Narratives and contemplation
Narratives and contemplation
An Interfaith Arts and Narratives Proposal
Creating sacred experiences of attention and reflection through multimedia "witnessing" portraits in places of worship from all faiths and traditions
What Is Most Personal Is Most Universal
This proposal presents a vision that the Arts and Narratives "Sensemaking" can offer a unique platform for interfaith dialogue. Opening new pathways to the crucial dialogue that our society will need to face our ever deepening, and ever global social and environmental crises.
Installations Of Portraits In Seven Countries, Across Diverse Faith Traditions
- filming, recording and painting 100 portraits in collaboration with local artists
Montage by Tyler.World with elements from pxfuel (photo-opkdp) 2021
Partial overview of faith symboles (Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Ayyavazhi, Wiccan (goddess)
84% of the world's population is religious...
Our social cooperation hopes, in the face of challenges such as climate change and inequality, have to take this into consideration
A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.
This proposal leverages the recent art and video experiments by Tyler.World (John Oliver), to create an innovative integration of symbol, image, narrative and dialogue to evoke the crucial role of Interfaith dialogue for our exponential socio-economic and environmental challenges.
"It is not just technical solutions that we need for our social crises, but a new depth to our belief systems - a re-enchantment with the core principles of our faith traditions."
The generative future of our belief traditions and spiritual practices can be seen as opportunity of increasing our developmental "span" as a global community - "span" meaning embracing both greater diversity in our spiritual practices, AND deeper connections and integration througth the universal principles that they share.
With a passion for bringing philosophy into action, the project seeks to demonstrate how the three primordial perspectives of the arts, sciences and religions (or Kantian Good, True and Beautiful), can be brought together.
Why Portraits and Narratives?
The sacred practice of seeing another
The narratives practice already has its precendents with artists such as JR and documentary filmers such as Yann Arthus-Bertrand (see and overview here: https://www.interiortruth.com/landscapes-and-dialogue), but none of these projects are focusing on our faith traditions.
Yet, it can be found in many faith texts and philosophy schools, the recognition of the connection we build when unconditionally seeing 'another', beyond our identites, our labels, is in fact a sacred practice.
Portraits are therefore a corner stone of practice that we can step into, where we stop time, take a step back and invite in the wonder of seeing another in their uniqueness. Such portrait practices draws on capacities of listening, seeing and paying attention, that can provide revelatory moments of discovery and connection, both between complete strangers and even with those that we live close to and think we know.
The sacred practice of attention
Attention could be said to be the most fundamental currency of the human condition - our attention is being constantly solicited and influenced by our relationships, material needs and the socio-political-economic forces that we live in.
However, there is growing recognition, and re-embracing of practices that help us take back our agency and sovereignty in where and how we direct our attention.
It is here, that the principles of the creative act and the artistic lens, that help us embrace deep experiential engagement with the full spectrum of our powers of attention - such that we see the sacredness of how we can direct our attention with the qualities of openness, unconditionality and wonder.
The meaning making opportunities of signifying our narratives through the core principles of our faith traditions
With a very important distinction with the growing trends in "post-religious" mindfulness and meditation, this project proposal invites the rediscovery and the engagement of our heritage spiritual spaces and places of prayer and worship.
Through both the infinitely unique nature of our personal narratives AND the symbolism and metaphor of our faith traditions, we can integrate (transcend and include) all that we have inherited across the spectrum of traditions from shamanic, monotheistic, multitheistic, buddhist, to Taoist.
This project proposal leverages contemporary evolutions in the social sciences and anthropology, under the umbrella of practices of narratives Sensemaking. Sensemaking brings together both the personal and universal - the uniqueness of our individual contexts, whilst offering an interpretation and narratives mapping across the universals: such as what are the perennial polarities that the human condition is faced with, and constantly navigating.
The interpretation process helps us see patterns and make connections across our narratives. A key part of the methodology is in self-signification, i.e. the narrator reflects and interprets themselves their narratives, offering a moment of guided reflection.
Four Key Activities Of The Project:
Identifying seven countries and seven diverse places of worship.
Connecting with local artists
Sharing a portrait practice guideline that includes 'unconditional video witnessing' portraits (see www.interiortruth.com), and creative painting / sculpture portraits.
Intercultural/Interreligious art collaborations to create sculpture installations in places of worship/faith traditions
First installation of 15-20 portraits and sculptures in SW France church location identified.
