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Friday, June 9 • 2:10pm - 2:30pm
Calendar Collective

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Calendar Collective is a design-led research that challenges the normative understanding of time as linear, objective and neutral. As a design-led research, it uses ordinary domestic objects like a calendar to unfold alternate histories and marginalized futures that otherwise remain in the unexplored nooks of our everyday world. It employs a calendar to dismantle current hegemonic time structures and rebuild plural structures. As a designer from a previously colonized country, I use the calendar as a decolonization tool to render time - one of the most invisible epistemologies in futures work - visible. Using a combination of participatory design workshops, counterfactual history techniques, and personal cultural experiences, I unfold a fictitious archive of alternate calendars (real and imagined) traced through voicemails.

For the presentation, I hope to role play as an archivist introducing the archive in the form of a video consisting of nine calendars and accompanying voicemails. The presentation explains the impetus for forming the collective where design workshop participants are invited to be the members. It further expounds the theoretical framework, thinking tools (timescapes, polarity maps, tactile tools), and visual techniques employed to develop the calendars based on the participants' insights. It ends with an open call for contribution where each contributor is invited to be a collective member.

Calendars play a fundamental role in establishing our everyday rhythms, shaping our consciousness of temporality. But these tools are not neutral. They codify values and behaviour while obscuring the politics of time embedded in their representation. After all, how we represent time affects how we conceptualize time.

Using the Respectful Design framework, Dori Tunstall (Lab, 2021) explains how 'aesthetics' as the first technology of control can influence how values are made tangible. Calendar Collective focuses on the 'aesthetics of unreal time' by mutating the visual design of the calendars, distorting expectations and creating calendars that live between possible and impossible. Rather than coordinating through a stable, predictable atom (Standard Time), the alternate calendars are personal and local. They represent the changing daylight, phases of the moon, colours of the sky and blooming and withering flowers. These calendars (though less predictable, less accurate) highlight who or what is in relationship with other beings and how. They undo the implicit distinction western societies make between ‘time of culture’ and 'time of nature’.

In Hertzian Tales Anthony Dunne (2005) offers value fiction in the form of conceptual design proposals derived from alternate value systems. Values can change assumptions, beliefs and transpire different behavior. The accompanying voicemails offer a peek into the elaborate socio-cultural polyrhythms influenced by the alternate calendars. They hint at other worldviews that foster diverse values of the time. In doing so, they render alternate realities possible.
Our over-reliance on Standard Time has left us ill-equipped with other senses of time, especially in global crisis moments where standardized time management is no longer possible. While the current calendar is a mathematical abstraction, our lived experience of time is divergent. What if calendars could support intuition, anticipation or care? After all, calendars are ‘designed’ tools. They can therefore be redesigned. They can be reassembled to respond to temporal challenges in new ways. With COVID-19 lockdowns, time was bent completely out of shape. This serves as a reminder that exploring alternate calendars is no longer a far fetched thought. As we brace ourselves for the new reality, I offer this collective to consciously traverse in ways previously unimagined or unimaginable.


Kalyani Jayant Tupkary

Independent Designer

Friday June 9, 2023 2:10pm - 2:30pm EDT
Steuben 410 (Design Center)