Control interviews

I’m in a Cafe in Maastricht killing time before going to meet Dr Mark Post at the nearby University for the 7th interview in our series of interviews for our upcoming work Control.

Dr Post Mark, has been at the forefront of research into cultured Beef and was one of the first people to grow a hamburger from cow cells. This research could be a game changer, both in terms of sustainable food sources for an increasing population and animal welfare. I think his work speaks about what the future might look like and I hope in talking to him about both his work and the theme of control he can add a unique dimension to the large jigsaw of ideas and possibilities we are trying to put together.

Between now and the end of May we will complete 62 interviews with various individuals around the globe who we or others think hold a perspective that speaks to the future we might inhabit and the one we might hope to inherit.

One of the themes that often seems to resonate a lot in our practice is that of control. As a company we are interested in how as individuals and communities we interact with our immediate environment, and how that landscape reflects the lives we lead. Bruce Sterling the science fiction writer and technological commentator in his essay Making Sense writes that the future we are heading into will either be unimaginable or uninhabitable. It’s a statement that has stuck with me and I think speaks directly to the idea of control, and in turn what influenece we have as individuals to steer in either direction.

Let’s imagine we have found ourselves in the future and objectively it is better, one of the questions we’d like to explore is how did we get there? How can we get there? And how do we know it’s better? Conversely if the future we desire appears intangible and fantastical how do we address entering a more divisive future.

Early this year Oxfam released it’s latest statistic that 62 people have the same combined wealth as the bottom 50% of the global population. This figure is down from 80 people last year. Now it’s fair to say that at this point we are in someway conflating the idea of wealth with the idea of control, but it could be said that the potential collective good that these 62 individuals could achieve with that combined wealth would be significant compared to the bottom 50% and herein lies what we are trying to explore with this work; what control do we as individuals have to shape our collective lives?

And so a return to our own list of 62 individuals who we hope might begin to help provide some tangible insight to how we might effect change or feel more in control.

I should add another disclaimer, our list of 62 individuals is highly subjective, it began with a list of subcategories under the umbrella title of Control: economics, technology, environment, politics, religion, sex, etc. To try and prevent the list from representing a narrow world view of the four people in our company sat around the table we have also invited partner venues, other collaborators and each interviewee to identify others.

We are asking each individual the same set of questions (with some leeway to digress) and on completion we will have collected the material that can allow us to begin to create an artistic work that responds to the concept of change and control. We will create two pieces in response to this research the first an interactive documentary hosted online and the second a live work.

I am now back in Leeds having interviewed both Dr Mark Post and Alistair Alexander of Tactical Technology, an international organisation dedicated to the use of information in activism. Both these interviews illuminated further the idea that solutions and ideas for a better future are being proposed by individuals or small communities which if allowed enough groundswell, if able to broadcast their ideas wide enough could genuinely change the world towards one that is unimaginable rather than uninhabitable.

If you have someone you think we should be interviewing as part of our 62, please do get in touch at


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