Filming 20-30 video portraits across the faith traditions, based on an innovative intimate 'witnessing' approach (ref. John Oliver's InteriorTruth.com video platform)
Creation of an interactive video portal, based on previous narratives sensemaking projects
Outreach and dialogue across institutions
The total fundraising target is €66k, with a budget detailed below.
Painting by Tyler - Oct 2022
Tyler Sculpture Trail, France - 2021
Painting by Tyler - Oct 2022
Introduction and Background
This proposal is inspired by a conviction that our social challenges from the environment to inequality, will require new ways of living together and significant shifts in how we understand our world, invite dialogue and make choices.
My 30 years of professional experience has included research and employment in the alternative economics movement (including working for 4 years for the charity set up by E F Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful), diverse schools of philosophy (including Integral Theory, meeting Ken Wilber in 2008 for his input into a book project) and social complexity sciences (partnering with Dave Snowden for a series of corporate projects, author of the Cynefin Framework, among the most internationally cited complexity sciences frameworks),
Integrating these experiences and inspirations, I have felt a powerful draw to develop my artistic / creative practice, with a manifesto that draws on how art evolves across the generations (including as a collective practice) and can be a key force for demonstrating how aesthetics can federate a fragmented society.
We are an evolving species, and the evolutionary purpose of art is one of abstraction, narrative and sensemaking.
Art however is on its own journey and has its extremes (from the nihilistic, to the transgressive, to commercial artifice), and needs to evolve in working more consciously in collaboration with the sciences and religious traditions.
I am seeking therefore to situate myself as a 'complexity' artist, following an explicitly "conceptual-art" practice - in applying complexity principles a hermeneutic arc can be made from art's process of abstraction to the realms of science and religion, where exploration, sensemaking, codification and dialogue can flourish.
Both Universalities And Differences - Convergent and Divergent
This art installation project is inspired by schools of thought such as perennial wisdom / traditionalism - observing the possible connections across religious and wisdom traditions. One example narratives map comes from Huston Smith's hierarchies of consciousness across inner and outer realms of reality - as detailed in the Philosophical Research section.
There is an essential tension between the polarities of universalities vs. differences that this project seeks to hold, and propose that such a tension can be a generative one.
Observing common patterns from the curation of the symbols, images and narratives from the spectrum of world religions and wisdom traditions (e.g. a type of empirical convergence) is not intended to unify, collapse or devalue their differences (e.g. unique aesthetics and divergences) - quite the contrary.
In triangulating across the arts, sciences and religions (The Beautiful, The True and The Good), this proposal seeks a path to celebrating our differences and discover new capacities to hold the tensions and dialogue between them,
The gift of the creative arts is its invitation to the power of our collective contemplation and imagination, an essential ingredient for creating new better futures for society.
Goals of the Art Installation and Video Project
The outputs of this art installation project can be summarised under the following key areas:
SCULPTURES: 15 - 20 sculpture installations in the grounds of the Chapel Saint Esprit, Pyla (Gironde, South West France),
Following the initial installation, partner art sculpture installations of this first collection are to be proposed to:
Diverse faith tradition places of worship in Europe
Secular prayer locations, across airports, hospitals, universities and community/public locations.
Collaborations with local and representative artists will be sought at each partner location
VIDEO NARRATIVES: A video / documentary platform based on portraits / narratives across faith and wisdom traditions.
20 to 30 video portraits / narratives that relate to the borders between the creative experience and the faith traditions
DISCOURCE / SENSEMAKING PORTAL: A digital reflection portal, that guides visitors through a virtual visit of the art works and an interpretation / reflection process.
Curation of a portal for exploring and CONNECTING the video narratives
Capturing and mapping visitors' responses as narratives will create a rich resource for collective sensemaking and dialogue.
OUTREACH CAMPAIGN: Through international bodies and associations working on similar themes of integrating religion, science and art (academics, universities, think tanks, charities, art galleries)
Guiding Principles, Vision and Values
The project seeks to establish new connections across geographies, ethnographies and technologies
Its founding principles are in the celebration of our traditions and heritage from all corners of the world, and an invitation of inquiry and dialogue versus the espousing of any one belief system, doctrine or creed.
The project seeks to hold the paradox of through celebrating our differences, we may discover a common ground of social flourishing*; through celebrating our traditions, we may open the imagination for consciously designed futures.
