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Digital Dystopias Festival

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 HerOr 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!

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Only picture I could get…

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!

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Prospects

The thought of graduating from university is daunting isn’t it? You’ve enjoyed years of fun, socialising and finding your feet, now you have to get a job to pay off a ridiculous amount of debt. Sucks, huh?

There’s so many graduates jobs around, paying a five-figure salary and taking up most of your time. But the thought of being a (insert job title) at (insert place) just sounds so boring if its not what you’re into.

I’ll be graduating from uni at the end of the year, and I’m still wondering what on earth I’m gonna do.

While I was looking at graduate jobs a couple of days ago, I felt very uncomfortable. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe I could do these jobs, it’s just the worry of slightly dooming myself to being a ‘part of a machine’ when there’s still time for me to do so much more with my life. I’m only 22 to be fair…

I think my problem is that I would feel restricted if I ever went into a full time job; I love my free time, my Netflix binge-watching, and socialising with friends. I often ask myself: how can I live in such a professional bubble if a) that bubble restricts me from feeling as free as I want to be, or b) I’m so not into my job it makes me question why I’m even there in the first place?

And I can’t imagine that the paltry 20 grand salaries they offer would fulfil me either, especially when I see celebrities who work tirelessly doing something they love for salaries that make these graduate jobs look like pocket money, but are able to have so much fun with their job with appearances on Jimmy Fallon or James Cordon. It’s mind-boggling, but it’s clearly achievable, and it makes me want to live a life less ordinary. I’ve always been the unsure individual who always pursues knowledge no matter what I may think, and I’ve always thought of that as me being clueless with what I’m going to do with my life. But maybe it doesn’t mean that at all; maybe being curious for something is the biggest clue

The best advice I’ve ever been given was from my lecturer at University, which was to always ‘tell your story’. So that’s what I think I’m going to do. There’s still time before I graduate to build a profile for myself in what I’m interested in doing, which is telling stories.

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My book collection will be getting better, I promise!

So from next week onwards, I will be posting a series of short stories influenced by my favourite films, novels and TV shows, as well as current affairs in the world. It’ll help me improve my prospects further as well as my writing, and hopefully prove that I have something to offer to you guys as you read them.

Very soon, you’ll get to read my first one. I hope you enjoy!

Thanks for reading! Stay Weird and Normal!

 

 

 

 

My Trip To Aarhus with Blast Theory – Part 1

Thought I’d write about something big that happened to me recently for my first post; a two-part account of my trip to Aarhus.

Currently I’m a Masters student living in Hull, which will be City of Culture for 2017. As a student with a bit of free time, I wanted to get involved as soon as I could, so I met with the cultural arts group Blast Theory in November for their project 2097: We Made Ourselves Over.

In a workshop with around 12 young people, we were discussing what the future would look like in 80 years time. Ideas ranged from multicultural world leaders, to hybrid cars and colonising Mars for more fossil fuels. Based on how well we did, five would be chosen to go on the cultural trip to Aarhus in Denmark, and I got a phone call from Blast Theory the following week saying I would be going on the 14th-16th December. I couldn’t believe it! I just wanted to get the next few weeks out of the way so I could go!

So at roughly 5 in the morning on the 14th, I, with Blast Theory and four other young participants, set off for London Stansted to fly out to Denmark. We got to Stansted at 9 and flew out at 11:20, touching down at 14:00 in their time zone, finally getting to the Cabinn Hotel for half past 3. That’s when I went into my hotel room and let it all sink in: I’m abroad without my parents in a new country, working on a project for City of Culture having been featured on the local radio station this morning in England. Could it get any better?

Most of the project involved visiting art galleries and getting to know the Aarhus young participants, so that night we went to a restaurant for a meal, and then to a board game cafe where I destroyed them at Monopoly. Great game to make friends, I know!

That was me with the houses and hotels! But at least they didn’t need a helpline to get over it. Seriously, they actually made a helpline for Monopoly players, have a look.

The next day, we visited many great places, like the Godsbanen, where people make penthouse suites out of ship containers:

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The meaning behind it is more beautiful than it looks, they host workshops, they’re fully functional, they can do whatever most cultural artists can do, but with using scrap metal and a bit of intuition.

All this, alongside the great works of art they had in the ARoS gallery, really inspired me give it everything in the coming workshops. I’ll have a slideshow ready here so you can look at the exhibits:

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For a project in which we predict the future, you may ask how all this seems futuristic. All these issues concerning love, race, perception and history are constantly ongoing and evolving, so it only feels right to create a vision based on human issues, because they really decided how far technology has come in the past. Brilliant inspiration for the workshop!

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and hope you’ll stay intrested for Part 2, when I will be going into the workshop, and conclude this amazing trip.

Thank you all for reading, stay weird and normal!