The Treaty of Finsbury Park is an immersive fiction that looks at what it would be like if other species were to rise up and demand equal rights with humans. What that means is you, as a human, can come and take part in the fiction by playing an online or in-park game. BUT you can only play as another species, so, like, NOT as a human. The project started in 2020 and it will run until 2025 when the Treaty itself will have been created and signed by all the species communities of Finsbury Park.
The story we’ve created imagines a not too distant future where there has been unrest among all the species inhabiting Finsbury Park. After much protest it has been agreed that a treaty of cooperation will be drawn up. But first there will be an Interspecies Festival to ensure all the species understand each other’s cultures and needs.
Like a World Fair or an Olympic Games, the Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park will share and showcase the assets and aptitudes of each species community. It will be a place of discovery, thrills, marvels and broadened horizons!
However, it can only be planned and delivered if humans help all the species of the park to communicate their ideas.
Luckily a recent invention - the Sentience Dial - allows humans to tune into mentor species and speak for them at Assemblies. Cool huh?!
At each of the Assemblies, humans will help their mentor species explore different park locations and potential activities for the festival. A creative team will then work these ideas up into a set of proposals. The proposals will be presented in early 2023 and everyone - human and non-human alike - will be invited to choose the festival format they think will work best and it will be produced and presented in the summer of 2023.
We did extensive research and with the help of local experts including Finsbury Park’s own Park Ranger, Ricard Zanoli, and we identified a set of 7 Finsbury Park species that could represent the wider biodiversity of the park. They are:
⇨ The Bees
⇨ The Canada Geese
⇨ The Dogs
⇨ The Grass
⇨ The London Plane Trees
⇨ The Stag Beetles
⇨ The Squirrels
Don’t worry we’re experts at this.
We already invented the Sentience Dial technology which, when used properly, will match you to your Mentor Species - the species you are most naturally aligned with. By visiting the Sentience Dial, meeting your species mentor, and responding to their questions, you will begin to learn their ways and needs. Once you’ve been through that process you’ll discover that inside the Assemblies Games you won’t appear as a human at all!
That’s right, your own face and location will completely disappear to reveal that of your Mentor Species in their home environment in Finsbury Park. It’ll look something like this:
In 2019 with a planetary health check revealing over a million species on earth at risk of extinction because of humans, we decided to explore new ways of developing systems for mutual care and respect on earth. We had questions: How do we care? Who or what do we care for first? And who cares for the carers in a world ravaged by political crises and climate emergency?
Our hunch was that by treating other life forms as resources to be managed and exploited for profit, rather than lived with and learned from, humans would be condemned to lonely self-destruction.
Furtherfield worked with New Design Congress and researchers from the CreaTures (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures) to develop a public project that would promote biodiverversity by reimagining the role of urban humans in collaboration with all species.
Then we started work on a role-play game where Finsbury Park is the site of an interspecies revolution that will lead to the signing of a Treaty respecting the equal rights of all living beings.
There are 3 parts to the story:
Part 1 - 2022
The Assemblies Games – these are games where everyone gets to plan the Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park 2023 – an event which will celebrate the drawing up of the treaty itself.
First we will run the online Assemblies Games on:
⇨ Thursday 26th May
⇨ Thursday 9th June
⇨ Thursday 16th June
Then later in the summer of 2022 we will run in-person/in-park games where we’ll explore the park together. If that sounds like something you’d like to do (you can bring friends and family too of course) please register your interest here.
Part 2 - 2023
The Vote – once artists have had a chance to gather everyone’s input they’ll present 3 proposals for the Interspecies Festival and everyone will be invited to choose the one they want to participate in.
We will cover our Gallery building, in the heart of the park, with interactive hoardings and there will be posters and flyers too. All you’ll need to do is scan the hoardings (or open an email if you’re on our mailing list) and you’ll be taken to the proposal experiences. Your job will be to act as a jury member placing your voting credits against the festival experience you think will be the best.
Part 3 - 2023
The Interspecies Festival of Finsbury Park – all the species of Finsbury Park will be invited to join the festival in Summer 2023.
When all the preparations have been made we’ll send word and invite everyone to the festival.
But don’t forget that this isn’t the end, there will still be the Treaty to draw up, sign, and ratify, so stay tuned!
Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Though mentor species matching via the Sentience Dial is the most effective route, you can go ahead and feel your way through the process unaided by downloading Snap Camera and trying on Furtherfield’s masks. Our technical guide shows you how.
Or go to your SnapChat app on your phone and search the filters for ‘Finsbury’.
Either way it’s good to be outside or near an open window so that nature can help guide you.
The UK has lost more biodiversity than any G7 country, and is in the worst 10% globally.
Biodiversity matters. It plays a crucial role in tackling climate change and signals the health of any environment. It provides life sustaining services such as clean air and water, and is essential to health and well being, learning and relaxation. It defines our cultural heritage and identity, and provides us with raw materials for food, shelter medicine, fuel and clothing.
There is more nature and biodiversity in cities than we often realise and urban nature is now more diverse than cultivated rural areas. So what better place than a city park for humans to discover more about what role we can play in growing our understanding and promoting biodiversity where we are.
In the games we will pick a biodiversity habitat in Finsbury Park - the new forest, the old forest, or the wildflower meadows, to host the 2022 Interspecies Festival and the activities that it will feature.
By planning the Interspecies Festival together, human people from the locality and around the world will build empathy pathways to other beings. They will learn about what matters to them and their habitats. They will explore what it would mean to truly acknowledge the equal rights of more-than-human beings to the same range of freedoms they expect for themselves.
Together they will think about what it will take to prioritise biodiversity and take actual steps to achieve this.
Beginning in 2020 and spanning a minimum of 5 years, the work was originally developed in a collaboration between Furtherfield and The New Design Congress.
The first 3 years are being generously supported by CreaTures Creative Practices for Transformational Futures. CreaTures project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870759.
The content presented represents the views of the authors, and the European Commission has no liability in respect of the content. The project is only made possible by the collaboration and involvement of a lot of different people playing many different roles.
⇨ Artistic Direction by Ruth Catlow
⇨ Concept by Cade Diem and Ruth Catlow
⇨ Visual design by Cade Diem
⇨ Illustrations by Sajan Rai
⇨ LARP Design and hosting by Ruth Catlow, Bea Xu and Max Dovey
⇨ LARP Player Support by Lekey Leideker and Tanya Boyarkina
⇨ Writing by Ruth Catlow and Dr Charlotte Frost
⇨ Music by Matt Catlow
⇨ Digital Mask animation by PopulAR
⇨ Research by CreaTures stewarded by Dr Lara Houston and Dr Ann Light
⇨ Production support for prototype LARPs by Tanya Boyarkina
⇨ Outreach for prototype LARPs by Pita Arreola
⇨ Thanks to our first players: Shawn, Carien, Anne, Tom and Ricard.
⇨ Special thanks to Ricard, Finsbury Park Ranger for introducing us to all the different lives of the park