*This is a direct reference to the Integral Theory (Ken Wilber) concept of evolution being made up of both greater differentiation AND integration.
1st Planned Art Installation Location: Chapel Saint Esprit, Pyla, Gironde, SW France - discussions have started for collaboration in hosting the art installation
Twin or Installations: diverse faith tradition places of worship are being approached for the art works installation "twin" locations, in collaboration with local artists
Including approaching secular prayer room locations, for example at airports, universities and hospitals.
Art is the highest form of hope
Budget and Fundraising
The project is structured in three project phases:
Phase I - Narrative Installation in SW France (church identified)
Phase II - Narratives filming and editing (with 20+ interfaith video narratives)
Phase III - Digital sensemaking portal - narratives, interpretation and dialogue
The initial phase for the creation of the sculptures is €6,000, with Phases II (video narratives) and III (digital sensemaking portal) detailed below
Below is an outline budget of the key art work and video creation processes, plus the communication/outreach and support/advisory resources. The total estimated budget for all three phases is €33,000 over 18 months.
Phase I (Sculptures) = €12,000
Shared workshop and studio space (4 months) = €4,000
Time and materials (woods, paints, consumables) = €6,000 (Note #1)
Support and advisory - €2,000
Phase II (Video Narratives) - €28,000
Video work (travel for filming) = €8,000 (Note #1)
Video editing = €16,000 ((Note #2)
Communications, website hosting and outrreach - €4,000 (Note #1)
Phase III (Digital Sensemaking Portal) - €26,000
Portal design = €4,000
Development Time = €8,000 (Note #1)
Video analysis, signification, integration = €4,000 (Note #1)
Video language processing and subtitles = €4,000 ((Note #2)
Communications and outreach - €4,000 (Note #1)
Support and advisory - €2,000
#1 Includes covering the artists time
#2 Based on using freelance software developers previously used in corporate client work
Total fundraising target of €66,000
A more detailed budget is available on request.
The creation of the art works / sculptures for this installation is planned to start in March 2022, as a unique series dedicated to this particular site. The works will be for sale with a share of the profits going to a renovation fund for the church.
The art works willl draw on the experience of the creation of 20+ sculptures for a forest art walk that I created during 2021, An introduction and virtual visit can be seen here, with an interpretation and reflections guide book that can be downloaded here (currently in French).
The forest art walk has as its core purpose the facilitation of group visits, and collective interpretation, signification and dialogue processes.
Thematic References: Wood panel collage by John Olver (work has been sold to a private collector) - themes of evolution, time horizons and circularity that are central to my art practice's exploration of the Arts, Sciences and Religions..
Creating and Curating an Experience
Abstractions expressing the deep structures of the human experience should be lived or experienced rather than analysed intellectually (quote from the French-American polymath Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985) who was close to the theosophical movement and part of the Transcendental Painting Group in New Mexico.
In this spirit, the focus is in creating a carefully curated space that combine both artefact (the art works), video and movement (immersive):
Paintings and sulpture - Across themes of evolution, portraits and sacred geometry and abstract forms
Multimedia screens / QR codes to video narratives landscapes from the www.InteriorTruth.com library - see the Video section below
Walking - Paths between polarities layed out across the ground of exhibition space,
Immersive furniture - Inviting people to sit down and take the time for contemplation
All of the above designed with an element of play and discovery, in the experience of entering the exposition.
Video Narratives - Connection Through Intimacy
Building on John Oliver's work with the video portrait portal: www.InteriorTruth.com
Narratives are an essential dimension to how we observe, make sense and choose to act in the world. The practice of gathering, interpreting, signifying and leveraging narratives not only has its roots in centuries of anthropological and sociological research, but is now being broadened into contemporary applications in organisational studies and economic analysis (ref. Robert Schiller and his latest publication "Narrative Economics" 2019).
Video Narratives Proposal:
Curating narratives across faith traditions and diverse cultural backgrounds.
Initial concept focus of filming artists from as many religious traditions is currently in progress with 20+ films.
Making Sense of the Perennial Wisdom Map Through An Interactive Video Narratives Platform
Below is an image of a mock-up of one example of how we can spatially navigate video narratives, thanks to 'Sensemaking' maps.
Building on my experience in text-based Sensemaking narratives maps, that have been developed and deployed for multi-national corporates by John Oliver in his organisational development consulting roles.
The maps provide a rich and powerful lens in terms of how we can signify the narratives.
