Our current social ecosystem is spiraling in loops of dark and ominous events, making it challenging to remain optimistic. Climate emergency, global migration, resurgent nationalism, public health crises, deepening wealth disparities, white supremacy and patriarchy, university funding scandals and moral bankruptcies fueled by big tech – incessant bad news and predictions of looming catastrophic futures remind us of our collective failure as humankind. In these complex and complicated times, it is difficult to feel that we have any agency to nurture positive change and design anything good. Yet, we can’t afford to accept that ‘designing for better worlds’ is futile and impossible.
Deeply aware of the privileges and biases hindering our perspectives of what such worlds could and should be, we are calling out the Uroboros: the ancient serpent eating its own tail that aptly captures our current global conditions as well as our attempts at finding productive responses. Rather than aiming to untangle the serpent and solve any of the problems it encircles, we wish to explore and challenge the social, political, technological, and epistemological circumstances scaffolding its pathways. Summoning the Uroboros collectively and carefully, we hope to better understand its dark loopings and engage in productive speculations on how things could actually – not just in principle – be different. The Uroboros design-art festival calls for works that engage critically, experimentally, and materially with our troubling global conditions to actuate a positive change.