Wednesday
Sep242014

Wisdom 2.0 comes to Europe

Ireland is known to have a number of “thin places”. 

In these places the veil between this world and what is referred to as the eternal world, is very thin. Such places are thought by many to have a special energy which can be sensed by those drawn to such sites, and which is said to often transform the one visiting. They are said to be stopping places where one can pause and ponder and catch a glimpse of something that lies beyond every-day living, and which is much greater than ourselves.

They are sacred, mystical places of listening, connection and creativity. 

The travel writer, Eric Weiner, writing on thin places in a wonderful piece in The New York Times, quotes Mircea Eliade who observed that “some parts of space are qualitatively different from others”, and an Apache proverb that takes the idea a step further: “Wisdom sits in places.”

I had researched the whole idea of “thin places” before I visited Ireland for the first time in 2013, and had visited some such sites.

I had not, however, expected to encounter another when I signed up for the Wisdom 2.0 Europe conference in Dublin!

Wisdom 2.0 conferences and events address the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work and useful to the world.

Wisdom 2.0 is a global community of people dedicated to living with deeper wisdom, compassion and awareness in the digital age, and I have been following the conferences via the internet and social media since the first one, started by Soren Gordhamer, @SorenG, was held outside of San Francisco in 2009.

Many of the themes of my website here2here - connectivity, cyberspace, interconnectedness, compassion and mindfulness would be looked at closely at Wisdom 2.0 Europe

That the conference was to be held in Europe was my opportunity to attend and so I set off from AbuDhabi2Dublin!

AbuDhabi2Dublin - an edit I came up with on the way over 

The conference far surpassed my expectations. 

Excellent presentations and workshops looking at Mindful Living and Mindful Business filled the three days.

Highlights for me were:

Otto Scharmer, @ottoscharmer1, explaining holding the space which allows creativity to come forth.

Tania Singer, social neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, presenting “Training your Mind and Heart towards a Caring Society: A Social Neuroscience Perspective”.

Gelong Thubten, Buddhist monk of the Kagyu Tibeten tradition, speaking on “The Power of Forgiveness”.

Tsewang Namgyal, Vice President of the Bank of Tokyo, sharing his personal story aided by images and leading us on Day 3 in a compassion exercise.

Rohan Gunatillake, @rohan_21awake, named in 2012 by Wired magazine in their Smart List of 50 people who are about to change the word, presenting “Redesigning not Retreating: the Future of Mindfulness and Technology” 

Conference participants have shared experiences, photos and even notes online (check the hashtags #wisdom2europe #wisdom2conf)

Between talks, over tea and meals, new and special connections were established.

There was an almost palpable energy that filled the air.  I have thought about it and can only describe it as a great sense of Presence. 

The event was held at Googles Offices in Dublin. (More photos can be seen in this gallery).

 

Who would have thought that this space in the midst of Dublin’s docklands district would be so thin!

During the closing ceremony one of the participants spoke as the voice of Ireland and encouraged us to find some place after the conference to connect with the earth and listen to what it had to say.  

Walking home I entered the grounds of  Trinity College and sat down to be still on a park bench.  Near me there was a tree.  As I became mindful of the sounds around me, birdsong from the tree filled the air.  I had never heard such a bird before and was struck by the beauty of its sounds.

When I shared this story with a friend back in Abu Dhabi, she picked up a poetry book and read me a poem by Rumi which contained the following words: 

“The bird of my heart has again begun to flutter.....

The water is flowing again in this river; by the riverbank the grass has begun to shoot. 

The dawn breeze is blowing again in the garden, it has begun to blow over rose and rosebed. 

Love sold me for a single fault; Love’s heart burned, and has begun to buy back.

He drove me away; compassion came to him and called; Love has begun to look kindly upon me....” 

Was this the voice of Ireland? Was this the voice of my heart? Was this the song needing to be heard in the digital age? Perhaps all of these and much more.  

She’s here! A new piece for LindArt inspired by Wisdom 2.0 Europe. 

I recalled what had been said at the start of the conference:

There is a need to connect with self before connecting with others via technology.

 

Related articles:

Whirling Dervishes - lessons for cyberspace

Social Media - Bridging Cyberspace

Mobile Technology and The White Rabbit

Linda in Wonderland

Cybeflanerie: Deep Listening in Cyberspace

Mindfulness and The Flaneur

Thursday
Jul172014

Iphoneography Art on Wood

Because the hot, summer months are upon us in the UAE at the moment - this week’s forecast for Abu Dhabi read, “High temperatures and sticky weather are expected to remain in the coming days, with the mercury rising above 40°C” - indoor activities have been the order of the day in the last while. 