The choice of signifiers and their combinations are themselves major topics of anthropological and philosophical inquiry, and their development will be a key part of the project.
An interactive video map would be a unique software development, creating innovative value that complements the narratives initiatives of pioneers such as French artist JR (collaboration with Time Magazine and US prisons), Yann Artus Bertrand (narrative films "Human") and Brandon Stanton's "Humans of New York", as described in detail here.
Current Project Methodology Inquiry: Is it possible to evoke the various points on the Perennial Wisdom Map from Huston Smith, through narratives, and especially those of artists/creatives across each of these traditions?
Mockup of video narratives portal: The narratives are signified according to multiple dimensions of interpretation and navigation
Integrating Rich Media (Video Narratives) and Sensemaking
The project proposal is to combine the potential of rich media with important anthropological and narrative sensemaking principles - from the school of complexity, sensemaking offers a powerful approach to exploring qualitative data from authentic and unique narratives..
In parallel, the opportunity that video narratives provide through the depth of transmission and connection is an essential component to this project, increasing the potential of engagement with audiences and potential impact.
The video narratives are being filmed using an intimate 'witnessing' approach (I trained in 2019 with Nick Askew and his 'Soul Biography' approach).
The positioning of this project builds on leading examples of narratives landscapes by artists and activists around the world, as listed here: https://www.interiortruth.com/landscapes-and-dialogue
Progress So Far in Gathering Video Narratives
20+ Video narratives so far
Since 2019 I have been filming principally artists, with a library of over 20 portraits. The feedback from the film subjects is that "witnessing" approach is racially different to any interview or filming that they've done before. Below are some examples from my www.InteriorTruth.com website.
From Intimate Video "Witnessing" Narratives To Constructive Dialogue
An exciting discourse in social development is how broad dialogue across diverse cultures, traditions and roles, can arise from connecting our deep interior narratives. Important voices include authors such as Bill Isaacs (Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together; 1999 and the scientist David Bohm (On Dialogue, 1996).
But their visions have not yet been associated to the potential of larger scale rich media content, heralding a new interpretation as to what "social media" can become.
The potential to connect our intimate narratives presents, not only allows for people to appreciate our universal human values, but also to hold and appreciate the diversity of those that may hold views that are very different to ours.
The video narratives library and the video sensemaking portal in this proposal present concrete advances in these visions for the future of a truly cross-cultural, cross-faith self inquiry, reflection and dialogue.
Rethinking social media
Lastly, there is an opportunity for us to think of this rich video narrative content to represent a pivoting of the values embedded in our current social media to their constructive opposites:
from Disposability to Timelessness
from Compression to Deepening
from Curation to Creation
from Self-Promotion to Self-Awareness
The above are inspired from Jonathan Harris' elements of the future social media - see the landscapes and dialogue page from InteriorTruth.com here.
The Value of Meta Analysis and Signification of the Video Narratives
Revealing Patterns - Making Sense of the Whole
The spectacular advancements in our modern society have brought about increasing specialisation and by consequence fragmentation. An irony is that we are hyper-connected in this always-on, anywhere, instantaneous social media defined era, yet isolated in the highly segmented structures of our socio-economic strata and large scale optimised institutions and organisations.
Making sense of the "whole" becomes more and more challenging. We are increasingly subject to disguised influences from commercially driven forces that while consciously challenge national and international legal controls, seek to steer our behaviours at deeper and deeper levels through algorithm-optimised content curation. How do we reclaim our independent critical faculties, and see the greater picture across the socio-economic-political and faith domains?
Multi-disciplinary roles in our societies that can help us on the larger meaning map making are still a tiny minority, and face the challenge that one PhD candidate friend in the US heard from university supervisors "you can't get a doctorate qualification as a multi-disciplinary / integrative / synthesis student, since there is no faculty able to judge your work".
The complexity of our social contexts can be overwhelming, only to increase when adding the different language and worldviews between the realms of the arts, sciences and religion.
The artistic lens is all about higher levels of abstraction in order to identify patterns - this sensing of the whole, and integration of the arts, sciences and faith traditions was at the heart of William Irwin Thompson's vision at the Lindisfarne Association.
Emerging from integrating multiple perspectives. This project's goal is to explore such patterns from the video narratives.
To that end, the project includes a meta-analysis and signification of the video narratives, in order to offer the opportunity to identify new patterns. Following important sensemaking principles, the signification process importantly will be lead by the narrative subjects themselves.
