Anne Bonny seemed a good enough name for the starship, actually for the Ark. The Ark infact was going to carry out an exploratory function out in the universe but also sort of ambassadorial function too. Human, Animal, vegetable, mineral species from the planet earth would be collected and preserved in the ark. Surely for experimentation but also for purely historical reasons. This was who and what we were when we left in 2050 AD….
The rest is up to them, those who are still roaming the earth on transient floating villages, sailing over the oceans. Some people are still left to live on the solid land, but the erratic climate and overpopulation make it very hard to survive there and very hard to move around and escape weather driven disasters. On the other hand, the village rafts are swift to move and our weather prediction technologies pretty accurate. We can always manage to get the raft in a safe spot before the storm hits.
The rafts emerged from the slow decline of the cheap heavy oil transport systems. Oil became more expensive, the value of the minerals in the heavy oil became apparent, the destruction of the ocean environment with the byproducts of burning these oils became unacceptable: in short, it became uneconomic to be cheap. There was a flurry of solutions; solar powered vessels, sail assistance, wave power, even a few attempts to train whales as beasts of burden. As flight became, once again, the resort of the rich, people were able to travel on these vessels, often retrofitted as passenger vessels with container hotels and sanitary facilities installed. As travel became slower, the time on board went from weeks to months and some passengers did not disembark, but became part of the crew, the community, the floating village. Smaller boats were able to keep up with the slower larger boats, the villages became more than one single vessel and the raft nature of the assemblages led to communities surviving in the gyres of the various oceans as well in the smaller seas, Black, Red and Yellow.
Bonnie’s development of cold fusion came along in time. The oceans being filled with a small but not insignificant amount of deuterium and tritium, it became possible for vessels to accumulate these heavy hydrogens as fuel for the cold fusion reactors. The first efforts were remarkably inefficient, the waste helium was welcomed as a resource to be used for blimps and then Zeppelins. The larger vessels started to become maneuverable again and were able to navigate away from storms. Less time was spent surviving and following small cultural enterprises, instead more time was available for cultural and scientific exploration. The third culture became stronger.
Anyway, Dr. Annebonnie did amazing work, and she wrote about it too. But not in difficult terms, although she won the Nobel prize for it, everybody could follow her thinking process, the way she discovered the reproducibility of cold fusion. She was old, when she finally manage to reproduce cold fusion, she was in her late seventies already, but she got the ark built in five years and set sail into space just before getting hit by that terrible brain hemorrhage. We had some pretty advanced life support equipment on the ship and then we resorted to put her on life extension measures. She got frozen to – 200 celsius degrees with the hope of being defrosted once we had found a new compatible planet to build home again. Or restored our old home, on planet earth.
Anyway, every year, on the anniversary of the day the ship took off from the earth we celebrate the Annibonnie day. The 10 years old kids get their first plunge into space. They get to visit the pilot cabin and connect to earth via the worm link. It takes a lot of energy, but we get a few minutes of viewing once a year. The community thinks it is worth it. It’s amazing to see their faces when they see how earth looks like. When they see their potential relatives, looking like them and living on the villages rafts. I actually think they start to feel special about their condition on the bonny ark on that day. It is for the first time that they feel the importance of their mission. They feel they have a purpose.
On the ark, a special selection of people were chosen to set sail, almost 40 years ago. Most of the kids that live on the ark today, are born on the ark. Except those who were ill on earth or put on life extension and have been granted to come back to life on the ark hanks to the progresses of science here in this controlled environment. In fact together with food, also science and medicine experiments are progressing on the ark. Meditators, moderators, psychologist , entertainers all work together to make life possible and bearable on the ark. News are broadcasted, sometimes made up, hypnosis, films, stories molecular food cooking, are just some for the many means by which we keep alive on the ark but also happy to be alive and curious about continuing life in the universe. There are gardens of soil with carefully managed re-worked sewage gone through three cycles of growth to avoid poisonings and disease. There are gardens of hydroponics with carefully controlled nutrient supplies. There are vats of plankton and organic proteins. Gardening is vital on a raft as well as the ark, gardeners are aestheticians and technicians, balancing productivity and aesthetics, nutrition and flavour. The vegetable gardens are open as places to walk, to romance and ponder. a hut on a pole is a hermitage in the center of a spiral of garden plots. There are flower gardens, vegetable gardens, copses of bushes and trees, strange green parks and even a swampy moorland where waters collect as they ooze through the soil. In the ark everything is repurposed/ recycled nothing goes to waste, this was able to the evolution of recycling techniques, there are experts in the ark that are responsible for making sure that this happens.
