Through the Far-See-Er:

Imagining an Institute for eUtopia

afo, ARS Electronica

Thursday 6th - Monday 10th September 2018

with Leonie Reese, Sebastian Six, Gabriela Gordillo, Klimentina Milenova, Karin Schmid, Katharina Lackner, Fabian Frei, Pippa Buchanan, Gregor Woschitz, Jürgen Ropp, Remo Rauscher, Laurien Bachmann, Dominic Schraml, Elisabeth Schrempf, David Theil, Sabine Bujnoch, Sabine Pfeiffer, Pete Hindle, Xian Zheng, Sarah Duringer, Bernadette Laimbauer, Pia Mayrwöger, Isabella Auer and Reinhard Zach.

 

Thanks to all of these wonderful people, to Franz and Uschi from afo and to Linz imPULs

(Television’ in German is ‘Fernseer’, which means 'far-see-er')

Through the Far-See-Er was a one person, 30 minute experience like being the star of an action movie for a missing genre - eutopia (positive futures). Each visitor was pumelled with ideas, information and minor physical challenges as the machinery of the exhibition moved itself around especially for them.

2018_Far_See_Er_Final_map.png

0. Cafe & Welcome

 

The viewer was welcomed into 'Imagining an Institute for eUtopia', by Bunn. He explained it was a prototype for an institute dedicated to exploring and discussing ideas around a more positive future. He detailed in brief his observation that the mainstream is full of films that confirm the status quo and that SF is almost exclusively dystopic:

 

"As we know our world to be breaking environmentally, with regards to wealth inequality and rising nationalism there is a glaring absence: eUtopian fictions. This is the reason for imagining an Institute for eUtopia."

 

He went on to describe how such an institute might work, suggesting a range of different ways of interacting within the Institute, from discussion rooms and a library to a story and film making lab. He then explained that one part of the experience would be a kind of ride that was intended to prime the viewer with ideas about what a more positive near-future place might look like.

 

This was the Far-See-Er 'Ride', which they would then take. He explained to each viewer that in an ideal Institute for eUtopia, such a 'ride' would be possible to take with short notice by anyone visiting, that it would be disabled and elderly friendly, and that there would be more route options. Due to the nature of the experiment this was not true of the prototype, which was only open for three hours per day for a total of three days. This meant that in the end 18 people experienced the work as it was intended.

 

The final part of the explanation, which developed as the 'test visitors' undertook the experience, involved a health and safety warning:

Imagining an Institute for eUtopia,

Health and safety warning:


You should expect to crawl and slide. You will come into physical contact with other people. You are going to have to watch them, listen to them, talk to them and question them. There are going to be moments that involve an amount of trust and moments of not being able to see. At all times our kind, caring staff are there for you. They are not planning to jump out at you or scare you. Though there may be challenging moments mentally you will be physically safe at all times.

The viewer was then led into the first room of the exhibition:

1. Bedroom (characters by Karin Schmid, interface by Jürgen Ropp).

 

The viewer finds themselves in a stripped down bedroom of sorts. Ideally there would have been a few more details on the walls etc. Via the interface they navigate through a German / English option before being presented with the same woman in four different outfits. Karin, who played the guide, created four different characters from which the viewer could choose. She then stayed in this role for the duration of their 'ride'.

 

On the screen, the viewer is invited to choose their 'guide'. On so doing they see a short video where the guide introduces herself as: Kelly (positive and assertive, mid-Atlantic), Marscha (blunt possibly Eastern European), Celine (shy, possibly French) and the actress herself, Karin. With variations, she welcomes them to their journey through eUtopia and says she is looking forward to meeting them soon. At the end of the video the television screen rises up to reveal a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel is Karin, dressed in character. She says "Hi" and invites them to climb into the tunnel and crawl towards her.

2. Tunnel.

 

The choir starts to make 'white noise' here (chhhhhhhhh), until the viewer has reached Karin, at which time they realise there is a TV in front and below them. The screen shows a protest of sorts:

As they watch the 'protest', which also contains sound, the choir repeat the chant of "We want what's in the film" in a loop.

