Services Unknown, a future-facing research arm of design agency Superimpose, has launched a report with the lofty aim of defining our era and society’s emotional condition. The report is titled Perma-Flux, which is also the term it’s coined to describe our current societal state as in constant change and turmoil. In collaboration with trends consultancy The Akin, the report explores how we got to this point, how it’s impacted our outlook, and what it means for the future of creativity.
“We live in an age of uncertainty,” it begins. “The constant flow of commodities, technologies and even ideas that make up our global markets has snowballed, over time, creating a mammoth, multi-directional discourse in which our collective experience of change is fortified by a collective feeling of chaos and anxiety. This, in essence, is Perma-Flux.”
The internet, the report says, has radically altered our realities beyond our capacity to fully understand them, and the question of whether this will create utopia or tyranny depends on how quickly we come to terms with this fact. It expounds that the state of Perma-Flux means our emotions are in permanent contradiction: we feel simultaneous trust and betrayal, skeptical of new information yet increasingly demanding transparency and ethical practices from our brands. We feel passion in tandem with apathy, as media is crafted to elicit an emotional response, while media overload induces apathy in consumers. We experience gratification with guilt, as we seek exclusivity and want to buy the best brands, yet feel guilty for the environmental impacts of pursuing such commodities.
As part of the report, Superimpose has defined five key drivers which have the largest impact on Perma-Flux and how it manifests, which are: democracy of information, media landscapes, new economies, urbanisation and climate change. And, as part of its conclusion, advises to “go with it” rather than fight against it, and use it to shape the future.
By way of its intentions to provoke discussion with the report, Superimpose is also hosting Perma-Flux clinics tomorrow (Wednesday 13 November) in London, which it describes as “this era’s most subscribed emotion therapy experience." You can book appointments to explore the report findings and how they apply to your work, “featuring a mix of digital, virtual and IRL methods” to disappear “in a world of overvisibility and account handles”.
Read the full report here.
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