Ah, the life of a cyborg monitor lizard….
David Attenborough tells me that there’s some pretty snazzy geolocative dance-lessons goin’ on in the beehives of the world.
Last night, I watched EUROPA REPORT, a found-footage film about humanity’s first manned voyage beyond the planetary orbit in which we evolved…. and the discovery of something unsettlingly advanced beneath the icy crust of a Jovian moon.
The film’s execution has a number of weak spots, many of them connected to what was surely a limited budget, but on the whole it’s a pretty awesome experience.
There aren’t as many cheap thrills as you’ll find in Apollo 18, you get a few amazing scenes featuring District 9’s Sharlto Copley ("fooking prawns, man!"), and much of the story unfolds through various system displays aboard the fictional spacecraft at the story’s core.
For someone like me, who is interested in the technological metadata of a good science fiction yarn as much as the dramatized character interactions and conflict, this approach to storytelling is a dream come true.
The film’s creators crafted a website for the story’s fictional space exploration company, Europa Ventures LLC, but much of it seems locked away behind a password wall… maybe I need to up my game in terms of transmedia rabbit-hunting in order to get the full experience.
Europa Report is out on VOD now, with a limited theatrical release apparently coming in August 2013. If you’re a fan of science fiction metadata and cross-format diegesis like me, it’s a must-see!
My, but it’s been an interesting year for the future of lifestyle biotechnology!
In early 2012, I launched a synbio startup with four friends from high school through an incubator we’re calling The Mission Business. Over the course of the year, that startup (called ByoLogyc) went on to release five blockbuster products combining the genetic material of synthetic and natural organisms into highly lucrative lifestyle enhancement solutions.
One of them, ByoRenew, was so successful that it even went… viral! While we did have to shut down ByoLogyc’s celebrations at the Toronto Fringe Festival by subjecting all of their guests to an invasive medical procedure, and we were pushed into running a free immunization clinic for the deadly BRX Virus (the world’s FIRST synthetic pandemic!), and we had no choice but to evacuate hundreds of Toronto’s citizens to ByoLogyc’s private… er…. sterilization facility, it was a GREAT year to live in the future!
And now, I have a question for you, prospective ByoLogyc customer…
At what point in the story did I grab the attention of your inner design futurist?
ByoLogyc was an extremely innovative company… but a fictional one. Creating the company was an exercise in worldbuilding - the creation of a universe in which stories about the future can play out, rather than a whitepaper or an essay. The world of ByoLogyc came to life for a project about the reckless pursuit of a commercial biotechnological future for a project called ZED.TO. Thousands of people who engaged the company at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the World Future Society conference, Autodesk University, and even TED in Long Beach early this year!
By immersing people in visceral, narrative, and multiplatform experiences that simulate various possible futures, we can make some interesting inquiries into the way we think about those futures. How often do we think about them emotionally? How often do we think about the implications for our day-to-day lives? How often do we consider the future as a place where we ALL live, rather than just a few technophile individuals?
This is a conversation that needs to happen - and it needs to happen across all of the hills and valleys of the media ecology in which we live. It needs to happen on websites, through social media, at live-action immersive and social events, via web videos, and even through interactions with physical replicas of products from the future.
This weekend I’ll be attending the 5D Institute at USC’s SCIENCE OF FICTION workshop - an exercise (or perhaps an adventure) that will see 60-odd genius designers, storytellers, futurists, and other researchers come together to collaboratively design a future scenario together!
This kind of collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to futures is familiar to me from my graduate research at OCAD University’s Strategic Innovation Lab, but it’s an amazing opportunity to try the approach on for size with a network of strangers (for now) and a different context - LA trumps Toronto pretty squarely this rainy time of the year!
I’m looking forward to sharing stories about the transmedia design (and violent downfall) of my future dystopia, as part of the ZED.TO project I created with my design firm The Mission Business, and also co-creating a future we can all live in… one that’s hopefully a little less fascistic than ByoLogyc’s.
Thank you everyone who volunteered their time and labour to create this strange event, the worst TEDx in history. To be clear: this was a piece of experimental horror fiction. No TED attendees were harmed in the making of this event and we aren’t associated with either TED or either of the Wicker Man films.
So this is going to be a cool event - http://www.tedxocadu.com
I’ve got ByoLogyc on the brain, lately.
This is going to be a fun conference presentation…
Just when I thought I was out, ByoLogyc pulled me back in… in the year 2025!
ZED.TO’s interactive theatre project ByoLogyc at Nuit Blanche. Tickets for the final instalment, ByoLogyc: Retreat, are available now! See the conclusion of this innovative project on November 2 & 3, and then hear a case study from three of the organizers at X-Summit on November 6 & 7!