There is a legend about Anne Bonny. Many legends. One says that she was born on a storm-wrecked boat leaving Vietnam in the early 1970s. Other legends said that she was conceived on a raft, either out of love or out of rape. She said it didn’t matter whether her father was her genetic father, her parents taught her calligraphy and engineering, cooking and sewage systems. Things they needed in refugee camps. She says that a well rounded person can write a sonnet as well as an instruction manual, can make love and make a machine and make dinner and make a sad child feel better.
In her rooms, she had the image of the raft as a panel on her wall, to remind herself how simple we all can be. And must be.
She says that when we are born, our greatest pleasure is shitting and seeing our family. Then we discover play. Then sex. Then food replaces sex as we get older, and at the end, the greatest pleasures are shitting and seeing your family. That’s why she says that toilets and sewers are the most important inventions, we need them from the beginning to the end. As we need our friends and family.
The introduction of the “Basic Outcome” was perhaps one of the more interesting financial and economic developments. Initiated in Australia as a way of redistributing mineral wealth and allowing democratic choice on carbon pricing after years of almost religious conflict about the environment and resources. Each citizen was granted an equal share of the nation’s carbon emissions. Most sold them on, at the market rate, to energy providers as a form of basic income. Others kept them for themselves. Others purchased blocks in order to let them lie fallow, absorbing carbon by not allowing it to be emitted. Others speculated by buying blocks, or options for blocks of emissions. A number of economics treatises emerged and there were at least three Nobel prizes that emerged from the analysis of the markets and their effects. This system was developed further on some of the rafts and Seasteads, with each citizen having a certain amount of outcome to share around. Kickstarter version 3.0, so to speak: people collected enough support, sent their proposals for projects through committees and groups until they collected enough support for them to embark on their research, their novel, their development, their opera. This Basic Outcome gave each citizen (or raftizen, as some called themselves) a direct voice in cultural, technological and scientific developments.
Some say there is a strong distinction between the emergent third culture rafts of shared responsibility and generalisation / multispecialisation, compared to the seasteads of organised specialisations and structuralism, central governments and completely structured ownerships and litigational law. As with most such discussions, these distinctions are abstractions and nonsense. The rafts gave rise to the ark, the most well organised and least emergent structures seen by humanity.
Where do we see ourselves in this scenario? Either on a raft or in the ark.
Tim: as the oldest, a role as meditator and mediator. I take regular periods as a hermit, whether in seabubbles below the surface, on top of masts or towed behind the raft, or on the gardens, on the exterior or towed behind on the ark. But how did I get here? Possible tangential reference:
“This is not my beatiful house,..”
And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?
Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.”
A series of events from the simple start in the technologies and systems we have for the work we do (here and now, Times Up and all that), then visiting friends and family between Europe and Australia gets slower until I end up on one of these slow boats. As issues arise, I change boats to get to different places, but never in time, so I realise that most “urgent issues” are not really that urgent and we wind up on the first big raft, making stuff up as we go along, maintaining a mixture of engineering and entertainment, stories and structures.
Tina: The context in my earlier days (being with Time's Up) gave me the opportunity to develop a broad spectrum of interests. One of them, amongst others, has been into migration and nomadism of all sorts, triggering smaller and bigger social changes and impacts. I have been aware and interested in the formation of “the raft”, slowly growing and turning into floating villages, populated with all kinds of people with different educational and cultural backgrounds, developing new and alternate ways of living, working, researching, creating together.
The moment the first Ark was about to leave I decided to join. Credible rumors said, that the “ark-society”, due to rather dense living conditions (minimal space) developed methods and strategies of conflict-management, which allow a notable reduction of escalations amongst inhabitants. A highly attempting reason to go there. I had the pleasure meeting Valentina, as being in the team for “conflict-management” in my very first days, knowing her from former days, even working with her on possible future scenarios in the 2010-years. She taught me a lot about here physiological methods and amongst that we started fleshing out stories together, which we like bringing into movie-like shapes, as well as codevelop them with Mara and Alkan into fake-news for the the daily-newspaper. In parallel, this activity supports one of my most loved occupations: the simple strolling and observing, searching for “pockets of absurdity” in society, nature, surrounding environments. And as I keep dragging around either a photo- and/or videocamera, a few of the results can be then used by the ark-news department and feed the real/fake stories with images found by just looking around.
