I took an art class in college where we got to programme 1 minute of our classmates’ lives. I don’t remember now what the project was, but it seemed like an interesting thing to do at the time. I worked with another student and we decided to try to fill that 60 seconds with as much stuff as possible – sounds, visuals, odors, movement. We put together everything we could find. We showed overlapping videos, projected enormous slides, put up a wall of writing on an OHP; we played radio music, blasted a CD compilation, tuned an electric guitar, set off a line of alarm clocks. We splash painted the wall with fluorescents as a backdrop, sprayed strong cleaning aerosols, flashed coloured strobes, and got people to take in the whole thing standing and moving around.
We did this for 60 seconds, which might sound short, but in this case felt like a lifetime. With full sensory overload, at the end of it, we were all freaked out and utterly exhausted. People looked at us at the end of this long minute and said, “What was that”.
Today, we held our first set of 11 workshops and breakouts for this 500+ person conference. The workshops started 1 and a half hours late and were all over town, some accessed by buses some by foot, breakout groups were in different buildings – the Mayor’s office, the cultural centre, an expo space, a parish meeting room. We were two facilitators…
We left this morning at 7am. It is 6pm at the time of writing. Alarms, stand-by helicopters and EMTs, town bells, accordians, police dogs, hundreds of PPT slides, VIPs, walkie talkies, invasive species, flashing cameras, 9 buffet tables, French, TV interviews, English, key note speeches, (the strong smell of) freshly painted everything, Spanish, laptops clattering, walking on the stage with the message, Portuguese, ten buses, walking off the stage with a message, traffic marshals, wifi, climate content, images of sinking islands, rapporteurs, roving mikes. I’m sitting in this auditorium at the end of the day thinking, “What was that?”