|The Age of Dust
|The Age of Dust
|Constant, Hackers & Designers, Emma Pareschi, Susan Ploetz
The text is available in English, Dutch, and French. Click above for your preferred language :)
About the Workshop
Hackers & Designers and Constant hosted a three-day workshop in
the Constant studio in Koekelberg, on 15, 16 and 17 September 2023.
Generations after the eruption of the Volcano, three communities met around the discovery of a mysterious mineral: the Dust. Essential source of energy, sacred healing powers, geological warning, what messages and hopes did the Dust carry? When different belief systems meet, how to find a common ground? How will their encounter shape the world of tomorrow?
In this transformative journey, participants played out social and somatic dynamics to resist conventional narrative stereotypes and think beyond humans while experimenting with collaborative storytelling.
The workshop happened in three different parts that transformed the space into a stage for exploring fiction. Each day was a combination of: a bit of technique with the making of techno-magic objects (toy-hacking, experimental audio devices, soldering...), a bit of world-building (imagine characters, collaboratively expand them, their world, and culture), a little live action role playing (embodying the characters in their encounters with each other and activate the techno-magical objects).
We spoke French, Dutch and English. Participants didn’t need to speak all languages.
- No experience in role playing, or technical skills were required.
- The workshop was open for all ages starting from 7 years to 99+.
- You could join for one, two or 3 day(s).
- Small children were welcome, childcare could be available, but there were no children in the end.
- The space is on the ground floor and DIY wheelchair accessible (you could write us to discuss specific needs).
- Participation was free.
- Drinks and a vegetarian lunch (by anagram) was offered during the workshop.
- Languages: French/Dutch/English
- Reservation was mandatory: maximum 15 participants
To sign up, you could write an email before July the 1st to: email@example.com mentioning:
- Your name
- Your age,
- What is your child(ren)’s age who need childcare
- Which days you will attend (1 , 2, or 3 days)
- if you have any accessibility needs.
We got back to everyone after the 10th of July to confirm your registration.
The Age of Dust is a live action role play imagined by Juliette Lizotte for Lava Lines, an exhibition at Biblioteka in London in 2022. The project evolved in the context of Hackers & Designers 2023 program Hopepunk. The role playing part is reworked together with Susan Ploetz. The technical part is developed in close collaboration with Loes Bogers (H&D) and Emma Pareschi.
This collects traces of the Live Action Role Play (LARP) workshop The Age Of Dust. The idea was to connect electronic toolbuilding with playing, and further developing a story, of which the premis was given. Divided over three communities, the players developed their characters throughout these days, made props, and rituals. The Magma Spirits, The Sourcers and the Creatures of the Crater then found each other in collective ritual. The objects here all were somehow embedded in it. You can listen to a sound piece that was made, a temporary zine was printed on a thermo printer, using a speech to text tool. The solar power helmet-antenna, prediction enhancer, glam party box, proximity rod were made for the occasion using Arduino boards, sensors and disposibles.
- Players : Imane, Esther, Maxime, Bruna, Christopher, Nilufer, Feresteh, Gil, Amele, Marion, Zem, Théophile, Rosie, Selby, Anja, Susan, Emma, Juliette, Loes, Peter.
- Roles : Laser, Chantal La Dalle, Sloe-fi, Nnamimann, Primerose, Rocky, Soft Stone, Bleep.poof, Gessimer, Waisa, ,gjhgjhgk, Plinkee, B4, Jeel, Wizzard Worm of Wizdom, Spook, Scoby, IDK7, Warm Worm.
Photos were taken by Loes, Anja and Peter.
This section summarises some tools that were made during the Age Of Dust Larp workshop and their ritualistic functionings.
Find all the research and technical explanations for the electronics on our dedicated github repository.
The Sourcers are the techno witches, so yes, they have a lot of tools.
The Sourcers infamous Underground Party Toolkit contains many interactive party tools. These tools remind everyone that while they are partying, dancing and losing track of time, they are the Network. The tools are best used simultaneously, all at the same time and without interuptions. If that is not possible, they can be used one after the other!
- Solar power helmet-antenna
- Hold the device over your head or place it in a spot where everyone will love to check it out!
- Approach the sensor with your ears while dancing and making wild moves
- Enjoy the message (weeeeeeeeeeeee ee), feel the Network, and dance some more!
