Friday, March 06, 2020

worldbuilding 101

During yesterday's Future Tense artist panel, I asked a question about worldbuilding as a concept, and how the participants  felt it related to activism and social commentary. Writers, obviously worldbuild all the their nature not only creating something from the ether, but also creating via words, via signals and signs, and not visuals.  Of course, visual art is much more direct, and this is perhaps why I love working in the two in tandem. Things like film and tv, even moreso.

In the exhibit, I did wind up including some segments of ordinary planet.  Various projects of mine dip into worldbuilding, some more than others.  This one is the only one that creates a dystopia, though you could argue some of the apocalypse manuscript stuff touches there as well, particularly the apocalypse theory and terrestrial animal section. I suppose they become speculative in that sense and subject to the rules of an entirely invented world.  In this case, a post-apocalyptic landscape that has regressed to victorian constraints--the women who speak to the dead because there are so many of them.  The wife who poisons her husband after he keeps her in captivity, women's rights completely gone out the window.

My other worlds are perhaps more rooted in the actual rather than the imagined, but sometimes become imagined themselves--you can't really write about ghosts and mermaids and not dip into alternate worlds. In this way, I suppose SEX & VIOLENCE,. the upcoming full-length, seems more grounded in this world than past books like SALVAGE or GIRL SHOW.

As far as activism go, it doesn't always feel intentional, but I suspect maybe it is.  The themes of my work, of course, women centered. I talked a bit about pelt, the Renaissance dog-girl series I am in the midst of currently-its themes of the body, of art and sensuality. Of nature vs civilization. All very feminist in their intent.  We also discussed how much of the work looks both forward and back at the same time--addressing the current horror with the historical one.   How nothing in futurism and speculative art is entirely new, but always tethered to elements of the past.

As a poet, I sometimes feel strange when I talk about narrative and worldbuilding, only becuase so much of poetry barely glances at these elements, and if they do, certainly not all that intentionally, and yet I think the possibilities are really exciting when one does.

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