MAS.S66 - City Sci-fi: Speculative Movie Making Towards the Design of Ecology Futures

Kent Larson, Principal Research Scientist
Luis Alberto Alonso Pastor, Research Scientist
Gabriela Bila Advincula, Urban Futures Research Scientist
3-2-7 Units
Wednesdays, 2pm - 5pm
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City Sci-fi  // Fall 2023 

A City Science workshop

FIRST CLASS:    September 13th (WED) - 2pm, E15-359

Instructors: Kent Larson, Gabriela Bìlá, Luis Alonso 

TAs: Maitane Iruretagoyena, Candice Wu


Summary: This class is a hands-on workshop on urban narrative and movie making. Students will imagine how new and ancestral technologies may assist designing ecological urban ecosystems in 50 years, and produce a 2-5 minute movie to immerse larger audiences in their world concept. 

#Building the world and the story: Students will learn about technologies of ancient and contemporary cities in the Amazon forest, and, informed by this, develop a future ecological urban scenario. Students will then create a character-based story that inhabits this space.

#Movie production : Students will build technical skills such as shooting, editing, virtual composing, and other aspects of moviemaking. They will be guided by the mentors and guest lecturers through the process of bringing their idea to completion.

Exhibition: Final projects will be displayed at a public screening at the Media Lab 3rd floor atrium followed by Q+A with the students.

Structure: Typically, each 3-hour session will begin with a 60 to 90-minute lecture and Q+A.  Students will then be given a 90-min in-class workshop time for assignments, tutorials, and presentations of project progress.

Motivation: To create the future we want, we have to be able to design and visualize it. The 21st century is a critical moment for humanity: the unfolding climate crisis signals a turning point to reinvent our presence in the biosphere. The established systems of power, accumulation, consumption and domination have failed. In this context, how can we create new modes to inhabit the Earth that foster justice and fairness to all forms of life? What do the original people of the Amazon forest have to teach us about organizing human life within broader natural ecosystems?

Weekly Schedule

  • Week 1 (13/SEP) - Class intro
  • Week 1.1 (14/SEP) - Kick-off class with Vanda Witoto: The urban to forest divide - when the Amazon encounters cities
  • Week 2 (20/SEP) Pre-columbian Amazon urbanism // Lecture:  Eduardo Goés Neves - USP Archaeology Department
  • Week 3 (27/SEP) Group feedback 
  • Week 4 (04/OCT)  Indigenous Sci-fi // Lecture: Grace Dillon
  • Week 4.1 (06/OCT) City Science Workshops @ClimateTech 
  • Week 5 (11/OCT) Climate adaptations at Amazonian cities + movie night // Lecture: Diosmar Filho -  Amazonia Legal Urbana 
  • Week 5.1 Shooting set workshop // Mentor: Jimmy Day
  • Week 6 (18/OCT) MIDTERM
  • Week 6.1 - Video editing workshop // Mentor: Gabi Bìlá
  • Week 7 (25/OCT) Forest Sci-fi // Lecture: Simon de Diesbach
  • Week 8 (01/NOV) Motion capture workshop // Mentors: MIT Immersion Lab
  • Week 8.1 - Unreal Engine workshop // Mentor: Candice Wu
  • Week 9 (08/NOV) Sound // Lecture: Christian Frederickson
  • Week 10 (15/NOV) AI Ethics in the movie industry // Guest TBA
  • Week 11 (22/NOV) Thanksgiving week
  • Week 12 (29/NOV) Rough cuts
  • Week 13 (06/DEC) Final Class
  • Week 13.1 (08/DEC - Friday) - Public screening at the Media Lab
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