- Place the device on a spot that is accesible to all
- Shake or hit the box or the surface it's put on!
- Enjoy the message (rrrrrrRRRrrrRRrrrr) and dance some more!
- Proximity rod
- Place the device on a spot that is accesible to all
- Approach the tip of the rod with your dancing moves or shake the rod
- Enjoy the message (network!) and dance some more!
- Dust purifier
Now that the Dust has lost its power, it needs to be redynamised. The Dust purifier helps with this.
- Pour Dust in the container.
- Burn selected local dry weeds on the charcoal.
- The sacred smoke triggers the sensor.
- You will hear a sigh of relief... ("aahheehieieuhaaaahe aaaeh")
- Dust is reempowered again!
Tools of the Creatures of the Crater:
The Ritual Amplifier is a complicated device that is used to align timespace with the wormhole of the Magma Spirits to create a portal that all spirits could go through in order to be liberated. (at least that is how we remember it) It works at the new moon. The ritual needs to be done with minimum 6 participants (including 1 biped and 1 with a head or another type of membrane). Brew some herbal drink beforehand.
- Recognize the energy in a stone that matches wormhole- or other invisible forces (it's okay to try a few times)
- Record the frequency on the helmet.
- Mount the helmet on a good surface, such as a membrane or a head.
- Have a biped carry the portable plateau. Make sur it is steady, because it carries the Spit Container and the cups with Brews !
- Throw the Empowered Dust (from the Dust purifier) into the Central Sacred Spit Container, using the Dust Dispenser (if you have one)
- Serve the local herbal Brew in the designated shot cups.
- Participants throw the Brew in their mouths.
- Participants, pay attention !: Don't swallow the brew, but wash your mouth, and spit it out into the CSSC!
- Each participants touches one of the 6 conductive 'handles' and closes it at the exact same time.
- Now contact is made and Ritual Amplification should happen.
- A portal shall open that is aligned to the wormhole.
- If nothing happens, maybe something went wrong, just repeat from 1.
Tools of the Magma Spirits:
- Wormhole maker
To transport small things from the invisible to the visible world (such as a worm). introduced by Aa
- Spirits gather in a circle.
- Place the object to be transported in the middle of the circle.
- Participants hold 2 worm nail rings on each of their sides, one on their left and one on their right side.
- This way, they close the circle by touching each other's rings' tips.
- The wormhole opens and the object travels to the visible world.
- Telecommunication system between worlds
To communicate between worlds, visible / invisible, or different of another kind
- Place a communication device in each world (maybe through the help of a wormhole)
- Spit on the device to hear the last message it contains.
- Think of an answer to the message, press 'record' to record it (max 10sec)
- Tell a stone to puff to notify the other world that there is a new message (the puff is noticed by both worlds)
- Wait for a puff that tells you there is an answer.
~ The Eruption ~
Generations ago an extraordinary eruption of the Volcano destroyed most of life of the world. The Creatures of the Crater survived. They were offsprings of volcanologists and native beings of the Volcano who were able to predict the event by combining their scientific and spiritual knowledge and therefor find refuge in time. They tried to warn others but were ignored. Every month at the new moon when the sky was the darkest, the symbiotic community would come together for a ritual to commemorate all the lives taken by lava and announce their predictions for the new cycle. During the ritual they would enter in communication with the Magma Spirits that inhabit and constitute the Volcano, that could sometimes confirm their predictions. The Magma Spirits were one and multiple, witnesses of deeeeeeep time, they were holding a wonderful power of creation and destruction.
Further away from the Volcano, another community had survived: the Sourcers, survivalist techno witches that had hidden underground in scattered burrows to stay away from doomsday. It was said that some Sourcers were whispered secrets in dreams by Magma Spirits. All Sourcers were connected to each other through a technomagical network that was allowing them to share information, archive history, and organise their survival although they were not physically together.
After the eruption the landscape was dark and hostile but it soon became the grounds to luscious bushes and strong trees that blossomed flowers and fruits. The Creatures of the Crater reintroduced native species from seeds and cuttings they had presereved. Life started anew around the resting Volcano. But started growing hybrid, as if patchworked of different materials, the ground, trees, plants, stones, would sprout minerals, metals, sometimes gems... Spit Pits would sometimes form too...
