ITVS screens FUTURESTATES in San Francisco

Posted on April 12, 2010

FUTURESTATES, ITVS’s new online fictional series, explores many of today’s complex social issues by imagining how they play out in the world of tomorrow. ITVS and media partner Next American City Magazine recently hosted a special invite-only, sneak-preview screening and panel discussion for FUTURESTATES at the Jellyfish Gallery in San Francisco. Panelist Tanu Sankalia, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture at the University of San Francisco gives a recap of the event and his thoughts on the series.

ITVS and Next American City co-hosted a screening of two films from the FUTURESTATES series that explored the socio-economic and spatial future of the human condition within what can be called a hyper-privatized political order. Silver Sling, by Tze Chun, poignantly narrates the plight of transnational migrant workers trapped within a future of corporate economic hegemony, where the human body is reduced to an object of exchange value, and interpersonal contact is exiled to hand-held video phones. Tent City, by Aldo Velasco, reflects on the American dream gone awry where economic crisis seen through the phenomenon of foreclosure eviscerates the lives of suburban American families. The end of the film brings home the real plight of millions in the developing world consigned to the tragic reality of refugee camps, forewarning of the possibility of a deeply dark and dystopic future gripping our very own lives.

In the short space of ten minutes, both of these films were able to employ narrative techniques to provoke relevant questions that occupy and will continue to interest practitioners and scholars in the fields of architecture and urbanism. For example: What will our cities look like in a hyper-privatized world? What will the ex-urban landscape look like as waves of economic boom and bust continue the cyclical process of building, demolition and rebuilding? Will the haunting reality of refugee camps, so prevalent in many parts of the world, actually come to the United States? What could our built environment look like in the context of a neo-liberal economy and corporate hegemony? 

In the panel discussion that followed the screening, the panelists (Karim Ahmad - ITVS; Diana Lind - Next American City; Piero Scaruffi - cognitive scientist, software architect and cultural historian; Jaron Lanier - computer scientist, visual artist, composer and author of You Are Not a Gadget; and myself) reflected on some of these issues and tried to carve out scenarios of hope and optimism in light of what was a rather bleak depiction of the future. In all, FUTURESTATES is a wonderful concept, where thematically framed, well-crafted short films can provoke key questions that will occupy many of us in the years to come, and contribute to our thinking for political action in the future. - Tanu Sankalia, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture, University of San Francisco Highlights from the FUTURESTATES event >> 


An exclusive interview with FUTURESTATES panelist Jaron Lanier >> 


Check out Next American City's blog post and slide show for even more about the event >> Watch Silver Sling , Tent City, and the entire FUTURESTATES series online at


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