 

Meanwhile Karin engaged the viewer in a discussion about what this video might be about. "Had they ever seen such a protest outside of a cinema before?" "Why might such a protest occur?" etc. Depending upon the viewer, this discussion needed more or less guidance from Karin. Ultimately they would conclude or recall, repeating my introduction, that there was an absence of eutopia from the mainstream. At this point Karin would declare, "You've got it!", prompting the doorway to #3 to open.

 

 

3. Clinical Space.

 

Providing a contrast to the verbal nature of #2, the clinical space was a non-verbal space, with hands coming out of the wall to greet and guide the viewer. The sound of oscillators and circuit bending accompanied the viewer's motion through this space. The white walls and clinical feel were intended to suggest the feeling of some kind of medical examination, implying sickness or healing. The only route out of this space led to the chair, which had to be sat in. A hand from behind the curtain turned the viewer, engaging them with space #4, which they could see and were connected to through the viewing hole in the wall.

4. Adverts Are Over.

Having already encountered the choir, this was the viewer's first encounter with the actors. Through the hole, the viewer could see the top of the reverse side of a television, which the actors were watching. They could see the actors directly in front of them. They could hear the sounds of a TV advert, chosen by the actors from a list including Sprite, Doritos, Kia, Medical Insurance, etc. For around 30 seconds they watched the actors watching the advert and looking disturbed / puzzled.

Following this was a short, improvised conversation about how ridiculous adverts had been 'back then', to give the viewer the idea that perhaps in some future space adverts might no longer hold such dominance over our lives. The dialogue was interrupted by Karin, who rotated the viewer around into the curtained corridors of #5.

 

5. Dream (by Kathi Lackner).

 

Karin helped the viewer up and then explained that she wanted to tell them about a dream she had, where everything had been different. She told them that in her dream she had floated through Taubenmarkt, which looked like the image on the curtain. These drawings were done by Kathi and then used during one of the workshops Bunn organised this year to discuss eutopia with interested parties. The additional ideas and comments come from other workshop participants.

taubenmarkt_clean_small.jpg
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Having engaged the viewer with the contents of the first drawing, Karin goes on to describe how her spirit drifted from there across the bridge and to the Rathaus, which was somehow split open and looked like a spaceship. At the second drawing she also encouraged the viewer to look closer at the image and drew out details with them. Then she told them to float on, around the corner.

 

Around said corner they could see a strange brown lump at an office chair and hear the sound of typing:

6a. Office Worker (by Fabian Frei).

 

If the viewer was not already in a too passive state at this point, in the ideal run through they would simply follow the sound of the clacking until reaching the little office cubicle at the end of the corridor. The strange lump would turn around to look at them, revealing itself to be a tired, grumpy office worker who says, "What the fuck do you want?" or "Who the fuck are you?" or "What the fuck are you doing here?"

 

Here the choir are making office sounds - more clacking of keys, "Did you send me the email yet?" etc.

 

One way or another this opener would lead the viewer to discover that this poor man hates his job but doesn't feel he can leave. Nor does he feel as if his work is doing anything. Sometimes he has to kill time on facebook to make his hours up. He dabbles in meme generation. He is helpless and pathetic. He hates his life but cannot change it. Eventually he says, "Oh, but you're here for the thing, aren't you?" The thing is going to the future. The way is, "That way", under his desk. The viewer must crawl underneath the desk into...

A small white walled cubicle where they meet their guide again.

7. Lunch app..

 

She is crouching too and helps them up. Saying that it is nice to see them again, she lifts her arm up to the side of their head, explaining that she is uploading a new app to them. Only it doesn't appear to be working.

 

Finally she shows them a graphic of the Lunch app, and explains that this new app has been agreed by the city as being a great way to break down the bubbles. If you are planning on going to lunch but don't have someone to eat with, you can tell the app. It will compare your available times with people you know who are in the area and try to match eating preferences too. Sometimes it will throw up a wildcard, wherein you are invited to have lunch with people you don't know from the city. Some of them might have similar interests to you, others might be completely different to you. The idea being that the app will bring people into contact who wouldn't normally meet.                                                       

 

After all that she tells you your date is in 10 minutes and sends you through the curtain.

