Brief: using scenario methods to design one or more storyworlds that can be used for a physical narrative and possibly a prehearsal (or the combination of both); the physical narrative should be light and portable, to be used in a hotel room and an exhibition in Austria and Cluj in September and October, and possibly in Belgium in the autumn. This all sounds easy enough, until the second part of the brief is introduced: the process should be akin to lucid dreaming…
Lucid dreaming: awareness of the fact that you’re dreaming
Translation into the scenario process:
Process: Scenario Building as Lucid Dreaming
We know that there are a few objects in this world:
Knowing about the few objects originating in the world, there are a few things we might assume:
About the world:
About the inhabitants:
About the things in the world:
Known, assumed and unknown parts of the world
We have landed on an endless peninsula with a shoreline that is neither land nor sea. The shoreline is smooth in parts, rough in others, with waves breaking on rocks. The coastline is sprinkled with geothermal hotsprings, rigged with mechanical contraptions. The vegetation is weird - machinic 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. There is water everywhere on the coast, while the centre is barren and dusty. The coast is on the tropical equatorial, while moving in either direction towards the poles nothing but desert can be found. The wind sweeps from the coast inland, blowing orange dust and tumbleweed-like mechanical pockets of tropical nature across the peninsula.
The atmosphere hanging over this land of permanent sunrise and twilight is thick and woollen. It is never completely dark or light, but partakes of continuous gradients from golden orange to silvery sparkles. The sun and moon are visible at the same time. Light is heavy and laden with golden dust that accumulates in thick sediments on hidden graves. When darkness comes, the world sparkles. The air fills with mechanical insects collecting the sparkling dust as a drug. Aside from the buzzing of the insects at night, there is an eery noiseless quality to the peninsula. Occasionally the silence is pierced by small, medium and large voices, by faint dripping, drifting and echoing sounds.
Things are built rather than grown, there are canals lit by giant candelabra, the rolling hills are made of shoes. There are very few plants and animals around, and only in secret pockets of nature. Living flora and fauna, as well as and ancient human graves, are sought after by mechanical dragonflies, which patrol and scan across a fragmented and dispersed nature. An Apothecary of Species is hovering above the world, swirling through the mist on giant dragonfly-propellers. In the Apothecary, intricate nano-machinery works on replicating rapidly disappearing lifeforms and maintaining the population's health. The world is crisscrossed with helicopter landing strips allowing the dragonfly apothecary to circle in on any species in need of replication. One of the endangered species are humans - shabby, clean, healthy and curious creatures that drift aimlessly, often wearing only shoes.
The landscapes are surreal (from the dreamers’ points of view), unnatural and complicated, reminiscent of Balinese Steam Punk: hot and steamy, lush and decaying. Everything is in motion. Sparse human habitation is scattered across floating settlements. Infrastructure and places float to you. The movement is mechanical, but also fluid - an insectoid dance of machines and liquids. The majority of floating places are bars, saunas (actually hornets’ nests) and huge soft beds shaped like fluffy duvets. The land is covered in scattered tools: both newly built and frequently used, as well as old, rusty, forgotten tools. Everything is made from metal and various unknown organic compounds. There is no plastic whatsoever.
Across the floating peninsula hover many roads, all leading from the many gin distilleries to dusty cocktail bars. On the roads drive giant photocopiers that print spacious two-dimensional cars. One of the strangest contraptions on the peninsula is a floating palace that looks x-rayed under sunlight. From outside it appears like a translucent box standing on an ice-cube. From inside its walls are built of wood and x-rays, its windows are covered with leather. Its origins are unclear (there are conspiracy theories about whether it had been discovered or rebuilt). In the present there are only parts of the palace in use. One part is a newsagency, another - of course - a cocktail bar, from which all other bars are replicated.
Dreams and Hopes include;
A Twitcher's daily routine
As one of the inhabitants of the peninsula, we describe here the daily routine of a “Twitcher”. Twitchers are the inhabitants who go to visit ID-traders to speed up, as well as individually determine the outcome of their next shapeshifting process. Defying the tenor of events harbors certain risks, such as being stuck in-between shapes. This is not necessarily a bad thing to happen, but it's not always desired.
