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ADS4: Legal Fictions

Paul Bisbrown

Paul Bisbrown is a designer whose work engages at the intersection of animation, film and technology. His work focuses upon using speculative narratives to progress discourse, driven through a variety of media.

Having completed his undergraduate studies at Oxford Brookes School of Architecture - in which his projects received various awards, including being nominated for RIBA bronze and being listed as Blueprint's 2016 'One's to Watch' - Paul has since gone on to work at a variety of prestigious practices, including Mary Duggan Architects, Morris and Company and Carmody Groarke. Throughout this time, Paul has been engaged in numerous projects, varying in scale, sector and budget.

Having joined the RCA in 2018, Paul studied within ADS 4 across his time there, developing an attitude towards engaging with architecture with new and innovative responses. Paul continues to pursue his interests in moving image and its relationship with architecture beyond his studies at the RCA, both in practice and as a member of design collective +44.

I was always going to write this. You were always going to read it. There was no other possibility. It was inevitable.

Envisage a world in which life is laid out before you - every action, error, malice - from the moment you come into this world, until the moment you leave it. You go about your day and everything that happens, was always going to happen. A predetermined life.

But this is already our reality. The only difference is whether you believe it or not.

One proprietary theory to this new faith paradigm is the Mathematical Universe Theory, in which Tegmark states:

‘The physical universe is not merely described by mathematics but is mathematics. Mathematical existence equals physical existence, and all structures that exist mathematically exist physically as well.’

In this regard, the world can be believed to be a mathematical ontology, in which all that we believe exists is mathematics. This posits the theory that, life as we know it is determined by infinite equations, running both constantly and simultaneously, in a predictable way. Life is laid out before us and we are just mere components in a scripted universe.

With this in mind, the mental health crisis is often linked to the sense that we have lost are free will due to the rise in technological determinism. According to the NHS, the mental health crisis, is generated through feeling ‘that you no longer … able to cope or be in control of your situation.’ With rates of people suffering from mental illness consistently increasing year on year.

Thus, ‘The End’ speculates as to how adopting a scripted life could relieve us from the anxiety induced by a technologically determined world. As stated by Sartre:

‘man is condemned to be free, as once thrown into the world he is responsible for everything he does’

This project is portrayed through me, acting as the protagonist in the Speculative narrative, using film and animation as a lens through which to explore the implications of a predetermined world.

So why do this project? There was no other possibility.

The End — Six Chapters - Six Deaths

‘The End’ looks to address the consequences of pre-determinism through the lens of mortality. The final output of this project speculates on the eventual demise of the protagonist through film and animation. However, by embodying the ‘Many Worlds Theory’, there is not just one outcome, but an infinite spectrum of potential possibilities for my inevitable demise.These potential deaths are examined through the development of ‘chapters’, in which each potential end, acts as serial investigation, each chapter learning from the previous, in a seemingly endless rehearsal to the eventual final passing.

Each chapter is framed through the narrative of an individual film genre. By applying a form of machine learning to a series of film scripts from a genre, a new 'meta-script' is generated. The resultant meta-script picks up on various tropes contained within these genres, but reproduced in an uncanny way. These scripts become the narrative base for each Chapter, whether portrayed through the style of a Western or Horror.

The six chapters shown in this body of work are just a selected few out of the infinite potential possibilities in the way I shall die.


Planet Dearth
Genre: Documentary
There Will be Coughs of Blood
Genre: Western
Blade Faller
Genre: Sci-Fi
Death on the Vile
Genre: Murder Mystery
The Dimming
Genre: Horror
Finding No One
Genre: Animation
Plot: Network Diagram — The script has become the primary means in which actions are carried out. So what of a future in which are lives are determined by scripts?
Plot: A Scripted Script — A text generated script, performed by amateur actors whose predetermined movements are dictated through taped markings on the floor.
Plot: A Scripted Gothic Coast
Plot: Sci-Fi Scripted Landscape
Prop: Scripting the Scene — Model as a form of documentation
Prop: Scripting the Scene — Model as a form of documentation
Prop: Interconnected Web of Plots
Prop: Documenting the World
Paranoia: Glitches — Fear of the Unknown.
Paranoia: Glitches — Fear of the Unknown.

To explore the implications of this predetermined world, ‘The End’ is driven by the use of computer scripting. The term ‘script’ is a homonym, defined as a the ‘written text for a play or film’, or within computing as, “an automated series of instructions carried out in a specific order”. These scripts allow for a glimpse into what life would be like, if we absolved all free will and instead lived our life solely through the use of computer algorithms.

For this scripted life to be possible, one must form the data base from which predictions can be generated. In this regard, ‘Models’ have become the paramount method through which we begin to understand our physical reality and begin to allow us to project into the future. This is evident through the £1.2 B billion pounds invested into the MET office to generate a model of increased precision. However, despite their increasing accuracy, these models remain flawed and are further hampered by the seemingly unknown events, such as global warming and pandemics. With this in mind, the only way to accurately predict how future events will unfurl, is through creating a 1:1 model of the world. By accurately mapping and measuring all elements within the world, this model of greater fidelity would allow for accurate predictions for things to come, casting out with greater confidence into the future.

These models have to be inhabited by all manner of objects. A prop, or ‘properties’, is both the object in itself and the means through which describe it through the values it encodes. In this manner, our universe is described through the objects and our relation to them, forming an interconnected web of plots between all manner of things, both animate and inanimate.

With the potentiality of such models, the only element left is to believe in them.

Four Scenes. — To provide reassurance in this mathematical ontology, one must believe in the possibility that 1:1 model of the universe could exist. Through this short film above, the digital landscape is framed behind the protagonist, revealing the digital doppelgänger of their own physical realities. By glimpsing into this digital reality their belief in the Mathematical Universe and the deterministic outcomes it produces are reassured.
Four Deaths.

In relation to understanding how the consequences of pre-determinism have had a significant effect on our lives, one prominent factor - particularly in light of the past year - is the role of mortality. This year has placed us all with unprecedented proximity with death, in which stats and figures are used to create projections. Often positioning mortality against other factors such as the economy. 'Four Deaths' above depicts the hypothetical death of the protagonist in this story. These deaths are determined by the spurious correlations that link statistics together, that would not normally be associated. For example, amount of music copyrighted and deaths by strangulation falling out of bed and dying and the amount of iPhone sales.

The Set of all Sets

Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic used to informally categorise objects. One element of set theory, Russel’s paradox, states that any definable collection is a set. Let R be the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. If R is not a member of itself, then its definition dictates that it must contain itself, and if it contains itself, then it contradicts its own definition as the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.

In this scenario, as the set is all encompassing, it must include itself and model based on the outcomes it produces. In this theory, the architecture must include the script that determines it, thus creating a looping paradox. The set within a set - The script within the script - A plot within a plot.

With my belief in this new faith paradigm, I am just one actor within this set, playing out my predetermined part in a series of infinite possibilities.

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