collaborative worldbuilding 
&  speculative storytelling

Worldbuilding Scenario

MARIA ISLANDS. Over years, tons of waste has been shipped to Southeast Asian countries, making them garbage dumps where Western countries can forget about their waste. Some of this waste ends up in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Due to ocean currents gathering the waste in one spot the garbage patch has, in a way, become an island of its own. The Netherlands is one of the big exporters of trash to Southeast Asia.

The Philippines is one of those Southeast Asian countries that are burdened with garbage exports. This issue has caused some political tension between countries that export their waste and ones that receive it, yet there is much each country can learn from one another and they have plenty in common. The Philippines has a rich pre-colonial history of animistic perspectives, a spiritual belief that everything has a spirit and is alive. A popular legend is the ‘Maria Makiling’, a beautiful mountain spirit who protects nature. There is even a mountain in the Philippines called Mt. Makiling, which is shaped like a woman’s body. This is the mountain said to be the home of Maria Makiling. After being colonized, however, Filipinos became mostly Catholic. A new religious persona was introduced: The Blessed Virgin Mary. Interestingly, both are kind, beautiful and called ‘Maria’. If one needed help, they could be called upon for guidance. Yet, in current and future times of rapid change and climate crisis, which kinds of sensemaking might we depend upon for the future?

‘Maria Islands’ is a future archipelago made of plastic debris. Here, a techno-deity called Maria cares for the island and brings to life new species that have evolved to adapt to life with plastic waste. How might people co-exist with these new species? What new rituals, cultures and technologies can emerge? ‘Maria Islands’ will have a digital ‘spiritual dimension’ (sound installations or AR) forging a connection between cultures and ways of relating to nature.