Our twitcher in question used to be a human being who worked for a long time in a health maintenance centre. He was surrounded by all sorts of creatures in his professional life and over time he developed a profound admiration for dragonflies. These creatures, graceful and intelligent, have a high status on the peninsula. Among other skills, they have the ability to produce a certain golden powder, a kind of “magical dust” which provides particular essential elements for the environment and making life as such possible on the peninsula.
Our twitcher, badly longing to become a dragonfly, happened to get stuck in a state between human and dragonfly. Although he looked like a dragonfly (except for a few remnant human features) and even produced dragonfly dust, the dust his body secreted had none of the environment-enhancing, drug-like qualities of real dragonflies. Thus he needed to use a certain “dedusting machinery” to constantly clean his bronchial tubes of useless dust. This medical machinery had grown into his body and like a cybernetic implant and had to be used constantly.
One of the advantages of being trapped in this state twixt human and dragonfly was that he didn't loose his memory and consciousness of being a human as he came to full awareness of being a dragonfly - a benefit appreciated by others on the peninsula. On the one hand, he was a perfect supplier of “humankind” stories, collected by the librarians which were endeavouring to build up a stock of “shape history”. On the other hand, he was able to compare both phases - human and dragonfly - very directly. This made him a very crucial source of information, especially for others planning to shape shift on purpose.
Being a Twitcher for only a short time, his daily routine looked something like the following. Waking up in the morning, still overwhelmed with dreams and memories of his former human phase, he proceeds to the library where these stories and dreams are written down. Only slowly getting used to the constant deduster machinery implants, he needs to take many breaks, and rests on those fluffy beds floating by. Being revered by longstanding Twitchers for his awareness of being two shapes, he searches for a position to take advantage of his knowledge in the form of a consultancy for prospective “voluntary shape shifters”.
The Castle that looks like Cleopatra's palace is recommended as a possible site for his consultancy (with only the newsagency and a single bar inside it, the castle has lots of empty space). He enters the castle when it moves past one of the davenports he rests on. Following all the established rituals he needs to fulfil before he's allowed inside, he experiences an intense detoxication due a ritualized “gin bath”. Wandering through the castle he finds several spots he could use for his planned venture. Since he doesn't like overhasty decisions, he makes notes on the various pros and cons, has a drink in the “origin bar” and wanders off to rest again for a while, before participating in the weekly meeting of the Twitchers for Social Interaction and Exchange of Experiences (TSIEE). He likes these creatures who are trapped somewhere in-between and are still trying to get the most out of their condition. He falls asleep, dreaming about his former routines in health-maintenance…
A young shapeshifter
A normal morning for the clan, a big question for our juvenile protagonist.
There is a yearning for adventure, a feeling for history, a sense of danger.
Vessel Living. A clan of 28 persons. A romance. Our protagonist feels he's not taken seriously, wants to belong, wants to somehow prove his worth and worthiness. An insider. A need to improve contributions. Wants to stay put, there are stories of dangers.
There is the powder. Our protagonist has just received it with the morning dragonfly. Will they take it? The moment: enjoying morning gin. This is breakfast. The question: what to do next. Reflections on the day ahead.
Dear Diary. Writing in a device. An action to organise thoughts.
In the morning a dragonfly, a letter, and a powder to slow the transition. The Transcarnation. Morning gin with lover, a colection of vines. Next transcarnation will be away from a state able to water them and care for them.
Maybe not even able to be intertwined. But no fear, the clan will care for the vine. Nevertheless. Can our protagonist make a decision for the vines as well? Togetherness, but they complement one another. Are the vines changing? Is that just their interpretation?
The Shiftreport. The Duster can hold on to him for a little while.
On the vessel, looking out over the lush landscape, sipping gin. The rest of the clan is asleep. Chatting with Inanimates.
That which is LUW - Lost Upon Waking.
Is consciousness a technology?