I’m gonna confess: I am a bit of a sci-fi geek.
Well, when I say a bit, I mean I can’t shut up about it. It’s a common thing for me to think about the future, whether it’s about politics or the advanced technology, so when the Digital Dystopias Festival happened in Hull, it was a no-brainer for me to go.
There were plenty of great experiences for me, for example, screenings of some of the best films revolving around technology.
If you haven’t seen these films, I seriously recommend them, especially in this world where smartphones are the new laptops. Imagine feeling so distant from people and falling in love with an artificial intelligence, like in Her. Or having the ability to create the Thinthread program to prevent 9/11 from happening, like in A Good American. They really balance the possibilities of technology against how the government tries to ‘regulate’ us.
The panels that followed inbetween the movies really expanded on these issues. For example, Annie Machon gave a talk about her life as an MI5 whistleblower, and her subsequent exile to Europe with her partner David Shayler. You may have heard recently in the news that the government have been accused of trying to clamp down on whistleblowing, which would protect the secrecy of higher government officials whilst not offering the public that same protection of they can see what we’re doing on the internet. I found myself quoting Alan Moore when I asked myself: Who watches the Watchmen?
No wonder why Orwell’s 1984 has become so popular again, not just because of the whole ‘alternative facts’ fiasco involving Trump, but because of the realisation that we are being watched all the time. There was a virtual reality/live action experience of 1984 which I did during the festival. It was great fun!
From what I can tell you about VR, it really gets you into the experience. From wearing the headset to being put in a dark room with four envelopes and a creepy-ass film, it was a lot of fun. I wanted to yell ‘Screw you!’ to the guy in the film as I questioned my choice of envolope. The trick was to choose nothing at all, because Big Brother simply offered the illusion of choice to keep me in line. It’s literally one of the worst fears of our generation, so thank God it was just virtual reality!
This was just one of the many events that are part of Hull’s City of Culture programme, and the atmosphere was lively as well! The volunteers were all really friendly, the panellists were great, and I walked away thinking ‘I can’t wait for what happens next!’. So if you’re around in Hull, definitely get to a City of Culture event!
Also, sorry I haven’t been around recently; I’ve been a little busy outside of blogging!
Thanks for reading! Stay Weird and Normal!