Contactless is a story of homelessness in the near future. Technology and profit is prioritised over social support. Money and services can only be accessed using smart devices. Caleb is evicted from his crisis house. He befriends a group of homeless people, and we follow the ways they find to survive. Anti-homeless measures are everywhere. Many people wear digital augmentations, letting them completely hide the homeless from view. Caleb finds ways to graft money for himself, but in doing so stops helping his friends. One night he loses them, seemingly to the police. Then, disaster: drunks break his phone. Caleb’s lifeline to the world is lost. Alone in this world of technology, Caleb numbly starves. Desperate, he confesses his sins to a police drone: he has cheated, stolen, abandoned his friends. Worst of all, he is homeless. The drone breaks. Behind it, Caleb sees a miracle: his friends, living in his old crisis house. It was turned into flats. The wealthy tenants wear augmentations, that prevent them perceiving the strangers around them. And so, for Caleb, reunited with his friends, and as many squatters as they can fit around these digital sleepwalkers, these houses, once again, become their homes.
Contactless is inspired by Proverbs 28, which covers the divide between rich and poor. Biggest influence is Verse 11 (NIV): “The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.” A similar vein is 28:27: “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.” I took this literally. The rich wear smart devices that cover their eyes. The discerning poor see ways to subvert their delusions. The very way the rich closed their eyes to the poor becomes their curse. Caleb’s personal journey comes from 28:22: “The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them,” 28:26, and 28:13: ” Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” The group hiding from police comes from 28:28: “When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.“ Caleb’s evicted house becoming a squatter’s paradise is 28:8: “Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.”