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Archive for January, 2017

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Artschool 2017: V1 of new painting. 
Acryl on canvas stitched on wooden board. Bigger format: 125cm * 82 cm
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Yesterday, there was a news item on Flemish Television on the upcoming opera performance of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”, that will be performed at the Brussels Federal Opera House De Munt / La Monnaie (31 Jan – 14 Feb 2017).

What touched me was that Madame Butterfly was played by a puppet, directed by three puppet players (visible in black). The effect is mystical. Check out the end of this video (comments in Dutch, but that should not spoil the experience).

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Opera Madame Butterfly - De Munt - As from 31 Jan 2017

It made me think about a passage in David Byrne’s wonderful book “How music works” (Amazon Affiliates link). I am reading it in the context of my performance for Petervan Productions.

how-music-works

At a certain moment, David Byrne describes how his thinking about a show – a performance – was influenced by traditional Japanese theater forms such as Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku.

Example of Japanese Kabuki theatre

 

“The tour eventually took us to Japan, where I went to see their traditional theater forms: Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku. These were, compared to Western theater, highly stylized; presentational is the word that is sometimes used, as opposed to the pseudo-naturalistic theater we in the west are more used to.” 

“The character had in effect been so fragmented that the words they spoke didn’t come from close to or even behind that puppet. You had to reassemble the character in your head.

As in Japanese theater, the performers often wore masks and extreme makeup; their movements, too, were stylized and “unnatural.” It began to sink in that this kind of “presentational” theater had more in common with certain kinds of pop-music performance than traditional Western theater.”

“There was no attempt to formally separate the ritual and the show from the audience. I quickly absorbed that it was all right to make a show that didn’t pretend to be “natural.” To further complicate matters, I decided to make the show completely transparent. I would show how everything was done and how it had been put together.”

Check out the video footage of the resulting “Stop making sense” Tour. The show starts with a heavenly version of the song “Heaven” on an empty stage. At minute 2:30 you will see the first elements of the stage being rolled in.

The whole show is super enjoyable, and if you want to know what “playing tight” means, check this awesome version of “Breaking down the house”, which does exactly what you would expect.

 

Sometimes I think I have to stop trying to “make sense”. Better would be to “make meaning”.

All these reflections are related to my upcoming performance “Tin Drum is Back” (subtitle: “what is/what could be”): the performance design is evolving well, with detailed script being written as we speak.

Part of the story is looking back into ones youth (5-10 years old), look at what was forbidden then: for some people that is an area of talent they have neglected to develop. In my case, it was a tin drum I got when I was 6 years old, and the story of rhythms in my life and in my work. As the script develops, the narrative arc seems to be about evolving archetypes and levels of maturity.

Scripting is not “only” the storyline, but also the staging, transition, props, lighting, etc… And all visuals, sounds, and word are self-composed, self-created. Should be ready around March, although I may pick up some delay.

It starts feeling like theatre by an amateur 😉 So, performing “tight”, in some theatrical form, with costumes, masks, props, and stage being build-up as the show moves along, is certainly inspirational.

I see “Tin Drum…” as a teaser for a bigger story on multi-media corporate narratives, where – who knows – I create commissioned performances on less tangible topics (less tangible than “what problem are you trying to solve?”). I indeed think that a lot of the work I am preparing is steering away from the problem-solving orientation, and give more room to the creative orientation of “what do I want?”

What do you think? BS? Did I smoke too much ? 😉 Please don’t hesitate to share resources and serendipities that this post may generate.

More general Jan 2017 update here:  https://petervan.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/petervan-productions-jan-2017-update/

Rebelliously yours,

 

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delicacies

Edition-92 of Delicacies: as usual, max 5 articles that i found interesting and worth re-reading. Handpicked, no robots. Minimalism in curation. Enjoy! Much more of this in my regular Revue summary. Subscribe at bottom of this post.