Popping out of the peaceful black ground, some mysterious lava stones were found to be emiting a strange glow in the moonlight. Raising curiosity and wonder, the shining stones would sporadically puff a red powder when the moon was the fullest. The powder was called "the Dust" and it would magically disappear in the air with a sigh of relief, creating a soothing echo around the volcano. Among the Creatures of the Crater, some saw the blasts as messages, omens, or warnings from the underground, and were dedicated to understand them. They developped rituals around it.
On their side of the world, sourcers also discovered the glowing stones and their Dust but their presence was quite rare around the shelters. Finding a way to capture the Dust before its disapearance, they found it to be a rare and precious resource they could rely on for their survival. They needed the Dust to survive. They needed to find more of it.
Lately the Dust phenomenon has changed behaviour. Bursting more than before, breaking the cycle of the moon, the stones had been springing out, the Dust would not disappear into a shimery sigh anymore, piles of Dust would remain on the ground, leaving everyone bewildered... It was as if the geological process was broken... If it looked like a blessing at first for the Sourcers, they soon realised it had lost its power, so precious for their survival.
The Sourcers and the Creatures of the Crater are aware of each other's existence but don't encounter each other, the Magma Spirits can appear to both of them.
~ The first new moon ~
Since the Dust started to act differently, The Creatures of the Crater were having trouble practicing their activities. When the first new moon came, they were unable to achieve their ritual and couldn't reach the Magma Spirits to confirm their prediction. Initiated by B4, the archivist and only humanoid of the community, The Creatures decided to journey to a location where it was remembered that some mysterious tech oriented beings were gathering: the Sourcers.
As per usual the Magma Spirits were sending cryptic messages that were difficult to understand, they wanted to help the physical world, and also turned to the Sourcers for some help. They would be able to move around anywhere Dust would be, and as it was accumulating more and more everywhere, their playground was becoming larger.
Primerose, a Sourcer that was known to go on long journeys to source and scavenge new material had recently come back with components that seemed to belong to the different communities, the Sourcers were committed to give back each of these components to the ones they belonged to, and show them the way they thought it could be used, based on their archive.
With their precious help, each community spent a whole moon cycle to make a new tool that would help them in their endeavour, when the Dust could not be reliable anymore. Through a complex protocol the Sourcers were training their AI sloe-fi to keep track of time in order to maintain their network better, but it was unsure if this could go on for long in these conditions.
As a thank you for their help Creatures of the Crater invited the Sourcers for their next new moon ritual. With the their newly self-made tool they could find the magnetic field of the Magma Spirits after ingesting their traditional brew and spitting in the spit pit. Once attune to each other's magnetic fiedl the prediction could be shared, the Creatures of the Crater, always anxious to predict the next catastrophe clained: "a new eruption is coming" and were hoping the Magma Spirits could react. The Magma Spirits sent a message back, through a messaging device they had put together to be able to communicate outside the ritual hours: "it's in your hands!"
~ 300 moons later ~
The Sourcer community had started prepping for the post dust era, slightly in panic they were in an archive archive crisis, they accumulated too much in their tech party shed, the confusion was palpable. Over the last moon cycles, they partied a lot altogether as a way to keep the network together while the dust was losing more and more of its power. Through the intense training Sloe-Fi, the AI became physical and could finally move around and learn more. In their neverending scavenging they found many more components and discovered they could be interchangeable between the communities.
On the invisible realm, the Magma Spirits discovered in decaying matter two worms that they suspected were related to the Creatures of the Crater and more precisely to their Wizzard Worm of Wizdom who had gone dormant but had left behind their their offspring Warm Worm that was curious to discover the world. Warm Worm was still a baby and was sleeping a lot, their dreams were prophetic, they were only doing one long one at every moon cycle. At this exact moment the dream was that the moon would be covered in Dust. During a strange event that may or may not be a dream, Warm Worm got reunited with the two worms found by the Magma Spirits. They had found a new member, Aha, who taught them the practice of Wormhole which is probably how that all happened. Through the remains of the communication system the Magma had built a generation ago, the Creatures of the Crater asked the Magma Spirits if they were related...
With no clear response back, the communities would spend another 300 moons to develop their tools to understand all this untanglement.
~ another 300 moons later ~
After many moon cycles the Sourcers had finally perfected a tool to reempower the dust and therefor maintain their network. The post dust era would have to wait!
