World Building Through Media

Every day for the past three years or so we have posted a few personal accounts, links to news stories, sometimes told through video, etc. all in the interest of highlighting collaborative, community-based contributions to conservation.  We reach far and wide for inspiration, and some daily features are there not as a direct statement about conservation but about the world we see around us. So when we see a story about world building though media, and a name like 5D Institute, it catches our attention. According to their website, the future of narrative media is a form of world building, and an important contribution to it can be found here:

5D Institute is a cutting edge USC non-profit Organized Research Unit dedicated to the dissemination, education, and appreciation of the future of narrative media through World Building. World Building is the interdisciplinary process of building worlds that evolve into containers for the new narrative resolutions. World Building is the intersection of creativity and technology for students in academia and industry who need to understand now how to thrive in the media jungle of the future. World Building works beyond the edges of known media to express the full arc of our creative role in making new narrative worlds. 5D Institute is the world’s leading World Building collective. Our network of preeminent World Builders transcends borders and boundaries in film, animation, fashion, gaming, theatre, television, music, architecture, science, interactive media and more. Through the newly cemented partnership with USC School of Cinematic Arts, 5D Institute is evolving into an unmatched connector between the next generation of young and undiscovered creators traversing the bleeding edge of innovation and companies who want to be at the frontlines of the new media landscape. Since Oct 2008, we have come together at 5D’s distributed events to engage in a disruptive interrogation of our fractured disciplines, to create best practices and a new shared language across narrative media. ‘The neural sparking between left brain and right brain is at the core of 5D – we are moving into a landscape where art and science, design and engineering are inseparable. At their intersection lies the new creative laboratory for the future of our narrative practices.’ – Alex McDowell, 5D Institute Director

That all came to our attention due to a post by Hugh Hart on the New Yorker website:

Here’s what Los Angeles might look like in seven years: swamped by a four-foot rise in sea level, California’s megalopolis of the future will be crisscrossed with a thousand miles of rail transportation. Abandoned freeways will function as waterslides while train passengers watch movies whiz by in a succession of horizontally synchronized digital screens. Foodies will imbibe 3-D-printed protein sculptures extruded by science-minded chefs.

Visions of Los Angeles 2.0 proliferated earlier this month when some three hundred video-game designers, architects, linguists, filmmakers, new-media savants, and assorted technophiles gathered at the University of Southern California for the 5D Institute’s Science of Fiction conference. The event was organized by Alex McDowell, a movie production designer who pioneered the use of 3-D software to shape the weirdly prescient virtual environment of “Minority Report,” with its I.D. scanning, pervasive surveillance, and the gestural interface that allowed Tom Cruise’s character to access computer data with the swipe of a hand. The latter concept was developed for the film by McDowell’s friend John Underkoffler, who now markets a refined version with his company’s own Greenhouse platform.

For McDowell, who co-founded the 5D Institute in 2007 to champion the art and science of “world building,” this daylong exercise challenged participants to reimagine society. “ ‘Minority Report’ is probably as rigorous an attempt as I’ve made on any film to do deep research in the real world about science, about engineering, about housing. Nevertheless, we made ridiculous leaps,” he said. “We had maglev cars and flying hovercraft ships that were completely impractical. There’s a certain point at which you say, ‘This is entertainment’; it doesn’t have to be functional, it has to be engaging.”

After McDowell gave an orientation-session pep talk at a campus auditorium, attendees dispersed into six brainstorming groups organized by themes, including biology, habitat, culture, and product design. Their assignment: construct a fictional world that details an alternative take on current technologies and values…

Read the whole post here.

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