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The Order of
the BioDivine


Speculative Design


Narrative and Performance

Projection Mapping

Winner: The Science Sandbox Prize for Public Engagement, BioDesign Challenge, 2022

The Order of the Biodivine is a proposed immersive theater experience concept designed to comedically speculate on future intersections between religion, science, and interspecies symbiosis in an increasingly climate-insecure world. Set in a coming-of-age ritual in 2070, this allegorical work uses performance, mycelium-based artifacts, and a choose-your-own-adventure structure to encourage a new perspective on our relationship with genetic modification and nature. 

At the end of the performance, audiences are asked to choose which character's vision they are convinced by and what kind of future they would like to experience. Depending on what they decide, they are led to separate immersive experiences to "live out" the ending of their choice.

After the performance ends, audiences are funneled into an educational exhibit that capstones the learning experience. There, they can more profoundly engage with the themes explored in the live performance, including genetic engineering, climate change, and mycelium networks.

+BioDesign Challenge 2022 Winner Page
+Competition Theatrical Trailer

Creative Team:

Jess Thies, Industrial Design, Parsons '23
Oscar Schrag, Industrial Design, Parsons '23

Questions under artistic consideration:

What are the ramifications of altering organisms with synethetic biology?

Where are the potential consequences of our historically alienated and exploitative relationship with nature?

How do science and spirituality become entangled when humans place faith in innovation to save us from climate harm?

What are possible ways that humans might contend and adapt to our ongoing climate emergency? 

Creative Process

The Order of the BioDivine was born from a series of speculative exercises teasing out possible, probable, and preferable future developments around climate change, genetic modification, and CRISPR technology. We were particularly interested in how human relationships to the natural world, to other human communities, and to religiosity might evolve in a new, less predicable era.

As the speculative world was fleshed out, the potential for a narrative-based work became clear. Developing an immersive theatre experience allowed us to explore our ideas about the future in an indepth, humorous, entertaining way.

In our project proposal, all props, costumes and sets are created with natural materials, biomaterials, and living mycelium to reflect the themes we explore over the course of the play. To that end, we created a series of forms and molds to experiment with growing usable materials for the final production.

Due to time constraints around the BioDesign Challenge, we did not hire actors or create physical sets. Instead, we created costumes for ourselves, used rudimentary props and created photoshopped versions of the sets we envisioned.

Our final theatrical trailer was created using a series of "stills," intentionally creating visual distance so that the result conveyed our ideas but suggested humor, silliness and amateurism — an entertaining video comic book that kept audiences engaged and our ideas from sounding too didactic.

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