As evoked by the cultural historian and visionary William Irwin Thompson, by integrating dialogues across the arts, sciences and religions, we have a unique opportunity to identify Moiré type patterns emerging, and invite a new level of understanding and consciousness for choices in our society.
The Architectural Research Question
The creation of spaces for contemplation and Interfaith dialogue by definition will draw on the socio-architectural perspective. A directly relevant study of the future of multifaith spaces has been addressed in the Liverpool School of Architecture paper by Andrew Crompton (2013) with the provocative title: "The architecture of multifaith spaces: God leaves the building," The Journal of Architecture, 18:4, 474-496, DOI: 10.1080/13602365.2013.821149
There are often at least six of traditions represented in multifaith worship locations: Christianity; Islam; Judaism; Hinduism; Sikhism; Buddhism
more often nine: adding Jainism; Baha’I; Zoroastrianism. From time to time Taoism and Shinto appear, as do Native American religions; Pagans; Druids; Adventists; Humanists—not to mention people of no faith who are sometimes represented by a blank space
These universal interfaces with God are not, as one might have thought, a sublime expression of a deep unity of which individual religions are merelya particular expression. Here is a building problem for which architects seem to have no answer. Are these blank white rooms even architecture at all?
Why is it so difficult to transcend different faiths and create places that are sacred for all?
Multifaith Contemplation Rooms in Art Galleries Today - sparseness and void
Below are images taken of the Tate Britain and Tate Modern (both in London, UK) interfaith and contemplative rooms, in 2022.
An Art Gallery Experience Inspired by The "Temple' That Hilma Af Kliny Imagined
Art's Spiritual Significance Translating To A Gallery As Temple
The fascinating synchronicities around Hilma af Klint's record-breaking exhibition at the NY Guggenheim (Oct 2018 to April 2019):
An instrumental figure in the founding of the Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, Hilla Rebay, having a deep background in perennial philosophy / theosophical thought
She envisioned of a “museum-temple,” where viewers could commune with abstract art.
Hilla Rebay and Solomon Guggenheim's commissioning in 1943 of Frank Lloyd Wright to create an innovative design with open plan and ramp spiraling toward the light serve as a physical manifestation of the utopian ideals of nonobjectivity.
af Kilnt used the image of the spiral to denote progress or development....how appropriate that her first major exhibition should be in such a temple like space speaking directly to development.
Sacred Art Space as Echoed From the Rothko Chapel to Alex Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors to Theaster Gates' Bristol UK Sanctum
Confirmed advisors for the project are the following researchers, artists, academics
Return To Sponsors
Sponsors' Catalogue, News Channel and Acknowledgement
All sponsors will receive:
Personal newsletter with access to video blog reporting channel, behind the scenes during the development process each 3 months.
Sponsor acknowldegement plaque displayed at the exposition
Signed eposition catalogue
For Sponsor Contributions Minimum €1,500
Includes a 5min edited footage.
John Oliver Profile and Journey
My art and film practice is relatively new, dedicating myself fulltime from 2019 - but the seeds go back over 15 years, from the point of view of both a practical practice (working with my hands) and philosophical foundation,
My 30 years of professional life enriched me with such contrasts as working in both corporates, charities and then self-employed (for 10 years), and working internationally (degree studies integrated with an aerospace management development programme in the UK, then employment in France, Germany, Nepal, Ghana, the USA and 18 months living in Italy).
In terms of the evolution of my work experience, I started in technology (from aerospace to satellite communications) to then commercial strategy and most recently as a co-founder of a organisational development consulting brand Human-Equity (2009-2019).
In organisational development, I revelled in the deep dive and personal challenge (in changing my mental models), working with leadership psychology, organisational culture and complex social systems change, that also led to a university lecturing position (in Toulouse, France). Working with narratives was a connecting thread through many diverse projects on the consulting journey with Human-Equity.
The desire to seek new experiences and learnings along the way presented its challenges and struggles, but now holds a strong coherence as I make this distinct pivot to an identity as an artist.
This proposal draws on all my experiences and passion for how the arts can engage practically. The anthropological lens in working with narratives has been a major influence (including academics such as Tim Ingold, connecting the principles of anthropology with the arts), where a conviction that the sciences, arts and faith traditions can be seen as a whole has become a defining frame for my next chapter.
For an overview of my professional experience, please see my LinkedIn Profile: