Memo Futurum

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Ars Electronica Futurelab, we’re not only looking back at the last 25 years but also looking ahead to the next 25.

Memo Futurum aims to take a closer look at our personal and collective visions of the future. How do we see ourselves and our lives in 25 years? How do we talk about our future, how do we feel about it, what is our attitude towards it?

Similar to remembering, imagining the future is not about facts or accuracy, but about how we interpret the world around us. Both mental activities influence our behavior, our perceptions, and our values, and they are part of our identity. Therefore, if we are able to access the future visions that we have today, we can get a better understanding of us as a society. Memo Futurum aims to capture personal future visions in order to focus on them and discuss them.

Everyone is invited to access the Memo Futurum website and contribute a “memo” – a short voice memo. Users are guided to envision their personal future in 25 years in one of five aspects of their life: housing, work, leisure, relationships or values. After the guided “mind travel”, users are asked to answer 3 quick questions and can then share their thoughts in form of a voice memo.

Memo Futurum
will be active until the end of 2021. Until then, everyone can participate by submitting their own memo or listen to other people’s voice memos. The answers from the questions allow to get an overview and a common ground of our collective visions.

Come the end of 2021, the voices will become silent. They will be transferred to vinyl records, and all digital copies will be erased. Then the inactive phase of the project begins: The vinyl records, along with important information about the project, will be stored in a glass case for 25 years.

Every 25 years, the cycle begins anew. In 2046, the case will be opened and the project can be repeated on the basis of the information it contains. People are again asked how they see themselves in 25 years. Also, the memos from 2021 can be retrieved and replayed. Exploring past and present visions of the future allows for comparison: How did people talk about their future visions 25 years ago? How open were they compared to the voice memos 25 years later – how personal, how optimistic, how curious? How has the way we talk and think about the future changed in 25 years?

The new memos from 2046 are then also transferred to vinyl records and stored along with the vinyl records from 2021. Again, the voices fall silent for another 25 years, before a new cycle begins in 2071. Memo Futurum is meant to become a ritual of questioning our visions and engaging with how we think and talk about the future. It is a call to examine our own visions of the future and to engage with the visions of others.

Read more about Memo Futurum and The Ars Electronica Futurelab Ideas Expedition on the Ars Electronica Blog:


Susanne Kiesenhofer

Memo Futurum is a winner project of the 2021 Ars Electronica Futurelab Ideas Expedition