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Turning Point Or Tipping Point?

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ny image The Impossible
Graffiti on a bridge crossed during the final leg of the 10 City Bridge Run in New York. “The impossible will take a little while” it read. It will, but we’re getting there, step by step.

December marks the exhibition of my next public art work as part of a themed exhibition at the local gallery titled ‘Turning Point’. Turning Point is deliciously open to interpretation. Maybe your imagination begins considering a change of direction, then a change of season, a rite of passage, a traumatic event, a particular moment in time. Let your mind wander for a few moments and consider the possibilities.

I will be creating a work drawing upon my journey towards achieving this quest to improve child survival. My first submission to the curator was challenged with some great questions, and I have refined where and what the Turning Point means for me.

The work will be titled ‘The Next Step’, and points to 100 moments in my journey to date, any of which could be ‘the turning point’. The point of the work is that none of those moments, or neither the complete whole story told through this narrative of the 100 photos, is of itself the Turning Point. The Turning Point remains an elusive moment represented by the realisation of the collaborative effort necessary for this task of addressing how we might use our networks to deliver on the promise to improve child survival to be addressed. The Turning Point won’t be the completion of the journey. Far from it. The Turning Point will be the beginning of a new chapter in this journey, and only made possible by my efforts that were often inadequate at best in the past.

ny image will take aThe work points to the hope that comes about from action, an action that is arrived at by being unreasonable in an ambition for change, and change that can only occur with radical collaboration with others. To achieve this Turning Point, it is necessary for us to take The Next Step, together.

Let me just explain how these 100 photos will be presented, because it is important to understanding a nuance in this work. They will form a 10 x 10 matrix in which the photos are close together, but not joined. Each moment is separate from the others, but at the same time part of a bigger journey. If a picture tells a thousand words, then this will speak volumes.

As I create the idea of work in my mind, I am becoming aware that somehow this gridded matrix of 100 photos will be bookended either side by two discrete grids, both also containing 100 tiles across the same 10 x 10 matrix. Every tile or photo will be the same dimension: 10 cm x 10 cm, and the two bookended grids will be empty containing no photos at the beginning of this work.

ny image little whileThroughout the duration of the exhibition, these two adjacent grids will slowly take form. Photos will be added to each of the 100 tiles in each, ending up with three grids each containing 100 photos. 300 photos in all.

One of these adjacent grids will take the form of the 100 Champions of Change that I am seeking from the broader global community. People can nominate themselves, or even share the invitation to their networks. This is not just assembling a list of monitors to help with a project, but is an exercise that is rich with possibility. Who would we, from our small corner in Auburn of this expansive global community, like to see represented in this collective of Champions of Change? Is the request even too ambitious itself?

Seeking this participation of 100 Champions of Change to be assembled during the life of this art work draws upon another favourite quote from the Brazilian philosopher Roberto Unger who I referred to in my post yesterday titled “Hope Is The Consequence Of Action” . “To establish a transformative imagination at the centre of our understanding of society” is the task which Unger speaks boldly about. This art work is not just about my efforts and perspective during this project, but it demands the participation of others to be complete. That is risky. That is reality.

The other grid of 100 tiles will also begin absent of photos, and during the life of the exhibition will come to represent the 100 photos of human bridges that will comprise the photo essay to be featured in the book Life Bridge that is central to the completion of the 10 City Bridge Run. This will also be a co-created process, inviting people to contribute, and encouraging people to help assemble a wondrous deck of photos to tell this story of a human bridge drawn from people across the globe. Will we settle for less, or will we seek to attract an awesome collection of 100 photos of human bridges that will defy what the imagination at present even believes is possible?

It is the beginning of a conversation. It is both a statement and an invitation to collaborate.

A good mate today reminded me of the book ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. Our friendship goes back literally decades. It was with two of our classmates from school that the kernel of this epic quest began. The journey has taken a completely different direction from the discussion of that evening, but it does go to further illustrate where we identify a Turning Point. Phil’s point is a good one, and I think that the Turning Point and the Tipping Point for this epic quest will be reached at the same time.

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Life Bridge: true voyage of discovery

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This photo I took on the island of Bagabag back in 2011 out to sea from the north coast of PNG is what captures a 'Life Bridge' for me: the bond between a mother and her healthy child. That doesn't mean it will be in the book, and doesn't mean it is a standard by which to judge others. It is about your imagination and revealing your universe with its narrative about the importance of connection through a photo.
This photo I took on the island of Bagabag back in 2011 out to sea from the north coast of PNG is what captures a ‘Life Bridge’ for me: the bond between a mother and her healthy child. That doesn’t mean it will be in the book, and doesn’t mean it is a standard by which to judge others. It is about your imagination and revealing your universe with its narrative about the importance of connection through a photo.

The vision for the 10 City Bridge Run was ambitious. Ridiculously ambitious, but even though it is taking longer than first thought, I believe that delay is acceptable towards achieving a far better outcome and lasting legacy.

The initial concept from when it was first conceived in 2010 is unchanged. The execution has differed, but only in ways so as to improve the journey. There are three parts to that concept:

  1. Running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries as a stunt to open a conversation about improving child survival (completed successfully!)
  2. A Design Forum to address the conversation asking “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?” (commenced, in progress, culminating at the end of October 2015)
  3. A book with a working title ‘Life Bridge: the importance of connection’ which will feature 100 photos of human bridges to illustrate the importance of our connection which is necessary to both flourish and also to solve any problem

The concept for Life Bridge is simple enough. A human bridge might be a photo which would describe the importance of connection in the mind of the photographer, maybe in collaboration with the subjects. Each photo is a design project in its own right.

While the concept is simple, organising this task has taken time. It is a collaborative effort. Soon we will be underway.

I will be the first to admit that the delay in the book Life Bridge is unwelcome, but I also acknowledge that the space which has been created because of the time has helped to mature the concept defining the book. Presently, I see the curation, design and distribution all being events which will compliment and contribute towards the conversation that is unfolding through the Design Forum.

I just finished reading a book which I highly recommend by Alan Gregerman called “The Necessity of Strangers: the intriguing truth about insight, innovation and success.” He opens the book with a quote from Proust which succinctly frames the concept for Life Bridge:

“The only true voyage of discovery would not be to visit strange lands but to posses other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them holds, that each of them is.” 

The 10 City Bridge Run involved a journey, and through the Design Forum we are learning to see. And not just to see, but to do.

Life Bridge will be an important book. It is a call to action for all who read it, by being stimulated by the imaginations of the holders of one hundred universes. It will be beautifully published in Korea, and present itself as a fitting coffee table book, but one with a difference. My hope is that every time anyone reads Life Bridge, it will change the world beginning with the reader.

By way of thanks, I also wanted to clarify that everyone who has contributed to this journey will receive a copy cod this book. I don’t regard your engagement as transactional, but it is the tangible thing which many have effectively pre-purchased by supporting this journey. There is no more you need to contribute to receive the book. And thank you for your patience as we uncover the alchemy to weave together these one hundred universes seen through the eyes on another.

Advice from a Master Story-Teller

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Photograph (Photo credit: http://www.robertorey.es)

It is worth listening to Ridley Scott who gives good instruction in this clip below titled Life In A Day. It was part of a collaborative video project he started in 2010, the same year that the 10 City Bridge Run commenced as an idea.

Scott gives two good pieces of advice in telling a story through capturing an image:

  • It must be personal.
  • Capture what appeals to you as the photographer/curator.

Great advice from a master story-teller.

Tell your story through photo in our photo collaboration. Anyone can enter, and there is no cost to submit a photo.

The Importance of Connection” is a photo collaboration on the theme of a ‘human bridge’. The best 100 photographs selected from among this collaboration will be captured in a book called “Life Bridge: The Importance of Connection”.

Find out more details or submit an entry here.

Photographs might express one of four particular themes:

  • Tell a story. Provide an interpretation of “a human bridge”,
  • Bridge the Imagination Gap,
  • Connect the Near and the Far, and/or
  • “With empathy comes connection”.

Connect like you give a damn! It won’t be the same without you.

We want your photo!

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Mother and child. The most important human bridge?
Mother and child. The most important human bridge?

Not just any photo. We are collecting photos on the theme of a ‘human bridge’ for a book that has been a while in the making called Life Bridge: The Importance of Connection.

Feeling creative? Please join us on this journey by submitting a photo of your human bridge.

There are two quotes which frame an ‘artistic brief’ for this project drawing inspiration from Bill Shore’s inspirational 2010 book: “The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men”.

The first quote is written by Bill Shore himself where he describes “the imagination gap: a narrow but vitally important space between the impractical and impossible.” He writes:

The imagination gap is a place where hope lies waiting to be discovered, and cannot be extinguished once it has. Most failures in life are not failures of resources, or organisation, or strategy or discipline. They are failures of imagination.

The second quote is taken from a graduation speech by Ophelia Dahl (cofounder of Partners in Health and daughter of renowned children’s book author Roald Dahl) when she quoted Adam Hochschild who earlier wrote about the importance of “drawing connections between the near and the distant”:

Linking our own lives and fates with those we can’t see will, I believe, be the key to a decent and shared future… Imagination will allow you to make the link between the near of your lives with the distant others and will lead us to realise the plethora of connections between us and the rest of the world… and this will surely lead to ways in which you can influence others and perhaps improve the world along the way.

The compilation of this book funds the 10 City Bridge Run which is a citizen led initiative that asks a simple, but important, question: “how might we use our networks to improve child survival?” The image of a ‘human bridge’ helps to illustrate this question.

So please, help us out and send us a photo of your human bridge. It won’t be the same without you!