4th International Conference
Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges
Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology
Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 13-14, 2022
In this paper we present Metacities, a collaborative world-building project focusing on the city of Athens in the future. More specifically, the recited narratives unfold within the Athenian landscape, beginning in the year 2069 and investigating different aspects of urban life, including the natural and built environment, transportation, socio-economic conditions, etc. The project fosters collaboration between interdisciplinary artists, encouraging them to create artworks within the futuristic urban context and expand the Metacities universe. Furthermore, the artists are enabled to deliberately develop their artworks individually, but their content can only be added to the storyworld upon voting and acceptance by the rest of the team, thus promoting the cultivation of democratic processes and allowing for both bottom-up and top-down creative practices, in order to simultaneously sustain polyphony, as well as artistic coherence within the project. Metacities aims to the design and development of a geolocated augmented reality application, which will facilitate the layering of the transmedia narratives upon the physical urban space, further enhancing the sense ofa identification of futuristic prediction with the immediate, present reality. The entanglement of the two, leads to hybrid experience, engaging the audience in a spatial and temporal continuum spanning across the present and future urban life.
Metacities invites artists, designers and scholars from different disciplines to suggest transmedia projects and artworks inspired by the common narrative universe, pertaining to literature, comics, video art, animation, painting, VR, AR, 3D graphics, music, audio fiction, etc. The artworks proposed are voted and further commented by the members of the community that have already contributed to the narrative universe, in order to ensure that they present the potential to be compatible with the rest of the narratives. If successfully voted, these new artworks are integrated to the project and function as new narrative extensions of the universe. In this manner, a democratic process of governing a common intellectual property is introduced to collaborative world building practices. Hence, the universe emerges as an ever growing organic structure, in the vein of previously presented transmedia artworks (Matrix, Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Cthulhu Mythos, RPG Games, Greek Mythology, etc.). Additionally, the canons, as the foundation of the futuristic world, were proposed by the author as a first building block and they were voted on by 110 individuals, whose vote and comments helped in establishing the polyphonic creation of this narrative universe. The opinion of the latter significantly contributed to the mythopoetic function of the project, since the articles that received an average or lower score were rewritten through collaboration in Discord. The most innovative aspect of the project is its use of blockchain in order to offer a rapidly responsive and fair way of sharing the intellectual property of the ever expanding storyworld.
The project was designed and developed by Demitri Delinikolas as part of his doctoral research during 2007 until 2021. The final experiment of Metacities is an evolution of the collaborative transmedia project named 2069, which was created in 2009 and it was redesigned in 2021 using the theoretical and methodological knowledge acquired during the doctoral research. Despite the fact that Metacities is a science fiction project, the events portrayed in it are based on scientific research and related predictions, following the scientific paradigm of Future Research - Discipline of Anticipation. Moreover, different methodological approaches have been adopted, including autoethnography, transmedia collaborative storytelling, design research, audience experience, and participatory analysis. Through the use of questionnaires and polls a gamified system has been developed to help motivate the collaboration and record the process of creation under the methodological approach of practice based research.
After one year the initial team has attracted a multitude of co-creators which have produced various transmedia pieces and an active audience who votes on new entries. It remains intensely active until today, fostering novel creative collaborative practices within a continuously expanding network of individuals. More specifically, the newest version of the project has been operating for 11 months, including 20 main contributors of different ethnicities and more than 100 participants worldwide. The contributors reside in different countries of the world (Spain, Netherlands, England) and collaborate through online participatory applications, such as Notion, Discord and Wordpress. The project website http://metacities.earth acts as the entrance to the collaborative transmedia universe built by the international team. Furthermore, the members of the project have been introduced to the use of Blockchain, NFTs, DAOs and smart contracts in order to manage the shared copyright produced within Metacities.
Demitri Delinikolas is a film director, producer and new media artist based in Athens. He works in the conjunction of new media, art and philosophy, in the fields of animation, documentary, cinematic VR, augmented Reality, tourism, culture and narrative storyworld co-creation. His PhD in the University of Athens is on collaborative production, trans-media storytelling, XR and blockchain IP management. He has worked as a commercials director since 2008 and his work in film has received several awards in international festivals. Since 2019 he is a lecturer at the University of Athens Digital Arts and Cinema course. He has founded the collective emptyfilm.com.