In Vancouver, British Columbia, on a mild afternoon in early March of 2020, members of
the DLC research group gathered together in person—by foot, bicycle, and bus—in the basement
of Dr. Kedrick James’ house, to write together about the future. The setting of this first storying
jam is important: Dr. James is a musician, audiophile, and avid collector of vinyl records and
sound-making and sounding equipment of all sorts—both analogue and digital. Along the walls
and down the hallways of the basement are shelves and shelves, floor to ceiling, of meticulously
organized records that are arranged by geographic location, genre, time period, and artist, from
historic field recordings to urban jazz and rock and roll. The place and time of this writing event
is essential for it infused the storying process. The virtual and actual sonic environment, the
visual environment, our togetherness in that subterranean Borgesian library of music—these
provided the imaginative landscape and anchor points from which we each diffracted outwards
into imaginative and literal space, time, and geography.
That afternoon, we gathered around the small table, our laptops open in front of us. The
eery tension of a global pandemic moment of uncertainty provided narrative propulsion, along
with whatever record was playing on the stereo chosen at a whim by one or the other of us. The
story became a form of time travel. Together we turned the basement into a bathyscaphe and
submerged ourselves in an unspecified future unknown. We were ourselves, but in the future: a
research collective studying language, sound, literacy, modalities of communication, and
meaning. Among the questions we wrote with were:
- What will sounds sound like in an increasingly digitized future?
- How will meaning and technology evolve together and apart?
- How can we collaboratively write the future in a way that allows for multiple perspectives and temporalities?
We wrote simultaneously, allowing the thoughts to come freely. We wrote for a set
amount of time, and then read what we had written aloud to each other around the table. In this
way elements and ideas and characters began to circulate among us. At one point in this first
analogue session, a skunk passed by the basement window and into our storied universe,
becoming the central cyborgian posthuman figure of our further imaginings.
Days after this first writing session, social distancing became a reality and our
collaborative futures storying necessarily transitioned into virtual platforms and digital spaces.
However, this first face-to-face gathering in Kedrick’s basement, writing and listening to vinyl
records provided an embodied, analogue, and thematic tether to the physical world; it was a
place that we returned to again and again throughout our futures imaginings.