Laura Allcorn

Artist, Humorist, Designer

Laura is an artist, humorist, and designer. She founded the Institute for Comedic Inquiry where she creates interactive objects and performances that point out absurdities through a technique she calls “Participatory Satire.” All are based on her research and collaboration with scientists, and they share a common goal: using 

humor, science, art, and performance as tools for publicly debating ideas. She’s made fashionable pollination accessories, turning people into honeybees to draw attention to colony collapse. She’s created a machine that remixes your fake laugh to ‘real’, questioning the danger of humanizing digital assistants. She’s designed a humor-first dating program to mock appearance-first apps that can have negative affects on our mental health. 

Laura has studied and performed all forms of comedy: satire writing, improvisation, sketch, and stand-up comedy. She earned an MFA in Applied Craft and Design at Pacific Northwest College of Art where she focused on speculative design. She participated in the Center for Artistic Activism’s Art Action Academy at Queens Museum ‘17.

Her work has been shown around the world at V&A (London); Science Gallery (Dublin); CCCB (Barcelona); ArtScience Museum (Singapore); Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome); Design Week Portland, Risk/Reward Pavement Festival (Portland); Bridgetown Comedy Festival (Portland); and Portland Fashion Week. It has been featured by The Guardian, Wired UK, GOOD, and Design Bureau Magazine. 

Laura also has over 10 years of experience designing award-winning interactive experiences and exhibitions for museums and brands. She spent six years at Second Story Interactive Studios, most recently as an Associate Creative Director, where she worked with California State Parks, Thomas Cole Historic Site, AIGA, Museum of Fine Art Boston, New York Public Library and many others.

Play In The Future: How To Stage Your Own Participatory Satire

Friday October 25 | 10:30 am | 90 Minutes | Oxford Hotel, Lava Room

We don’t often spend time imagining the future let alone get the chance to play in it. In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn how to stage your own Participatory Satire. It’s a tactic I’ve developed for collaborative speculation that combines design and humor. The idea is to take a scientific or technological advancement too far by staging a possible future that people get to play in. 

When the future is made first-person, it invites people to ask questions like “How would I behave?” “Is that the future I want?” “Who has power over this future?”. This approach can be useful for debating the future, generating diverse viewpoints or even showing those in power possible and preferable outcomes. 

We’ll talk about three approaches to satire, how to choose a recognizable participatory format that draws people in, and the importance of design and scenography. Through a series of simple exercises, you will take a possible future scenario and practice transforming it into a Participatory Satire concept. 

This approach borrows from the fields of speculative and experience design, artistic activism, satire, and immersive theatre. All creative thinkers are welcome! 

In this workshop you’ll:

  • Gain an understanding of best practices in satire and participatory engagement for future scenario building
  • Practice creating your own Participatory Satire concept