The Family Circuit: A New Narrative of American Domesticity

Abstract

As the world endures and approaches a string of energy crises, both financially and environmentally, this project aims to critique and challenge society’s relationship with energy by provoking individuals to examine their current habits of energy consumption, consider the future implications of these actions, and question their willingness to make sacrifices for a cleaner environment. This is accomplished through the development of a fictional society in the near future in which individuals are required to produce all the electrical energy that they need or desire to consume. Within the daily narrative of a fictional family of five, the details and events of their everyday lives have been extrapolated to create a liminal world where mundane, yet peculiar diegetic prototypes create tense situations, uncomfortable behaviors, and unforeseen consequences. Plot devices manifested include distributed government information in the form of an energy harvesting catalog, product infomercial, energy bill, and a home monitoring brochure. The narrative emphasis and human driven context aspires to foster a new lens of speculation, imagination, and discovery regarding the production and consumption of energy.

What if you were required to produce all the energy you desire to consume?

The Family Circuit

Inspiration and Method

This project uses a synthesis of Critical Design, Adversarial Design, and Design Fiction, with a heavy focus on the latter, to explore our individual relationship with and understanding of energy. Rooted within these three neighboring approaches is an emphasis on design speculation and the provoking of audience reflection. Since the concept of energy is vague and relative to most people, further distanced by the vastness of the energy industry and prominent financial focus, these design philosophies are relevant in seeking to establish a provocative starting point for which to spark reflection and discussion of individual energy practices rather than searching for a grand, Utopian energy solution, which would be unachievable for any one individual.

Process Blog

Result

The Family Circuit: A New Narrative of American Domesticity, is a fictional near future in which the Power family lives in a society where they must produce all the energy they desire to consume. Set in 2018 in the energy self sufficient town of Newtown, government regulations and personal motivations in regards to energy production and consumption, result in cycles of events that cause tension, drama, and new peculiar behaviors. Within the narrative, everyday energy harvesting objects and their correlated accessories and propaganda, exist as real and normal technology that moves the story forward. Final designs include the fabrication of subtle details, peculiar objects, and strange situations. These include a shag. Home brochure, a shag. Power energy bill, a shag. IT catalog, a shag. IT product, a shag. News infomercial.

Energy of Things