Katherine Moline: Myths of the Near Future



Myths of the Near Future: CCTV tests co-design methodologies for exploring the social imaginary of technologies such as CCTV surveillance, and the role that digital recording devices play in reframing the city as a public space where diverse communities are both monitored and connected. Theories of the social imaginary proposed by philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis, anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, art historian Helmut Draxler, and cultural theorist Nikos Papastergiadis provide a number of competing definitions. For Castoriadis, it is the ‘social imaginary’ (communicated in images, practices and institutions) rather than ideology or technology that makes up a society. In his words, ‘Each society is a construction, a constitution, a creation of a world, of its own world’. The social imaginary is defined by Appadurai as key to human agency in globalisation where the imagination is understood as a ‘social practice’ that is ‘no longer mere fantasy’, but in fact ‘a form of work’, that arbitrates individual agency and the possibilities defined by the global context. Appadurai thus extends Castoriades’s proposal that the social imaginary establishes institutions that provide meaning to human experience, and surmises that the social imaginary, where imagination is seen as the cultural practice that shapes communities, is fundamental to understanding everyday experiences. Draxler concurs with these analyses, and proposes that exploring the norms and conventions of practices, such as art and design, reveal the interrelationship of public and private, and, in his words, the ‘participation of the public in the institution’. Cultural theorist Papastergiadis attends to how institutional restrictions circumscribe autonomy as well as create opportunities to 'engage with strangers', and develop connections between cultures. Based on the theoretical framework of the social imaginary, the themes that are explored in Myths of the Near Future: CCTV include surveillance and safety, anonymity and publicity, closed-circuit television as a creative medium, and the social imaginary of CCTV in urban locations and ecotones that are characterised by diverse communities.


Katherine Moline is a Senior Lecturer in research practices at UNSW Art & Design. Katherine explores the cross-overs between avant-gardism in visual art and the social pacts of contemporary experimental design. Since co-convening the symposium sds2k4: Experimental and Cross-Cultural Design (2004), she curated the exhibition Connections: Experimental Design (2007) and introduced international leaders in experimental and speculative critical design to Australian audiences. More recent exhibitions she has curated since completing a PhD in Art History include Feral Experimental at UNSW Galleries (2014), Experimental Practice: Provocations in and Out of Design at RMIT Design Hub (2015), and Experimental Thinking: Design Practices at Griffith University Gallery (2015). Katherine’s art practice investigates how design processes and technologies can be diverted to the production of experiential and conceptual interactions. Current research projects include a critical review of research methodologies in art and design, a series of experimental workshops on social practices with mobile telephones and CCTV, and a number of ongoing systems artworks. Katherine was awarded the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research Supervision, College of Fine Arts, UNSW in 2009.