Possible reality. The wisdom of disappearing nature
“If you want to know the secrets of Nature, you need to train more carefully in humanity…” Richard Powers
What if we could communicate or even collaborate with other non-human beings on our planet? That exact question was posed by scientists, designers and engineers who have recently created an innovative, disruptive technology allowing mutual communication with certain animal species. Few representatives of endangered species living in Poland, decided to become a part of the program as first volunteers. It is 2028 and in the newly established Interspecies Research Center at WUDzisław (Poland) it gets noisy and very intriguing…
And, what if we go back in time a couple of years, let’s say to… 2022, so we could experience processes and experiments that lead to this moment? How this interaction with immature, emerging technology enabling communication with other non-human creatures could look like? How would users experience it? What those experiences would tell them about the world, but also about themselves?
What does it mean to communicate with another being, different from me?
“Plausible Reality. Wisdom of the vanishing nature” – exposition is a continuation of a project started in 2020 by WUD Silesia – community related research on new technologies, user experience design, that strongly accentuates questions on designer’s responsibility in today's world. Through speculative design ideas, creators invite us to dive into the “plausible future”, where communication with other animal species is becoming a reality. By introducing quasi-technological artifacts from fictional, but feeling very real worlds, the area of discussion opens wide it’s gates. What is the meaning and direction of discovery, at times of gradually progressing human disconnection from the Nature?
Provocative technological solutions and artistic installations are inspired, among others, by a deep ecology approach. We may find out that communication with another non-human being is something else than we expect…
This city is a big accelerator. A big “WUD if”. This city sleeps only sometimes. When the last lights go out, WUDzislaw dreams of innovation...
After receiving huge funding to develop technology facilitating communication with animals, a relatively quiet and safe Silesian city has changed its local character. All the scientists, programmers, inventors, and self-proclaimed visionaries flowing in are slowly starting to eradicate the indigenous population. A real property developer is rubbing its metaphorical hands and welcomes new clients gladly, offering them their own place with a microscopic garden. The city is slowly starting to resemble a campus, or as some mockers say, a “Coal Valley”, only instead of black gold, this space is a mine of talent and projects.
This ideal is not without cracks. The proposed technological solutions are not yet able to respond to the ambitions of sponsors. The animals invited to the projects bounce off the legal ambiguities along the lines of B2A (business to animal) employee contracts.
There are ongoing media debates about the legitimacy of this direction for development, some environmentalists are protesting, politicians are taking positions... In all that noise, can anyone still hear anything?
multimedia installation, website prototype
Animals, which have accompanied us in our development for centuries, are unobtrusively but consistently evolving and adapting to the conditions created by man in the process of urbanization.
As we walk, talk, play, sleep, work on another potentially profitable business... they are watching us closely. Millions of eyes watch us every day from trees, rooftops, lawns, through basement windows and sewers, not to mention those faithful friends that sleep by our side.
Animals are learning us as we are still trying quite poorly to talk to them.
And here comes a breakthrough on the investment market, as our “little friends” decide to take matters into their own paws, wings, flippers and pseudopods. Pangean Ventures is a proposed financial solution that will allow animals to gain independence. Its unique value proposition is enabling non-human creatures to develop self-determination and to build a sense of subjectivity through financial independence.
Time will tell how this model affects the fate of the world...
Why did we assume that animals would want to cooperate on our terms? It is extremely arrogant of us to expect all living beings to submit to our will in the name of development.
According to the media, Tatra chamois protected by a group of bears are leaving the Tatra Mountains and taking to the streets to show their discontent. The news travels fast beyond the country’s borders and motivates their nearby Alpine cousins to follow suit. Who will be next?
The decisions and agency of animals escape our logic. We turn our lack of understanding into environmental fun facts, catchy news and humorous anecdotes.
It is often easier to laugh when you are concerned than to confront difficulties in communication. How to build understanding when we do not take each other seriously?
In this world, the most valuable currency is our attention. Where we place our attention is what we become.
Everything around us fights for our attention. It tempts us with words, images and sensuality, intrigues us with promises. When looking at these images we can sometimes notice that they reflect the greatest desires but also answer the modern fears and moral doubts.
Take a look around and you will surely find a quick solution to burning existential issues.
Help our dependents. All it takes is your signature, your declaration of support.
“In the I DON’T KNOW state I see things for what they are...” Ryszard Kulik
An unexpected hacker attack on a lab where the latest voice systems were being tested with animals has resulted in a massive leak. For months the media had been speculating about the first stable version of the messenger, when suddenly it literally went viral, released illegally online for use by average users.