It has been an opportunity for me to work on and publish my new website, LindART, which showcases my iphoneography art.  With the website up and running, and many of my pieces on canvas now hanging in my home gallery, I have also been considering and investigating new media to have the images printed onto. 

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Munich. The first thing I set out to do was go for a long walk. Without a specific destination in mind, I started off along the Isar River, got lost twice, but had a wonderful day. 

At one point on my walk I suddenly entered the Englischer Garten. Larger than New York’s central park it is one of the world’s largest urban public parks. 

The high, green trees and the open fields were striking.  Feeling the need to reconnect with nature in a special way, at one point I stopped and mindfully touched a tree. 

I passed many cyclists, walked through bicycle tunnels with wonderful graffiti, strolled next to ponds with ducks, and watched people walking their dogs. 

The next morning, I set out to visit the studio of Malte Dinkela. I had read that he is able to print on various media and was eager to see this. 

Malte is also an artist and his welcoming nature and professional attitude at all times, made it a pleasure to be there.  I was immediately drawn to his wood printing and without any ado he set about printing some of my work for me to see. The results were astonishing.

Malte used reclaimed shuttering which is at least 20 years old. As he reached for  the piece of wood which before had been used as a temporary structure to contain setting concrete, I looked at it and realized that it must hold many stories. 

As Malte began to prepare the pieces we would use, I wondered about the wood. Who had held it? Which building sites had it visited? Did the walls it had contained still stand?  Who inhabited the walls it had helped to build? Where had it been stored? Which little beetles or ants had crawled inside it? 

The work created on my iphone was about to be presented on wood, and this in some way connected different cultures, times and places in a unique fashion. As each piece of wood is different, the resulting works were unique. The grains and texture added a dimension to the pieces we were working on that had not been there before.

  

I thought back to the tree I had touched the previous day. The wood in the stems and roots of a living tree perform a support function by nature. Trees are rooted but at the same time contain much movement.  Their roots draw water, nutrients are sent throughout the system, foliage appears and disappears and fruit can be produced.  

Rootedness and movement - one of the main themes in my art! I am happy to have chosen wood as a medium and look forward to seeing more of my work presented in this way. 

Malte has posted a lovely article about my work on his website and I look forward to working with him in the future. 


Thursday
Jun192014

Omnipresence in Cybersapce

here2here very much describes the movement of my physical body since my last blog.

I have visited Malaysia and travelled from Langkawi2KualaLumpur.  In Italy the journey was from Florence2Rome, and in Germany from Berlin2Munich.

In between that all, there was a journey from UAE2SouthAfrica, as well as a moving of house from Dubai2AbuDhabi. 

This blog is the first then from Abu Dhabi as I settle into new surroundings and a new routine. 

No longer do I look out from my balcony and see the Burj Khalifa.  Instead I see the sea, The Yas Viceroy Hotel and Formula 1 racing circuit, The Aldar Headquarters (which we have fondly started calling “The Biscuit”) and in the far distance the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. 

Cyberspace - the limitless mindspace we find ourselves in when using technology to communicate - has accompanied me in all these moves. This has been made possible by new routers, wifi on the go whenever and wherever I could find it, and even by means of prepaid data in certain foreign locations. It has enabled me to keep in touch. 

On some days, because of the restrictions of physical space, I have felt alone.  On other days, when I was aware that one status update has the possibility to reach family, friends and followers all over the world, regardless of place or time, I have had the slight feeling that I have the ability to be everywhere at once! Omnipresent?

A lover of words, (see my blog, Langu age), I have reflected anew upon the meaning of omnipresence - the property of being present everywhere at the same time. 

Because it is possible to connect by means of technology from most places in the world, we can certainly say that cyberspace itself can be considered omnipresent. However, what is mindboggling for me, is the fact that in cyberspace an online individual can be omnipresent.  

As students all over the world watch an online instructor for example, there is the perception that the instructor is omnipresent, responding to each of them wherever they may be. 

Updates, whether they be words, images or sounds can be seen by thousands and thousands of others all over the world the instant they are posted. The person posting enters the space of all these others simultaneously in a unique way. 

