Growing up in India, and specializing in film at a design school started by Ray and Charles Eames, I have been hugely influenced by a number of notable image-makers and storytellers who worked to create radical visions of the future.
Some of the filmmakers who influenced me include Andrei Tarkovsky, whose film Solaris (1972) is a futuristic, fantastical journey into an impossible planet's orbit – one of the most gripping cinematic narratives of the 1970s.
Another important inspiration is the avant-garde design group 'Superstudio', whose radical visions of a world devoid of architecture threw light on an economically wounded Italy in the post-war world. From their 'Spaceship City', a rotating wheel space station where sleeping couples are born, made to reproduce, and jettisoned from the craft at the age of 80, to 'New York of Brains', an apocalyptic image of the city as a giant cube filled with 10,000,456 human brains. Superstudio's work brought much-needed critical thinking to design, and their hallucinatory visions could be seen to have prefigured work by Koolhas, Hadid, Schumi, and so on.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I draw a link between Superstudio and Austrian journalist Robert Jungk, inventor of the 'future workshop', whose 1954 book Tomorrow is Already Here began to take the future – and technology – seriously as an object of study.
From the here-and-now, one personal hero is Donna Haraway, a radical visionary observing the madness of the modern world from her perspective as a cyborg and self-described 'quintessential technological body.' From A Cyborg Manifesto (1985) to her work on companion species, Haraway writes about machines in all their forms, where and how they enter our bodies, and how our bodies disperse into networks penetrated by information feeds. In this world of messy hybrid networks that are part-human, part-machine, the difference between 'natural' and 'artificial' seem increasingly irrelevant. Hers is a body of work that I find really 'futuristic'. Another influence is literary critic and recovering biologist Katherine Hayles, whose work around ideas of the 'posthuman' is really interesting. Her 2005 essay 'Computing the Human' was really inspiring, focusing on the shift from notions of the superman to the posthuman. Hayles and Haraway are both women who completely changed by personal approach to technology, and have continued to impact on the way I work with it as both material and cultural construct.
Others who continue to inspire and influence include Ursula Franklin, Keller Easterling, Taryn Simon, Paola Antonelli, Anne Galloway, Genevieve Bell, Deb Chachra, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby.