PERFORMATIVE STORYWORLDS: METHODS

 

Introduction | Worklog | Methods | References

 

 

Worldbuilding and worldings in iterative feedback loop is the overarching method for me. I try to convey how this works in the work log. Below are some other methods that contribute to and make up that process.


Hypothesis & Extrapolation, Narration & Speculation

In my practice, I’ve learnt a lot from the way fiction operates and its potential to give rise to change. This is especially so in relation to Speculative-fiction (spec-fi) and Science-fiction (sci-fi). Science fiction uses scientific rhetoric in order to make its stories more plausible and persuasive, convincing the reader of its becoming-reality-potential. I have investigated how the genre can reinforce current power structures, but also how it has been subverted in afrofuturist, speculative feminism, eco-horror or queer sci-fi movements. In my text Sci-fi & Makt[1] I describe how I make use of Sci-fi modes in some of my works. Speculative fiction is useful to me because it uses scientific methods of hypothesis and extrapolation but with the freedom to ask more inventive what-if-questions. As Judith Merril says it’s “a special sort of contemporary writing which makes use of fantastic and inventive elements to comment on, or speculate about, society, humanity, life, the cosmos, reality”[2]. Speculation as research method becomes necessary when there is no other way of getting knowledge about something, like grasping alternate worlds or futures. It can even be a way to open up a transition to an otherwise unlikely future[3]. That’s why it is also of interest in forecasting-techniques in climate and resilience research.  The speculation in Spec-fi deals with fundamentals, with what is real or possible. It requires that the laws of the world are different in some sense. It makes it a vital method in relation to world-building projects.

 

Worldbuildning & transmedia storytelling

Especially in these Anthropocene times, we don’t have to accept the world as it is, we can make assumptions and images that transform it. Creating worlds is an old art form, it can be defined by: 1) In the ideal case, there will be a series of works that use the same world 2) That world should differ noticeably from ‘our’ world 3) That world should have a geography and history of its own 4) That world can be enhanced in its difference by having physical laws different from our own[1]. The purpose of this research is to investigate and rework our relationship with environment and ecology. In world-building the world sets the parameters from which characters and narratives can be derived. Therefore, it is an appropriate approach when it comes to challenging the current hierarchy around from human centred to earth centred perspectives. To create the multitude a world requires, I often tap into other systems of narration. By diverting and linking my work to on-going fan-fictions, archives, circulating media, scientific news, memes and viral facts it’s contours are blurred and it extends its tentacles into the living on-going storytelling of the digital society. This way the sense of living world can be achieved also in smaller independent projects. A collective process also contributes to a more vibrant and diverse worldbuilding. I plan to make use of Alex McDowells roleplaying methods. In roleplaying sessions persons connected to this project from different disciplines and specializations (activism, sustainability, art, physics, geology etc) will contribute to defining the world.

 

My main interests are in systems and “wholes”. The full range of things, from material to structural to epistemological and ontological. I often work with interactions on all levels simultaneously in order to trace their effects, how they are connected, how they interact and affect each other. Thats also why I'm drawn to worldbuilding as an artform. My intrests in the whole also brings about the desire for sustainability. For things to be fair, balanced, for “the whole” to sustain and thrive.

I specialize in the depiction of landscape and some of my previous works come close to worldbuilding definitions. Fault in The Tale is an installation work with film essays, sculptures and animations depicting a world where mountains transform themselves in a dialogue with human society. Return of the Silurian is an on-going worldbuilding project of a far into the future underwater world. The worldbuilding in this research will be guided by what-if questions like: What happens if a time-machine confronts us with our future generations? What if we were forced to think about temporal territories the way we think of spatial territories? What if the future could make claims regarding natural resources & compensation for ruined land? What if the future tried to sabotage the present in secret attacks? What if there were rebels in the present siding with the future? What if a particle that can unfold into a game, a film, could be sent through the time machine? By using traditional animation techniques mindfully, I will try to establish dialogue with materials and environment in the design process. For example, in stop motion animation, when I animate different objects and materials I transfer the movement from my body into the animated object. In this transfer the self sometimes follows and I become the object that I animate. It’s a trans-corporeal experience of ceasing to exist as a separate entity and instead becoming one with something else. In my work Greening Cells[2], a series of paintings on transparent celluloid, I explore examples from animated films where an action or power materializes its own shape. The paintings then make living images together with its environment, by merging with it.

 

Crossdisciplinarity

Cross-disciplinary methods are important to me and I think differentiations between natural and human science is increasingly uninteresting. Sarah Demeuse writes: “I’m particularly called in by Persson’s seemingly ingenious, though persistent way of approaching and attempting to work with natural scientists. Her drive to inform herself at the source signals contemporary modes of research (a more networked world, after all, allows for more immediate access to experts), and forces the experts to enter a messier terrain[3].“  I often involve scientists in my research, work and teaching. Last February I took several of my students to participate in Konnect[4], a project where scientists and artists worked together during intense workshop days. Art and scientific research have much

in common, although art seeks the particular and science the general. The problem, according to Lina Persson, is that science

is often coded as white and male, that it pretends to represent reality, despite the fact that scientific models are repeatedly proven inaccurate and are constantly rewritten. Artists have always been very sensitive to the cracks that lead to scientific paradigm shifts, and Persson through her playful, progressive futurism is identifying those scientific cracks, nevertheless in relation to socioeconomical models[5].

Quantitative methods & commitment

In the my practice quantitative methods play a role in breaking with internalized and normalized outdated structures or unjust privileges. When used to privilege, equality feels like oppression. Therefore, it can be necessary to measure behaviour in order to render privileges visible. An external sustainability consultant will be measuring and certifying any climate-just method, I develop, I will also be personally involved in the energy measurement process. There are many tools with which to measure the climate impact of a person or process. There are text-based documents, footprint calculators, surveys and logs, and measurement technologies available on the market and ready to use. I plan to use of a combination of these tools and after measuring behaviour, collecting data on climate impact, analysing the data, making conclusions from the analysis and formulating regulations, I will personally commit to following these self-imposed regulations. Both my methods and my commitment will be reviewed by the external consultant. Here you can watch an exerpt from our discussion on quantative and crossdicilinary methods: https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/848335/1022482 .



[1] James DiGiovanna. Worldmaking as an Art. The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2. 2007. 118.

[3] Sarah Demeuse. Speculating artistic speculation. Rivet, New York. 2011. http://rivet-rivet.net/pdf/speculating_artistic_speculation.pdf

[4] See, Konnect; accsessed on March 5 2015; http://konnect.hi.is/

[5] Ravini, Sinziana, 2011. Shifting the Real-Three Case Studies from the Nordic Art Scene, Code Magazine #3