FoAM, and Experiments in Vegetal Culture

Our future scenario has a strong focus on communal living, changing cultural behaviours and interacting with the natural world more closely in order to achieve greater resilience and sustainability. One group which works with similar themes is FoAM, a collective consisting of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, chefs, gardeners and designers (FoAM, 2014). FoAM describe themselves as a “haven for people who are unafraid to ask the question: ‘What If?’” (FoAM, 2014). Founded by Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney, FoAM are pioneers in futuring and prehearsing, working with many environmentally centred concepts relevant to our Sustainable Sydney 2015 scenario.

Communal work is a very significant theme in our scenario, as is its interplay with technology. J. Stephen Lansing explores the etymology of the word technology – “The word ‘technology’ derives from technē, a Greek word that originally referred to the labours of the smith and other craftsmen. The analogous Greek word for the labours of the farmer is erga or ‘work’ … For the Greeks, the smith was a solitary figure, whose technē was a jealously guarded secret connecting him to the powers of the underworld through the god Hephaestus. In contrast, the erga, or work, of the farmer was public, involving the whole society and most of the gods.”

In line with this idea, we must see ourselves in this scenario as FoAM do; a community of farmers whose work is public. This informed the driving idea behind our scenario, the interconnected system in which every individual helps to provide not only for themselves, but for others also. The concept of a buy/sell/trade market is explored in our scenario, a kind of economic space which de-emphasises currency and favours the sharing of excess goods between apartment communities.

In their article GroWorld: Experiments in vegetal culture, Kuzmanovic and Gaffney describe their exploration of digital prototypes for plant-centric culture through online social networks (Kuzmanovic, Gaffney, 2014). This experimentation sought to establish self-sustaining digital gardens, and resulted in an offshoot project called Zizim. This was a hybrid mobile app and game which, interestingly, plays with the idea of plant sentience(Kuzmanovic, Gaffney, 2014).

While our scenario’s focus is more traditionally agricultural than FoAM’s work, theirs is strongly grounded in prototyping and body storming. Creating experimental situations, generative media and culinary performances (FoAM, 2014), FoAM works hard to turn “What If?” questions into lived experiences, and then hopefully into realistic solutions to our current environmental problems.

Tim Busuttil 11698622

FoAM, 2014, Grow Your Own Worlds, accessed 22 October 2014 <;

Kuzmanovic, M., Gaffney, N. 2014, GroWorld: Experiments in Vegetal Culture, accessed 22 October 2014 <;

Lansing, J. S. (1991). Priests and Programmers: Technologies of Power in the Engineered Landscape of Bali. Princeton University Press.

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