It was an amazing feeling on one of our flights to post an update and realize that even being in an aeroplane is not a restriction to connectivity. My physical body was being transported high in the sky while my online body was in borderless realms.

The responsibility that comes with this is overwhelming in my opinion. As my words and images speed down the corridors of cyberspace they have the possibility to encourage a better world, a world in which acceptance of differences, and kindness and respect towards the other can become the norm. 

Although interaction in cyberspace is taking place by means of networked devices, without the parties being in direct physical contact with each other, the interactions can be equally valuable. 

While in Italy I had the following exchange with the architect Anthony Lawlor

Over a period of time one becomes very aware of who one can listen to in cyberspace and so I visited the church and sat and soaked in the genius of Borromini. Without understanding every aspect of how he had achieved the wave-like motion of the architecture, I was able to experience its effect. Architecture and music have that in common. They have the ability to move the heart.  

Cyberspace has its own architecture and every one of us becomes an omnipresent architect when we enter its domain.  What are we creating in this amazing space? Are we touching hearts?

 

Thursday
Mar202014

Faig Ahmed: Weaving a Wonderful Tale

Art Week in Dubai is in full swing.  Gallery openings, design days, art fairs, art nights, workshops and enchanting exhibitions and installations have captured viewers and art lovers from all over the world.

Many have immersed themselves in the experience and through this have formed wonderful new relationships with friends and artists. I personally have met people from all over the world that I had only known before through social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.  Together we have attended events and shared stories, thereby getting to  know a little bit more about each other and about other cultures.

The stories we have shared with each other have further helped to weave the wonderful tale of interconnection and shared humanity that is slowly making itself heard today.   They have helped us to let go of stereotypes and question existing boundaries. 

One installation during Art Week captured my attention the minute I heard about it via social media. @cuadroart, the Instagram account for the Cuado Art Gallery, posted a picture with the caption, 

“Faig Ahmed’s yarn threads have started to stretch out of Cuadro and into the balconies of the neighboring buildings in the DIFC Gate Village” 

Faig Ahmed is from Baku, Azerbaijan. Currently he is exploring carpets, weaving digital patterns with the conventional recurring patterns to create bold optical illusions.  Faig states that “Tradition is the main factor creating the society as a self regulated system. Changes in the non-written rule happen under influence of global modern culture.”

Faig works are currently “an instantaneous expression” and he believes that in today’s world, “ideas that have been formed for ages are being changed in moments”.

One online article by a blogger called Will had this to say about Faig Ahmed’s work:

“Carpets are often regarded as an indestructible icon of the East, and a deeply respected item in many households used for visual and decorative means.  Faig’s work alters these standard stereotypes and creates new boundaries with a fresh outcome.” 

In his current installation, Faig takes this two-dimensional craft and by stretching elements of his work into space, takes it into a third dimension. As I read all of this, the tale became more captivating, and like a reader caught up in a gripping storyline, I was being drawn into this wonderful web. 

The DIFC is one of my favorite places to photograph in Dubai.  That the installation involved buildings was a bonus. 

I love taking photographs of buildings and presenting them in such a way that the viewer is encouraged to take on a new perspective.  We are so caught up in the beliefs and traditions of our respective cultures, that it is not always easy to see things from a different perspective.  Through my mobile photography I attempt to introduce this concept visually, both by not using a traditional camera and through my images.   

The evolving installation that met me in the Gate Village did not disappoint me.

As I began to capture my impressions of the installation as it unfolded, I realized the story being woven was almost interactive, with personal impressions being woven into the threads by its viewers. 

The installation has a dynamic movement and it excited me to see the buildings being joined in a way that made them look as if they were reaching out to each other, sharing stories and sharing the space they were in more intimately than before. This so tied in with my recent blog in which I received a tweet from a tower. 

My love of architecture and my passion for promoting interconnection through here2here  were being represented visually in a form I had not imagined before. 

When a couple met and hugged underneath Faig’s installation, another chapter in the tale was complete. 

As the story of the installation unfolded on Instagram it was gaining yet another dimension, this time in cyberspace.  

There was mention of “His palette of colorful yarns” and the viewer was informed that “Scaffolding keeps getting higher and higher as he works yarn from the gallery walls out the window and all the way up to the roof.”

While preparing this piece I came across an ancient metaphor:

“thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns - but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver.”