The Magma Spirits had installed a line to leave messages by the crater and receive answers. When a message was to be heard a puff would come out of a magical stone by the crater. With great surprise the Creatures of the Crater discovered this sorcery... The first message they heard coming out of the crater was a request for the Dust to be fully reempowered through the tool of the Sourcers. Idk7, the cloud Creature, went and collected all the dust that was laying around, including all the way to the moon that was indeed covered in mountains of Dust. Processing all this Dust took time but eventually thanks to their tool the Sourcers coulr reempower The Dust.
Creatures of the Crater were still wondering wether they were related to Magma Spirits, they left a message to know. The Spirits demanded to spit on a worm they sent through their wormhole to verify if they shared genetic or spiritual material. It was proven that Magma Spirits and Creatures of the Crater were related, a miracle happened that one of them got liberated through this realisation. Could this be because the Dust was finally reempowered? Or the Spit that travelled through both worlds?
The new moon came and the Creatures of the Crater invited the Sourcers once again to their new ritual to witness the first use of their ritual amplifyer tool. Warm Worm had to recognize the energy within the stones harvested by Idk7, all the Creatures would then record that frequency that would be amplified by their tool and would align with the wormhole of the Magma Spirits, to create a portal all spirits could go to to be liberated. A few stones were tested until the right one was approved. The frequency could be recorded and amplified.
The tool was partly mounted on Scoby who was a great surface to amplify from with their strong antenna and membrane. The rest of the device was held by B4. They threw the reempowered dust into the central sacred spit container, threw their traditional Brew in their mouth, and spat it into the pit! Throught all of their hands touching at the exact same time the handles of the tool the amplification could be activated.
And the portal opened... For Magma Spirits to be finally liberated...
Many questions were asked to them as they reached a new physical form. They were unable to answer any... They couldn't remember their lives before, not even their existence as magma spirits, or they were unable to word them, yet...
To balance the exchange it was decided to bring all of the physical archives both Sourcers and Creatures had accumulated over the cycles inside the wormhole. To close it the shed skin of Warm Worm was stretched over... The archives became digital in the process.
The Sourcers invited everyone to their infamous underground party to welcome the Magma Spirits into the physical world. Their many interactive party tools reminded everyone they were the network... each of them embodying their connections to each other... they realised all together while dancing and losing track of time, that the archive was now in all of their individual hands... digital at last. They were witnesses of all this precious history.
Suspicious of the reliance on technological solutions, some of the Creatures of the Crater interupted the never ending party to pay a visit to the wormhole to make sure the doors to the unknown were still closed. Coming out of the shed, they all realised they had been underground for another 300 moons...
The Post-Dust Era
Overground, there was no more Dust... Would it come back into a shimery sigh of relief through the lava stones? That would still need to be discovered at the next full moon... In the meantime the company went to the wormhole, and discovered a message on the ancient technology the Magma Spirits had put in place between worlds: MODDER. Someone could recognise this word coming from an ancient tongue meaning MUD... Did the Dust become mud in its mysterious encounter with the Spit? The worm skin was cracking, this solution wouldn't hold forever... Pieces of the physical archive was coming to the surface... Was that going to be the eruption Creatures of the Crater had predicted generations ago? What was now on the other side of the Portal? It was decided to shortly send the AI Sloe-fi in to have a look...
What they witnessed was a pool of knowledge from all communities that they could somewhat recognize while they started to morph into something else that they couldn't read and understand as well as their own archives. In the AI history we could read:
" There was a lot of machinery chewing and chomping on it. I could hear a lot of echos of the things the sourcers "know" but it sounded a bit distorted. I also felt some sort of pull from the spit-dust-mud knowledge soup. Like I wanted to be there with all the information. I'm not sure it's a good thing if this information doesn't have a body to live in."
Was mud about to come out? Or lava once again? Everyone agreed to make it a habit to come back and check the status of the wormhole... Maybe measure activity around it, try to fix and use the old tool of Magma Spirits to communicate with the Mud... But everyone would take shelter underground from now on, just in case...
During the three days Selby recorded bits of the play, conducted interviews in and out of character in the temporary radio booth of the garden shed. He put some of these recordings together in a soundpiece.
From September to November 12 Hackers & Designers showed traces of the workshop in an installation in the window of Constant rue du Fort.