city is the museum of space and given the job of the museum is to indefinitely accumulate time the museum today is the museum of time. In this paper we present a fourth—the museum of the future. The museum and the department store were concurrent designs of industrialization; one—the store—collected the here-and-now and sold it as what-might-become while the other—the museum—collected what-was and projected it as what-we-have-become. However, the manifest crises of the planet illustrate the limits of our capacity to persuade ourselves we can imagine a future in which we want to live, and cast urgency on the long-term design project of being together. And the project of being together in the urban age is driving us to change the entire terrain of thought and action. Where once ideas drove change, change now appears to be split between two projects whose temporal dimensions govern the notion of ‘future’. One is the busy sharing of digital records of the as-found, and counter to this digital archive is the revival of designs of what-might-become illustrated in the boom in digital imagery of fantasy futures. In order to now imagine a future it has become necessary to navigate the competing time frames of the digital archiving of the past and the digital reproduction of the future. But for Jacques Derrida the question of the archive is not a question of the past but a question of the future, the very question of the future, of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. According to him “the archive—if we want to know what this will have meant we will only know tomorrow.” And Hal Foster disconnects the archive from the museum when he questions “Might visual culture rely on techniques of information to transform a wide range of mediums into a system of image-text—a database of digital terms—an archive without museums?” In this paper we propose this temporal disjuncture—archive and future—can be bridged by the design of what we call the Museum of the Future whose windows open onto the permanent present. The Museum of the Future is not a location for the sentimental accumulation of time in the form of tasteful objects. According to Cedric Price “neither knowledge nor value can be stored and contained in a particular place” therefore “the museum of the future initiates a process of constant revision that assures the contingency and non-solidity of a building”. Following from Price we propose the Museum of the Future is a continuous interior whose form, stretched to compass the cumulous cloud of digital sentimentality and reproduction, functions as a sedimentary layer for our imaginings of increasingly populous and proximate future relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S3560-S3568
Number of pages9
JournalThe Design Journal
Issue numbersup1
Publication statusPublished - 06 Sep 2017

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