If you can’t get enough of these and want more than 5 articles, I have created an extended version of Petervan’s Delicacies in REVUE. If you want more than 5 links, you can subscribe here: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/petervan

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petervan-doig-final

Artschool 2017: Petervan Doig trees on top of Zaha Hadid MAXXI space Rome. 
Acryl on cotton canvas, 90*90cm

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Artschool 2017: first evolution of painting with Zaha Hadid space 
as inspiration - Acryl on cotton canvas, 90*90cm

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Deborah Kerr and Robert Taylor on the Quo Vadis filmset

Every year Jim Marous publishes the Top banking trends and predictions. On 21 Dec 2016, Jim published the sixth edition with predictions for 2017.

My input was a “pick-and-choose” list of bullet points. You can find the full list below. My input date was 27 Nov 2016. We are now two months later, and I captured some articles/announcements related to some these bullet points. And I added at the end some additional observations. All of this should be taken with more than a grain of salt, as I dimmed my focus on FinTech since starting my Petervan Productions sabbatical on 1 Nov 2016, and don’t read/research as much as before.

As always, these are 100% my personal opinions. Sometimes provocative, sometimes innocent, sometimes the cynical view of a 60 year old incumbent, but hopefully at times contrarian and inspiring. Here we go:

+++ start 27 Nov 2016 input

  • In general, 2017 will be the year of illusion, delusion, and distraction for and by FinTech.
  • Blockchain/DLT/etc will prove itself as one of the biggest distractions of this era in that it does not solve any existing problem, maybe it solves some future problems to be identified, but with a price to pay: the price of fundamental process re-engineering. Very few will be up to this task which involves community management and regulation.
  • In 2017, subject to pressures on the bottom-line and macro-political forces, banks will witness massive lay-offs and disinvestments in FinTech innovation labs and initiatives. These initiatives will be re-branded as research efforts, focused solely on incremental improvements in the core business lines.
  • FinTech will manifest itself as a techno fantasy, drawing attention away from the real problems to be tackled: cyber-security, trust and identity, which only can be solved through laser focused industry and government efforts. No single company can solve these on their own, and self-serving patenting will be counterproductive to industry-wide success.
  • In the US, the Trump administration will out-regulate innovation to protect the financial institutions fiefdoms and their control of money. But despite the Trumpian rhetoric and “opportunities” for financial institutions to start playing their old extraction-value games, financial institutions will be challenged by citizen uproar to give back to society.
  • Despite all these negative predictions, volume and frequency of FinTech investments will dramatically increase. Like in other industries, a 100M$ Fund will be considered as peanuts. Like in traffic jams, investments become bigger and last longer. Like traffic jams, ROI will be difficult to impossible to resolve.

+++ end 27 Nov 2016 input

What I am missing in many predictions is that most are just extrapolations of existing trends. They ignore the fact that the trend can just die or become a commodity where prices trend towards zero.

What I am missing is the creative/opportunity orientation (what do you want) vs. the reactive/responsive orientation (what problem are you trying to solve).

The way we think about change, disruption, and transformation) or whatever you want to call it) is going to be completely different in 5 years time. The speed of change is so big that our thinking is getting disrupted. The underestimated and ignored exponential power in all of this is the “power of networks”. I have another post in preparation for that, but in the meantime I would invite you to get familiar with following books and thinkers:

  • The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, by Joshua Cooper Ramo
  • Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future, by Joi Ito
  • The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, by Kevin Kelly
  • “I wasn’t expecting that” from Simon Wardley’s upcoming book
  • Cloud wars by Simone Brunozzi
  • The end of cloud by Peter Levine from Andreesen Horovitz
  • Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology, by Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay and Mickey McManus (already from 2012, but so advanced in its thinking)

Rebelliously yours,

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I recently had some conversations with prospective clients on the need for alignment and coherence of physical and emotional space when trying to create great experiences. I started to call them “sacred spaces”.

As you know by now, I am not in the events business. I am in the business of creating high quality feedback loops to enable immersive learning expeditions and deep change. In essence, I want to resonate with my client’s guests at another (additional) level than the pure cognitive. I believe this ambition also requires its own awareness and vocabulary, but more about that in some later posts.

One aspect of that vocabulary is our expression of sacred spaces. What first comes to mind is a church, a cathedral, some religious building of some sort.

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Sagrada Familia – Barcelona – 31 Oct 2014

In the best cases, the moment you come in, you are struck by a lightning of beauty, awe, stillness, and grandeur. The entry into the space feels almost ceremonial. You cross the entry, the line between outside and inside. The experience of the space sends vibrations down your spine. You feel suddenly whole and small at the same time.