Through the Far-See-Er, Lunch app. logo, 2018

Viewer talks to the Artificial Intelligence from the Future, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

8. A.I. (l.e.d.'s by Jürgen Ropp).

 

This is the viewer's second encounter with the actors, who all came from various improv. groups that Karin taught. They were all local people based in Linz. The A.I. idea obviously has its origins in my thesis, but it also came out of a series of exercises we ran through with the choir in early August. Here the viewer is presented with the sight of four pairs of legs standing inside of a floating box with flashing l.e.d's across its front.

 

The box speaks: "I AM AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE FROM THE FUTURE. YOU CAN ASK ME THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT EUTOPIA. WHAT IS YOUR FIRST QUESTION?" What follows is an improvised conversation about a more eutopic future, negotiated between the actors and the viewer. After the third question has been answered, the curtain dividing 8 from 6 is opened and they meet the same character from 6a again. He's wearing different clothes and in fact, this time he's a happy...

6b, The Office Worker is Happy! Fabian Frei, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

6b. Robot Worker (by Fabian Frei).

 

The choir are making technological and bleeping sounds.

 

He shows the viewer his office with delight and refers to the guy who was there before, saying that, "He's now off doing things that humans do well, like interacting with others, tending to things, creating things" etc. He drops it casually into conversation that he's a robot, happily managing the data so that people don't have to. After further conversation he suggests they might like to see what other humans are doing now, opening the curtain which leads up some small steps to:

9 Meet the plant/woman, Pippa Buchanan, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

9. Plant / Woman (by Pippa Buchanan).

 

The choir switch to nature sounds, pan flutes, recorders, birdsong noises etc. The walls are covered with projections of nature - a group of redwoods seen from the ground up that continually rotates, overlapped by a slow loop of fungus growing. Shadows of plant leaves also cast onto the walls. A woman covered in leaves and roots turns to silently greet the viewer. What follows is a completely non-verbal exchange.

9 Meet the plant/woman, Pippa Buchanan sits down with the viewer, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

She draws the viewer down to sit on the floor. She passes them a small collection of 'precious things', a piece of bone, something furry, a shell etc. After some time of contemplating: touching, smelling, listening, she proffers two small leaves on a ceremonial piece of wood to the viewer. She eats one - a piece of wild basil, inviting the viewer to do the same. Finally they exchange an embrace.

At the end of the exchange she gestures for them to go on, down the slide and into the den:

9 >>> 10. Viewer meets choir inside of the Den (top of slide view), ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

10. Den (by Gregor Woschitz).

 

At the bottom of the slide the viewer lands upon mattresses, collected under some kind of wooden frame that feels a bit like being under a table and is covered in blankets and bedecked with fairy lights. Two members of the choir are sitting playing a child's game, clapping hands together. As they play they are saying to one another, "When I grow up I want..." where the ends of the sentences are filled in from fragments of the viewer's conversation with the A.I. earlier.

10. Viewer meets choir inside of the Den, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

Bunn had intended this part to contain wishes from previous viewers, gathered at the end, but the organic way the choir understood and solved this problem during rehearsal seemed to fit much better. As acting participants of the work each time Bunn trusted their feeling for each viewer to be more sensitive than wanting to give them further instructions and lists.

11. Viewer eats with the actors in the Special Guest Kitchen, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

11. Restaurant (with food from Zheng Xian (Chinese Noodle Salad) or Pete Hindle (Orange Cake)).

 

When the viewer has heard enough cycles, Karin arrives in character and calls, "Lunchtime!" whereupon she leads the viewer back into the first space of the trip through a secondary door. In between times the mattress has been added to the Den, the table and two chairs that were under it are now arranged with cushions around them to become a restaurant space and the screen is displaying the logo, 'SPECIAL GUEST KITCHEN'. There is food on the table and the actors are seated around, waiting for their lunch date.

This was another improvised scene, this time involving direct interaction between the viewer and the actors. The actors were asked to begin by delivering the concept of the Special Guest Kitchen: a Linz replacement for McDonalds on Taubenmarkt. The idea being that instead of the Asian women you see serving in McDonalds having to serve you plastic burgers, such prime retail spaces would now be a restaurant that hosts new arrivals in the city. In exchange for their cooking dishes from their homeland they are well paid and helped to integrate into the community, exchanging language skills, cooking ideas and conversation.

