A Future Building Experience


The best way to predict the future is to create it. Our goal is to create, curate, develop, and play with a collective imagined future for Los Angeles (and the world) by mixing scientists, artists, storytellers and technologists. Everyone can participate in designing the future. All you need to do is look around and ask What If?

The Imagined Futures Event will be a real-time future building game to explore the Future-- in Los Angeles-- as developed, constructed, destroyed and re-built in collaboration with all guests. With expert scientists on hand, as well as storytellers and artists, attendees will physically adapt a cardboard model of Los Angeles to reflect a prediction to the future. Other guests will then iterate, tinker with, or create a new potentiality, represented in the model and described through the art and narrative being created.

The Imagined Future Los Angeles (the iterated cardboard future vision of Los Angeles) will live on from event to event, adapting every time, creating new overlapping fantastic futures. For the first event, two iterations will be created: one with Inner City Arts and one with the Exchange members.

These events will be experiments in creating the fully realized IF Galleries and Museum.

First Event Topic:


"Who needs a car in L.A.? We got the best public transportation system in the world!" says private detective Eddie Valiant in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Set in 1947, Eddie is a car-less Angeleno and the movie tells the tale of a an evil corporation buying up the city’s streetcars in its greedy quest to force people out of public transit and into private automobiles. Eddie Valiant's line was a wink at audiences in 1988 who knew quite well that public transportation was now little more than a punchline.

Aside from Detroit there's no American city more identified with the automobile than Los Angeles. In the 20th century, the Motor City rose to prominence as the home of the Big Three automakers, but the City of Angels is known to outsiders and locals alike for its confusing mess of freeways and cars that crisscross the city — or perhaps as writer Dorothy Parker put it, crisscross the "72 suburbs in search of a city."

What if nobody drives in LA? What technology would be needed? What changes to infrastructure, society and government could bring this future to us sooner? Who would benefit and how? What would it mean to you personally-- how you would get around and how you would interact with your city? And, if this future is inevitable, when? What is the driverless future we can imagine within our lifetimes? And what would transportation be like in 100 years or even 1,000 years?


ACT 1: Cocktails

  • Welcome, get comfortable, context and invitation to participate
  • Cardboard Avatars: design your future self or future transport using tools from the "salad bar"
  • Context from cocktails-- can the drinks be thematic too?
  • Mission/purpose parameters explained, guard rails are clear

ACT 2: What If?

  • Brief presentations (think under 10 minutes) from expert scientists
  • How did we get here today? And where are we going?
  • Answer the What If? on how their study will change LA in the near future and far off future

ACT 3: Story Telling & Cultural Mapping

  • Divide into groups (based on a prompt? based on neighborhoods?)
  • Story Telling Exercise -- Michael Kass
  • Game Play
  • Inception: Create imagined futures, share out in the group

ACT 4: The Imagined Future Los Angeles

  • Kiel Johnson
  • A constructed future city with new elements to craft based on the imaginings of the group and the experts, iterated and changed
  • Place your avatar into the future

ACT 5: Iteration

  • Continue to play
  • Invitation to iterate the future for upcoming event series
  • Cocktails continue as people build and tinker


Attendees: ~100 people mostly from entertainment (writers, directors, producers, agents for Film/TV), scientists associated with the Nat’l Academy, other creatives and invited guests. 

Take Away Outcomes for Attendees: Guests should learn something mind expanding about the science presented by the scientist/speakers and the future predicted by the talks. Guests should also leave with a reaction to an imagined future based on the science presented and the story collectively envisioned/experienced. Can the guest actually imagine this future world and what would that life feel like?

Interactive Game Guiding Principles: Simple, clear goals, strong container of co-creation. Keep the focus on the ideas, imagination, and visions with input and feedback from the real life expert scientists in the room. What do guests see, think, hear, feel, walk away with?

The Imagined Future Los Angeles: Large scale, 30’ x 30’, will live on (in Great Co basement) through multiple events and therefore multiple iterations. Crafted by Kiel Johnson. A base layer or Los Angeles will be created for the first event. Following the presentation of the scientists and storytellers, attendees will be invited to make and add their visions to the collective imagined future. Peep holes will all guests to immerse themselves physically into the model. And future iterations can add technology to augment the experience: 3D mapping, augmented reality additions, remote controlled video within the model, etc...

Potential Topic for Event: Climate Change, Transportation, Getting off the Planet, Space Travel, Overpopulation

Concerns: The expectation of attendees- is there not enough “lecture” and too much participation (lean in vs. sit back)? Too much of a working group? Game play vs storytelling? Time to construct base layer model and time for guests to build, tinker, play.


Kiel Johnson: Through layered narratives and story telling, my work speaks to my travels and adventures through everyday life. I think of myself as an explorer, setting out each day on an unchartered path of mediation manifested in drawing and sculpture. My work is a springboard for metaphorical investigations of the world I inhabit. Using line to explore places, objects, and spaces that exist in my imagination, I catalog my observations and seal them in time. The idea of work as play is central to my practice: handmade, hard work, and having fun. I believe in a laboratory approach of experimentation to problems without finite solutions. Inspired by odd discoveries, coincidence and chance, I seek to personify inanimate subjects. Drawing acts as a seismograph, witnessing my experiences and recording the vibrations; sculpture advocates my quest for understanding how things are held together.

Michael Kass: Storytelling is one of the basic building blocks of human communication and community. Because the ability to tell and respond to stories is hard-wired into our brains, storytelling presents a powerful, low-barrier way for people to create, build, and play together. Collaborative Story Circles bring strangers together to build tales based on prompts in a structured, inviting, and fun way. Once basic guidelines have been explained and a foundation for the prompt laid, participants are lead through a brief visualization exercise. They are then quickly invited to divide into smaller groups and begin creating, using a structure designed to minimize any conflicts or tendency to fight for control of the narrative. All too often, creative expression and scientific exploration exist in different worlds. By inviting participants to engage their imaginations to jointly create stories based on a scientific concepts introduced by guest experts, we will give attendees the chance to imagine themselves in a future inspired by those concepts, internalizing the science as a creative human experience. We will use two primary tools to lead participants through the experience:

  • Guided Visualization to help them process the scientific ideas and build their vision of the future; and
  • Collaborative Story Circles in which the attendees will be divided into 10 person groups, each of which will collaboratively create a collective Story of the Future

Inner City Arts:Providing access to the arts and the endless possibilities they offer, Inner-City Arts is an investment in the youth of Los Angeles. Creating a bridge between the studio and the classroom, Inner-City Arts' unique approach to arts education measurably improves academic and personal outcomes for children and youth, including those students with Limited English Proficiency who are at risk of academic failure. We believe that the arts and creativity are transformational. Inner-City Arts envisions a society that honors the human capacity for creativity, and values its cultivation in the education of young people. Our mission is to engage young people in the creative process in order to shape a society of creative, confident and collaborative individuals.