Subjunctive Final Project

The final project will be an another subjunctive project. The project is meant to be conjectural, or speculative, working in the realm of design fiction rather than the here and now. I encourage you to revisit the readings from weeks 3-6 as you work on this project. There are two guiding principles for the impossible project:

  1. Your project cannot already exist.
  2. You must make it seem as if the project can exist in the here and now, even if it is culturally, economically, or technologically impossible.

Rather than creating the object itself, you will create designs, wire frames, marketing material, social media campaigns, and other speculative paratext surrounding the object. Think of this final project as a subversive Kickstarter Project, in which you pitch your impossible idea.

The goal is to make it seem as if the project could or does exist. In the process you should think both playfully and seriously about the theoretical implications of your project. What concerns about culture, technology, and power does your project raise? What assumptions does the project make, and what assumptions does it call into question? It will help to recall Dunne and Raby’s approach to A/B design, where “A” represents the way an engineer or conventional designer might approach a problem, while “B” represents the way an artist or speculative designer sees the problem:

Conventional Design (A)

  • Affirmative
  • Problem solving
  • Provides answers
  • Design for production
  • Fictional functions
  • For how the world is
  • Applications
  • Innovation
  • Concept design
  • Consumer
  • Make us buy
  • Ergonomics
  • User-friendliness

Speculative Design (B)

  • Critical
  • Problem finding
  • Asks questions
  • Design for debate
  • Functional fictions
  • For how the world could be
  • Implications
  • Provocation
  • Conceptual design
  • Citizen
  • Make us think
  • Rhetoric
  • Ethics


Before you get too far into your project, you must perform an environmental scan. In an environmental scan you survey the current tech landscape and make sure there are no existing projects similar to yours. The environmental scan ensures that your impossible project meets the criteria of unexpectedness.

We’ll present the impossible projects in class on Thursday, May 2.  We will also share them at the Verna M. Case Symposium (Alenda Lux) on Wednesday, May 8. By that time you should post a digital exhibit of your project as well as a 1,000 word Artist Statement to your domain. Use your Artist Statement to make explicit the implicit questions and answers your impossible project poses.


I’ll approach your hack using the following criteria:

  • Unexpectedness (the extent to which the project defies expectations and is truly unfeasible yet possible)
  • Craft (the degree of style, technical virtuosity, and craftiness, as well as digital representation)
  • Intention (the sense of intention and deliberateness of the work)
  • Theme (the level of engagement with the concepts of design thinking)
  • Argument (the degree to which your project asks or answers questions about culture, technology, and power)