Another noteworthy passion I developed shortly after I arrived at the Ark, is - to my own surprise - an interest in food-supply which was/is a big issue at the Ark, due to restricted space and resources. There was a growing group of mixed experts and non-experts, all trying mutually facing and solving “food-concerns” at the Ark. Botanists, chefs, “plant-whisperers”, everyday-life gardeners, food-chemists and scientists, “herb-witches”, biologists,.. all of them work together in food-creation, food-processing and delivery. Within that group Maja and I fostered our long-term relationship, her growing knowledge and passion towards foodstuff is always a pleasure to get briefed in.
But - due to the recent glitch we lost a huge amount of both, our knowledge and stock of seeds. Research being documented to manipulate without destroying the natural structure of seeds disappeared. Some of the knowledge-carries of all sorts vanished at all or at least lost memory…
Apart from finding people who help regaining this knowledge I'm also here at this cocktail party to find people helping our chefs to collect ideas for dishes mainly consisting of our momentary staples, being loads of algae and mushrooms, tiny pumpkins and rice-extract which through heat gains its known texture and form. We still have a varied stock of herbal and spice essences left….
Valentina: I used to work at Madeira ITI back in 20014. i was assistant professor in interaction design and digital media. I met my boyfriend in Madeira so i stayed in this lovely island, but after some years it started to feel small. i needed a change. My boyfriend, a software engineer by training, became passionate about open source and hackers movement while i was exploring the layered world of bioenergetics, counselling and body centred psychoanalysis. One evening we looked at each other and realised that we were ready to leave the island, try new adventures and excercise our knew knowledge. Nuno found an add from Annibonnie Ark looking for open source enthusiasts to document the Ark structure and maintenance manual. Nuno asked me if i was up for joining the ark and i immediately felt that was a great opportunity. the life shift i was looking for. a great opportunity to start practicing my new skills. I was i freshly graduate core energetics psychologist when i embarked on the ark. I joined the Ark to counsel people and manage expectations, dreams, panic attacks and everything in between.then with time, my role became more fuzzy. people are always people but on the ark things were different. the listening role of the psychologist would often extend for many hours during the day with the same person or out of the privacy setting of the of a single session into group sessions that would form spontaneously somewhere on a remote deck of the ship. then the listening would become telling, stories would start to flow, weaving together real stories with fiction with future planning and wishful thinking. sometimes at night when i cannot sleep, i write down those tales. i’d like to make a movie one day with Tina’s help this might well happen :)
Mara: Chief editor of the Ark's newspaper (oscillating between fiction and reality)
As a person coming from a background on informatics shifting towards technologies entertainment, I then saw all the evolution happening in the entertainment industry it became bigger and bigger but using more and more virtual ways, the content became less and less important it was more about the spectacle rather than experience, so in that way I started moving to more “traditional ways” of entertainment like fictional short stories. When I heard about the ark i just decided to apply to a position in the Journal Ark but not very long after i decided to found a new kind of journal one where the news were a way of entertaining the habitants of the ark. The “FakeNEWSpapper” becomes a mainstream way of entertainment for the inhabitants. Relies heavily on irony and deadpan humor, it's focus portraits the encounters with the aliens in the planets where the ark passes by but also what is happening in the rafts. People do know that they are fake news but sometimes the line between the real and the fake is very thin.
Alkan: A schizophrenic gonzo journalist with manic-depressive tendencies, Alkan came to the Ark hoping to regenerate his career through a dramatic scoop on the third culture, which he attempts to investigate through interviews with the Ark's crew and prospective recruits. Due to insider contacts, and with the slimmest demonstration of actual ability, he somehow managed to scrape his way into working for the Ark's newspaper. However, an intrinsic lack of social graces and complete inability to communicate with other humans, coupled with a near-total obliviousness to his surroundings, renders his journalistic aspirations problematic to say the least. Mired in perpetual doubt, he constantly seeks verification of what he's just heard, and is often found asking the same question up to twenty times in a row, subsequently attempting to cross-check the same number of times by bringing one or more others into the conversation and generally confusing everything in the process. Consequently, his approach is dreaded and if possible avoided by those who know him directly or by reputation.
