This publication is a documentation of a diverse range of activities that included a multitude of different bodies—and can only serve as an illustration of the actual experience of the many special encounters we had. However, the book also reflects the subject and subjectivities of our coded bodies through its making process. Every year H&D self-publishes an experimental publication. The process of making this publication enables us to reconnect with the growing network of participants and to reflect back on our own work as organizers and hosts. The publication is furthermore an occasion for us to question our design habits. In doing so, we try to use and build alternative design tools, such as the ‘PJ machine,’developed by Sarah Garcin or the newspaper generator developed by Heerko van der Kooij.
These pages have been designed with a tool, which goes by the name ‘heart-beat-to-print,’ and which was created in collaboration with Jonas Bohatch especially for this publication. We invited Jonas to work with us on an experimental publishing tool that considers and challenges our bodily engagement as an important part of the design process. Jonas was one of our participants of the Summer Academy in 2019. He hosted a workshop using heartbeat sensors, in collaboration with Andrea Valliere and Ana Jeličić. The ambition of the heartbeat-to-print tool was to influence the design of text and page layout by using input from our bodies. The tool differentiates between ‘head,’ ‘body’ and ‘foot’ as literal references to body parts. We were curious to investigate in what ways our heartbeats as well as our voices can affect a page layout. What if we shout or whisper? What if we get excited about a certain passage in the text? The tool registers the heartbeat of the user with a pulse sensor connected to a computer with an Arduino board, and the volume of the user’s voice is captured through a microphone. A Processing script picks up on both values and translates those values in real-time to different typographic expressions. The interface shows the page and works like a teleprompter. By pressing the spacebar, a word appears. You can read it aloud. After speaking the word, you release the space bar. The heartbeat value determines the font, and the volume determines the size. Jonas incorporated a control window where we can adjust the maximum and minimum size of head, body and foot.
In 2018 Hackers & Designers proposed to explore the notion of truth by interrogating what the tools and technologies that we are building, using and updating and therefore reaffirming are capable of? Do we really know? Do we need to know? The 4th edition of the H&D Summer Academy (HDSA2018) was given the title: Fake it! Fake them! Fake you! Fake us! calling for taking truth into own hands.
By inviting hackers/designers/makers/artists who took part in our activities in 2018 to participate to this new publication we propose to establish a critical perspective on truth and accountability in relation to technology, and call for an informed dealing and working with multiple truths. Together we look at the role of technical applications within the de-/construction of truth. How can the tools we build and use shape how we publish and consume media? Who can we trust when the concept of truth has vanished? Can ideas of 'subjectivity' replace the notions of objectivity and rationality? What happens to responsibility and accountability?
Hackers & Designers reflects on their activities in 2017 in this publication. In particular, we consider the learnings and questions raised during the investigation of processes of going on and off the grid. Taking this publication as an opportunity to reach out to the amazing beings who have collaborated with H&D in 2017, we aim to push forward self-initiation and hands-on and self-directed approaches to research – and to open up insights and discussions with other individuals and collectives.
The Sandberg Series publishes the research of each temporary program in book form at the end of their respective two year cycle. The book is both an outcome of the two years of reserach and a continuation of the topic beyond its positioning at the institute. The book series is co-published by Sternberg Press, and is widely distributed within a contemporary art context. Each new book develops on the language of the series, delving into the research topics and outcomes of the temporary programmes, and making these available to a broader public.
Reinventing Daily Life
Master of Voice
Juliette Lizotte and Office of Metaphors presents Sisters of the Wind, the publication!
Sisters of the Wind is the fruit of artistic research on witches, ecofeminism, and science-fiction carried out between 2018 and 2021 by Juliette Lizotte aka jujulove. It is a story that weaves through seven videos and can be experienced in different ways: an interactive audiovisual performance, an online world-building workshop a role play session, and this publication!
This publication concludes the three world-building workshops and role play sessions, which took place online in February 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though they were originally intended to unfold in the form of live action role play (larp). This new constraint led us to perform the world-building and role play exercises in an etherpad, an open source digital tool for co-writing text in real-time. The outcome of these sessions was archived and used as material for this publication.
You have to keep an open mind when entering this universe as it consists of three parallel worlds that were co-created during three sessions, each lasting three hours. The core of the story was similar, but the direction the sessions took were quite unique. The foundation of the story was written beforehand and participants were guided through it, warmly encouraged to make it their own by adding and inventing new parts that were not there before. It was important that everyone felt ownership over their characters and the developing story. It is worth noting that the objective of the sessions prioritised the enjoyment of the participants over the story making perfect sense. The results of these collective world-building endeavours are exciting, funny, beautiful, and richer than anything that could have been thought up by a single mind.
Most of the content in this publication was generated during these short world-building and role play sessions and was barely edited. It may feel a bit rough at times, but it is important that this publication retains the spirit of spontaneity and improvisation that was integral to these moments. As you float between worlds you will experience visions, these are the scripts of the videos made as part of the project and are indicated with glyphs.
You will recognise the different worlds by the characters who inhabit them and the unusual ways they express themselves. A font was carefully selected for each world to guide you through them.
These fonts are open source libre fonts designed by magical sisters. This publication was printed with a Riso printer in the attic of an old Amsterdam building and each of these playful objects was assembled by hand. Take good care of it!
As the story unfolds, you will be asked to make decisions. This is how you will travel from one world to another: creating your own version of the story by following your instinct or challenging your impulses! You have agency, so make use of it ;). There are three possible outcomes to this version of the story, several ways to get there, and many opportunities to expand this ever-evolving world.
