Fear Engineering

Fear Engineering is a speculative design project exploring and speculating the role of government during an epidemic outbreak.

In response to the Ebola outbreak started in March 2014 in West Africa, many people have evinced strong fear and sometimes even xenophobia.
In the Western countries, USA especially, the anxiety and fear spread faster than the virus itself and had a tremendous impact on society and economy. The so-called 'Aversion Behaviour' is a fear factor resulting from peoples' concerns about contagion, which is fueling the economic impact: there is a stop in productivity, people don't go to work, kids don't go to school, there are no flights coming in, trade slows down, etc.

We analysed the political realities and speculated around a potential future where the virus is a designed strategy to fulfil government's purposes. The project has a focus on reasons and consequences, methods and strategies applied by a future government.

The project sets multiple scenarios in a future age where a fictional government no longer is a system for the community rather a private organisation with economic interests. To accommodate this shift, the government uses several products:
1. the main one is the control machine. Thought for government's control over population, the machine presents a large number of knobs and switches which combination enables specific scenarios (I will make it for real one day!);
2. the manual offers six illustrated scenarios classified according to the government's goals, as gathering data, gaining support and corporations control. The manual includes an how-to-guide to the control machine;
3. a small series of speculative objects thoughts as a kit for the citizens by the government in case of an epidemic outbreak. e.g. the Wi‑Thermometer: equipped with a WiFi signal, the thermometer transmits the personal data directly to the governmental agencies.

Project in collaboration with Henrique Nascimento and Kao Pao Hui.