Istvan: role-shifting stowaway with links to the hobo signing network
Julian: I made the mistake of following my flaky girlfriend onto the Ark, blinded by love. (We broke up soon afterward and she returned to land.) While at first I was skeptical, I made it through my initial period of self-imposed isolation and found my place on the Ark writing press releases and setting up a spontaneous translation system. When I met Ann Bonny I realized that I had met her before - as an undergraduate in the 2030s, when she was a charismatic and iconoclastic visiting professor. We renewed our friendship on the Ark and have been close ever since. During our many recruitment efforts, I help by seeking out those people who seem least suitable and least willing to join - because I see myself in them, and I believe they offer the most potential in the long run.
Nik: Oscillating fluid dynamics wrangler: from physics and plumbing, to streams of consciousness and inebriety. Sometimes functioning as a barman.
Maja: I'm the rafters ambassador on the Ark and first-contact person for non-human sentiences, as well as travellers from other times. Currently xCoAx liaison. In 2014 I was facilitating a futures workshop at xCoAx as a member of FoAM, that back then was a network with studios in different countries. When it was time to set-off and live on water, we floated towards each other and actually spent more time together than while living on land (with thanks to our dear anonymous ship magnate @traintoextinctification for providing the boats). We continued our work with prototyping possible futures. One of the early prototypes was in fact a generational starship we called the Ark, another one The Flotilla, that very much resembled our contemporary raftizens. The story started as a scenario in xCoAX 2014, and we developed it into a 10 year pre-enactment in 202Os - way before cold fusion was possible. I loved the idea of a living lab for Third Culture, and I worked with the team on its detailed designs, especially when it came to designing spaces and situations where people from all walks of life would gather, live and work. The pre-enactment was a success, and gave rise to many floating villages. When cold fusion became possible, the Ark was built for space travel and about to embark on its first journey, I became skeptical. I experienced the damage that humans can do to our living environment and each other, so I didn't believe we should leave the planet until our culture evolves beyond conflict and unhealthy competition (we're on our way, but far from there yet) and we develop our vegetal mind to be at least as prominent as our bestial.
It was Ann Bonny who convinced me that I should join the crew as an ambassador of Earth-bound Third Culture, a living example of intertwingularity and an early warning sign in unproductive (or dangerous) conflict situations. Since then I have been training in connecting everything (and everyone) with everything (and everyone) else, often working with Thalience, trans-species communication and first contact with sentient beings. I live in a borrowed scenery, a layered garden with a contemplative core surrounded by a hydroponic and soil-based food fores. I sometimes supply foodstuffs and work in the kitchen with Tina, cooking up many a Third Culture feast. I am a firm believer that food is the foundation of the X-factor that can make the Third Culture work. I often spend my time with Tim, who comes to use my contemplation chamber. When on Earth, I take my musings with Tim back to the New Convent raft, that was founded by Lies and Stevie after a decade of doing nothing experiments at FoAM from 2014. Sometimes I write memoirs from my life and work for the Ark's newspapers, as I begin to feel that life is slowly draining out of me, and mysterious cancers keep eating me away. Valentina has been a great help to me through this paliative process. I met Julian at one of Ann Bonny's banquets and we spend many an evening reminiscing about old times. I see Alkan and Istvan in passing, and they both make me laugh (and cry sometimes too). Nik and I are still married, phylotically connected through various streams of consciousness and meeting in different times and dimensions, often reliving our early relationship using a fluid time-protocol he developed. The protocol it is a bit glitchy, so we also end up stranded in Wolfsburg in 2005, then more than happy to re-emerge in our current timeline, intertwined with the Ark, and each other. It was one of Nik's experiments that got us stranded back in Porto in 2014, inadvertently causing the French air traffic controllers' strike. So now, I'm back in 2014, a host at the Ark's cocktail party, tasked to welcome the guests and ease them into Ark's reality.