Sisters of the Wind is the fruit of an artistic research on witches, ecofeminism, and science-fiction carried out between 2018 and 2021. It is a story woven through seven videos to be experienced in two distinct ways: as an online world-building workshop and role play session or as an interactive audiovisual performance.
Sisters… ˜o˚ ’’.)* ‘ ’’.’··º ° ’’ ’ ‘ ·‘ ‘0’ .º•.· ·.˜ *,’,˚˚ ˚oº°•˜
The wind is returning, as it always does. Sometimes it blows so hard that it carries artifacts away from the cities it tore apart, seeds from far away places, trees that didn’t have enough time to grow stronger... That’s why you always seek a protected area to settle in, relocating as the wind comes and goes in waves. You are witches. You pay attention to the world and try to make sense of this life together through the phases of the moon from maiden to mother to crone. In your community, the feminine spirit dominates, and all gender expressions are celebrated. When your precarious life is threatened by an unsettling prophecy announcing a deadly wind that will prepare the earth for a new cycle, will you go on a journey to find the source of this wind? What will you discover on the way? How will this transform you, your sisters, and the earth forever?
Let’s embark together on this wonderful adventure!
In the current context of the global pandemic, it is important to find new and safe ways of being together and reinforce our bonds. This experience was imagined as a physical one, nevertheless it feels as relevant to adapt it for an online format to reinvent ways to feel close to each other and to the world around us.
Online world-building workshop and role play session
3 hours on Jitsi and Etherpad
The particpating sisters were invited into my world to make it theirs, and expand it together! We dived into the wonderful world of Sisters of the Wind, and got to embody one of the witches that inhabits it… Two sessions got hosted online from w139. The outcome is being transformed into a choose your own adventure publication to be released very soon!
Interactive audiovisual performance
60min LIVE on Twitch
The participating sisters joined an interactive journey through the world of Sisters of the Wind as it was being reimagined day by day during the workshop sessions. During the closing livestream a special performance with Annabel Reid took place.
The fourth link in the chain is a card series in response to Lucciana Bolivar’s visual poem working as a gate to an imaginary fantasy world. Picking on Luciana’s mention of a “cleanse” and picking on the end of the summer vibe of the photo series, the cards are translating the chaotic emotional state that we are in. Inspired by Card Captor Sakura these cards are collectibles, activating a cleanse of negative energies and feelings. There are three cards made for this specific occasion but you an imagine that there are many more to let go of as a liberating and dramatic gesture to feel better and take off the load of the overwhelming emotions that we are going through at the moment. If you have a broken heart, feel jealous, or have nightmares, these cards are for you! And just like Sakura after capturing all the Claw Cards you can master those cards and transform them in positive, powerful, and creative energy.
The cards and other works from the collectibles were presented at Collectibles Cocktail Club at s105.
Juliette Lizotte in collaboration with Fabulous Future presented: Witches, a The One Minutes Series installation and stage to explore the subversive character of the witch: marginal, powerful and disruptive, with an unsettling relation to nature. Together we celebrate the powers of witches, their spell casting, witchcraft’s engagement with unconventional and unrecognised knowledges. While the witch is often presented as evil, we argue that she is unruly, unapologetic, living a life of her own, holding responsibilities towards community and nature—if she even makes the difference between the two. Through her craft she shapes a world she had envisioned and cares for. She is a maker of change and transformation.
The event happened on Saturday February 29, 2020: a crack in time, a secret moment every four years... an invitation to commune, spend the afternoon with us, lay around and watch videos while drinking potions and if you would catch the right moment be transformed by the performances of Stina Fors and Xenia Perek x DJ let go.
The fool is transition, journey. The fool is an ambiguous character, oscillating between uncertainty immaturity and genius: the fool has ressources but should be careful not to screw everything up!
There are big external difficulties to overcome.
An ecological crisis? A political disaster?…
One has to call on all their inner ressources: their sensibility, their creativity, their love and passion… to face the external world.
A new beginning is coming: a dream, a desire may come true, new contacts may be established. This is a sign to join forces with others and act together against the external difficulties!
We are masters of our destinies. We have to turn the wheel to our favour, take things in our own hands for a real change!
We are at an important crossroad for the history of Humanity. If we get organised together we can build a multidimensional future for all (humans and non humans). There are a lot of possible paths, we just have to start the journey!
Global Warm Up #2 > The Green Masquerade Edition
took place Friday 8 November 2019 for the exhibition Pleuriversum at Arti et Amiticae, 20h-02h (free).
Global Warm Up #2 included a take over of the café of Arti, a big piñata, a delirious costume contest, trance music, visceral performances, a sound piece and more surprises…
The Green Masquerade Edition was a fest borrowing to Samain* its frightening yet playful character. Samain’s origins date back from ancient Celtic traditions: it was new year’s eve. This day marked the end of the summer, the last harvests and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred...
The year is 2038 and the population of Earth has lowered dramatically. The ocean has risen and so has the Heat.
Everything has been privatised. Humans live in gated communities led by corporations: Co-oRps. Most of the work has been automated
but resources are scarce, so humans still need to be around to operate machines from time to time. Corporations work on settling
in Space as it appears a more welcoming environment. Everyone is joining forces for this purpose. However, it’s common knowledge
that most will stay behind. There used to be riots and activism in response. It died out. People are exhausted. And at least the Co-oRps take care of them.
Your name is Saga and this is your story.
You woke up with the sunset this morning. January 15, it's already 45°C outside. You actually barely slept because of the heat. Today you are turning 18. Now you can finally get access to the cloud vault that your mothers left for you. You have been waiting for this moment your whole life.
