Grow Your Own Worlds
“Maybe there’s something beckoning over the horizon that’s not design and not futurism but just something we might call speculative culture. I think what you’re seeing right here is a mash-up: there are people from very different lines of work put in a temporary situation…”
– Bruce Sterling
FoAM is a network of transdisciplinary labs for speculative culture. It is inhabited by people with diverse skills and interests – from arts, science, technology, entrepreneurship, cooking, design and gardening. It is a generalists’ community of practice working at the interstices of contrasting disciplines and worldviews. Guided by our motto “grow your own worlds,” we study and prototype possible futures, while remaining firmly rooted in cultural traditions. We speculate about the future by modelling it in artistic experiments that allow alternative perspectives to emerge. By conducting these experiments in the public sphere, we invite conversations and participation of people from diverse walks of life.
Amidst rampant consumerism, xenophobia and climate chaos, FoAM is a haven for people who are unafraid to ask the question: “What If?” Instead of dismissing possible futures because of their improbability, we speculate: What if we see plants as organisational principles for human society? What if lack of fossil fuels turns jet-setting artists into slow cultural pilgrims? What if market capitalism collapsed? By rehearsing for a range of different scenarios, we can cultivate behaviours that make us more resilient to whatever the future holds. This is why we encourage FoAM‘s activities to explore the breadth of themes and methods – from robotics to permaculture, tinkering to meditation. Layered as long-term initiatives and short term projects, FoAM‘s activities uphold the values of complexity and whole systems thinking, pollinated by the transdisciplinarity of our teams.
FoAM - a collective, an organisation, a network, or all of the above?
As with foam (the mass of bubbles), FoAM (the group) is a dynamic entity that can change shape and scale as required. We can be a transdisciplinary organisation in the morning, a tightly-knit family at lunchtime, a learning facility in the afternoon, a loose bunch of philosophers in the evening and a dedicated designers’ collective by night. Most of FoAM's activities occur in our studios - hybrids between laboratories, ateliers and living rooms. FoAM studios are designed to encourage reciprocal exchanges of ideas, techniques and experiences. We are organised as a distributed network concentrated in Europe and (Austral)asia, with bases and nodes (people, projects and organisations) spread across the globe. This distributed structure allows our bases to remain small and flexible; they can incubate and spawn experimental initiatives while the network can develop activities on larger scales. We collaborate with people (individuals and organisations) from many different sectors: arts and culture, science and technology, academia, policy, business, and civil society.
Our activities evolve in a layered structure: as long-term initiatives and short-term experiments. This structure allows us both to focus on “burning issues” as they arise, and engage in projects concerned with slower, long-term tendencies. Our activities can be loosely categorised as  exploring and creating,  learning and developing  communicating and archiving. In diversified teams of generalists and specialists, we create experimental situations, generative media, culinary performances and other forms of participatory culture. To support the personal and professional development of our ever-expanding community, FoAM hosts workshops, lectures, gatherings, residencies and coaching sessions. We communicate about our theories and practice in diverse publications and archive materials in specialised "generalist" libraries.