 

In greeting, the actors stodd and put their arms upon one anothers shoulders, the visitor included, implying some kind of unknown yet 'normal' ritual. The conversation was then free to go where it wanted, perhaps focusing on the clothes and behaviour of the visitor, who didn't know the rituals and the ways of interacting of the diners. At a certain point - always decided in advance by drawing straws - one of the actors was charged to start an argument with another of the actors, who they were in love with but who didn't love them back. This tiff would escalate into an argument, at which point Karin would arrive and pull the visitor away, observing that humans will still be humans, even in a better world.

 

Bunn had wanted a laser gun to be pulled out at this point, raising the stakes a little (like the opening scene in Pulp Fiction), but the actors deemed this excessive. Bunn remains unsure about this exclusion...

Viewer meets 'Mascha' at the end of 12, the Tram, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

12. Tram.

 

Leaving by the same door as they entered from, the viewer was this time directed into the tram and instructed to stay with the infoscreen, which was created to mirror the Linz tram's infoscreens, in blue, with additional lines and stops. The news displayed complemented previous encounters that the viewer had experienced and anticipated #14, which was yet to come. It also moved, being pulled on a chord by one of the choir hidden inside the curtains of #13. In this way the viewer was led slowly through the empty tram, around which the choir were making rattling, ghosty noises - this scene was intended to visualise the haunted ghost futures Mark Fisher suggests we were promised.

12. Info displayed in the 'tram', reinforcing previous ideas and introducing the idea of the Minotaur Mash...  2018

13. Shake your head to change the world (by Oliver Lehner).

 

At the end of the tram the viewer is invited into the junction space by their guide, who tells them that 'it is nearly over...', but now they are going to go to a darker place. 'She won't go with them, but will be there when they get back...'

 

Then she puts VR glasses into their head. Inside the VR glasses one sees either a) darkness, which some viewers experienced and found interesting, or b) a virtual model of a power station inside a kind of snow globe. Snow is falling and an instruction reads, 'Shake your head to change the world.' On starting to shake their head, the viewer receives instructions to keep going. Eventually, after much shaking, the particles start to rise and the power station is replaced by a field of wind turbines.

 

Meanwhile the choir has been making menacing noises and guiding the viewer - who can't see - out of the room, into the lift and downstairs into the cellar. As the lift descends the noises from the choir become more positive and shifts from minor to major.

13. Viewer wearing headset descends in the lift, accompanied by choir, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

14. Temple Rite.

 

Upon arrival into the large room in the cellar, the VR headset is removed and the viewer is presented with a video game called Rites of Passage, set within a simplified version of the Linz shopping centre, Passage. The game is shown on a large projection screen which they have to sit in front of on a small soft white duvet.

14. Viewer plays Rites of Passage, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

The keyboard to play the game is set on a low white plinth. Next to the keyboard is a piece of black fur with a mask made of masking tape (by Sebastian Six) placed at its centre. On either side of the projection screen are the choir, playing drums with beaters. Playing the game leads the viewer into the shopping centre, where they pass by the Special Guest Kitchen without being able to enter. Up the escalator is a strange looking place called the Minotaur Mash. Upon entering they are told the following story:

Following this the player sprite becomes a minotaur. The viewer must navigate a scene involving the smashing of plates and cups. When enough are broken they can break the glass. This leads them outside, where the minotaur smashes many trees, then a lake/sea, then many mountains. It gets dark. It then smashes The Earth, Saturn and finally The Sun.

 

Afterwards the minotaur is exhausted. It stands inside the same room as the character, panting. The viewer is asked to take up the plastic knife and gesture the cutting off of their own arms. Upon so doing a member of the choir presses a button and the arms come off the minotaur. They are then asked to cut off their own legs. On so doing, the legs come off the minotaur and it falls into the plinth. Finally they are asked to cut off their own head. The head comes off of the minotaur. Its body remains, which floats upwards, fades and is replaced by a glowing yellow shape. At this point the viewer is asked to sit in a wheelchair and a sleeping mask is placed over their eyes.

 

They are wheeled back up to the main room in silence.

