*Please note: Projects being updated during fall 2019.
Project Name: Nature Deficit Disorder Clinic
Date: Feb-May 2015 + October 2017
Team: Berger Ebbi, Nourhan Hegazy, Jennifer McDougall, Prateeksha Singh
In 2015- Originally a graduate program collaboration with David Suzuki Foundation the project was to explore the future of Torontonian’s relationship with the climate in the year 2040, and what strategies environmental advocacy and non-profits like DSF can employ to advance the environmental conservation/awareness dialogue and action by citizens.
In 2017- The project was revamped when we were commissioned by Wilfred Laurier University to set up an installation for Nuit Blanche Toronto, a 12 hour annual art festival in the city that is open to the public. The focus was on environmental sustainability, the human side effects of our excessive construction and depleting green spaces in times of greater inequality.
2015- The team produced a very successful multi-sensorial immersive theatre based futures scenario titled “The Nature Deficit Disorder”. The 20 minute production featured a future speak-easy style underground clinic that treats patients with virtual nature exposures to counteract any nature deficiencies resulting in ‘nature deficit’, along with the pharmaceutical supplements for lactose, green vegetables and fresh oxygen (that are all expected to be in low supply if currents trends in real estate development, carbon footprint of animal husbandry, and air pollution continue). The clinic featured faux biometric identification, real-time brain scanning to measure the success of the exposure, a bio-metric inspired legal disclosure process. The clinic was framed as the closest nature option for lower and middle classes family can avail given the lack of accessible urban greenery (exploring the increasing socio-economic disparity in Toronto, the reduction in public parks as austerity measures increase). David Suzuki Foundation invited us to re-enact the production for their key funders at the launch of their annual 30 X 30 campaign in May 2015.
2017- The project was revamped when we were commissioned by Wilfred Laurier University to set up an installation for Nuit Blanche Toronto, a 12 hour art festival in the city that is open to the public. We had to redesign it so it could from an installation designed for a small audience (as was the case in 2015) to one that could see potentially 1000’s go through to it (with added complexity of different ages, abilities, etc.). The 2017 Nuit Blanche’s theme was centered on celebrating the 150th year of Canadian independence- and in response to this theme, the team shifted the timeframe from 2040 to 2067 as a nod to futures work and to stand for 200 years of colonization vs independence making a statement on the complicated settler colonial history of Canada.
The resulting installation was still a NDD Clinic, but with an AI on-screen doctor running impersonal exams on rounds of patients, only certain patients being identified as being particularly nature deficient and requiring immediate attention by an in-person doctor, and people collectively sharing ideas on how what they could do to personally address the environmental needs of today. We added more actors, different artifacts, new script and new design collateral. Our clinic saw over a 1000 people in the 12 hour run of the festival.
My role: Both were heavily collaborative projects, and I was involved in ideation, project development and execution. Other than being an actor in the installations, I contributed to the design of the experience flow, authored the scripts for all actors in both installations, did voice-over work, and contributed to the authoring of process and project documentation.
The Future is a given, but it’s not written yet, so immersive and multi-sensorial platforms can be game changers in how we engage public in a social conversation like climate reality. Also, when we design for our emotions and sense, we can create a most powerful dialogue, lasting memory, and enact action- something purely intellectual pieces usually cannot.