Posthumanist Transmedia: David Blandy’s The World After (2019)

Cover of Transmedia Cultures published 2021This week my author copy of Transmedia Cultures arrived! It contains a series of “fresh” approaches to transmedia, “revealing the ever-increasing levels of entanglement they have within our real lives and with those we experience in other more imaginative or creative ones, bringing into focus exactly what is at stake in the «worlds» we choose to call our own”

My own contribution is a short chapter that frames David Blandy’s The World After (2019) and/as posthumanist transmedia. It follows on from an artist talk and a workshop I did with Blandy last year. From the chapter:

As a comparatively small-scale, publicly funded transmedia story, The World After is able to create the space to play with revolutionary ideas, while still drawing on popular culture and public interest to increase its reach. The main pillars of this transmedia story included an iPhone film, projected onto a giant screen, and a post-apocalyptic Role-Playing Game (RPG), which included a complete The World After: An Epic Adventure for the Open Minded rulebook. Both take advantage of the current popularity of these media—the film showcasing the smartphone as a “the technology emblematic of the Anthropocene era” (“New Geographies — David Blandy ‘The World After’” 2019), the RPG responding to the current tabletop gaming trend and nostalgia for 1980s geek culture evidenced in shows like Stranger Things (2016-2019). The exhibition space and programme also featured additional art by Cat Rogers, a series of rhymed poems written and read by Mervyn Linford (who also narrates part of the film), on-site tours and roleplaying workshops, game miniatures, “21st-century detritus (seating made from materials salvaged from Southend pier, pellets recycled from tires covering the floor like oil on a beach), and a scaled-up “d20”, or 20-sided dice” alluding to “the participatory-artwork-as-RPG that forms the twin component of the exhibition” alongside the film (Morton 2019).

[…] With their emphasis on multifocality and entanglement, this and other posthumanist transmedia offer us an opportunity to move beyond the paralysing inevitability of capitalism, and of the binary humanist hierarchies that place white above non-white, industrial above nomadic, rational above mystical, and human above nonhuman. They do so not by inviting us to escape our reality, or our materiality, but by showing us how we can take responsibility for them.

Transmedia Cultures is available now from Peter Lang, and those interested in The World After should take a look at David Blandy’s website. Blandy has also just released a follow-up game, Lost Eons, that builds on the world introduced in The World After RPG.

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