14. Rites of Passage (from top right to bottom left) Title screen, outside Passage, at the gates, breaking the glass, just about to smash the sun, cutting off 'your own legs' 2018

15. Chapel of Light.

 

As the curtains are opened and the viewer is wheeled back into the space we all sing a note, harmonising on B. Then all stop. Karin approaches the viewer, asks them to keep the mask on and helps them out of the chair. She leads them across the room and into the cuppola, the panels of which can all be opened to allow access. She tells them there is a soft area to sit on and that they can take off the mask and in their own time stand up. Then we all start to sing:

15. Viewer inside cuppola, choir starts to sing, ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

 'Don't Get Sentimental'


Verse 1 (Sam):


Don't get sentimental

The best is yet to come

Yes, it's all quite mental

But it's not the setting sun


Chorus (all):


Don't get your knickers in a twist

Do bunch your fingers in a fist


Verse (instrumental)


Verse 2 (Sam and Sarah):


and Dip them into sugar

Melted in a pan

and Jam them in a doorframe

Where you'll trip the man


Chorus 2 (all):


 Sometimes it's not the glue that sticks

Other times it's not the fist that hits


Repeat Verse 1 (accapella) and Chorus 2 (all, rousingly) to finish

15. Lyrics to song 2018

During the final chorus the wings of the cuppola were opened so that the viewer could see everyone (before that we tried to stay behind the screens so that the experience is non-confrontational) Finally Karin returned to the viewer and told them it was over. Typically by this point we had all clapped anyway and it was clear.

15. Viewer inside cuppola, choir opens the cuppola ©Laurien Bachmann 2018

Following this was an informal discussion between Bunn and the viewer.

Viewer Feedback:

 

We put 18 people through it over 3 days, including cameraman Remo and two groups of two. Of the 18, 8 were female and 10 male. One pair consisted of a 9 year old boy and his mother. The other were a couple in their mid 70's. One of the males was also around 75 years old and another was 17. Outside of these, both the male and female adult groups were spread in age between 24 and retirement age.

 

A problem Bunn didn't manage to fully address was the nature of the viewers, many of whom came from or had links to the ARTS. We got quite a lot of meaningful, generally positive feedback, particularly directly afterwards.

 

Almost everyone's first words were that they loved it. Perhaps politeness and the pressure of facing such a large group necessitated this response.

 

Notable responses were that we made one person, a woman, cry at the end (I think it was the song on top of the whole experience). Several woman were very comfortable keeping the mask on at the end to listen to the song. It seemed to be a more male response to want to stand up and see what was going on. One person stood up, sung and danced along with it. The younger boy reported having had a great time, but observations from the group suggested he made his mother go in front of him almost the entire time. His favourite thing was going through the television at the beginning, which he expressed a desire to have installed in his own home. Two people, both woman, feigned dying during the minotaur scene in the temple. Another female was rather angry about being made to 'kill herself', which we felt was a valid response we tried to factor into subsequent Health and Safety warnings and Karin's guidance for descending to the temple. Several people talked about this part of the experience, rationalising it (killing your inner beast or as a penance for destroying the universe) or seeing it more directly as having to kill yourself or an animal.

Several people reported wishing that the experience had lasted longer, saying that it was too short to get really 'in'. There were several connections made to Alice in Wonderland. One viewer related the experience to some kind of mini labyrinth he had played in a lot as a child. Only one person - one of the older men - asked the names of the actors. He also related an experience he had in the 80's, when the first McDonalds arrived in Vienna. He and a group of activist artists went there and poured concrete into the toilets. The plant section was often described as being a favourite. We had no trouble with accessibility, even from the older participants - although we didn't have any physically disabled users.

 

One emergent problem for my position is the following:

Low Response to Eutopic Infrastructure:

 

Very few people came away with a feeling that they had been shown pictures of the future. One visitor was able to be more specific about this, observing that the world we showed him wasn't what he associated with the future as depicted by SF movies. He reflected that what we had showed him was a society future, not a technological future. This seems to fit with my idea that for males in particular, the future is often strongly related to technology. It raises the point that in pushing for near-future scenarios, it is hard to distinguish the present from the imaginary future space. Worth pointing out here is that a eUtopia doesn't have to be positioned in the future, it can also be placed sideways in a parallel world. The future is often chosen to draw a clear line between our reality and the fictional space. In not creating a clear step I am potentially muddying the space for cognitive estrangement.

