We are happy to announce a new addition to the Future Fabulators team: Luis Ferreira. Luis is finishing his Masters in Entertainment Technology, a joint degree with Carnegie Mellon’s ETC centre. Luis will join Future Fabulators to work on a new locative experience to be designed and produced with Bianca Herlo and the Design Research Lab in Berlin for the Community Now? The Politics of Participatory Design international symposium. Luis has a background in art and design with experience producing content for interactive experiences. Luis was also born in Germany, which will be very handy when it comes to working on content for the new project!
Future Fab M-ITI organised a two-day workshop where all the Fabulators would come together with various experts in order to understand and imagine the past, present, and future of the laurisilva forest, especially in the context of the transmedia story in the making.
On the morning of the first day an experience prototype of the story was deployed and experienced by the whole group.Twelve people walked through the village of Ponta do Sol encountering characters, settings, plants, and natural remedies that are part of the life of our heroine Laura and that led to the creation of Laura’s fabled herbarium.
In the afternoon a group of researchers and experts (including biologists and ethnobotanists) took the group on an educational walk in the heart of the Madeiran laurisilva, describing the plants, climates, and remedies that form such a wealth of heritage on the island.
On the second day of the workshop, FoAM led a future scenario session based on four generic images of the future as defined by Jim Dator, Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The future scenario session process can be consulted here
These four alternative futures were labelled: ‘grow’, ‘collapse’, ‘discipline’, and ‘transform’.
The ‘grow’ scenario imagines a future in which society continues to grow and develop according to its present trajectory. The ‘collapse’ scenario, meanwhile, has been gaining popularity in recent years as more and more people worry about the unsustainable state of the environment, the economy, and so on. In order to avoid ‘collapse’ many people favour a ‘disciplined’ vision of the future, in which people’s lives are governed by a set of values (e.g. natural, spiritual, or cultural) rather than by endless economic growth. The fourth alternative is ‘transformation’, in which for example many technologies converge rapidly to transform society from its present state into a new post-human world. The one thing that people still do better than machines in this radically transformed future is to be creative.
After discussing and highlighting the major drivers of change with regard to the future of the laurisilva forest, we discussed these drivers in relation to three of the four futures mentioned above. We explored possible scenarios that could develop from such drivers and what the future might be like for our character Laura and the herbarium in each of these three alternative futures.
The ‘discipline’ scenario envisioned a future for Madeira ruled by an academic, eco-conscious elite. The ruling party, alternately described as a ‘botanocracy’ by adherents and ‘Botanistan’ by reactionary critics, swept to power on a wave of support following the collapse of the island’s longstanding human-centric, pro-development party, which in turn was brought about by a series of natural disasters including floods and fires. Concepts and keywords forming the basis of this scenario included rewilding, quarantine, sensing and monitoring, re-education, maximum biodiversity, living lab, seed and gene banks, botanic music, migration control, and economy of PhDs.
Madeira’s governing slogans in this scenario were ‘discipline and flourish’ and ‘maximum eco-discipline, minimum eco-footprint’. The island advertised itself as ‘the ultimate eco-conference destination’ and offered access via an airshaft lift to an unspoilt conference venue in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage protected laurisilva forest. Under the new government, the island also claimed to be ‘the world’s leading evidence-based, double-blind peer reviewed political system’.
In the most extreme part of the scenario, projected fifty years into the future, Madeira’s ‘scholarocracy’ took as its foundational text the vast herbarium compiled by Laura Silva, the pioneering botanist turned eco-goddess of the island. The herbarium was discovered some years earlier in a cave in an isolated valley, clutched to the breast of the mummified corpse of Laura herself. A climate-controlled, high-security library room overlooking a prime expanse of virgin forest was purpose built to house the book. The herbarium was used by the ruling party to build a genetic time machine, to return Madeira to a pre-settlement landscape comprised almost entirely of lush forests with a minimum of human interference.
The ‘collapse’ scenario explored what would happen to Madeira’s laurisilva forest if a natural or social disaster caused the collapse of the status quo. In the end we identified two main collapse scenarios: one led by nature, the other led by social factors.
In the first, drivers related to social systems would be affected and their collapse would lead to a different human organization on the island, which in its turn would affect the development of the forest and its ecosystem. Humans would eventually disappear and the forest would revert to its original state, significantly healthier and less endangered than ever before.
In the second scenario we looked at what would happen to the forest in case of a large-scale natural disaster. According to present scientific hypotheses, a large chunk of the Canary Islands is expected to break off and fall into the ocean. Such an event would cause an enormous tsunami, which would affect Madeira, the coast of Africa, and would eventually reach South America. Such a huge wave of seawater would change the face of the Madeiran coastline forever. In Madeira waters would surge by two or three hundred metres, destroying most human settlements along the coast, including the main cities of Funchal, Machico, Canical, Sao Jorge, Porto Moniz, and Calheta. Water channels would also be compromised: levada (irrigation) water would be polluted by salt and mud. Most of the population would likely perish. Many of the remaining survivors would emigrate; only a few would stay and try to rebuild their lives on the island.
