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I started to see that everything that I was experiencing had been designed, had once been a thought in someone's head. And not only had it been designed... it was also designing me.

–Dario Calmese

Dario Calmese
Artist and designer Dario Calmese discusses predictive design, where he finds inspiration and creativity, and his practice of beginning every creative project with writing.
Anil Seth
Author and neuroscientist Anil Seth discusses his book Being You: A New Science of Consciousness and brings his scientific perspective to topics including embodied storytelling, co-creation, and how the stories that we hear and tell can change our experience of the world around us.
Can VR Art Help Us See the Real World Differently? // Vox
One critique commonly leveled against VR (and metaverse technology more broadly) is that it’s a means of escaping, and thereby ignoring, the problems of the real world. As the author of this piece puts it, “if we choose to habitually disconnect from our physical reality, then we risk losing what makes us human.” Yet this disconnection from the outside world, and the deeper connection to the virtual world that it allows, is also one of VR’s greatest strengths. VR works are not seen through a window, like films or paintings—they are experienced firsthand. That can be a powerfully moving experience, and at best, can return us to the real world with new eyes.
Why Book Ban Efforts Are Spreading Across the U.S.
// The New York Times

Parents, activists, school board officials, and lawmakers around the United States are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. As these challenges have increased in frequency, they’ve also grown in scope, escaping the confines of school board meetings and entering state houses and political races. What factors are contributing to this increase, who are the challenges coming from, and most importantly, where are they taking us?
Can You Be an NFT Artist and an Environmentalist?

Since the earliest cave paintings of wild animals, nature has been a primary subject of visual art. In the past two years, we’ve seen an explosion of digital art in the form of NFTs, much of it following the environmental themes of its forebears—but the high carbon emissions associated with NFT minting and cryptocurrency transactions call into question whether NFT artists can make a genuine claim to environmentalism.
The Metaverse Is a New Word for an Old Idea // MIT Tech Review
There is no shortage of discourse about the metaverse in the news and on social media, often focusing on what shape it will (or won’t) take as well as issues such as user experience, business models, access, and regulation. But we would be remiss if we didn’t take a step back to ask where it comes from. Who invented it, if it was indeed invented? And what about earlier constructed, imagined, augmented, or virtual worlds? What can they tell us about how to enact the metaverse now, about its perils and its possibilities? In this article, Genevieve Bell, director of the School of Cybernetics at the Australian National University, offers a crash course on the historical precedents to today’s metaverse and the lessons they can teach us.

 Long time FoST collaborator and M ss ng P eces founder Ari Kuschnir released a short film created in collaboration with his 5-year-old daughter, Luna.

 FoST exhibitor Tender Claws released their new VR game, Virtual Virtual Reality 2.

 FoST speaker Philip Rosedale announced that he is returning to Linden Lab, the company he founded that produces Second Life.
 FoST speaker and best-selling author Hugh Howey penned a blog post about writing and the power of stories.

 FoST friend and podcast guest Dario Calmese debuted the new website for his ongoing multimedia project, The Institute of Black Imagination.

 FoST speaker and best-selling author Margaret Atwood is releasing a new essay collection about life’s burning questions.


Girl Rising is now accepting applications for the 2022 cohort of Future Rising fellows. The Future Rising fellowship is a year-long virtual program for individuals aged 17–24 who are working as activists, educators, community organizers, local leaders, or storytellers at the intersection of climate change, environmental justice, and gender equity—particularly girls’ education. Find more information and a link to apply here.

Below, find a list of some of the virtual storytelling experiences we’ve enjoyed in the past month, plus one socially distanced in-person experience. Shoot us an email if you come across any that should be included next month!

Bring Your Drawings to Life with AI
As a child, you may have fantasized about your drawings coming to life—and now it’s possible, thanks to Meta’s new AI demo. Simply upload a drawing of a character and let the AI go to work—within seconds, you’ll have animations of your character running, jumping, dancing, boxing, and more.

Explore Disney’s Filmmaking Process
Disney has made some of the world's most successful and iconic animated films. Now, you can explore their process in depth via a new page on the Disney Animation Studios website that takes you on an interactive journey through a Disney film’s full production cycle, using Encanto as an example.

Journey to the Bottom of the Ocean in Brooklyn
If you’re interested in deep sea exploration, self examination, or surrealist art, don’t miss Bottom of the Ocean, an immersive theatrical production running in Bushwick. This much-hyped, feature-length, large-scale experience takes five visitors at a time on a powerfully intimate journey that plumbs the depths not only of the sea, but also of the mind and soul. Tickets are currently sold out, but the next round will go on sale on Monday, February 28th at 7pm EST.

Experience the Vastness of Space in Houston
From award-winning immersive entertainment studio Felix & Paul, THE INFINITE is a multisensory and interactive installation that simulates the experience of voyaging to outer space using VR footage captured on the ISS. Check out our recent podcast with Felix & Paul to learn more about how they captured the footage, and make sure to book your tickets soon—this limited engagement blasts off to its next city on April 4th!

Enter the Immersive World of Bridgerton
Whether you're a fan of the hit TV show or immersive theater in general, Secret Cinema’s Bridgerton experience is not to be missed. Equipped with your own personalized backstory and quest, you’ll enter an English high society party set in 1813 for a night of performances, surprises, scandal, and intrigue. Bridgerton is currently running in London through March 27th, and will run in Los Angeles from March 31st through April 24th.
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