 

Professional response to immersive experience:

 

One viewer, an artist who also creates immersive experiences, was rather specific in his response, which was positive: How was it? "Fantastic, a highlight of my Linz excursion. Amazing, multi-sensory in a really diverse way. Diverse and totally unexpected. Shifts substantially in the scenarios. Good dynamic arc.

 

"What about eutopia? "Nice little vignettes - to introduce the fragment of a concept."

 

Critical response:

 

Another viewer, a recent professor of mine, was much more critical in response, which was also very welcome: Having grown up or come of age in California during the 70's she explained that she brought quite a lot of baggage to her experience of this work. She found the ending too esoteric, which is fair enough. She disliked #4, and presumably though not necessarily #2, where the actors were 'telling her the way things are'. She explained that this kind of approach attacks the left brain directly, provoking resistance and asked, "Can you do participatory things rather than having to make decisions?" She talked about a teacher from MIT who asked his students to bring their least favourite food to a class - for her as a student, the pedagogical experience came afterwards, which she understood was "difficult when you have specific things you want to convey". She stressed that providing "opportunities for self discovery rather than creating a result I was supposed to achieve" was important and pointed out that I was "using the same methods as television". She also warned me of presenting myself as a lone wolf, crusading fearlessly for a better future - which is a point that terrifies me. She stated very clearly that I am not, and that political websites are doing the same thing. I agreed, but made the point that I in a way I am trying to share these ideas wider, using art as a capsule for these notions.
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She closed by saying, "When you drop barriers it provokes reciprocation in the other person." This critique remains interesting to me. A lot of what she said was correct, but I think I have been almost knowingly attempting to push at these barriers, in order to see where they might go, and to imagine what the response of the non art audience to an exhibition such as this might be.

 

Peer response:

 

For various reasons it's a bit hard for me to gauge this one accurately, but I got the impression peers from Interface Cultures were not very hot on the exclusive nature of this work. People felt excluded. A strong memelike critique in this vain was that 'something so exclusive is not very eutopic'. I think this is a fair response that is probably more about my bad communication about the work more than anything. Knowing that something is going on that some people are somehow being invited to but you are not is not a very nice experience. Because of the method I was wanting to explore - simulating a more popular type of ride with a choir and actors, who were working for goodwill (plus an ARS Electronica Pass), I was not able to have the work open for longer. With more volunteers we could have potentially opened the work in a more ongoing way, but this would have taken more organisational prowess and coordination than I could muster. Also in order to get decent feedback numbers needed to be limited. Ultimately this work was a prototype that was tested with a small group. The work was open at other times for people to stop by and at the end of our time in afo we did a finnisage, where more people could come. Myself and others involved did a number of tours on that night for more people, where we talked through the experience without the actors and the choir. This proved to be a good method for delivering the work, allowing the viewer more room for imagination.

 

When we did the first dress rehearsal, several days before the first performance, my impression was that Franz Koppelstätter (Mr. afo) got a better experience from the 'talk through' than he did from the actual ride, as we had a lot of kinks to iron out. The comments from this evening were very useful in bringing the work to a higher level of finish.

 

Finally, returning to the critique that this work was not very eutopic, I think there is an argument to be put that in one way, such a work is ultimately eutopic, for it was truly a no place, that those who were able to experience fully generally found to be positive. When one reads a fiction, one rarely is able to become the character, one is more often imagining the character's experience at some remove. These two methods of experiencing the Far-See-Er create an interesting frisson between being the character and reading about the character. Something to be further explored in the future.

 

Written responses:

 

Bunn asked for written responses from the viewers a few days after the performances had finished. He received the following responses:


Male, roughly 25:

 

What was your experience like?

 

The experience was absolutely positive, sometimes unexpected, sometimes disorienting, sometimes I had to act or fall into a character but I it was part of the journey as a whole. It created somehow a new mindset that stayed for a while even after some time.