You're rushing out of your shelter to be one of the first ones queuing at the door of the cyber-hall. When it finally opens you feel the humid warmth of the space wrapping you. Your impatience makes you notice the cacophony of digital sounds that come out of the multiple programs rebooting. The cyber-hall is only open each day until the resources are gone—there are a lot of people getting to their pods, so you hope you’ll have enough time. You get to a pod and login with your iris and your palm. The cloud vault has been locked for a very long time, but it finally opens up for you. There are many folders with strange titles and the whole interface feels frozen in time.
If you want to look into each folder and see what's in there, jump to #2.
If you want to search for your name hoping there's a file addressed to you, jump to #3.
Going through all the folders:
a lot of maps,
old video tutorials,
some photos of a bunch of ladies, including your mothers soldering,
a drawing of a giant compass,
a million lists,
Your neighbour at the nearby pod is making some obnoxious noises.
You feel confused by this mysterious legacy. You have almost no memories of your mothers, all you know is that they left you here at the edge of an ecological disaster—most likely destined to die.
If you want to call a friend that could help you with this mess, jump to #4.
If you want to search for your name hoping there’s a file addressed to you, jump to #3.
You enter your name. But nothing shows up... This whole thing is such a disappointment.
If your mothers had something clear to say, surely they would have made a greater effort.
There are a lot of runes, esoteric drawings, pentagrams and other occult symbols here and there and some lists that look like recipes.
However, some documents are very technical. It is hard to understand what could be the link between all of them. How are you supposed to draw the connections?
Perhaps the friend you made at the shelter might know how to make sense of all this disparate information. You ask your strange neighbour to keep your pod for a sec and go get your friend. Jump to #4.
There are more pressing issues in the world. Jump to #40.
After a while your friend Sia gains access to a hidden file and you discover a video message addressed to you.
The video features all of your seven mothers explaining that after years of ecofeminist activism and witchcraft on Earth, they decided to build three DIY spaceships to seek solutions to heal the Earth or to settle somewhere welcoming enough in outer space with the help of their coven. “If not witches with their infinite knowledge of stars and elements, who else could actually survive in space?” one of your mothers claims. After gathering all essentials—herbs, spells, seeds and much else— they had split up into three groups to explore the galaxies. Their exploration was a quest for outside help to protect the multiplicity of species on Earth—or in case they would fail to do so, they hoped to find a viable habitat to settle in. They left 15 years ago today and according to their predictions you can find the location they should be at in the file 15yrslocation.pdf. In case they would not be back by the time you turn 18 or if they haven’t given a clear sign that they were coming back they have gathered the necessary information for you to make a ship of your own in the last pages of the document. A note on the bottom of the page says it should take you about 5 years to prepare everything. You will probably have to update some components and rethink what to take with you; there are several new items that could be added to the essentials. They sounded very sorry they left you behind, but they reassured you of their excitement to meet you soon. The video finishes with a link popping up—its a link to a pirate space archive where they would share their location and leave messages after their departure.
You and Sia are quite shocked and puzzled after watching it. It wasn’t news to Sia that you have 7 mothers but it’s the first time you encounter this link between ecofeminism and witchcraft. You have always seen some sort of magic being practiced around you, but you were never entirely sure whether this was really a thing or mostly a scam.
Following a quick research, you find some news reports from the early 2020s featuring your mothers as part of an activist coven. They state that the coven “mysteriously disappeared” after setting fire to a large number of automated monoculture soya plantations in several locations around the world, putting an end to the mass production of soya for good.
If you think this situation is simply impossible, that your mothers are delusional—they abandoned you after all—that they may as well have been hiding this whole time or were probably killed. If you wonder how one can leave their child behind but still wish to put this behind you for good so you can focus on more pressing issues, jump to #40.
If you decide to follow the link to the ancient pirate space archive continue to #5.
Last message sent by mission 2, 10 years ago.
Something about crops and a new soil discovered: “this soil has great potential, it seems like the beetroots are starting to grow faster than expected. We will finally have an alternative to potatoes.”
You can’t believe it. By now you have heard of various people that had a wild impulse to escape to space and never came back. You start to think whether your mothers were lying about their intentions and they were just one of them. Most people who tried to reach space were found dead by officials at the space stations a few years later. Probably your mothers are also dead. What a bunch of arrogant witches. You move on, jump to #40.
If you are getting incredibly excited, hopeful and worried at the same time; if you think they must have lost signal and you feel the need to find them, continue to #6.
Sia refers you to someone who can send messages into space.
You get there. Gloomy. Not very welcoming. Expensive.
If you decide to spend all the tokens you've earned last week for this go to #7.
If you decide to wait to find out more by looking into what was left for you in the cloud and maybe earn some extra tokens, go to #8.
A person called Mercury asks you for the coordinates of the last message.
You can now record a message to your mothers.
You haven't really thought this through.
Mercury is pressing you.
You say: "Hey, it's me, hm... I got your message. I don't know if you will get mine but if you do, I'm gonna come for you I promise..."
Your time is up. Mercury smiles.
You are forced to stay at your shelter for a week until you get some more tokens to go to the cyber-hall again. Move to #8.
You spend innumerable hours at the cyber-hall watching, reading, putting together all the pieces of the puzzle. You feel powerful discovering this heritage. Each word, each piece of this precious knowledge gives you importance. But resources are scarce.
Some days you barely have any time. The cyber-hall blacks out and you are left to yourself. This gives you valuable time to prepare your first potions. You have to adapt them as most of the resources from 15 years ago have become very rare or extinct.
You cast your first spells. You understand the power of naming things, you start chanting incantations, you notice your effect on the world around you. You are glowing, pulsating an energy like no other: magnetic, fluid, endless.
If you want to continue this adventure all alone, go to #9.
