ZED.TO was an 8-month narrative told in real-time through an integrated combination of interactive theatrical events and online content.
It told the story of the beginning of the end of the world, from a viral pandemic created by ByoLogyc, a fictional Toronto-based biotech company.
Winner of 2012 Digi Award for Cross-Platform Fiction
Winner of 2012 Toronto Fringe Performance Innovation Award
Winner of 2012 WorldFuture BetaLaunch Best in Show
Winner of 2025 International Design Innovation Award
The Mission Business is an adventure laboratory and start-up company based in Toronto that designs connected live-action and online experiences to thrill you, challenge you, and make you think.
The founding members of The Mission Business share a background in the performing arts, and have matured across diverse professional and creative disciplines. The team has assembled in order to explore new platforms for sustainable creative development and transmedia storytelling.
Toronto Fringe Festival, Annex Wreck Room, July 4-15 2012
More than 1000 ticket holders got to know ByoLogyc, when it opened its Versatile Intern Program, and invited members of the public to join up at the launch party, held at a nightclub.
Over 12 shows, participants became embroiled in bitter inter-office dramas, competed in some fun activities, sampled ByoLogyc's latest product, and witnessed the creation of the super-virus that would destroy our world.
Participants were split up into departmental groups, each led
by a member of ByoLogyc's senior staff, who guided them through a number of activities that illustrated the high and lows of life
Participants were encouraged to take an active role, by asking questions and performing tasks.
Loads of rabbit holes leading to the deeper world of ByoLogyc, including its website, its phone support line, product videos, a documentary comic, and mysterious phone calls received by participants from someone with a grudge against ByoLogyc.
A scripted climax where participants watched staff members respond to an escalating crisis, before being evacuated from the building.
The world of ByoLogyc spilled beyond the show, into the rest of the Fringe, with company representatives moving through other
festival venues, offering product samples.
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Church of the Holy Trinity, September 30 2012
Over 2000 visitors moved through ByoLogyc's free Public Health and Community Wellness Clinic, set up for one night in order to
respond to growing threat presented by the BRX virus. Scotiabank Nuit Blanche offered the perfect context for ByoLogyc's outreach, as an
all-night arts festival with tens of thousands of potential victims roaming the streets. Those who responded to the invitation experienced
an intense ten minute journey through a crumbling corporation and a disaster on the horizon.
A century-old church fully transformed into a medical processing facility, complete with quarantined areas, cleaning stations,
and an examination area.
All visitors were efficiently introduced to ByoLogyc and the BRX virus by a combination of actors, video stations, detailed signage,
and an online dissident faction communicating with visitors via SMS.
A team of medical staff administered a personal examination for every visitor.
An immunization pill was offered to every visitor. Those who elected not to take it were photographed, and the image projected
outside for passers-by to be alerted about the possible risk.
Outside the clinic, ByoLogyc's riot-equipped security force faced off against a group of protestors, while those in line for the
clinic watched (or joined in.)
As the world succumbed to the BRX virus, 500 ticket holders over 4 shows paid top dollar for access to the ByoRetreat, ByoLogyc's solution to the imminent collapse of society.
Part refugee camp, part deluxe getaway, this large compound would serve as their home, along with the ByoLogyc senior staff. Unfortunately, over two hours, they witnessed
the final breakdown of an institution built on greed and hubris. With 50 performers facilitating 9 participant tracks and 63 different possible paths through the evening,
every participant was given the opportunity to truly decide what part they would play in the end of the world.
Held at the Evergreen Brick Works, a large site with multiple indoor and outdoor spaces tucked away in a pocket of Toronto wilderness, converted into ByoLogyc's stronghold.
Four different ticket types offered unique experiences. Adventure ticket holders joined the ByoLogyc senior staff on their personal journeys; Power ticket holders were integrated into ByoLogyc's fully equipped paramilitary force; Action ticket holders joined up with the resistance group working to destroy ByoLogyc; and Privilege ticket holders joined the CEO for refreshments, live opera, and world-altering decisions.
A huge, interactive space with loads of unique installations, including a medical processing centre, a welcome area, a military outpost, an archive room, a board room, a disaster relief area and a campsite.
Dozens of individually designed participant-driven activities gave every kind of participant the opportunity to get into the story.
A grand finale depicting the final apocalyptic showdowns between characters, between factions, and between worlds.
Spacing Magazine Launch Party, May 29 2012
NXNE Interactive, June 15 2012
WorldFuture BetaLaunch, July 28 2012
Autodesk University Innovation Forums, November 27 2012
ByoLogyc appeared by invitation at a number of industry events, taking the opportunity to introduce new customers to the wonders
of synthetic biology. A selection of staff was on-hand at each event to interact with guests, and explain more.
These events served a dual purpose.
They functioned as miniature tests for presentation and interaction techniques being developed in advance of the larger shows; and
they brought new participants into the story world, through an unexpected and memorable rabbit hole.
ByoLogyc's VIP Initiative provided an online participation gateway to fans near and far. After a one-click registration,
members were asked to join the ByoLogyc infrastructure in a bold new approach to "democratize science" through series of tasks,
the output of which was used to enrich the storyworld for more casual participants. Through this system, many participants evolved from audience to co-creator.
The ByoLogyc staff was highly active on Twitter over a period of several months. Their ongoing updates, encouragements,
feuds and rivalries offered a view into the unfolding story in between live events and major online developments. They also served as a unique and invaluable actor training tool for
a team of performers finding a way to work within a new and unpredictable storytelling format.
The hacker group EXE's online presence was the antithesis of ByoLogyc—crude, adaptable and self-organized. Their basic homepage
established their mission, while drama unfolded on their anarchic message board, and ByoLogyc's wrongdoings were tracked via ByoLeaks.
Much of EXE's infrastructure was assembled by participants, and it served as an experiment into letting the audience take control of a major story agent.
Pages from a graphic novel called ByoOptic were released gradually throughout the project, presented in-narrative as the work of a grad student in the arts doing a study on ByoLogyc.
These pages allowed further examination of individual characters, their motivations, and their backstories. In this way, each character was given a full narrative arc.
In the promotional lead-up to ByoLogyc: Retreat, an online app was released that utilizes Facebook data to allow users to examine their social networks for possible exposure
to the BRX virus. Infection risk estimates and likely symptoms are calculated using real data, for both the user themself and their friends. The app also provided an opportunity to
introduce new audience members to the story, with a quick, entertaining two minute recap.