What positive no-places did the experience create for you? Did you take away any lasting images of a different world?

A no-place where I can think about what I have just experienced and draw some conclusions or speculate about what has been explained to me in the beginning. It created a very stimulating mental no-place. It could be still there in my head and resurface from time to time, who knows.

 

Could you imagine a ‘ride’ like this being available for everyone in your city?

 

I would say that something like this for all the people would be positive under all aspects, but I have to say that I approached the experience already knowing somehow your background and topics. I am sure you will collect more reviews from people who didn’t know you in the first place, but I guess the concept could be harder to grasp for some people not eager to think differently, and some could be against the whole experience.

 

Female, roughly 30:

 

What was your experience like?

 

(The interactive Performance-Installation, or how do you call it?) It was a fantastic and wonderful experience for me. I felt like diving into a great fantasy movie and being part of the story also able to change it.

 

What positive no-places did the experience create for you? Did you take away any lasting images of a different world?

 

Not realy places or images more the things between were lasting. Through I was reminded about the small things than easily could bring positive feelings into my world: like humming a little melody or being happy about the wonderful gift from nature (like the nuts, fruits, threes) or also just closing my eyes and enjoy to listen...

 

Could you imagine a ‘ride’ like this being available for everyone in your city?

 

Everyone should see/do it!! Since I experienced it I kept thinking about it - how this could be reached! It is this kind of art work that really touches the people and in my opinion is more easy to 'understand' or in better words attracts a wider range of people... than contemporary art normally does.

 

Male, roughly 45:

 

The scenery immediately drew me in the spell. some places remembered me very much like scenes in alice in wonderland. a unique feeling to climb the tv. problem but also fine: conceived only for 1 person.


Female, around 50:


What was your experience like?

 

The installation caught me in a very emotional episode in my life which probably gave my experience an additional emo-kick, i didnt know what to expect and let myself kind of go and fall into this. being told, that "this will start with my childhood" was like taking me to tears already in the first room but then i was so happy and surprised to find such a kind and friendly guide through the installation (i forgot the beautiful & friendly ladys name again, sorry!), feeling like a child being very safely guided through a world it has to explore and knows nothing about. so - my experience was very down to emotional basics i guess (which i think has also to do with the yet beautiful but not over-perfect installation itself, not taking itself too seriously which let some space for me); i remember putting my shoes off in the room with pippa - just because i wanted to feel the ground and the soil she (as a tree?) seemed to stand on. it was funny, i behaved like a child i guess. all in all i'd say it was a colourful experience of surprise, friendlyness, but also trust, being able to rely, even when i didnt see anything and was asked to put on those goggles, i didnt feel blindsided or forced to do anything etc. - which was nice for me to experience especially that day.


What positive no-places did the experience create for you? (Did you take away any lasting images of a different world?)
 
the room where nature and human beings merge - not sure if my interpretation is correct, the room with pippa in it. it is a very respectful idea, to me it is about giving rights to all beings and living things, ideas  & theories of xenofeminism, cyborgs etc. pop up etc. which i think humans should pay way more attention to as possible way to live (and maybe no less than survive) as spcies amongst many other species. lets hope they dont treat us as we did treat them - so collaborating and merging with trees etc. was a good idea also when it comes to selbsterhaltung. (i now also remeber mexican women marrying trees a few months ago to save them from being cut - what a beautiful idea.)


Could you imagine a ‘ride’ like this being available for everyone in your city?

 

yes, unbedingt!

Female, around 26:


I enjoyed being a participant a lot, you created a wonderland - it was one of these moments where I thought somebody should really create a place like this - and you did.


