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Massive changes

BRUCE ALWAYS / How about looking back over 30 years, to be able to see and act into the future?


I have long been fascinated by the future. What changes we humans will encounter along the way is also something that is suggested by the newspaper name MODERN TIMES.

When I bought 30 years ago Incorporations (sixth book in the ZONE Books series), this was a thicket of a book, designed by the Canadian Bruce Mau (1959–). An anthology with the most important thinkers about the present and the future. Later, in 1995, Mau and star architect Rem Koolhaas published the book S, M, L, XL (Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large) with critical essays, manifestos, travelogues, architecture and thoughts on contemporary cities. In addition to these two books, I also bought Massive Change (Faidon, 2002), of which Mau was editor – along with Jennifer Leonard and Institute Without Boundaries. The three advanced designed books made up a full 20 centimeters of the bookshelf.

A few months ago, about 20 years later, the documentary came out MAU -
Design the Time of Your Life
. Mau also published the book last year MC24 where he draws the lines from Massive Change further – because as he says in the film, they had forgotten to describe the actions the book could inspire. IN MC24, and at a number of conferences and exhibitions, he calls for «Massive Action» for the most important challenges of our time.


Massive Change expressed advanced capitalism, advanced socialism and advanced globalisation.


Big words? Mau is at least one of the world's leading designers. And design, as it says on the cover, is not about the world of designers, but about how the world is designed or created. This started with Incorporations in 1992 on how we humans embody the ways of being of the time or our approach to technology and values. An example is the philosopher Felix Guattari's thoughts on how we are formed as subjects and live among a diversity of practices, ordering «apparatus» and machine algorithms. And then the way we live and build – Small, or Xtra Large – linked to the ecological consciousness of our time, where we are all responsible for the same planet.

Massive Change In 2004, Massive Change was also the name of the huge exhibition Mau and his staff held at the Vancouver Gallery. This was then shown elsewhere in the world. Professor Xiewei in China wanted it for Beijing, but the event was stopped just before realisation, when China came into political conflict with Canada.

Sustainable architecture

Massive Change In 2002, <em>Massive Change</em> expressed an advanced capitalism, socialism, and globalisation. The contemporary and future-oriented are prominent in the book: for example in sustainable architecture, where Michael McDonough mentions buildings that «think for themselves» – with temperature adjustment, advanced use of rainwater for heating and cooling, micro-greenhouses, and organic gardens. Rick Smalley asks how in 2050 you can get the energy 10 billion people need instead of using oil. Solar energy, wind and renewable biomass are good alternatives, but so is nuclear energy and natural gas. Stewart Brand's «the long view» reminds us that the earth has no «backup», we have to live on and with it. And with so few resources, do you choose to starve or steal? Hazel Henderson says that the environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 estimated the amount for sustainable development at around NOK 8000 billion a year, and she criticises the same participants for spending around NOK 120000 billion in 2002 on the unsustainable, such as subsidised fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and high technology in agriculture.

20 years ago, they also envisioned the development of superhard, super-light, super-
small, and super-smart materials via molecular engineering with knowledge of, among other things, nature's pearl shells, hummingbirds, chimpanzees, rhinos, and spiders. With carbon fibers for light sportswear and electric cars, and self-repairing plastic (almost like our skin grows back from a wound) used in everything from microprocessors to aircraft.

As a visionary with assignments around the world, Mau uses <em>MC24's</em> 24 slogans, such as «Begin with fact-based optimism», «Work on what you love», «Design the difference, not the object», «Quantify and visualise, seeing is believing », and «We are not separate from, or above nature». Here is truly an inspiration, as we meet him in the film MAU – but at the same time, he is criticised for being too optimistic or megalomaniac. Well, I can hear things like «Lead by design» or «Think like you are lost in the forest», without talking him down. As a young boy in the deserted Canadian mining town of Sudbury, Ontario, with a violently alcoholic father, he had to «redesign» his life where he escaped from his father and the polluting nickel stench in order to survive.


For example, the visionary Mau was invited to Guatemala, for, as the interior minister said, to develop the country in a positive direction after 36 years of civil war. The first thing he did – where 200 people embarked on the work of «redesign», with 20 volunteers – was to redefine the country's name! Because when the Spaniards came to «Guate», they added «bad». Well, Mau put the letter a – amala means «to love» – ​​so it became Guateamala. New self-images were created in the depressed country, with new products and a willingness to stand up.

In Mecca, Mau and his team, Massive Change Network were called to improve the urban structure – after 700 were trampled to death in the chaos that arose there in 2015. In the film you can see a number of models for exit roads from the center of Mecca, also conceptually drawn in with Islamic categories. Again, here they inspired the local architects of society, before these local forces removed the «foreigner».

This year, Mau was interviewed by Sanford Kwinter (, who stood behind Incorporations 30 years ago. Here, Mau emphasises the biggest problems of the future as pandemic, climate, racism, food security and «governance». A redesign of the role of politicians? Yes, many of us see the abuses of political power – corruption, nepotism, or repression of critics such as Snowden and Assange.

In 2002, <em>Massive Change</em> mentioned Massive Change the vision of Arnold J. Toynbee, which early in the last century considered the 20th century to be the «era of welfare», rather than being marked by all-encompassing destructive technology or political strife. Well, will this century create such an era?

In this edition of MODERN TIMES, we thematise the importance of cities for development, and modernism a bit on the side of the architectural uprising. Another topic we dedicate to is the welfare of the elderly. What is it like to live in a nursing home, or with dementia? And how do you look back on a lived life (page 48)? We also consider the political idea of isonomia - equality before the law – which is preferable to the weaknesses of democracy. And the appendix ORIENTERING: «Peace nation», deals with peace work for a possible less violent future.

Maus' vision is that more and more people must be involved in making their mark and shaping society – and a sustainable planet. Rather than man putting himself at the center, it is rather all life, all that lives, and the responsibility it entails. Here in MODERN TIMES you also find the animal's perspective (see about Gunda, page 44). Or expressed in our film The eco-centric man (if

Now philosophers have long understood the world, as Marx said – with Mau it is time to change it.

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

Death – more or less real

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When violence becomes the only thing

POWER: According to Hannah Arendt, the use of violence, weapons and bombs renders us politically speechless. Can her particular analyzes of power teach us anything about the violence that is being carried out from and in Gaza today?

Cities in crisis

RECONSTRUCTION: This appendix gives the war's destruction of cities and towns in Ukraine and the need for reconstruction the most attention.