Diffracted readings of the future: practices of ‘differentiation-entanglement’
Esling, N and Kimmel, AJ and Sharifi, A and Warren, A, Diffracted readings of the future: practices of differentiation-entanglement', Performance Research, 25, (5) pp. 10-16. ISSN 1352-8165 (2021) [Refereed Article]
When conceptualizing futures and new ways of working within and beyond the field of performance studies, diffractive methods suggest new orientations to a ‘more subtle vision’ (Haraway 1992 300) that might foreground diversity, integrate non-homogenous perspectives within the field, and find utility through perhaps cacophonous distinctions: to work ‘intra-disciplinarily’. At PSi #25 in July 2019, the Future Advisory Board (FAB) participated in the ‘ElastiCity Theme Park’—an event calling on participants to re-imagine and realize theme park attractions that stretch between fantasy and the everyday. Our attraction—the ‘Future Telling Booth’—riffed on practices of fortune telling, including participatory divination systems such as tarot readings. This one-to-one ‘future reading’ performance explored the multitude of differences that make up the connective tissues tethering us to historiographies of performance studies, contemporary discourses, and possible futures of the discipline. It serves as a case study for our article, which proposes and experiments with the concept of ‘futuring’ the field: imagining, enacting, and articulating it as a process-oriented endeavour with ties to relational ontological thinking. By re-framing the tarot reading as a diffractive exercise, rather than a (self-)reflexive one or one that generates a cohesive, shared, or hyper-subjective vision of the future, this article explores the attempt to attend to difference—how we theorize and practice differentiation as we grasp toward a ‘future’ that is tied explicitly to those theories and practices. In turn, meaning making through ‘intra-subjectivity’ takes a prominent role in this conversation, joining the concept of diffraction and inspiring a more robust conversation about what ‘futuring’ diversity actually entails.