Activities > Physical and Alternate Reality Narratives (PARN)

Physical and Alternate Reality Narratives (PARN)

The central focus of the PARN project is dealing with the possibilities and problems of creating, presenting and representing narratives in physical space. Storytelling is a fundamental human capacity and is widespread in a variety of cultural forms as well as being one of the ways in which, according to many researchers of learning and awareness, we make sense of the world as we experience and reflect it. As the acclaimed poet Simon Ortiz puts it: “there are no truths, only stories.” FoAM’s role in PARN is to research and design an alternate reality narrative, an emerging story-scape inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s creed “the ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

With the advent of massive urbanisation, labour specialisation and new forms of entertainment, our relationship with nature has become frayed. This relationship can be re-invigorated by straddling the places where nature and culture are most distanced - urban and online environments. With alternate reality narratives (ARN), we look at engaging people in a new kind of immersive story, where nature and culture interact. The story embraces the innovative and participatory capabilities of new technologies, adapted to today’s turbulent ecosystems and grounded in the cultural traditions of the past. The ARNs combine a range of contemporary storytelling media with diverse European urban contexts, cultures and people, through a rich story and speculative history.

PARN is coordinated by Time’s Up (AT), in collaboration with FoAM (BE), Lighthouse (UK) and Blast Theory (UK). FoAM’s additional allies, partners and advisors in PARN are Six to Start (UK), Foamlab (NL), Synfonie (UK) and Tale of Tales (BE).

With the support of the Culture 2007-2013 Framework of the European Commision and the Flemish Authorities.

Borrowed Scenery

Borrowed Scenery is a story about an alternate reality (past, future or parallel) where plants are a central aspect of human society. Weaving through ...

Borrowed Scenery ARN - 88
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 83
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 36
Inner garden performance - Botanic Gardens Gent
Maja and Paola, the introduction...
The patabotanical tarot designers
Deep in thoughts
Discussing the mood-boards
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 29
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 42
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 68
Inner garden performance - Botanic Gardens Gent
Harvest Fest still 34
Harvest Fest still 14
Harvest Fest still 01
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 88
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 83
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 42
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 36
Borrowed Scenery ARN - 29
The patabotanical tarot designers
Discussing the mood-boards
Deep in thoughts

Approaching the Inexplicable

In the slow swarm of light they remain silent, luminous. Eyes in the place of eyes, Ears in the place ...

Borrowed Scenery: Cultivating an Alternate Reality

Inspired by shakkei and jiejing gardens, FoAM developed the alternate reality narrative Borrowed Scenery, a story without a narrator or ...

GroWorld: Experiments in vegetal culture

At the intersections of culture, gardening and technology we can start to see how plants can become organisational principles for ...

Magic, Mistakes and the multitude of the matter

Transcription of FoAM's talk at Design March 2013 in Iceland

PARN: Physical and Alternate Reality Narratives

The central focus of the project PARN (Physical and Alternate Reality Narratives) has ben dealing with the possibilities and problems ...

Physical and Alternate Reality Narratives (PARN)

The central focus of the PARN project is on creating, presenting and representing narratives in physical space. Storytelling is a ...

The Story of Tarot

Tarot is a pack of cards used from mid-fifteenth century to play card games, and includes Tarocchi/Tarocchini in Italy ...

From the antipodean research retreat

How to imagine, discuss and rehearse a multiplicity of possible, probable and preferred futures? What do futures studies, improvisation, play ...

PARN books fresh off the press

We're happy to announce that copies of the PARN book co-edited by Time's Up and FoAM have arrived ...

FoAM Newsletter Spring 2013

2013 spring newsletter banner Dear collaborators, colleagues and friends, along with the full bloom of spring we are pleased to bring you the latest ...

FoAM Newsletter Winter 2012

banner Winter greetings from FoAM, amidst virtual snow and the sudden electric bloom of Christmas lights. As the year draws to ...

Doris: Lobster mapping

Doris is a new project that has emerged from the development of Borrowed Scenery's Zizim app, repurposed into a ...

Stadsfestivals: kunst of kermis?

Laura Herman discusses Borrowed Scenery and the Buratinas taxi service in an an insightful article linking "two festivals in two ...

Auctioning Borrowed Scenery

auctioning a physical narrative

Verken je stadsgroen

Borrowed Scenery - Transitiefestival - Verken je stadsgroen Urban ecologist Geert Heyneman takes us on a path to understanding the richness and diversity of (edible) plants in the ...

Legal Identity for Trees workshop

Our starting point: we are dependent on trees for our survival, even as the ongoing global process of rapid extinction ...

Aniziz and Zizim

The online component of the Borrowed Scenery project is an experiment in geotagging plants and plant-related locations via a website ...

Plant stories walk

Vanessa guided us through Gent with compiled anecdotes full of botanical, homeopathic, architectural and humorous information about Gent's trees ...

Succulent Scenery

IMAG0016 For two days in early September, from the uncharted mists of the recently opened patabotanist's laboratory, emerges a team ...

Chrysantemum Day at Borrowed Scenery

On 9 September we celebrate Chrysanthemum Day in the Borrowed Scenery Lab. It is a day to slow down and ...


mycorrhiza-allmycorrhiza is a symbiotic (generally mutualistic, but occasionally weakly pathogenic) association between a fungus and the roots of a ...

Aniziz (the soil)

Borrowed Scenery - Joining imaginary and physical spaces

summer update 02012

The summer season is a time for us at FoAM to take a few steps back from our busy routines ...


For a while now we’ve been using the term ‘patabotany’ to describe a hybrid between ethnobotany (the study of ...

Inner Garden

A new composition by Stevie Wishart, for human and vegetal voices, as a tribute to Hildegard von Bingen's Viriditas.

Arboreal identity

FoAM and Z33 invite Heath Bunting and An Mertens to discover how to create a legal identity for trees

Human-Plant Interactions in Borrowed Scenery

In his essay ‘Plan/Plant/Planet’ Terrence McKenna suggests that plants should become organisational principles for human society in the ...

Electrified: an exploration

FoAM hosted a poetic afternoon tea at the Vooruit in Ghent on Sunday the 10th of June. Our guests had ...

Patabotanical Tarot sketches

Continuing the design of the patabotanical tarot…

Ethnobotany and Tarot

What do Tarot and plants have in common? Beyond the floral motifs that appear on almost every card, perhaps it ...

ARG tutorial notes online

Notes from the Alternate Reality Games Tutorial are now on the Libarnyth:

FoAM interview in MCD #65

An interview with Maja and Nik is featured in the recent issue of MCD – "L’INTERNET VOIT VERT / THE CULTURE ...

Borrowed Scenery: verken je stadsgroen

  • Gent.
  • Oct 26th 2012 to Oct 26th 2012

FoAM takes participants of the TNM Festival for a walk through Gent to find ...

Identity Bureau: Legal Identity for Trees

  • Oct 12th 2012 to Oct 13th 2012

FoAM and Z33 co-organise a two-day workshop lead by Heath Bunting and An Mertens ...

Plant Stories Walk

  • Gent. Belgium.
  • Oct 7th 2012 to Oct 7th 2012

[NL] Net zoals de torens en kathedralen hebben de stadsbomen van Gent een eigen ...

Opening Electrified III

  • Ghent. Belgium.
  • Aug 31st 2012 to Aug 31st 2012

Part of the TRACK city festival, the Electrified project opens 31 August in the ...