New Design Congress

The Incurious, Monolinguist and Lonely Human

Posted 27 May 2020

In Spring 2019, as the New Design Congress crystalised and long before the confusing, hyper-escalating mess of 2020, Furtherfield commissioned our founder Cade to curate the second year of the Citizen Sci-Fi programme. The result was The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025, a London-based exhibition about a fictitious future event in which a multi-species political delegation negotiates an mutual agreement on behalf of all organisms in the face of an unprecedented threat. The Treaty would serve as an inspiration for an ambitious multi-day Live Action Roleplay, isolation experiment and exhibition in collaboration with residents from in and around the park.

The exhibition’s central provocation: even before 2020, humans live in highly curated isolation – alienated from a planet teeming with life – by imperialist and colonial systems of domination that we have created to control it. Rather than nurturing kinship with the vibrant ecologies in our own world, we try to cure this loneliness by seeking companionship from our machines or look far beyond our own realms for signs of life. The exhibition also seeks to satirically repurpose the archaic rituals of power - treaties, dinners and etiquette.

Whilst The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025 provokes discussion and interaction through communal play, there is a central, more stoic point. Human existence has grown with technology at an exhaustive and destructive rate that has led to colonial custodianship that makes us more than just shitty, self-aggrandising landlords. Homocentrism has only made us more isolated, cagey, paranoid and lonely. Instead of investing decades of time and unfathomable amounts of resources into ego-driven AI programmes and spurious searches for extraterrestrial life, perhaps it is time for us to focus on the non-human relationships towards which we continue to shirk responsibility.

The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025 has been postponed for a year, but the themes of machine-facilitated isolation and the loneliness of a human existence that denies the intelligence of its non-human peers resonate strongly with the New Design Congress. This month, we published the project’s concept note and Cade and Furtherfield’s Ruth Catlow recorded a conversation about the project.

Illustration by Sajan Rai

The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025: On systems, ecologies as networks, colonialism and seizing rituals of power.

Read the essay
Hear the discussion between Ruth and Cade

With luck, The Treaty of Finsbury Park opens in Summer 2021. In the meantime, if these themes or the exhibition’s concepts resonate with you, please contact us at