Liam Young trained as an architect but now uses his skills to prepare us for the future by world-building. “It’s an approach to constructing story or narrative that doesn’t start with plot or character, but actually starts by imagining environments and contexts in which those stories might start to emerge,” he says in this video, filmed at Dezeen Day 2019 in London.
Young’s work explores the blurred boundaries between filmmaking, storytelling and design, asking provocative questions about where our technologies are taking us. Co-founder of the thinktank Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, his films include the first one ever shot entirely by autonomous drones and another made using the technology with which driverless cars view the landscape.
“[We] imagine and visualise alternative worlds as a means to understand our own world in new ways,” he says. “A lot of times, the problems that we’re faced with are almost hiding in plain sight. They’re so familiar that we can’t get any critical distance through which to look back in on them.” World-building “allows us to stand outside of the familiar and see it with fresh eyes”.
It makes for viewing that’s both disquieting and thought-provoking. “I’m interested in trying to tell stories that can empower people to make choices about the futures that they want to live in… Technology is equal parts fear and wonder, because in many ways so are we.”
Watch the video with Liam Young above. It is part of Designing the World, a new series that explores how design can help find solutions to the world’s problems. Look out for more interviews on BBC Reel and BBC Future.
All interviews took place at Dezeen Day 2019 at the BFI, London.
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