A weaver of a wonderful tale had arrived in my world and I determined to meet him at Art Nights. Patiently waiting my turn I noticed his open engagement with others.  I was able to show him some of the photos I had taken and see his delight when he saw the couple hugging under his work. 

As mentioned earlier, I was present with Igers from all over the world at Art Nights, our online connections having overflowed into physical space, just as Faig’s yarns had moved from inside the gallery to the neighbouring rooftops outside. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery spoke about “a mesh into which relationships are tied” and this was probably what Tim Berner-Lee had in mind when he created the term “World Wide Web” in 1989.

As we make our way through cyberspace, let us remember the importance of relationships. 

The complex membrane of information, called the noosphere by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, that is currently enveloping the globe is fueled by human consciousness.  Each tweet we send, each instagram pic we post or every facebook update we make, is a thread that can add to the beauty of the unfolding carpet of life. As we encounter others online in here2here space, let us treat them with respect as we listen deeply to what they share. As we collaborate with others, let us remember that we have more similarities than differences. 

We are threads in a wonderful tale, but we are also the weavers. 

Thursday
Feb272014

PRT, Paternoster lifts, Cyberspace and Mindfulness

The ability to move individuals or groups of people from one point to another in the shortest possible amount of time, has always been an ongoing challenge for designers and innovators. 

This week I had my first ride on the PRT at Masdar City.  The acronym PRT does not stand for Please Retweet but for Personal Rapid Transit :)

For more info about these pod cars, click here 

In most public transport systems, time is wasted waiting for arrivals, stopping for other passengers and taking indirect routes. PRT systems provide the possibility to move small groups nonstop in vehicles which are automated and are on fixed tracks, thus saving much time. 

Riding along in one of the pods felt more than slightly futuristic and made me think of cyberspace where the same challenges of movement and rapidity face us. 

Although it is a mindspace, I liken cyberspace to a huge network, made up of countless corridors,  each leading to an uncountable number of destinations. With more and more of our daily business being conducted online, we are seeing the emergence of new and wonderful inventions connecting us to each other at incredible speeds. 

I have written before of the need for filtering in cyberspace and the need for deep listening.  These are two qualities which can help us stay on track as we speed through and are sometimes whisked down the corridors of cyberspace.

Masdar City

It is my experience too that as one spends some time on social media in cyberspace, and if one “listens” with awareness while in this mindspace, one gradually gets a feel for which tweet, link, post or entry deserves a closer look. 

This past week I was sent a photograph from a trusted mindfulness twitter friend.

Julian @zenrules whose one brief is “living meaningfully with mindfulness. listening to others with empathy. sometimes I fall short. still I keep trying”, is aware of my love of architecture and I appreciated his gesture. I thanked him for passing on the image and commented that I liked the fact that it is called The Arts Tower. I was delighted when The Arts Tower connected with both of us.  

Delighted to be chatting to a tower I recalled the piece I had posted a few years ago -  “Living, breathing being”. It is of the Burj Khalifa speaking shortly after it was born. I reposted the link and then set off to discover more about The Arts Tower

The tallest university building in the UK has one feature which particularly captured my attention. It has two ordinary lifts but also has a paternoster lift, which with 38 cars is the largest of the few that survive in the UK.  

The video below gives us a look at this cyclic elevator in The Arts Tower.

This constant movement with its hop on, hop off concept seemed I thought, a forerunner of the PRT system and seemed particularly suited to cyberspace where we are transported from here2here. There is constant movement in cyberspace as we connect with each other, follow links, hop on one idea, get transported via it to another level which awaits us with further information as well as possible distraction. 

No new paterlifts were allowed to be built after 1974 because of concerns about accidents and disability access. Remaining ones were fitted with many safety features. This is a warning for cyberspace too. 

Unless we are mindful and become aware of our exact movements in cyberspace, where we hop on and where we hop off, we stand the danger of simply going round and round aimlessly. The way in which we hop on and off is also important. Consideration of the self assists in maintaining balance in one’s lifestyle both on and offline. Consideration of the other promotes acceptance and understanding. 

There are times when one needs to hit the emergency stop button and take a break and there are times when it is great fun to ride along with curiosity. I have had many adventures in cyberspace

As you read this we are connected. Before you hop off this page, may I thank you for hopping on. Take care and happy travels :)

 

Related articles:

Cyberflanerie: Deep Listening in Cyberspace

Corridors of Cyberspace

Linda in Wonderland

Filtering

Social Media - Bridging Cyberspace