Inviting Future Generations into Present Negotiations

Inviting Future Generations into Present Negotiations

How can we invite future generations in present negotiations to influence current decision-making processes? How can we make the future present and allow the silenced to be heard?

Research project: Inviting Future Generations into Present Negotiations

Our research starts from the premise that present-day decision-making structures systematically favor short-term decision-making and disregard the rights and voices of future generations by their very design. While attempts to remedy this have been made, often by naming a representative for future generations (see Ombudspersons for the Future), such well-meaning initiatives can only do so much, limited as they are by the foundations of the democratic structure and its underlying assumptions about the nature of being. In order to challenge the short-termism and anthropocentrism of entrenched decision-making practices, we argue that the underlying ontology needs to be tackled simultaneously. 

At present, the Cartesian worldview–which favors dualistic ways of thinking and relating to others–fundamentally influences many bureaucratic institutions across modern Western society. Inviting Future Generations into Present Negotiations takes a particular interest in untangling the active/passive dichotomy that radically excludes more-than-humans and the unborn from debates which will determine their very existence. Having investigated a range of creative counter-hegemonic projects that use decision-making as a medium, we believe arts-led practices can facilitate important processes of ontological (un)learning by providing structures for collectively navigating uncertainty, speculation, and ambiguity. 

The Future Generations Desk is in the final stages of developing a publication to support this growing movement in art and politics. We present two sets of instruments for designing interventions: creative “simulations” that can be used to suspend disbelief, trick the senses, and extend reactive capacities beyond temporal or terrestrial limits; as well as “relational mediums’’ that can render us more attuned to the wants and needs of future life by directing thinking patterns to be more in flow with surrounding forces. Taken together, simulations and relational mediums have the capacity to critically open-up futures in unanticipated ways and bring a sense of radical relationality to the fore. 

A condensed version of the upcoming publication is now available. Click here to download!



The Office of Rules and Norms (ORN) is an arts-based transdisciplinary collective that engages with regulations, the rule of law and cultural norms. These engagements reveal, comprehend, play with, subvert, and transcend current ways of understanding and acting in relation to regulatory forces in order to make room for more equitable alternatives. In its attempts to query legal and behavioral urban infrastructures, the ORN specifically deploys art and design practice, culture, and methods along three axes:
Art as Subversion | Intervening in grey areas of regulation
Art as Pedagogy | Making public various forces and forms of influence
Art as Decision-Making | Reorienting modes of knowing and deliberating