No Longer (…) Not Yet

Illustrations with permission by Neda Sajadi

Creative eco-narrative by Jessica Laraine Williams as writer in residence for the Climate, Art, and Digital Activisms 4-day Festival of Ideas, where the text was first published.[i]

Exceeding the wraiths of bereavement, within the extractive euphoria of capitalist dissonance, at this late hour of our climate reckoning: we are here, bracketed out as ellipses held in suspense. No longer (…) not yet.[ii] 

Extinct, Threatened, Possibly Threatened, Not Threatened, Data Deficient and Not Evaluated.

Visible and measurable indicators of the health of an ecosystem.

Habitat shifts and alterations.

Storms and flooding.

Pests and diseases.

Fire regime.[iii]

Here I recall their entreaties at the arc of sylph-like dwindling, told in whispering drawn torrents that came to pool at my roots. Into green corridors, voices curled with threaded lineages and grew sonorous with me. Mother mountain, gifted stream, forest spirit.[iv] The advisory bird would announce a set of choral edicts, but the villagers chose not to respond. Their hands were sometimes bloodied by their care. I cycled through evanescence and absolute form in their world. Immensely sloping over high cliffs, held to their laws and on their breath, or when I convened with the turning rice. When that happened, we crouched together in wooden temples on the hill, and braced for gusts. The village songs at last turned to plenitude: it would mean the crop was good. Over seasons my mantle would shudder, brimming leaves, as riven faults cracked through darkly scorching skies. Theirs was a script made by the tillage of generations. Their signs and stories gathered the tangled ways of knowing, and laid blooming mosaic patterns before the abruptness of

No longer.

“Considering the extent of our technological development, emphasis on the eco-philosophical aspects is not to be mistaken for biological determinism. It rather posits a nature-culture continuum within which subjects cultivate and construct multiple ethical relations.”[v] Towards doing worlding work that insists on the alterity of hope, Rosi Braidotti invites activists to consider an affirmative ethics. This ethics realigns paralysis, bereavement, and anxiety into collective capacity across pluralistic means of active practice and multitudinal human-nonhuman agencies. As a form of storytelling, affirmative ethics aim to narrate future imaginaries for inclusive sustainability, diffracted in the reflects of today. For example, in rising virtual reality scenarios, our embodied presence in beginning to be recognised as more than an interstice between simulacra and material affect. At the level of entry, the body divides and permits through accessibility barriers to the virtual reality space-such as through the admission of sight or hearing. Moving through a virtual environment, relational action or inaction determines positionality in the system. We can then recognise the presence of bodies as signalling indicators in a broader hierarchy of significance: which nonhuman avatars are absent, present, encoded or extracted by these virtual spaces? Writing on the concept of the avatar in 2008, Nancy Katherine Hayles posited that“…the avatar both is and is not present, just as the user both is and is not inside the screen…What transformations govern the connections between user and avatar? What parameters control the construction of the screen world?”[vi]  Today, the implications of virtual nature may therefore pick at hegemonic readings of nature itself, collapsing the division between physical and virtual nature experiences, the outside (and therefore Other) natural world and the digital space both operating as important sites of emotional and physiological consequence.[vii] To create and participate in virtual nature environments becomes a type of worldmaking, rife with both potentiality and response-ability.[viii]

Welcome to the Inner Forest.[ix]

This activity will run for around 5 minutes, and will prompt you to participate in four extended reality scenes that accompany gentle, physical actions.

Each scene locates you as part of a wider connected ecosystem of wellbeing, constructed by imagination, environments, and the embodied self. Please start in a comfortable neutral position.  This neutral position should be one of rest, stillness and calm, however that feels best. That might be lying, sitting, standing, or whatever works for you.

Take a moment to find your neutral position.

As we move through these actions, keep in mind your levels of comfort. We want to avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort. If you find that you begin to experience these, please return to your neutral position and simply visualise the scene in your mind.  

Here is a shell. Think of a beach you’ve visited, where you might find this shell.

