Sens Fiction is an exhibition entirely created by RF Studio, a design studio led by Ramy Fischler and based in Paris. First prepared for the event “Design is capital” that took place in Lille in 2020 (see also this previous post), Sens Fiction questions the role of the designer in the near future, and sets forth why designers should be interested in science fiction and its powers today. The exhibition is divided into three parts: the role of fiction and narrative on the way we imagine the future; a focus on Hugo Gernsback, American inventor and one of the first science fiction writers, presented here as the origin of design fiction; and a last part dedicated to the association of fiction and design, whether it be design in fiction or the other way around. In this sense, RF Studio positions itself in the Design Fiction movement initiated by authors such as Dunne & Raby with their manifesto #39, praising a critical design that would not need any real use or formalisation, but whose existence would be a critical discourse on society in itself. This exhibition first took place in Lille at the Tri Postal and is now shown at the Lieu Unique in Nantes, in the context of the famous annual sci-fi convention called Les Utopiales.
This ambitious project gathered specialists from many different fields, designers but also anthropologists, writers, historians, artists, all solicited to present how fiction affects us and how it can affect design. This is also visible in the design of the exhibition, comprised of explanatory panels but also videos thought of as a montage of screens, as much a reference to such sci-fi movies as Minority Report, as a bare acknowledgment of the multitude of screens we are surrounded by. More than just a reference to an imaginary, the superposition of screens which all show different film extracts also challenges our perception and questions what kind of entity would be able to read all these images at the time, if it weren’t the machine. The graphic design of the exhibition seems to be made for these screens: black and white lines of text, lightening up the dark spaces, making us imagine a cathode ray TV which shows this collection of archival resources and contemporary films. The exhibition graohics are all set in Stratos from Production Type: this typeface with a double heritage, gothic wood type for the capitals and geometric grotesques for the lowercase, finds its place in this exhibition as it can’t be clearly anchored in one historical period. As a hybrid, it is therefore more headed towards the future than rooted in the past.
This exhibition can also be visited online: On the website (by Hey Low), the different parts of the exhibition become various pages that play with the idea of narrative, and succeed to create a path that goes beyond the accumulation of blog entries. Giving access to this content online is also part of the idea of the exhibition: what if museums disappeared? How to take advantage of digital technologies? How to reconsider art and the relationship to knowledge on screen? Here are just some of the questions that this exhibition raise.