Future Cartographic was started by multidisciplinary artist Erik Moe as an art project looking at how the rapid redevelopment of cities today will shape people’s lives long after our time. Using walking exercises, hand-drawn maps, and speculative fiction, ideas about the future of neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and across North America took shape.
By working out of generosity toward those who will inhabit our neighborhoods after we’re gone, we move away from self-interest (real estate profits, convenience, luxury) and start to see a path to a more equitable, human, inspiring, playful, and sustainable neighborhood, city, world.
The process of documenting the distant future is rooted first in sharing stories about places from our past, and second in exploring shared space together on walks to experience anew the state of the neighborhoods we call home. These two steps create a mashup of personal past and shared present that is linked to place. These two points create an arrow pointing in the direction of an idyllic future. These futures are then documented in stories, maps, and illustrations that tend to reveal certain truths—not just about what the future could look like—but also that we might just be able to achieve a utopian future in our own lifetimes, if we work for it.
Why is this important? Our neighborhoods are constantly changing, but we don't often think of the long term impact of the choices we're making now. Is your neighborhood awesome? Is it suffering? What choices were made 100 or 300 years ago to make it that way? How did the ideologies of those times (colonization, Jim Crow) shape the way we move through the city today? In turn, how are the ideologies of today (tech, late capitalism) being passed on in today's rapid redevelopment of our cities? Can we build empathy with the unknown residents of our neighborhood in the future? By looking far beyond our immediate concerns in the present to a more hopeful distant future, we can boost community ownership of the forces of change that often seem beyond our control.
From the earliest days of Future Cartographic Society, publishing books about neighborhoods and art was one of the goals. In 2016, Future Cartographic Society Press released it’s first book, Oral Histories/Oral Futures: U Street/Black Broadway in the 20th & 23rd Centuries [buy online]. Book two, tentatively titled, The Spitball Poems is due out in Summer of 2017 [pre-order]. Additional works on collaborative arts practices and neighborhood activism are being planned.
In 2015, Future Cartographic Society conducted a series of expeditions to refine our time-travel methods in locations across North America, including:
If you are interested in bringing a Future Cartographic Society expedition to your community, please contact Erik Moe at email@example.com
Now available: Created for Future Cartographic Society’s field trips at the 2016 Creative Time Summit, this preview edition of a new chapbook documenting the Oral Histories, Oral Futures project is now available. These editions are printed on acid-free paper and saddle-stitched with a cover of textured 80lb paper.