This whole- and small-ness creates some kind of safety; some form of familiarity that this space is the right space, that this space is right. Just right for what it was designed for.

I think in similar terms about the spaces for our experiences.

Our spaces must be safe spaces. Closed as with an entry door. The entry into the space is a ritual moment. The coming out as well. It must be a physical experience: guests have to walk through the “arc of change”. They must do this in a “communion” style, as a collective, creating a visceral experience of the collectivism in their change process.

The space is about “roundness”, round as in circle, but also round as in generative, coming back to the starting point with new insights.

The space becomes a pulsing “egg”, a “womb” that will be our “nest” for a couple of days. It has of course to do a lot with right spaces for humans, and Jean Nouvel’s views (video here) on architecture. The video is also called “Reflections”, just like the latest from Brian Eno, one ambient song of 54 minutes (interview here)

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“Combining big bold shapes with intricacy and delicacy. The ability to be bold and delicate at the same time. The relation between time and light. The sphere above, the cupola. A spiritual space.”

I love the idea of the cupola. In my opinion, the closed space described above needs a roof – like a cupola – with some lattice membrane. But at the same time, the space needs to be “porous”, with light (the crack) coming in through the lattice, and light (enlightenment) coming out to inspire others. Or even better, some form of post-enlightenment as in Danny Hillis’ entanglement.

And light itself can also be the “roof” and the trees of the space forest. Check out this wonderful video of Fujimoto’s light forest:

light-forest

 

I shared the video with my good friend Marti Spiegelman, who replied:

Thanks for the link – this is extraordinary. It reminds me that sometimes the light itself is the sacred space – I’m thinking of the light beam on the floor, when one of the walkers stands in the light – and sometimes the light creates the boundaries, or defines the edges, of the space – as in a forest when there is a small round clearing, it’s traditionally considered to be a ‘power spot’’ [another name for sacred space] where you can call in greater powers of nature and the universe to create change.”

I was looking for some good description of sacred and sacredness. I think I found it in an article about a fashion book by Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester.

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“It looks and feels almost sacred, with pages so thin the images can be seen on both sides of each sheet; it’s a truly delicate beauty. For this reason, every single page is printed only on one side, creating a uniquely singular reading experience. The size and weight of the book gently contrasts with the fragility and smoothness of the paper, while the almost total white of the inside is in opposition with the blackness of the sides and the linen cover. Text is kept to the essentials, limited to an introduction by Patti Smith (Demeulemeester’s longtime muse) and a short final dedication by the designer herself. The book was designed by Victor Robyn, a Belgian graphic designer who has been in charge of realizing Demeulemeester’s graphics for years—from show invitations to printed fabrics. The art direction is curated by Victor Robyn, Demeulemeester herself and Patrick Robin, her life and business partner.”

Happenstance that I visited this week Casa Argentaurum, an art gallery in Ghent run by Caroline De Wolf, who kindly opened her space for me. It was one of the last days of the exposition about Ann Demeulemeester’s jewellery.

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Necklace – Ann Demeulemeester – Casa Argentaurum

At the end of our conversation, Caroline gave me a copy of the catalogue of the 2010 exposition “Things, Thoughts, and Territorities”.

book-andrea-branzi

The book has some great design drawings by Andrea Branzi, and also a wonderful testimony of the artists’s love relation with Belgium (mostly Flanders btw). Somewhere half way, there is this superb quote:

“Architecture is not the art of building, it is a very complex discipline,

interpreting history, technology and the changes in society.”

It could have been the tag-line for Petervan Productions, as I see myself as the architect who conceives, gives birth to the vision together with the client, and then pulls together and orchestrates the resources, experts, and artists to create a unique experience in search for the secrets of life.

But “you can’t find secrets without looking or them” (quote by Peter Thiel in his book “From Zero to One”), so I am looking for your views on what you would expect from a sacred space.

I am looking for architects, space- and stage-designers to be part of our collective of leaders, visionaries, artists, craftsmen, designers and producers.

If you are interested to be part of that calling and dialogue, you can just leave a comment on this post.

Rebelliously yours,

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