In this scenario aid and rescue efforts from the mainland were limited, as they had also been affected by the disaster. Islanders retreated into the laurel forest and after some time they adapted to life there, learning to respect nature and eventually living in harmony with it. This allowed the forest to gradually expand and reach its natural boundaries, as they were before humans settled on the island and modified the ecosystem. Respecting the forest enabled humans to live better and survive longer, and in return humans and nature developed a healthier, more symbiotic relationship.
People in this scenario reorganized themselves into tribes and used the barter system as their main economic model. The laurisilva forest was given its proper respect and Laura became a sort of god, and her remedies were considered sacred. A special group of monks became dedicated to watching over what was left of the herbarium Laura had compiled centuries before.
A few adventurous visitors were curious about the island. They heard about its strange system of tribes living in harmony with nature and wanted to visit. However, a number of the relatively few tourists that now came to visit the very changed island of Madeira were reported lost and never returned. Human bones were sometimes found washed up on the beach near the rivers that came down from the forests.
In the ‘transform’ scenario we imagined what might happen to Madeira’s laurisilva forest in a far more distant future (in 1000 years). We imagined the forest embracing mutations. These mutations were the result of climate change, natural disasters, and direct human interventions. New ecosystems emerged and the laurisilva adapted with species that could for example filter, desalinate, and depollute seawater. But plants and animals of the laurisilva were not the only ones who suffered mutations – many humans did as well. There were amphibians living in the levadas (irrigation canals), and humans borrowed features from the forest itself, including the ability to filter water and qualities of the laurisilva’s fauna (e.g. bats and butterflies).
Madeira became a ‘living lab’, and was placed under the protection of UGESCO (United Galaxies Education Science and Culture Organization). This was made possible by a deep study of the seeds and DNA encountered in Laura Silva’s herbarium, which captured the laurisilva forest in its purest form. Laura was revered as one of the first and most revolutionary natural scientists. The laurel oil first distilled by Laura was still studied, and new properties were still being discovered from it. One of the trees belonging to the ‘new laurisilva’ was the Cacooum Laurel. Laurels were crossed with cacao trees and as a result laurel berries were chocolate flavoured.
In the future scenario, the laurisilva forest was replicated in miniature in many biodomes across the world. It was discovered that this particular ecosystem had the power to increase happiness levels in humans who were in contact with it. Those who could not experience the laurisilva forest in a biodome or in Madeira directly could access this happiness through a specially engineered pill. The pill, itself a direct product of the forest, enabled people to experience the laurisilva and all the happiness it could bring through vivid but pleasing hallucinations.
We are happy to announce that the Lucid Peninsula exhibition is currently running in Cluj-Napoca, it’s opening was on the 3rd of October and it will be running until the 9th of October in FSPAC (fostul Hotel Topaz), str Septimiu Albini 10.
This exhibition is an initiative of AltArt Fundation one of the future fabulators partners.
Here are some images from the exhibition opening!
We will see you again soon in Madeira for the Narrative Strategies Symposium!!
In October M-ITI, in an initiative of its FFab partner Time’s Up, showcased for the first time the Lucid Peninsula Storyworld at Intime Raume 2014 organized by the Institut fur Medianarchaologie (IMA) in Hainburg, Austria.
Time’s Up built a physical narrative set in the room of a Lucid Peninsula character. In this room you could see several aspects related to the Lucid Dreaming Storyworld including the air purifying machine, the dreamnet machine, and GIN bottles.
M-ITI contributed to this physical narrative with a viewer into the outside world of the Lucid Peninsula. The DreamScope Viewer allows the audience to see into different buildings of the Lucid Peninsula (GIN Distillery Nests, Library, etc.), analyze the air and weather conditions, and monitor the dream activity in these locations.
Moreover, after exploring the physical narrative the visitors could explore characters’ dreams with the DreamScope Catcher. This is a location-aware mobile application where users, by going to three locations outside the exhibition room (a library, a restaurant, and a garden), could find lucid peninsula dreams related to these locations.
Also in October, we will exhibit the Lucid Peninsula in Cluj, Romania in an initiative organized by the FFab partner AltArt – stay tuned for more updates! We will be updating these pages with more details and adding better quality images soon of the Lucid Peninsula and DreamScope.
We decided that we wanted to give the visitors the opportunity to have a glimpse into the Lucid Dreaming World. This will be done in two formats.
