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Long Now Lab: World Building

Hosted by: Isobel Dryburgh Guests: Tom K. Kemp, Alexander Cromer, Juliette Lizotte, Ekim Tan

Long Now Lab Veem House

“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.”  – David Graeber

This March, we are launching a new Long Now Lab, diving into “world building”. As many societies are enveloped by a crisis of belief, re-shuffling political values or divided about what constitutes “truth”, we need to acknowledge that we don’t all live in the same “world”. We create worlds out of our experiences and facts that support the narratives we want to live, or save us from the realities we are forced to live.

Over 5 sessions we will unpack the speculative concept of “world building”, as it is in use across gaming, art, science fiction, politics, and urban design – situating ourselves here in Amsterdam in the process. With the help of expert guests, the group will explore the overtly political aspects of world building as it relates to nation making, societal structures as well as the creation and dissolution of worlds. 

12 March 2022

14:00 — 17:00
€ 35
includes 5 workshops

World building

World building is a wide term used to describe a speculative, preliminary and often collaborative process that establishes the basic functions, definitions and appearances of a created “world”: devising places, histories, beings, values, forms of leadership, rituals and even physics (and much more). A world is created to be encountered in some way, be it through a story, game or interaction and is perhaps most commonly found in science fiction and role play games to create the setting or conditions to think further (think Middle Earth, the multiverse, the Republic of Gilead or afrofuturism). This “world” can be highly defined, for example a universe in which half the planet is always dark and half is always light, where genders can be changed month to month, or remain unfixed, like a loose framework of values and principles that act as an open source guide for users. 

During this Long Now Lab, we will meet world builders in many forms and discover together how this practice meets us with new realities.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

About the Long Now Lab

During the Long Now Lab a small group of people gather regularly for work-and-think sessions at Veem House for Performance. We invite participants to go deeper: through external inputs from guests, readings and performances, group discussions and group/individual activities, with the aim of collectively creating ideas and proposals. Long Now refers to long-term thinking and the awareness that the present is part of the future. We create a laboratory where we can work and experiment together, where we can put ideas and proposals into practice.

Workshop dates:

March 12, 14:00 – 17:00
April 9th, 14:00 – 17:00
April 23rd, 14:00 – 17:00
May 7th, 13:00 – 16:00
June 8th, 19:00 – 21:30

Who is this for?

The Long Now Lab on World Building is for anyone who relates strongly to the subject as it’s written here. It might be particularly fascinating for art students, writers, sci-fi enthusiasts, philosophers, political theorists, dramaturges, gamers, people interested in media and the study of media, visual artists, theatre makers and people interested in investigating new ways of being together through the use of world building.

If you sign up for the Long Now Lab we expect you to be there during all of the sessions. It’s important that the group is able to get to know each other over time and have continuity. 

If you’re wondering if this is for you – feel free to email Isobel at