If you feel like this energy has its limits and you need to share this experience with others, go to #14.
You can't afford to spend so much time at the cyber-hall.
You start taking notes and bring them back home with you to learn faster.
When everyone is asleep at the shelter you sneak into the canteen and prepare ointments and herbal oils from ingredients you found on the black market: lavender, oak leaves, thyme, mistletoe, rosemary, cold pressed olive oil, oregano, laurel, anise seeds, calendula... You test everything on yourself first. Your tired teenage body is slowly getting more resistant to the thick polluted air and the overwhelming heat around you.
Breathing. Moving. Adapting.
You start using these skills to trade with others for equipment to build the spaceship. Healing people for some metal pieces. Casting spells for an old computer.
One night someone comes with a special demand: a curse for an old enemy. So far you have tried to make sure to only use your magic for what you deem ‘a good cause’. The world is a mess and you don't want to make it worse. But this person has access to the last and most precious component you need in order to build your ship: a very advanced compass. You are not the only one to offer these kind of cursing services and if you refuse they will surely go to someone else.
If you decide to curse their enemy, go to #10.
If you refuse to harm someone else, go to #11.
You curse their enemy.
Hair loss and nail breaking for them!
Long days of physical discomfort follow this episode. Your body feels heavy.
The shelter was randomly bombed by a drone while you were out. Sia died. The compass is gone.
You decide to stop all this nonsense.
go to #40
After a long while you have finally gathered everything you need according to your mothers in order to assemble a space vessel for yourself.
You need to get out of the urban zone. You need to find an abandoned place far away where you can build this without being disturbed by anyone asking questions or robbing you.
You pack up your ointments, oils, herbs, your notebooks and all the pieces you scavenged.
If you decide to go North West go to #12.
If you decide to go South go to #20.
A very old woman at the outskirts of town.
Her long white hair glows in the dark.
You look at her. She sees through you.
She tells you with no sound
"the time has come for all of us...
name your destiny and it will be yours.
what needs to be saved?
what needs to be remembered?
say hi to the stars for us
align with your planets
the journey is just starting
and true journey is return."
You walk away, hypnotised.
Go to #13.
The old woman’s mantra has put you in a trance.
It takes you seven days to assemble the ship.
You eat very little and sleep for a whole day before launching.
Athena–the smart home system you hacked to be your assistant in the ship–helps you activate all the parameters to launch properly. Thank you Athena. Speed. Dizzy. Black out.
You wake up floating above your seat. The ship is stabilized. You ask Athena for depressurisation. Deep breath. You see the Earth from far out. You’ve seen this image so many times on a screen.
You get to the cryo-nap-tub you built. You prepare a mix of oils and pour it in the icy liquid. You invoke the essence of all earthly beings twelve times. You wait to see the moon through the small window. It’s a full moon. You enter the itinerary to Athena. You will be awoken in twelve months. “Moon, protect my travels,” you say. You chant as you sink into the tub.
Go to #18.
Your mothers have always achieved their missions as part of a coven.
You need allies if you want to achieve something.
Real power comes from uniting forces!
You reach out to your shelter friend, Sia. After all, she knows most of the story already and you grew up together.
Go to #15 to recruit more people.
You gather a bunch of what some people call “outcasts” like you—orphans, sex workers, hackers—hoping for something to believe in, a —community to care for. Everyone is so self-involved, trying to survive no matter what is happening around them. The tokens your Co-oRp allows you every week are not enough to survive on. At least not for the majority of humans left that require them. Every Co-oRp just enables the remaining one percent to have a better life.
You teach your new allies your recent discoveries. Most of them were already practicing witchcraft one way or another, sometimes without even knowing how to name it. You get amazed by the power that your group is generating, while each of you generates their own distinct energies.
Together you recite all the flora and fauna of the world, the species that disappeared long ago, hoping to reanimate them through your memory, hoping that they will carry the memories of all the beings for which you don’t know the name of or can’t be named. You perform rituals and follow all the spirals and cycles of life. You've never felt such a sense of community.
Forget about space! You decide to stay here with your beloved community! Go to #40.
Don't forget your purpose! You open up to your coven about your mothers' space mission and your intention to rescue them. Go to #16.
Your coven support your quest and join forces to gather all the pieces you need. You discover unknown underground channels to trade —forgotten tools. Taking turns at the cyber-hall, healing people for components, selling potions at the black market... You have found new ways of sustaining outside of the failing system of the Co-oRp. Your coven is with you and you feel unbeatable.
One night, after having gathered everything the group needs, you discuss the mission.
Your coven won't leave you to go out there on your own: “We need each other!”.
You don't want to put them in danger. You want to convince them to stay and continue the good work you've all been doing here and go to space on your own. Be patient, they will understand. You leave towards North West alone. Go to #12.
You agree with them! But you also agree that some should stay and share the knowledge to other people down here: remember names, remember recipes, find life anywhere and rescue it. Seven of you will go. Six will stay. Go to #17.
You suggest to find a space outside of the gated community of the Co-oRp to build the ship. It’s time to say goodbye to your six allies. —You perform a ritual of protection. Everyone hugs and kisses. No tears. You promise to come back. Sia promises to spread the precious knowledge you’ve gathered together.
The walk to the outside of the gates was not physically challenging at all, but you know you will not be able to get in again. It takes you 3 days to build the ship.
Sia really did a great job in reprogramming Athena—the virtual assistant you’ve found.
It’s new moon tonight. Time for one last ritual before launching.
“We protect the spacecraft and clear the way for a safe journey.”
Athena’s voice is resonating in the small vehicle. “Prepare for Launching. 4,3,2,1,” they utter.
Infinite noise. Speed. Passing out.
