am-fl is Leonardo Amico and Federico Floriani. A design and technology duo from Italy focused in exploring uncanny valleys, holy mountains and peaks of inflated expectations through research, images and objects.

am-fl seeks to explore possible and alternate modes of living enabled by emerging technologies. In particular imagining and prototyping scenarios and artifacts belonging to spaces at the cusp of the favourable/unfavourable futures, preferring ambiguous to well-defined outcomes with the goal to pose questions rather than propose solutions.

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Our age might have have lost any imagination of the future, but it gave us all the tools to make the last dreams of utopia come true.

After years of browsing his collection of Whole Earth Catalogue and 70s Casabella magazine, in awe with those visionary dreams and powerful images of radical utopias, somebody is realizing that such worlds can now become reality.

Shek, the Utopia Dweller, has found that the promises of disappearance of architecture that Archigram was wishing for, are just what one-click orders, accessible VR technologies, meal replacements and a small computer are now able to provide. Thus Shek can fulfill his (in the words of David Greene) “desire, for the built environment to allow [him] to do [his] own thing”. And all he needs, that environment, can fit on a table.

So, based anywhere, in between a peaceful life of crafts and hi-resolution simulations, free from an age that seems to lack any new proposition for the future, the Utopia Dweller found in new technologies the means to live in a future the past carefully designed for him, almost 50 years ago.

For Sottsass’ vision of “The planet as a Festival” everybody became an “artist-artisan”. Shek often spends time wood-carving and when he reads about “consumer goods” [that] are moved automatically along the channels of a kind of underground network [...] automatically questioned by portable keyboards which communicate via radio with the computers in the superstorehouses” he thinks of Amazon Prime, and of how anything he wants can be sent to him, no matter where he lives.

Even needs for food are no longer a problem. As he has his monthly ration, in the form of Soylent, delivered straight to his dwelling. Freeing him from the from supermarkets, groceries and from the burden of having to provide for his food.

“[M]ammals and computers live together in mutually programming harmony like pure water touching clear sky”. Reading those lines of the poem “All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace”, Shek thinks of himself, as he works through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk helping the machine in jobs it’s still not able to do. But also knowing that it won’t last. Pilot programs of Universal Basic Income are already being tested in Finland, and he believes that “a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors” is not too far in time.

And finally, as he plugs in his VR headset, he doesn’t even deny himself the pleasure of living in the No-Stop cities, the Continuous Monuments and the Walking Cities his designers-heroes created or in any other hyperreal world, home of the mind, where no law of physics, gender barriers and social rules constraints exist.

The After Tools are interfaces to the machine that that will replace all human work. Objects with blurred affordances that the man manipulates in search of a possible use, all his interactions fed into learning algorithms. As he contributes to training datasets the man tries to turn into code the very capabilities (of intuition and creative discovery) that made him creator of tools, handing over to the machine these intangible skills in the attempt to find a new purpose in a world without work.

> Tools
The history of man on earth is a history of tools. The very skills that allowed first humans to imagine a cutting device in the raw materiality of a stone, drove them across millennia through inventions of tools that disrupted their activities and habits. The axe, the plough, the steam engine, electricity and computers. Until the one single tool to replace human work altogether.

> Universal Tools
Initially just a thought exercise among mathematicians and philosophers, the quest for a machine that could learn without being explicitly programmed has finally given results in real world applications. Machine learning techniques are already powering tools of today and of tomorrow. It’s in Facebook wall feeds but it’s also in research centers developing self driving cars. A process is in place, that will spread automatization beyond the factories and into the offices, the creative industry and all fields of men’s activities.

> After Tools
The after tools express an ambiguity of purpose, their justification on the cusp between two perspectives for men in post-work world. On one side they are necessary devices for compensate the dull scenario of algorithmic efficiency, when innovation has reached a plateau and the only form of progress is incremental optimization of pre-existent processes. The other side is the one of a man lost in the lack of purpose of workless days, and After Tools are devices for placebo activities, for man to find comfort in an illusion of needfulness.