Extrapolation Factory

Metro Test Zones, 2019

Through Metro Test Zones, The Extrapolation Factory is prototyping future imaginaries for the city’s green urban commons with the help of a multidisciplinary group of scientists, public servants, designers and actors. This living experiment uses methods from academic futurism and performative simulation to shape and animate hypothetical city infrastructures and social dynamics 20-40 years from now. Through this process, we're shaping important discussions about how New York's green spaces could look, feel and function differently as a result of the social, technological, ecological, economic and political changes afoot.

In the first of two phases, participants collaboratively envisioned speculative scenarios using futures methods; scanning for disruptors, developing scenarios and visualizing touchpoints. The Extrapolation Factory synthesized and refined the resulting scenarios for use in a public-facing performative simulation. Our group of experts was led by actors as they attempted to embody their future scenarios at The Shed, a performing arts space in the new Hudson Yards development. These live-action simulations took place in a highly interactive custom-built set and invited a public discourse about policy and design of city parks. The Metro Test Zones project demonstrates the value of performative simulation as a necessary step for envisioning social futures, building on a rich history of theatrical prototyping such as Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.

Produced by: Elliott P. Montgomery, Chris Woebken

Design Assistants: Heer Mehta, Natalie Tillen, James Ryan Westphal

Actors: Zenzele Cooper, Benjamin Holbrook, John Peery, Jasmine Schutt-VanMeveren, Candance Thompson

Participants: Sam Adelberg, Eduarda Aun, Alisha Bhagat, Wendy Brawer, Clarisa Diaz, Jeffrey Geiringer, Alice Gong, Elizabeth Henaff, Christine Kim, Neba Noyan, Ayodamola Okunseinde, Leticia Oxley, Oscar Salguero, Alice Shay, Tara Smith, Jonas Voigt, Hanna De Vries, Marina Zurkow

Photo credit: Andy Jackson for The Shed

This project was commissioned through The Shed Open Call and supported by a Graham Foundation public programs grant. Special thanks to Jesse Firestone and Claudia Norman.