You wake up gently carried by Orun. Everyone is awake. Tyr is preparing 5 baths for cryogenisation. Metis and Anan will stay awake to make sure the journey goes well.
Together you invoke the spirits of the forgotten celestial beings in a long chant that brings you calmness. The five of you drink an herbal potion before undressing and sinking your bodies into the lukewarm, slimy bath. You feel your body relaxing softly, your mind resists for a short while until the potion kicks in and you fall in a deep sleep.
Go to #21.
You wake up twelve months later, realising you are not at the geographical position you intended to be. Something must have gone wrong. You log into Athena’s journal.
A month ago, the ship had received a signal indicating the presence of a group of people on a small planet. Athena decided to follow that signal instead. You are only a few days away from this location. You can see more of that small planet hour by hour. A green moon. Glowing like a firefly.
You sleep long that night. The next morning you wake up from an incoming message emitted from the planet. “We have detected your approach. Please declare your identity and provenance.” You recognise this voice. You run to the control board and record back “Mothers, It’s me, Saga!”
You land a couple of days later. More excited than ever.
You find there three of your mothers.
Together you realise that time passes very differently on this planet. To them it seems as if they have just arrived but to you they have been here for years. In their time here, they have been studying the soil. They have been testing the possibility of planting seeds from Earth as well as from a couple of other planets they have visited. Their research is still very much at its early stage though. They have never heard from mission 2 and they lost contact with mission 3 probably five or six years ago.
You tell them about the way things are on Earth:
Lack of resistance
The big plan of Space colonisation from the Upper Class.
Earth becoming a prison for non-privileged species to go extinct.
You convince them to get back to Earth.
You ask to listen to the last message from mission 3 that was received years ago. It is very old and their position very far.
One of your mothers insists to rescue mission 3. Her lover is a part of it.
If you see the importance of helping mission 3, go to #19.
You think everyone on mission 3 is probably dead, if they weren’t they would have tried to establish contact. If you think finding mission 3 is not a viable option, go to #30.
Athena guides you to the last coordinates of mission 3.
Getting closer you feel a mysterious magnetic force pulling you forward. So strong. Impossible to resist. Athena’s sirens resonate through the whole ship.
You feel your entire body torn apart.
You all die. Your bodies are turned into particles that will feed the stars.
As you walk South, you meet Sia your old friend from the shelter. She convinces you to stay longer and to share your knowledge with some people here. Sharing knowledges between people is more than needed at this time than ever. Go to #15.
You wake up to the gentle touch of Metis. You have slept for eight months. You all share a delicious meal together and you hear about Anan and Metis’ days in Space. You have almost arrived at the location where the last message of mission 2 was registered.
Once you get there: N o t h i n g .
As a group, you decide to go towards what seems to be a planet just a few weeks away. Along the way you experience intense disturbances. Athena crashes. The whole ship is out of power. You stay afloat for three days meandering without knowing where you are. —Worried. At least you have each other.
A dim glow, emanating from the planet you’re going towards, brings comfort to all of you. On the 7th day of blackout everything turns on again. You receive a weak signal from the planet. But it’s impossible to announce your arrival.
You land half-a-day hike away from the signal. Three of you hike to its origin. Exhausting.
The air is so pure. It cuddles your lungs. You have never breathed better.
You arrive from a hilltop and from there you recognise four of your mothers gardening. They look very similar to what you remember of them. They also look strangely similar to each other, more than what you remember—it is as if they have turned into each other.
They see you and look scared at first. You scream out their names and then your own name. They run to you.
You update them about all that has happened on Earth. They tell you about their settlement here. The clean air. The fertile soil. The absence of any beings in the last 15 years. When being here, your cells adapt to what is around. You are the soil and the air. You are each other.
You tell them of your promise to go back to Earth. They also want to go back, they just lost track of time. A few years ago they received a signal from mission 3, but they never received anything from mission 1.
If you want to try and find mission 3, go to #19.
If you think finding mission 3 is not a viable option, go to #30.
“We are not colonisers.
As much as the discoveries of other species and beings is exciting
The answer is not out there.
And if we would find it, it will only open the way for Space colonisation to exploit it.
—We are not displacers.
We are protectors. Healers. Messengers.
We need to face our destiny and help our kins.
—Who knows how Earth will look like when we come back? There is no more time to waste.”
“True journey is return.”
You are 52 and you have spent most of your life healing people. You are not a doctor—these are for the Upper Class and most of them are on the satellites around Earth, planning further space colonisation. You call yourself a witch. You used your mothers’ archives to develop your own practice of healing and you kept adapting the recipes of potions, ointments and remedies, according to the species available as others are becoming extinct.
This practice has been very rewarding but also very difficult.
People are dying around you.
Heat waves. Snow storms. Risen waters.
You have been nomadic for the last 20 years, in response to climate change’s evolution.
After two weeks of hiking along old roads in a place that must have been Norway in the old times, you can get some rest in an old administration building for the night.
There is electricity for once, they must have been using solar panels and the generator hasn’t exploded yet.
You find an old pod. This once familiar object seems so alien now.
Your palm against the pad. A long while passes and a deep and familiar sound indicates the program launching. Your old cloud vault appears.
You haven't had the chance to log in for so long. You take the opportunity to search through your files for more information about some of the flora and fauna of Northern Europe, updating your notebooks for some future use.
An old folder catches your eye, one you hadn't had the heart to delete when you were younger.
If you decide to spend the night exploring this folder, jump to #41.
If you fall asleep exhausted by the road trip, continue to #42.
You wake up sweating. A very annoying sound is on repeat. A video of your 7 mothers plays on the screen in front of you. It's stuck and it's impossible to understand what they are trying to say. The file must be damaged after all these years. It's actually a mystery that these servers are still on somewhere...
You notice one of your mothers holding a board with a strange association of letters and numbers that could be an external link.
It’s time to go. Your road companions are pressing you. If you waste time you’ll be caught by the heat.
If you decide to go and copy these files on a drive hoping to be able to consult them later, jump to #46.
If you convince your road companions to settle in the office building for a few days and decide to look up this mysterious link, jump to #42.
The link brings you to a pirate platform. A very weak signal has been received a couple of weeks ago. You hear one of your mothers’ speaking about a planet full of pure air, a very fertile soil and an energy that no one could imagine. Nothing else. You cry. How is this possible? How old would they be by now? Go to #43.
You have been scavenging along the way up North—as North as possible.
Your drive to go out there has helped you become a very powerful witch.
You left your road companions several days ago to settle in an old foraging facility at the border of a forest.
There you perform a ritual to finalise the vessel. Make it safe. You ingest a psychedelic potion to liberate yourself before the journey and to gather your energy.
If you see a hen, go to #44.
If you see a wolf, go to #45.
If you see a goat, go to #48.
The hen dances around you.
Joyfully she says:
“Don’t go without me.
I’m fertile and I’m loyal.
True journey is return”
Go to #47.
The wolf is majestuous.
They talk to you and their voice sounds like your voice.
They talk to you and their voice sounds like your mothers’ voices.
“You are not a coloniser.
You are not a displacer.
The answer is not out there.
You are a protector. A Healer. A Messenger.
You need to face our destiny and help our kins.”
You decide to stay.
Go to #46.
You haven’t had enough time to think through the decisions you made. What could you have done to avoid this? You have worked so hard to support as many people as possible. You are now old and exhausted. You wonder what could have happened to your mothers. You dream of them and hope to meet them in the afterlife if there is one. You wish you would have been able to understand what they left you, but you don't regret your choices. Humans will disappear very soon. The planet is taking over, and really, what is actually so sad about that? Humans had their time. The Earth is getting ready for a new era.
It takes you another few days before you get a hold of a hen. But when you do, it almost feels like having a new crush. The hen’s presence feels familiar. It gives you the energy to go on. You name the hen Sia, like your old friend from the shelter.
With the help of Minerva—the last virtual assistant device that was invented twenty years ago—you launch into space with Sia. Go to #50.
The goat is peaceful and affectuous.
You spend a long while laying next to each other.
You see in their eyes the infinity of space.
You feel yourself pulled into the possibility of a million galaxies.
Go to #49.
You wake up next to an actual goat.
With the help of Minerva—the last smart home device that was invented twenty years ago—you launch into space with the goat.
Go to #200.
You follow the last coordinates of the message. Finding no one.
You have survived the first month, spending most of your time bonding with Sia.
They give you an egg a day despite the extreme conditions.
You spend hours cuddling them.
Go to #51.
You’re about to give up remembering your vision “True journey is return”.
A mysterious signal reaches you.
You follow it to a planet where you land at a safe distance from the signal.
You arrive at a hilltop and from there you recognise four of your mothers gardening. They look strangely alike, as if they have turned into each other.
They see you and they look scared at first. You scream their names and your name. You can’t believe it. They look so young in comparison to you. You tell them about everything you have lived through in the last years. They tell you about their settlement here. The pure air. The fertile soil. The absence of people in the last decades. The planet operates as one force; when you are here, your cells adapt to what is around. You are the soil and the air. You are each other. The connections between all particles are infinite and eternal.
Go to #52.
You want to convince them to go back to Earth and share their knowledge. They should not abandon our home. The planet needs us. People need us, even if humanity is doomed we must share our knowledge, teach respect and communion. Not escape. They don’t agree.
They have spent so much time here, they don’t want to leave this union.
If you decide to stay with them, go to #53.
If you decide to go back to Earth, go to #54.
Sia dies after a few days. Their body didn’t adapt to the flow of energy that unifies all. You’ll bury them after performing a ritual. Your stay on this planet has transformed you. After two hundred years you have been absorbed. You are one.
Sia will feed you for most of the trip back. Arriving back on Earth you are exhausted. You have no idea how much time has passed. You don’t find any signs of human life. You meet a strange hybrid animal after a few days. Sia is getting sick. The heat is unbearable even at night. Sia dies after a full moon. You bury her while chanting all the beings that have gone extinct. You lay next to the small grave and wait for death. The planet is taking over, and really what is so sad about that? Humans have had their time. The Earth is getting ready for a new era.
Minerva took you to the location. Nothing. An asteroid belt propels you into a black hole.
In between dimensions. Strange. Unpredictable.
You align with a parallel reality. Colliding. Merging. Here you are 30 years younger in a ship with other beings but without the goat.
Go to #19.
Witches in Space is an audio exploration of my research on witches and ecofeminism gathering music, readings and field recordings to share with you the importance of witches to me with the hope it will resonate in your hearts.
Global Warm Up #1 was borrowing to Carnival its social satire aspects which serves to renew the world. Extravagant costumes and grotesque masks will allow people to mock and defy society’s standards and rules. Global Warm Up as a carnival is a reversal of everyday norms and an exaggeration of human behaviours.
Global Warm Up was a rite of passage from Darkness to Light aiming to draw attention to a very urgent matter: Climate Change in an interactive and inclusive way. Let's celebrate Spring, Mother Nature and our potential mindfulness! Leave everyday life behind for one evening and enter a festive universe of upcycled wonders and respectful beings.
Global Warm Up was imagined as a safe space therefore racism and sexism was not tolerated (that also applied to costumes).
SYZYGY is a speculative research and visual essay by NXS that responds to NXS #3 Viral Bodies publication.
It is accompanied by an original soundtrack by Sega Bodega and premiered on May 17 2018 at De School in Amsterdam.
Refusing to comply with systems of mass consumption, Juliette Lizotte stopped going to the supermarket. She questions the food industry, as well as our individual responsibility for how we produce and consume. Changing the rules of her game, Juliette now obtains food directly at its source. Like a monk she commits herself to her new habits. Liberated from fictitious needs, and inspired by the natural food she eats and her taste for ‘Nightcore’, Juliette dreams of another world. One in which self-sufficiency is the new salvation, a privileged state to deal with guilt and rethink our needs on the path to asceticism.
A Triptych Fantasy on Local Food invites you on a singular audiovisual trip through Juliette's hopes and dreams, taking pop culture to the extreme: high pitch, high bpm and high amateurism. Each chapter of this journey gives an odd teenage feeling of a new-found hope in a world gone terribly wrong, making you want to join the movement or run away as fast as you can.
1. Hammered by the weight of my consciousness
I woke up in the morning feeling dizzy. The past week had been hectic between work, cheap restaurants and the opening of this new club Apokatastasis last night. I was probably hungover, but more than that I felt a kind of emptiness. A lack of sense in my life was seriously bringing me down. As usual, I turned on my computer and quickly checked my e-mails: “6 apps to put your life in order” was the subject line of one e-mail. I randomly chose a song and started putting my flat in order, thinking maybe it would help put my life in order. But was it really just about my life?
My thoughts drifted, and I started thinking about how we live in a frantic run, as if to forget something, yet at the same time the things we do have absolutely no meaning, and eventually we are going to die. Of course we are going to die. But what should we do in the meantime? We feel we are free to give our lives the meaning we want them to have, but actually we just give them the meaning they should have, which is the nonsense of the never-ending rise of consumption. Autonomy becomes heteronomy, authenticity is the global conformism that governs us. We live in the the reign of the excess – we participate in and become the reign of the excess. To be autonomous is a euphemism for having a boss and being able to pay rent, or being a freelancer and in debt, when it should be about learning the independence of social time from the temporality of capitalism. Is working and consuming the only ways to exist?
The computer played a song: "We are one like the sun is to the sky" repeated the voice, over and over.
Yes, we are one, I thought; one species becoming unfit for life. A great humanity working together on its self-destruction. All damaged, wounded, unworthy, we are one, stuck in this wordless ideological constellation that constitutes capitalism, scarily similar to religion. One could define religion as that which removes things from common use and transports them into a separate sphere. In that sense, capitalism has all the attributes of a religion. The religion of capitalism produces a pure form of separation without separating anything and operates a profitable fragmentation of the world. It turns everything into nothing, creating empty needs and envy. Things seem essential when they simply aren’t. We are unable to use them after we are transformed into ultimate consumers guided by the divine economy.
All of this made me desperate. And hungry. I grabbed some pasta and vegetables to cook myself some lunch so I wouldn’t die from hunger, if not from despair. As I was cooking, I thought about what I was doing. I was getting angry at myself for passively participating in the massive consumption system by buying smart phones and clothes, but I had never considered that what I was putting in my body every day was also a big part of this system. What is this pasta? Where did it come from? And those vegetables? I bought all of this at the supermarket, but I had no way of knowing more than what the supermarket and the packaging wanted to give as information.
Remembering a movie I’d seen, I wondered if all this was even real food. Where were the farms where those vegetables were grown? How much did they produce? Was it really good for us? Was it good for the planet? Did we essentially need this? I ate my dish without even noticing, lost in my thoughts. Everything was going too fast for my brain. I lay on the couch and fell half-asleep, hammered by the weight of my consciousness.
2. The time is coming
The music was still on. I tried to focus on it to prevent my mind from generating more disastrous thoughts. At some point a strange song started to play, and the lyrics captured my attention.
The time is coming
A new people will rise from the despicable void
They will reconsider their role and their relation to the world
and accept that their civilization is already dead.
The time is coming
The Ones who will have chosen
will be facing the irreparability of the world
and at that point it will be perfection
They will operate a subtle secession
On the path of redemption
they will take the vow to link their future.
The time is coming
This Process will oppose the System
and create a displacement
Everything will be as it was, just a little different.
It will cultivate a dissension
and redefine Humans' potentialities of existence.
The time is coming
I woke up two hours later with the song still in my head. I tried to find it again on my computer but couldn't. The next day I asked some friends about it, but they had never heard it. It wasn't the first time I was the only one to know about a song, but it was quite frustrating to have lost track of it. After a couple of weeks I decided it was just a dream and tried to forget about it.
One day at work I received an ad by e-mail. I was about to delete it, but the title of the e-mail intrigued me: "The time is coming". I opened it:
"In the future, we will be planting cities.
In the future, even the smallest business will be multinational.
In the future, the food chain and the supply chain will merge.
In the future, we will fly organic."
That sounded like a decent future, but I didn’t believe in for one second. The email was from a bank.
I thought about the community mentioned in the mysterious song. I remembered the existential moment I was going through that day, and asked myself again if the way I was living my life was the only way possible.
A friend had once told me about a group of people he’d met in the mountains while he was hiking one summer. They were living there in autarky, and he had stayed with them for a couple of nights. It sounded like a fascinating experience. I asked him where it was and found the location on the internet. Since I had no other leads, I decided to follow my friend's tracks and meet those people in order to experience another possible future.
The next month I abandoned my world full of last men.
3. Surrounded by infinity
By the time the sun came up, the group had already been awake for some time. Some were working in the garden, some preparing to hike for the whole day to find sheep, some cleaning the kitchen after a generous breakfast. For weeks it had been like that, switching positions to diversify everyone's tasks. It felt like it could go on forever. On the mountain, we were alone. Everything was perfect.
There was no electricity, so we couldn't communicate with the outside world. There was no water inside the cabin, but it had been built close to a source. We would heat water on the stove to shower. The shower room had been built facing the lake, so we’d be hidden from others but facing the lake. Showering was my favorite part of the day, especially after a long hike. Sometimes while hiking, intoxicated by the rhythm of my breath and of my walk, surrounded by the infinity of what we call nature, I felt like I knew everything and yet nothing. A fulfilment, an abstraction to the world, a quick moment of lucidity or a mind trick. My sight seemed augmented: I could see the halos around my surroundings, the vibration of perfection. Climbing towards the sky definitely got me high, but I had never felt so small and powerless. Was this the moment where I finally faced and accepted my condition as a human being? Was this transcendence?
The community was only composed of young people who all broke with society to come up here and live a better life together. The founders had called it Koinonia, which in ancient Greek it meant fraternal communion, association, contribution, participation, liberality. The philosophy behind their group was to not occupy the territory but to be the territory. Autonomous of course, self sustainable: a perfect ecosystem. It was an attempt to shift from a possible temporary zone to a more permanent one. It followed a sort of paleolithic model, primal and radical, of semi-nomadic shepherd-gardeners within a certain area.
I was very inspired by one particular person there. I had been there for approximately three months when she decided to leave. We would always have very good conversations; she was quite pessimistic and I liked that about her. She would say things like: “We are shipwrecked on a planet destined to die,” or that “the choice facing us was terrible – either a slow fragmentation towards primitivism, perpetual crisis and planetary ecological collapse or a globalized post capitalism.” She kept saying that this exclusion from the world was not the ultimate solution. Although it was nice, we should use capitalism and repurpose it towards common ends. One day she told me that to be free was not just about being naked in front of a lake with all you need to survive – that the real freedom was to be linked to each other.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that. After some time the thought continued to grow, and I decided my time on the mountain was over. I needed to share this with others, to make this way of life a possibility for all, even in the city. I felt selfish to have lived so well and so happy within Koinonia. I remembered the song that had propelled me all the way up this mountain, and I felt it was time for me to link my future with the rest of the world – to finally oppose the System, not run from it.
4. A struggle to survive
I left the mountain as another member of the community was also leaving. Her hometown was on my way home, and she invited me to stay with for a while, as I had never visited this city before. She explained to me that after a long time of shining as one of the best jewels of capitalism, the powerful System had lost its interest in this city and had just delocalized its activity. Some people could follow the movement and moved to places where they could continue to participate in the System. But some remained, without jobs, without structure, lost in a decaying city. After my experience on the mountain, it was striking to see this city. In the middle of the western world were the left-overs of industrial capitalism, and I was able to witness how things could go when the System doesn’t provide for people anymore.
There, it was not a voluntary refusal to work. There was no active revolution. There was nothing to oppose, just a struggle to survive and make sense of it all. I met in this city the most honest people. There was nothing superficial about them; they were rough and generous, fair and brave, true to themselves and others. I had the feeling that during the short time I spent there I could perhaps witness what humanity was about, in its misery and greatness.
Many people had started to grow vegetables on vacant lands in a quest to provide food to those who had less access. They were dedicating their efforts to the community and, in so doing, were restoring the true meaning of the concept of community, of being linked to each other. There, local was just the other side of global – what is secreted from it, not what could make it burst, simply its remains. “Universal” was only local without walls.
They didn't need the System, just like it didn't need them. They were proud of being able to sustain themselves and provide for the people around them. They seemed to be able to make sense of this absurdity by concentrating on what was essential.
I continued on my road, delighted by the power of multiplicity in its units of destiny and doom.
5. A fold in the System
I made a promise to myself. I took the vow to refuse the System that was imposed on me and to rethink my habits and my needs. The rules I would impose on myself – not going to supermarkets, connecting with people who were producing local goods here and there – would become my lifestyle. I could live the life I was living in the mountains here in the city.
I was anxious to tell the stories of the mountain and those of the wrecked city. I was hoping this would convince people to commit to my dream.
I wondered if at first people would feel sorry for me, thinking I was giving up on so many good things. I could imagine it would seem difficult to take such a step without experiencing the whole process I had gone through. I was hoping my stories would be inspiring enough.
I could picture myself with some friends starting a garden on a vacant lot in the city, autonomous from the structures around us. We could call this garden Arkhè, a Greek word that means both the beginning and the commandment. It would not be a comeback to earth, but a comeback on Earth: a fresh start to stop living in the ignorance of the conditions of our existence.
We would be living somehow like monks, creating a way of life close to what monasteries could call cenoby, the perfection of a common life that coincides with the readability of the world. It would at least be an attempt to find a balance that would make some kind of sense. We would be looking for a kind of salvation – not for after our death but for the rest of our time on Earth. Did we deserve pardon? Who knew? And who would give us grace anyway? At least we would be at peace with ourselves, knowing we would not participate in the complex constellation of capitalism and all the consequences that result from it.
In its divine attempt to separate everything, capitalism took everything out of our use to make us total consumers. I dreamed with Arkhè we would attempt the difficult task of restoring the free use of food for the people.
We would simply provide an alternative to the System. And there could be no resistance, as we would not impose anything on anyone. We could continue without those who wouldn’t want to have anything to do with us, and for those who would show support there would be a mutual promise to stand together. A world within the world. A fold in the System.
I was almost home.