Arise Sir Phoenix & may focus be your weapon:
Well like a phoenix from the flames, I am back after 4 months of radio-blog silence. This wasn't a planned break, infact, I have penned numerous posts but alas managed to finish none! The main reason being that I have been engrossed in 2 other projects - mocking up festive greetings card illustrations for showcasing in April and a personal & corporate photography project.
Those of you who know me, will be more than aware of my tendency to keep a plethora of schemes/projects in my head and the distinct lake of focus that ensues. I am currently learning about 'Mindfulness', a technique which is all about being able to control your thoughts to allow you to block out invading ideas/concepts, in order to allow you to focus on one project at a time. To a certain extent 'Embracing the chaos' (refer a following post for more of my thoughts on this) and focusing on the important things for YOU. Not worrying about inane administrative tasks and what other people think of your actions etc.....'What you think of ME is none of MY business' !! Anyway, I will keep you updated on my progress in 'focus management' .... if I remember !
Cogs begin turning once again:
So what prompted the phoenix's ascendance? Well it was actually a company training module on 'Diversity & Inclusion', stay with me..., which I took only this fine morn! Although primarily aimed at promoting diversity in the workplace (e.g. high-lighting various bias) it also had 2 psychometric tests around behavioural habits and ability to flex personality traits to different situations. I have a keen interest in all things related to personal behaviours and interaction and this started the cogs turning once again. Such a reaction to internal communications is unheard of and infact I usually run them in the background and afford them little attention. But this one was engaging, as the message it was trying to get across was to challenge your bias and stereotypes, to try and view the world in a different way, and to show there are hidden stories about places and people you have yet to discover - so don't prejudge through conditioning that you developed through your childhood nurturing, past experiences and the media.
Included in the course was a link to a video clip of the novelist Chimamanda Adichie. She talks about her experiences as a Nigerian writer, of being judged as an African women and her attempts to start changing the global images of the African nation and it's people. She spoke about stepping back, challenging your view and seeing things through different eyes '...when we reject the single story (bias), when we realise there is never a single story about a place or person, we gain a kind of paradise!'
Can art change the world?:
After watching the clip above, I was drawn to watch further clips on the TED website. I watched one with John Maeda on design and was astounded by what he had accomplished in his field and how he had progressed from a mathematical background in MIT, to Art & Design. Then I stumbled on a spell bounding presentation by a French street artist called JR, who won the 2011 TED prize.
Everything in this post is about vision and seeing things in new ways ! The work JR has been doing across the world is amazing (see the first 3 images below). He challenged the Israeli conflict in a project called 'Face to Face', by photographing both Palestinian's and an Israeli's, who do the same job, and pasting them next to each other on either side of the wall and around the major cities. He also explained how working in a drug cartels backyard brought the community together. Art is a form of expresssion that seems to have a neutral platform to promote and empower people through debate. I believe this is true as long as it is built on genuine empassioned beliefs and has no form of branding or political associations attached, freeing it from any propoganda in the viewers eyes!
I would also like to draw your attention to two photographic projects that also challenge what we see; 'Infra' by Richard Mosse, and 'Afghan Police on Opium - The best view of heaven is from hell' by Bran Symondson. The former explores how we view the Congolese Civil war (last two images above), by using a film format design by the US for Vietnam he playes with 'Invisible Light' to show us a different view of the conflict. The latter challenges the publics view of the Afghan police:
Beyond Sport / Play31 - every child has a right to play:
I have recently been introduced, through my current employers, to a charity called 'Beyond Sport', who are utilising sport to overcome social issues across the world. I am hoping to utilise some of the thoughts above to assist them where I can. One of the projects Play31 (which spreads joy and peace through football) is a charity run by a fantastic Danish chap called Jakob Lund (http://play31.org/?p=608) based on the UN directive 31 - Every child has a right to play. Jakob is currently working on a project in Sierra Leone. I would love to contribute to these initiatives and if at all possible emulate JR (not of Dallas fame) !!
Thanks for your time, I hope you found this post in someway thought provoking.
Edge .... over and out.........
The cathartic musings of a CRE8IV mind, living at the EDGE of chaos.