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Futurist Friday: Immersing Yourself in Your Fears

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

Today’s video–the Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano–is longer than my usual FF suggestion, but it is so sad, weird and thought-provoking I’m serving it up anyway. It would be well worth taking 24 minutes during lunch, or on a break, to watch this story all the way through.

After his mother died unexpectedly, photographer Phillip Toledano discovered that she had been hiding the fact that his father was suffering from dementia. Dealing with his mother’s death, and becoming his father’s caretaker, provoked massive anxieties about his own future, and he turned his exploration of those fears into a work of art. Tackling the question “how do you research the future?” he took a DNA test to identify genetically-based health risks,  and made several visits to fortune tellers, and used these clues as seeds for his own personal scenarios of potential lives. “I’m trying to envision all the possible ways my life might be in the next forty or fifty years,” he explains. These possibilities include having a stroke, becoming homeless, getting plastic surgery and gaining an immense amount of weight. For Toledano, this process of “naming intangible fears” makes the uncertainty of the future more manageable (though it does freak out his wife and mother-in-law). 

The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano from The New York Times – Video on Vimeo.

“Life is so full of right have so many possibilities ahead of you, and you have no sense of what they are like…” That fear has the power to paralyze organizations as well as individuals. I’d love to see a museum undertake the institutional equivalent of Toledano’s immersive futures–cycling through a series of short-term transformations to explore their own intangible fears (and hopes).” Anyone interested? 

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