An alternative history of NZ merino breeding by Anne Galloway and Jonathon Toon
We are currently putting the finishing touches on our second speculative design project, Cybernetic Meadows: An Alternative History of NZ Merino Breeding.
…a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
like pure water
touching clear sky…
Brautigan’s utopian vision struck us as being similar to ubiquitous computing’s early visions of invisible, seamless computing embedded in the environment. But we believe that the world is too messy for that vision to come true — and that’s not a bad thing.
Inspired by the merino breed competition at the 2011 Canterbury A&P Show, we began to speculate on the messy — more “seamful” — futures that could emerge from the use of pervasive computing in sheep breeding, and we designed scenarios for near-future farm, feral and lab merino.
But it wasn’t long before we began to wonder if imagining ourselves in the future might be easier, and maybe even more productive, if we didn’t ask people to project forward but instead allowed them to reflect backward and see themselves in an “alternate now.”
Using alternative history science fiction and the evocative image above (please contact us if you’re the artist) as our starting point, we began to construct new scenarios that show the history of NZ merino breeding as it might have been…
The resulting stories will be posted online in 2012.
We welcome feedback on all our research and design. Please contact us with any questions or comments.