Tribeca Hacks <Story Matter> at CERN brought together people from the worlds of media, film and science to Switzerland for a five-day hack focusing on scientific storytelling. People traveled from as far as Brazil, France and Portugal to be a part of it, with the 43 participants being split into teams to create projects. The hack wrapped up with a presentation of the works at CERN's renowned Globe in front of an audience of 150 people.
Climate Anxiety is a non-linear branching "Sensory Based Narrative" that reacts to brainwave and heart rate signals. In this way the participant is able to immerse themselves into an interactive film without breaks in the scene or touching the screen. The story explores environmental science and climate change.
To experience Climate Anxiety, the participant first puts an EEG sensor on her head to detect the brain wave signals. Next she enters a long dark box, which isolates the viewer and puts them in a calm and meditative state. Once in the box, the participant starts the story by placing her hands onto a heart rate monitor, which starts the video and plays a heartbeat sound that is synchronized to the viewer’s pulse. The video is projected at the end of the box on a phosphorescent screen.
The story begins with a relaxing introduction and the participant is presented with three blocks of narrative, each associated with a different topic. The EEG sensor reads their brainwave activity level for each block of narrative and determines which block causes the highest neural reaction, or simply receives the most attention. The program uses that information to decide the next block. This pattern repeats for a given number of scenes.
Our aim is to follow the topic, Earth, Ocean or Atmosphere, that the viewer has the strongest reaction to in order to provide them with personalized and powerful story. At the end, the aggregate values of the user's subconscious choices throughout the film are tweeted by @ClimateAnxiety on twitter along with a picture of the viewer and a randomized message such as “Vera is a friend of the ocean.”
The narrative was adapted from scientific research and data on climate change and the planet. Data from sources such at the IPCC report is included. The perspective was changed from that of a scientist reporting data to a first person narrative told by the different parts of our planet - Earth, Ocean and Air, representing the three non-living spaces in the planet. The designers hope the project impacts the viewers by creating effective and entertaining ways to communicate climate change data and increases public awareness. See Trailer
Scientist: Erin Lamb
Storyteller: Ana Carolina von Hertwig
Designer: Charles Ayats
Blackbox: Alex Herrmann
Technologists: Clay Ewing / Oliver Keller