The pre-enactment is a closing cocktail party of xCoAx hosted by the crew of Ann Bonny's Ark, with visitors coming in without necessarily knowing what to expect. The backstory of the pre-enactment is that Ann Bonny's Ark fell through a temporal rift and ended in Porto in June 2014, where it all started. The crew are present in their roles at the party, attempting to find missing crew members (who suffered from amnesia) or to recruit new ones (from the third culture fans at xCoAx). Several crew members act as ambassadors receiving the visitors and helping them along (e.g. filling in their potential roles in the crew, interviewing them about Third culture, booking sessions with Ark's psychologist, etc.).
The pre-enactment lasted about an hour.
Tim opened the pre-enactment with a toast, that would tell a bit of a backstory to the visitors:
Ladies and gentlemen,
welcome here tonight
It seems that I have been elected as some form of spokesperson. This is, as you might imagine, an embarrassment to me and possibly to you. I am a doddery old man. I have enjoyed the past three or more weeks in a hermitage, meditating on all sorts of things. Speech is strange. Luckily I have some notes.
Please excuse me if I mix or miss my religious or metaphysical metaphors. I seem to have forgotten which is which and might just sort of throw them together, I might even mix up welche sprache ich sprechen soll and might end up in some corner from which it is hard to extricate myself. Please forgive me, I am an old man, at least 60 years older than I seem.
We, a few people, have ended up in your exhibition closing cocktails. We have wanted to talk to you because you, the practitioners of the X factor, seem closest to the place that most of us came from. This meeting is important in our history. What you call the X factor, we call the third culture. Not the third world, but a place beyond this art-science disjunction. Our world seems strange to you because, through an anomaly of sorts, we come from the future. Unfortunately our present, i.e. your future, is every bit as mundane as your everyday life is to your grandparents. Boring, huh?
We would also like to apologise, because it seems that our arriving here had some strange effects on air traffic in France. Our algorithms were a bit off. We hope your delays were not too severe.
Just as a form of explanation, I can speak only for myself. While in 2014 I was but a confused practitioner, trying to work out how my strangely mixed skills on technology and mathematics, the arts and culture and the sciences, could be of value, it was everyday life that caught up with me. Visiting my family on the other side of the planet all of a sudden became complex. Planes became expensive, boats the only way to travel. Somehow the boats slowed down and, before I arrived in Austria, there was an exhibition in Hong Kong. Leaving there I was distracted with a trip to Doha, then Durban. En route to New York a project fell through and I changed ships back to Rotterdam. After a year, I had not left the sea and was beginning to realise that really, there was no reason to worry.
If you cannot change it, don't worry about it.
Keep calm and Carry on. We felt like English royalty. On the open ocean. We all began to. As floating villages formed, we all felt special. We applied our skills in technology and the arts to survival and surviving well. We recycled everything, we shared our skills. We had to keep notes and open source everything, to keep our world afloat. One of the most sought after skills was plumbing, so we all became plumbers, managing the fresh and not so fresh water, composting our shit and growing veggies. As the land became too hard to live on, with overpopulation and climate stress, the rafts became humanity's new home. New ways of living were necessary. It is with a touch of pride that I say that we were one of the first.
No normalization. Not resistant to change. Unstructured. Hard to search. Failure prone. A concern with the particular. From another perspective, the same. A ragged multiplicity.
Ah. That was yesterday. Sorry.
Today is a special day. Anne Bonny, while not our leader, was an inspiration for us all. Four years ago she passed away, or at least passed into cryogenic suspension. The woman who said that a person should be able to write a sonnet and an instruction manual, who made cold fusion reproducable and open source, has given her name to our ark. The ark is the logical extension of the rafts, a spaceship the size of Madeira, slowly getting ready to unfurl her solar sail and depart this planet for the greatest adventure.
Which is why we are here with you. A number of our crew are possibly amongst you, perhaps you yourself are one of them, forgetting your place on the ship. We seem to have partial amnesia. Please talk to us, perhaps we can draw you back out of your amnesia. If not, mingle with us anyway, see whether you would like to join us in this future, this third culture that is preparing to depart for good. There are no fixed roles on the ark, we ask you to join and to change.
While we would like to celebrate Anna Bonny, our reluctant and humble hero, we would also like to propose a toast. A toast to the third culture and to you, dear xCoAxers, for watering the seeds of the Third Culture in these strange times that you live in.
One of three Third Culture storyworlds developed at the xcoax_workshop