Future Summit – Montreal

Nov 21-22 2015

Lecture at the Future Summit for the Biennale of Montreal. Nov. 21-22 at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).

I’d like to begin with a line from the poet Wallace Stevens who wrote “The future is description without place”. This line frames the future as a concept with no site, with no body or territory upon or through which the concept could be enacted or performed. In this instance, the future is not something that passively arrives like tomorrow and the day after and so on, as if the future were merely a forward moving cursor cruising along a time-line. The future, in the case evoked by Stevens, has to be constructively conceived, it exists as a description, so we can say the future has been named, it properly exists as an idea. BUT since that name has not been placed or spatialized, the future, simultaneously inexists with regard to our actual, lived condition. In Steven’s poem “the future” stands at the threshold between existence (as an idea), and inexistence (as an actualization). By this definition, any concept of the future practicable within pre-existing ‘places’ would not qualify as the future at all, for it would be a mere repetition of the present along a continuous vector of time. As a ‘description without place’, the future is a temporal-spatial condition summoning us to construct a site for the actualization of the name, the idea, the description. It is in this vein that I’ll be addressing the future as a horizon that affords the engineering of discontinuity with the way things are, as the boundary between what is and what could or ought to be.