The things happening there covered a lot of the vision that I also share about the future: AI, future of nature, new laws regulating technology, how people live together, how to preserve the past,... It was an interesting summary of what you came up with and gave a good intro to what you were researching in your thesis (the most alive abstract of a theory work I ever got was definitely this performance)


I've seen three performances by you so far - the one in salzamt and the one at st. interface day... What I love about all of them that they are weird in a way that I've never seen before, but super coherent in the story telling and I can always follow and at the same time think I came up with some conclusions by myself. So it's unexpected and foreseeable weirdness in a very good balance that makes your stories and ways of telling them very exciting. What I didn't see much was Utopia itself.. Because you often start by saying imagine.. there was more utopian visions and more positivity about the future


But by that you always get me thinking that everything is actually shit.. And when you show shopping centers and trams and robots replacing humans and we are the beast killing the planet and nature becoming a cyborg to be the only way we can protect it... it's super dystopian for me!!
In the end at least I finally feel good about waking up from the horror trip by horror trip i mean the whole input i get by passing all the scenes.. The experience itself of exploring and climbing and accepting the input from the actors and going along with it and questioning is super good! I wish there was more of these kind of experiences.. instead of exhibitions or documentary or passively watching an theatre.


I wish for that because I love impro theatre and being involved. In this case I didnt want to act too subversively because of my personal relationship to all the participant: You trained hard to get this running so I didn't want to interrupt but go along with it and see the story - as a well behaved participant.


From this perspective you really gave me a mirror in the basement scene - of how I reacted to it and how I became angry about you putting me in this situation - it made me think a lot how I behave in these extraordinary situations and what really gets close to me. So thank you very much, it was unimaginable and very necessary, entertaining and for sure a lot of effort

Male, around 38:


What was your experience like?

 

It was like a theatre with changed roles, where I am the actor and the actors are watching me. It was very interesting to walk/crawl/slide through the maze and I was really amazed with the amount of work that you put into the piece. I felt a little nervous in this being-watched-situation maybe also amplified with the usage of cameras.


What positive no-places did the experience create for you? (Did you take away any lasting images of a different world?)

 

Not really any, since the rooms and animations were rather trashy styled (what i like) this didn't get me into a realistic feeling of an utopy. (Maybe also i didn't feel very free to let my imagination flow) The strongest moment for me was the one in the basement, with the computer game and the drums. that was very intense.


Could you imagine a ‘ride’ like this being available for everyone in your city?

 

Sure, why not?

 

Male, roughly 45:

 

What was your experience like?

 

It was awesome. Being in a super pursuit mode and getting a lot of different impressions. I have to add that a love those a little bit trashy, a little bit weird situations where you expect that unexpected things will happen. Not sure about the sometimes sectarian atmosphere. Maybe that was a little bit too much.

 

Did you take away any lasting images of a different world?

 

Yes. The scene was packed with a lot of it. Robots overtaking the work, reinvention of nature, no more cars. But everything distorted with dystopian fragments, e. g. the emotional discussion in the family or the somehow odd/naive dialogue between the two artists (?) in the tent.

 

Could you imagine a "ride" like this being available for everyone in your city?

 

In theory: yes. On a practical level: no. First of all, the aesthetics and the staging are very "artistic", so I don't think that people will get touched who are not used to a certain kind of exhibitions and installations. Secondly, certain groups would be excluded because of the setting, especially people who are not that mobile.

 

Male, 17:

 

What was your experience like?

 

It was an unexpected but great experience since I've never done such a kind of tour/theme park. I've already addressed the majority of the problems, which are mostly based on the technology. (He thought Bunn's coding was crap)

 

Could you imagine a ‘ride’ like this being available for everyone in your city?

 

Sure! Although it's probably hard to find the right places where you can pursue the ride optimally.

 

What positive no-places did the experience create for you?

 

Sorry I don't really know what the term 'positive no-places' means.

 

Responses of the actors, choir and working team: Almost entirely positive. Bunn received lots of informal thanks and hugs for creating a space where these people could play together. I also received this, from one of the local improv. actors, who works as a social worker:

 

Hi Sam,

here is my response to the experiment:

 

As I got home, the following sentences/ideas/thoughts came straight into my mind:

 

I can rebuild my reality every day

I can build my own eutopia every day

The experiment made me think how I want my future to be

It gave me energy

It rebooted my mind, my way of thinking.....even if it was also tiring and exhausting to be concentrated for such a long time

Made me think about my idea of world

Let me understand the first time the value of art in our society, how art can influence my way of thinking

 

Got my mind opened up for different and other ideas And yes...I think it can work in another city/place as well. The reactions might be different to certain parts of the experiment, according to the culture where people come from/live in.

 

Thank you so much for being part of the team.

"THANKYOU"