Workit Wednesday 001: Emozen Rectal Suppositories
Free samples of supplements that will help you not give a shit.
Today we’re doing something different. I’m breaking character and parking the janky time machine to bring you the first instalment of Workit Wednesday.
In this weekly series I am going to develop Design Fiction using Near Future Laboratory’s Design Fiction Work Kit. A set of prompt cards that help you imagine harder about things that don’t exist.
Everything below describes the process of how I came up with the above Design Fiction. Hope you enjoy and find it useful.
So for today’s Design Fiction kettle bell session, I randomly drew some cards from the deck and laid them out as pictured below.
The only rule here is that the Design Fiction artefact should embody the ‘archetype’ card, which we see here is a ‘Free Sample’.
First order of business is to brainstorm some of the possibilities each selected card presents.
The point of Design Fiction is to develop an artefact from the future (similar to how an archeologist does with things from the past) that we can observe, investigate and hypothesize. A representation of a future world. Collected evidence we can use to formulate our own answers.
The following is a stream-of-consciousness rambling of what is going on in my head while I think about each card and my process for coming up with an idea.
Let’s look at the cards.
Archetype = Free Sample:
This conjures an image of a person at a grocery store, behind a cardboard kiosk, selling toothpick-skewered hotdog pieces served in dixie cups. I also imagine perfume samples, like tiny little micro bottles, or a page in a magazine that you rub onto your bare skin leaving you marked with fragrance and ink stains.
Object = Supplement:
I’m trying to visualize the back wall at Popeye’s (not the chicken place). Supplements come in tiny bottles, ginormous jugs, blister packs and powders. Supplements can also include injections (like a B vitamin shot). This object card works well with the archetype.
Action = Responsible:
This action feels like it naturally fits with the Supplement Object. We take supplements to enrich our health, like fish oils or vitamin E, very responsible stuff. But this could easily get boring. I’ll need to stretch the idea of responsibility to keep it spicy.
Attribute = Ambiguous:
This is a fun prompt. Finding that place between “is this good or is this bad?” is an evocative space. This gives one permission to tightrope walk the edge of a coin that has utopia and dystopia on either side.
Tone = Her:
I’m so glad I recently rewatched this movie. In case you haven’t seen it, Her (2013) directed by Spike Jonze, stars Juaquin Phoenix as an average Joe hoping to find connection through technology when precisely the opposite happens. The tone of this film could be described as a dirge of somber longing with a faint glimmer of hopeless romanticism. I think I will listen to the soundtrack for this film while I work to get me in the right mood.
Now with all these prompts considered, I’ll close my eyes and jumble these ideas around in my head until something begins to form.
5 minutes later.
I think I’m onto something.
We live in a world of division, where everything is black and white and media is designed to pit us against one another. What if there was a supplement that heightened our feelings of empathy — oh wait, I posted a design fiction about something like this not too long ago. Check out Compassionfruit Chocolate Bars. If I were lazy I would just offer that up as a free sample for this assignment, but I won’t.
Back to closing my eyes and having more of a think.
30 minutes later.
Instead of actively working on the assignment, I took a break to read today’s instalment of Jason Theodor’s All Day Breakfast, and after chatting with him on Discord about dopamine fasts, I got the inspiration I was looking for.
With the above prompts still on the brain and some time away from the problem, something started to calcify. The idea now? We are all over-stimulated to the point where things that should be exciting are just ‘meh’. And things that shouldn’t elicit an emotional response are now responsible for anxiety and trauma.
We have an unhealthy relationship with our feelings (thanks social media). Maybe some people need to take a break from caring, loving, hating … feelings in general. By turning off feelings, good and bad, one can simply exist and be in the moment. Momentarily focusing on what really matters, like basic biological necessities. Food. Warmth. Safety. Simple routines to stay occupied and alive. Like a zen retreat in pill form.
The word “Emozen” just formed in my head. I’m feeling this Design Fiction direction. It‘s jiving with the prompt cards and I can imagine the plausibility of something in a more mundane context.
Time to make a coffee to go and jump in the janky time machine. I’ll use these prompts as wayfinding, and crank up the tunes on my sometimes shorted-out stereo. Off we go to who-knows-when and see what we discover.
On the radio today.