In one way we will be integrating a sort of virtual reality periscope into the physical narrative that Time’s Up will be building – DreamScope Viewer. And another way will be by providing a location aware mobile application where the visitors will have access to the lucid dreaming characters dreams – DreamScope Catcher.
Inside the physical installation: DreamScope Viewer
As said before the DreamScope viewer will give the visitors a glimpse of the story world, but the idea is that the “telescope” is used by the characters of the story world to look outside and analyse the conditions to see if its safe to exit the room. For example, they could check how the temperature, humidity and visibility conditions, … etc.
From the DreamScope viewer, the visitors will be able to have a 360 view as if they are looking to the outside of the hotel room. It will be a desert-like landscape with an orange sky (with a large and reddish sun). The 360 view can be limited to less than 180 if we decide to use a tripod as a base for the structure.
The landscape will present buildings that represent the places that the player can explore in the city. Visitors will be able to zoom in and out to some of the buildings in the landscape.
Using a cardboard structure , a mobile phone will be cased inside. The split image on the phone screen in conjunction with the lenses inside the structure offer an immersive experience. As the visitor gazes a certain location, an indicator will appear so the visitor knows that they can explore it later on.
Location Based Narrative – DreamScope Catcher
From the above installation the visitors will learn about the Lucid Dreaming characters dreams, moreover, they will discover trough a poster in the hotel room exhibition that they can explore some of the dreams. To do this the visitor goes to the front desk of the exhibition venue to retrieve a mobile device in exchange of an ID card. Then it will be given to the visitor together with the phone a map of the several locations where the dreams are.
When the visitor gets to a place where a dream is he needs to look for a marker and scan it. A 360º scene will appear with a virtual world. By tapping on the screen, the visitor can create circular portals that show the dream. The dreams are about the past and how the world was, so in fact they dream about our current world.
In order to distinguish the dream and the reality, we decided to call it the ‘green world’ and the ‘red world’ . The green world is the dream world (our current reality), so it has green grass and blue skies. The red world is the lucid dreaming scenarios, so its a desert with the orange sky.
The portals allow the visitor to ponder the difference between the worlds. For example, in the red world we can observe robots cultivating berries in little domes. In the green world we can see a normal farm. Another example, in the red world we can see a dream library and books about nature (trying to recover what they have lost). In the green world, we can see a library with books and computers (search for knowledge, that will lead us to the red world).
There are 3 locations: urban park (the green world will have vegetation and look healthy; the red world will look dry and harsh), the library/office (search for knowledge vs search for the past) and the cafe (a cafe with normal food vs a distillery with GIN, Generic Ionised Nutrient)
In terms of the art style for the red world, we have some reference images here. Its a world with buildings that seem organic and clearly distinct from modern society.
More on this soon as we progress in the implementation of the concept!
The Lucid Dreaming scenario was developed by FoAm and Time’s Up in June 2014. M-iti didn’t take part in the development of the scenario, but we decided to embrace this scenario and collaborate directly with Time’s Up to develop an interactive piece to be showed in the upcoming Future Fabulators events organized by Time’s Up and AltArt. The events will be in a form of two exhibitions in Hainburg (Austria) and Cluj (Romania). The first being in the end of September and the second beginning of October.
Moreover, we already know that Time’s Up contribution to the exhibition is a hotel room installation, they will focus on decorating a hotel room to portrait aspects of the lucid dream world.
M-iti FFab team strengthened with two fresh interns, dove into the Lucid Dreaming Storyworld, trying to understand and interpret the story world. It was a very interesting process and we can not thank enough to Time’s Up team availability to help us with any doubts that we had.
The Lucid Dream world is a futurish fantasy-filled, scenario. It is populated with metaphorical beings, different concepts from that one is used to. For example in the Lucid Dreaming world the environmental living conditions radically changed.
It’s an endless peninsula. The coastline is sprinkled with geothermal hotsprings, rigged with mechanical contraptions. The vegetation is weird – mechanic and brown in most places, except for wide, green pockets of tumbleweed, propelled by mechanics. You can see them tumbling across the landscape in search of water, or rolling towards the golden centre. It is barren and dusty. The wind sweeps from the coast inland, blowing orange dust and tumbleweed-like mechanical pockets of tropical nature across the peninsula. The outside air is bad – not immediately toxic, but some people/inhabitants of the peninsula need special gear and treatment after exposure.
More on the Lucid Dreaming world here.
Once we had a clear enough understanding of what we wanted to focus in this story world we started doing a brainstorm session to decide what would be our contribution to the exhibitions.
Results of the brainstorm session soon!
We are very pleased to announce that we will have during the summer, two interns, Paulo Bala and Rui Trindade. Both are currently students of the master in entertainment technologies held in a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Madeira/M-iti.
Paulo defines himself as a creative coder who loves to mix art and technology, while Rui is an artist with a creative mind who strives for innovation.
