Precarious futures

deadline for submissions: 
June 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
PGR Studio / Birmingham City University

Precarious futures

Towards the (un)known (un)knowns 


The PGR Studio conference | Friday 9th July 2021

Faculty of Arts, Design and Media | Birmingham City University




In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld famously divided the world into known knowns (the things we know we know), the know unknowns (the things we know we don’t know), and the unknown unknowns (the things we do not (yet) know that we don’t know). For him, it is the latter where the most interesting and difficult events take place. Away from Rumsfeld’s contentious turn-of-the-century politics, his statement arguably encapsulates the precarious state(s) of knowledge and being in a world littered with current and future unknowns more than ever.

Known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns are all precarious states but also vital aspects of the research process. This one-day conference seeks to interrogate, provoke, explore, unpick, expose the various nuances of precarity, the (un)known and the complexities of how these states manifest and are conceptualised specifically in arts, design, media research. Precarious Futures invites a range of responses to these ‘difficult’ events and states as a platform to expose and articulate their potential, vitality and challenges, that bring into question disciplines, paradigms, and methods.


(un)known Unknown unknown


  • How might we frame and/or utilise precarity and the unknown in our research? 
  • Can we give these concepts a language and what forms do they take? 
  • How might research(ers) adapt to this new landscape and account for the yet (un)known (un)knowns? 
  • How might we disrupt precarity and the con/divergence of the known and unknown? 
  • What does a state of uncertainty mean for disciplines? 
  • How might this work methodologically, epistemologically and conceptually?
  • What are the implications for our futures in and outside of research? 


Precarious Futures invites contributions that engage with these broad themes and questions as they stem from and inform your research practice(s). Rather than providing exhaustive answers to what are some of today’s most pressing questions, we hope that the conference will elicit new ways of critically address precarity, future(s) and (un)knowns as they relate to arts, design and media research. Proposals from researchers at all stages and fields, including from those outside and at the edges of the arts or humanities are welcome that include the following:

  • Short focussed insights into your research | up to 5 minutes
  • Presentations, expositions or equivalent | up to 20 minutes
  • Panel discussions or interactive workshops | up to 60 minutes
  • Contributions in a form yet unknown to the conference organisers


Please submit proposals to by 1st June 2021 that include the following:

TITLE | The title of your presentation/panel/session/unknown

ABSTRACT | Detail your proposed contribution and how it relates to the conference themes | up to 300 words plus any relevant images and links

FORMAT(S) | Clearly outline the preferred format that your contribution will take


For full details, see and