The release of films like Black Panther, The Titan and Isle of Dogs demonstrates that 2018 is a year fascinated by the future: What will the world look like? Who will be in power? These questions are no news to the Danish magazine Scenario, however, which has been mapping out future visions over the past seven years. The journal, which is published by the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, was founded by Morten Grønborg, who worked closely with astrophysicist Klaus Æ Mogensen and designer Sigrun Gudbrandsdottir, to create an objective and informative publication. “Scenario is the magazine about ideas, trends, visions, and possible futures,” Morten tells It’s Nice That.
Scenario is driven by a need to inform both decision-makers and the wider public on how the world could develop and progress. “It’s a very simple mission: we have no agenda other than the truth and we’re not influenced by anyone. We’re simply interested in sharing our knowledge about the future with our readers and to inspire them to shape their own realities,” Morten explains. Accessibility is at the heart of Scenario. Highbrow academic theory and complicated statistics are broken down through clean text arrangements and engaging photography. Instead of presenting remarkable dystopian or utopian worlds, Scenario attempts to cover all bases and creatively display the latest scientific research. In so doing, Scenario challenges cliches and stereotypes about the future and opens up new spaces for imagining what the world will look like in the years to come.
“Our readers want to be inspired, but also involved and challenged. We don’t illustrate the future in the traditional way – blue light, robots, electronic devices, and speed – but rather in an opposite, more brown-ish retro way. As for the motifs, we don’t illustrate 1:1, that’s a rule. It means that an article about the future of work can’t be illustrated with pictures of corporate people or with scenes from an office. That would simply be too obvious and leave nothing to our readers to decode. We always seek the quirky, the shaken, and the blurred in our pictures, and we like odd poses and cropping of images.”
The latest issue’s lead story centres around Afrofuturism and questions what it is and why Afrofuturism has troubled people over the years. Through the work of the award-winning digital artist Osborne Macharia, Scenario delves deep into the complex facets of a concept at the centre of today’s cultural dialogues. “Osborne, who’s Kenyan, is interviewed in the article and it felt right to use his photos too since he’s a very talented artist. In many ways he is the modern embodiment of Afrofuturism. The movement is a genre and a way of thinking that blends Afro-culture, science fiction, magical realism, technology, and traditional African mysticism. It takes many forms, but one common feature is that Afrofuturists fight for equality and black people’s right to a place in the future.”
Photographer Nathalie Walker is another example of the creative talent Scenario showcases. Her series Oui Oui Salon looks at a hairdressers that has been run by the same woman, Britt, for 50 years. Nathalie describes it as a place where time has stood still, making it a compelling study into what was considered modern half a century ago. “It is sort of memento mori that we want to establish in the reader’s mind; that the world is changing fast, and that even contemporary ideas and designs will be looked at as obsolete one day. We are history too, as the designer and thinker Poul Henningsen once put it. Nathalie Walker found the salon herself, and the look of the place fit perfectly into our aesthetic,” Morten says. It is Scenario’s openminded and unexpected interpretations of the future that places it ahead of other publications of its kind.