Perhaps you have a memory of a particular day at the beach, where you discovered objects had washed up on shore, including shells like this one. Stretch out, as if offering the shell to silent companions for inspection, as near or far away as feels comfortable. Now, draw the shell in close to yourself again. Imagine what other beings might once have held this shell, in a different way to you. Return to your neutral position.

Repeat this gentle action as many times as you feel you would like, until the scene changes, or until you feel you would like to rest.

Here is a leaf from a Moreton Bay Fig tree. Also known as the Australian banyan tree, it can grow to a large height over many years. Have you encountered one of these trees before? If this tree could see, what might it have witnessed in the cycle of its existence?

Listen to the sounds that surround you, and dwell on what impressions these bring to mind. The leaf is a rich, deep green. Pick it up by bending your knees lightly. If you’re seated or lying, bend your knees gently, drawing your heels in towards your hips, through fallen leaves that surround you. Return to your neutral position.

Repeat this gentle action as many times as you feel you would like, until the scene changes, or until you feel you would like to rest.

Here is a feather. There are birds flocking as a group above you, and perhaps you can remember other times that you have encountered strange and wonderful patterns in nature. Patterns and formations are all around us, from the microscopic to the most cosmic scale. These birds are following a migratory path using complex means beyond our absolute comprehension. Their horizons lie along a wider span than ours.

Gently look up, as far as is comfortable. When you’re ready, return your head to your neutral position.

Repeat this gentle action as many times as you feel you would like, until the scene changes, or until you feel you would like to rest.

We have arrived in a forest, the final scene in our journey today. This forest still exists in the physical world.

Slowly move your shoulders side-to-side from your neutral position, as if you were weaving through tree trunks as you make your way through and between their forms. You are now transiting through the Inner Forest to the next phase, being

Not Yet. 

[i] The Festival convened interdisciplinary researchers, educators, and practitioners with expertise in the climate-related social issues, media, refugee communities, creative arts, curatorial practice, arts-based research, small data, and digital methods. The festival program was held over 3 days (21-23 November) at studioFive (UNITWIN partner and UNESCO Observatory of the Arts) in Melbourne, with the 4th day (27 November) being at the University of South Australia (preceding the AARE 2022 Conference) in Adelaide.

[ii] Rosi Braidotti, ‘On Putting the Active Back into Activism’, New Formations 68, no. 68 (1 March 2010): 46,

[iii] A range of descriptors corresponding to climate impacts on species of trees, and their probability of extinction. Botanic Gardens Conservation International, ‘State of the World’s Trees’, September 2021.

[iv] These descriptors are in reference to the spiritual ecosystem beliefs of the H’re indigenous community in Kon Tum province, Central Highlands of Vietnam. Suneetha M. Subramanian et al., ‘Sustainable Livelihood Options in SEPLS for Human Well-Being’, Sustainable Livelihoods in Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review, Vol 3). United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, Tokyo, 2017, 1–11.

[v] Braidotti, ‘On Putting the Active Back into Activism’, 45–46.

[vi] N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (University of Chicago Press, 2008), 27.

[vii] Jessica Laraine Williams, Susannah Langley, and Ann Borda, ‘Virtual Nature, Inner Forest: Prospects for Immersive Virtual Nature Art and Well-Being’, Virtual Creativity 11, no. 1 (January 2021): 125–46,

[viii]“In passion and action, detachment and attachment, this is what I call cultivating response-ability; that is also collective knowing and doing, an ecology of practices. Whether we asked for it or not, the pattern is in our hands. The answer to the trust of the held-out hand: think we must.” Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble : Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Experimental Futures: Technological Lives, Scientific Arts, Anthropological Voices (Duke University Press, 2016), 34.

[ix] Each scene in this XR experience is intended to be activated with haptic triggers/audiovisual components (360-degree scenes and photogrammetry scans), with the aim of immersing the user in both the eco-narrative and the scene itself. The four scenes are designed to run for a minute each.