Now basically anyone, after hiding their IP, can talk to a Tatra chamois.
However, the first contact with this creature is not what we had expected. Humanity is beginning to realize that there are no simple answers and the truth can be very relative and highly uncomfortable.
We dreamed of collaboration, interspecific knowledge exchange, building bridges of understanding by stimulating our empathy... a beautiful dream of a better tomorrow.
In reality, even a potential one, such an intervention is a turning point with serious consequences. It is a catalyst of social change, an upheaval that will determine the fate of the future. What we initially considered a science-fiction scenario will become the day-to-day reality for our children and future generations.
They will grow up in an interspecific society with conflicting goals and interests.
A glimpse of the future to come may initially cause our disbelief and resistance. That's ok, it’s very human, natural. Identify, accept, confront.
Do you know who you are?
Development and accelerating culture have entered mystical dimensions. Civilization is starting to create new spiritual beliefs growing out of decades of rational interspecies coexistence.
As is written in the Book of Development.
When man once again humbled himself before the reptilian being, it responded instinctively.
Man received time, which he so desires, to develop his thought.
Has the time to think been used wisely?
Listening to the whisper of the Aesculapian snake, one can feel the subtle murmur of a mythical communal past – a past that we dig out of parables, we dust off “senile storytelling” whenever we allow ourselves to raise our eyes above self-development guides.
“Animals are our teachers – thanks to them we can see how we could function if our responses were completely instinctive and if we lived in harmony with ourselves and our environment.” Peter A. Levine
Today’s the premiere! Elegant ladies and gentlemen are approaching the wave-washed opera house on their yachts. They are enjoying champagne and snacks. Bouts of laughter can be heard every now and then, covering up the anxious wait for the premiere. The creative director stresses that it is a unique event on a global scale, but what can be called special and unique these days?
The orchestra have been tuning their instruments for over half an hour now, the first signs of impatience are starting to appear... when suddenly, in the hubbub of words, sounds, murmurs and laughter, a completely new tone starts to emerge quietly and gently.
It does not raise above the others, but it does not let itself be tamed or drowned out either. A quiet melody subtly interweaves the atmosphere in the opera space, slowly filling it with its non-dominant intensity.
The porpoise song flows from the very center of the room. It is a song dedicated to those open to hear it.
The porpoises sing of love. They touch hearts. They reach even the deepest buried emotions. It is a song of life, mold that takes the breath away...
“This time was outside ordinary time, and outside ordinary feelings; it involved danger for both of us; and it involved a bond between creatures who do not and cannot ordinarily relate to each other in any way (...) In all these respects, I think it isn’t amiss to think of this time as sacred.” - Ursula K. Le Guin
Once you embark on the path of deep experience, it is difficult to turn back, but also why would you?
Our senses intensify. We start to practice our attentiveness to all signals coming from the environment. We feel with our whole selves. We used to look at other beings through the “glass” of analysis. We named and assigned meaning to their movements, responses, behaviors. We named them the best we could. Our way, the human way, applying our value spectrum.
Now we go beyond purely mental analysis and linguistic interpretation. We enter the area of non-determination. In this black chaos, emerges, like a thin beam of light, the possibility of understanding through synchronization.
As fresh students of this cognitive process, we feel increasingly safe even when confronted with the unknown. We are able to tune our internal and external experiences. Slowly we start broadcasting messages without words.
“You are the one who acts and the effect of the action, you are the seer and the seen. Every time you learn or experience something, enriching your knowledge, you give a part back to the universe, thanking for the lessons taught.” - Arnold Mindell
When descending into the world of spirits or entering a dark forest, we become both hunter and game. Without seeing other beings, we feel their existence and see traces of the past as in the starry sky. Here, the odds of survival are leveled and regardless of the nature of the environment we function in, we rediscover ourselves – as part of a greater whole. We understand that every move we make, every decision or lack of it influence the structure we function in. Even if those consequences do not affect the here and now, but the there and later.
And when we look, quite literally, inside ourselves, it turns out that just a few percent is ourselves, and the rest is our microscopic allies who constitute “us”.
Then where do we end and where do we begin? Do we end and begin?
“All trunks in the world have a common root, from which side branches of the one ancient tree spring out, aiming towards something...” - Richard Powers
After such an intense journey, isn’t it time for the moral? A point made? Closure?
Here another question arises. Will you give yourself time?
Sit down in the shade of trees, dear interspecific wanderer, and listen to their stories.