Welcome aboard Paulo and Rui!!
Finally, I’m back to the island and still steeling down from the super combination of recent events under the Future Fabulators project.
It all started with Data Ecologies ’14 then I stayed in Linz for one month to work as a resident “artist” at Time’s Up the coordinator partner of the FFab project. Finally, I went to Porto, were all the partners gathered to attend the workshop X Factor Futures in xCoAx 2014.
Data Ecologies was a super interesting event were we got to present the current state of our transmedia experience, also I got a good change to learn about all the partners current projects and from all the invited speakers all of them professionals in the future field. More on Data Ecologies 14 here.
After Data Ecologies most of the participants continued to Attersee in Upper Austria, where the book sprint happened (more information on this here), but I stayed in Linz and started my residency at Time’s up.
Since we are developing a location-based transmedia narrative experience, where physical objects playout an important role in the experience it was great to get insights and learn from Time’s Up. They have a lot of experience with physical narratives.
Moreover, we decided to work together on exploring different interactions between prototyping hardware and multimedia content. Something that could be beneficial for both M-iti and Time’s up to use in their individual projects being developed under the Future Fabulators project. So over 4 weeks I worked around experimenting with integrating Arduinos, RFID readers and sensors together with Android devices in order to trigger multimedia content.
Different approaches (a lot of them!) were tried to achieved the goal. I discovered that using an Android device to control and trigger multimedia based on the Arduino input it is still not widely spread (sadly for me 🙂 ).
So as a result of this residency we have the beginning for what can be a platform/medium between users/players and multimedia content that can be used in different experiences designed at both M-iti and at Time’s Up. This approach to develop this “tool” could be seen as an enhancer for a physical object, it could be something embed in a physical object, for example a radio with a visual interface, or a suitcase that is enhanced with a tablet that shows multimedia content. A week by week summary of the residency can be downloaded here
There was also time to get feedback and some inputs from Time’s up on the transmedia story that M-iti is working on – The Laura Silva lost book. With my residency I think i was clear that there was a this need for the partners project to somehow relate and connect, and an idea of connecting the Laura Silva story world with the Lucid Dreaming story world was born. For now the idea is to have the Lucid Dreaming as a future story world for some the future generation of one of the characters in the Laura Silva world but I’m sure that soon we will have more details on this soon.
Not all of my residency was hard work! I got to meet great people over there and there was the time for bike rides around Linz, enjoy delicious meals (desert included every single time… nhammi i) with the Time’s up crew, I even went on a small boat ride in the Donau in Tim’s boat. Pippa showed me the best places to by schnapps and other Austrian goodies. And last but not least, and thanks to Tina and Gin, an awesome weekend trip to the mountains (uff my experience in Austria would not be complete without mountains).
To sum up it was a great experience!
For me it was great because I finally had the opportunity to participate in a future scenario building workshop learn and experience the whole process of building a future scenario where I could invision myself. This story world that we created and pre-enacted was called the “AnneBonnie Ark”. More on this story world here.
This adventure ended with the FFab retreat, where all the partners gathered to discuss the current state of the project and the future steps to be taken.
Following directly on from the success and constructive energy of Data Ecologies 2014, Time’s Up hosted a four-day ‘book sprint’ – a collaborative approach in which the aim is to write a complete book in 3-5 days – on the shores of beautiful Lake Attersee. The sprinters included Julian Hanna (M-ITI), Tina Auer, Tim Boykett, and Luis Wohlmuther (Time’s Up), Nik Gaffney, Maja Kuzmanovic, and Alkan Chipperfield (FoAM), Istvan Szakats (AltArt), as well as Trevor Haldenby, Marta Peirano, and Peter von Stackelberg. The purpose of the book was to distil and immediately record the thoughts and debates that came out of Data Ecologies 14; the eventual title of the book was Futurish.
In just four (very long) days, with the help of facilitator and co-creator Barbara Rühling, the sprinters managed to put together a fresh and provocative book that might, for example, be used as a guide to the state of the art of futures studies. Some of the many themes and practices covered in the book include worldbuilding, transmedia storytelling, everyday futures, experience design, foresight, engagement, guerrilla futures, and uncertainty. Crossing the finish line on the evening of the 29th, the sprinters celebrated with a glass of schnapps and, in the case of our own Julian Hanna and three other participants, jumped into the freezing waters of Lake Attersee.
On the last evening the group was joined by Adam Hyde, who has been a pioneer in the emerging practice of book sprints. While the sprinters returned to their respective bases, Barbara and Adam proceeded directly to their next sprint: a group of geographers seeking to develop an open source textbook at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. The four-day book sprint organized by Time’s Up was an extremely productive and highly recommended experience. Definitely a process we would like to see more of in the future!
More information on the book sprint from our parterns: