Image credit: Collapsus
When I interviewed my friend Tim Toben, he argued that one of the most important things we can do is to "tell the story about the transformation from a world powered by fossil fuels to a world powered by renewable energy -- in poetry, music, art, dance. Make it real for people who can't imagine their way out of the hole we find ourselves in." I've just come across a fascinating multimedia (or transmedia, apparently) project that aims to do just that. The only trouble is, it makes for some pretty bleak viewing. Collapsus, which was directed by Tommy Pallotta—the producer of Scanner Darkly and Waking Life—is described by its makers as "a new experience in transmedia storytelling". Combining traditional documentary footage with animation, mini-games and movie fragments, the audience is invited to participate by making decisions to try to avoid future blackouts and create a more livable future.
Based around the lives of ten young people around the Globe, the story is set in a world of falling energy supplies, economic disruption and civil unrest. I must admit, the medium is an interesting one—but a brief exploration suggests the message being presented is pretty bleak. I don't want to repeat my arguments about the futility of disasterbation, or the dangers of Mayan prophecy, but I can't help but wish for a slightly more empowering vision.
Of course with IEA insiders talking about inflated oil stats, and secret Government talks warning of imminent peak oil, there is undoubtedly plenty of evidence out there to suggest that a disasterous peak oil scenario is not out of the question. What worries me, however, is that as regular documentaries give way to these transmedia projects aimed at "the connected generation" (not sure what that term says about the rest of us), there is a danger that the choice of medium will inevitably warp the message—there's a reason why so many video games involve violent destruction.
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