New Romanticism: It’s Time for New Realities

This essay elaborates on the fluidity of realities and different forms of shaping them. Realities can be created and thus must be imagined first and implemented second. Reality production happens on different scales: from the small design studio – where products and desires are created – to the big world stage, where political narratives shape global happenings. At the moment we are experiencing a global dispute about how and to what extend humanity should technologically interact with nature. Should humanity intensify the control of climatic issues through the use of technology or slow down and develop new modes of being in the world? Existing movements provide space for exploring new ways of being in the world such as posthumanism, ahumanism, degrowth practice and marginalized forms of knowledge production such as occulture. Those fields come from fundamentally different (research) traditions but overlap in their quest for new non-anthropocentric ontologies. The overlapping space of these movements is conceptualized as a form of New Romanticism which opposes mainstream reality production and includes the nonhuman in its worldview. Methods for shaping realities range from speculative design to (capitalist) magic.

I intend to advocate for non-hegemonic ontological explorations in academic research through experimental speculative design methods. I have written in an explorative style in order to implement speculation as a method. I first begin by looking at a tradition of Romanticism as an “irrational” opposing force to scientism and note how tendencies towards the Romantic have crept into the impetus behind other movements. Afterwards I explore different forms of shaping realities and narratives. I then propose new narratives for care for the age of the Anthropocene, followed by some initial ideas of how to implement New Romanticism through methods of Speculative Design.

by Sebastian Gatz
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