We Have the Technology
For every problem that we face there are solutions available, be they technological, social, legislative, or otherwise. The real issue is whether or not we humans are ready and willing to implement them. When I was an Environmental Studies student I was primarily intersted in how humans relate to the environment and in particular what humans could do to save the planet. I took all kinds of classes, ranging from Environmental Justice, to Sustainability, and everything in between. Since leaving school, I found that the same could be said for many other human problems.
It seems technology has reached a point where we can potentially solve any problem that comes our way, should we have the wisdom, will, and capacity to do so. Its no longer a question of can we, but rather: should we and will we? Our destiny on this planet, our collective future is very much in our hands, and its up to us all to create the future we want.
But that’s a tough question. What exactly do we want? Where do we want to go with all this? Well, for one, I think it’s safe to say that we all want to keep living- we want to survive. But the way we do that is very much in question. Is mere survival enough? What good is survival if it is a life that is not worth living? These are the questions that have obssesed me and gripped my imagination ever since comlpleting my degree.
Upon leaving school, I had to ask myself: how do we start this conversation? How do we engage people in a way that will help them understand what is availiable to us and what is at stake? My conclusion has brought me to interactive fiction. Why fiction? Well, for one, my studies enlightened me to the impotence of reason. Ecologists have more than enough evidence to make a convincing rational argument for ecological conservation, climate change action, and pollution reduction. Regardless, climate denial remains rampant and powerful, and even our strongest climate treaties like the Paris accords fall far short of what climate scientists are reccomending. This in itself is a larger subject, and I’ll explore it in more depth in a later entry. Suffice to say that the complexity and depth of climate and ecological issues delivered in a straightforward, rational Al Gore drone will bore the public, rather than engage them.
The other major reason is that younger generations (read: millenials) don’t consume media like the generations before. As one of the last generations that will be able to remember a life before the internet, I have an appreciation for both traditional media and digital media. I see that in the age of information and emapthetic overload, novelty is hot commodity. These days, that almost necessarily means multimedia, multi-platform engagement. Why? Because when we of the younger generations read a story, we usually don’t just leave it at that. We get online and look for all the different angles, all the different sides and perspectives and analysis. The savvy among us have more abiltity than ever to cut through the lies and falsities that once got a pass in the pre-internet days. But these days, it takes more than one media form to get an idea, a story, or an opinion across. Furthermore, the nature of the media has changed. When anyone can create thier own content and upload it to the internet, strange things happen. Previously silent voices are heard, and information is simultaneously more readily available and known while being incredibly unuseful and inactionable.
Something must change in the way we use literary media if we as a collective species are to thrive into the future, take charge of the climate, and claim responsibility for the power of our tools and minds. This is why I am intersted in immersive and interactive media and live perfomances. In all of these, the media is there to facilitate pesonal action- even if its a small action. In this facilitation, there is an invitation to step in through the traditional fourth wall and dismantle it forever. In this invitation to participation, we engage the body and its unique sensuous logic, feeling our thoughts, and allowing us to embody experiences that fit with our highest ideas and deepest fears. Rather than remaining ungrounded and in the realm of thought indefinately, interactive storytelling has the potential to engage participants or audiences in high concepts like never before.
In a world that is becoming more and more complex with every passing day, embodied understandings of data, science, psychology, social movements and more will be essential to maintain the integrity of the fabric of society. Despite having great new ways to engage the senses and tell stories like never before, I am excited to utilize the latest tools and storytelling methods for the good of mankind and as an aid in the fight for our collective future.