"If this is about you then don't get involved... This is much bigger. This is about community and seeing what kind of meta story we can create together"
Michael Richardson on the values behind the Renaissance Project
When I first saw Michael Richardson-Borne's website, CreativityCamera, linked to by a friend on facebook, I had to contact him. That original site is gone now, but a basic version of it is still alive. Since then we've kept up correspondence by email and I've followed the development of his newest baby, the Renaissance Project. The Renaissance Project was launched in its beta version in Novemeber 2011 and will officially kick-off in early 2012. It's a refreshing, real life example of several themes we've been discussing here at Beams and Struts recently including global culture and consciousness, the collective intelligence of collaborative groups, the values and flavour of second wave integral, and just plain good music.
It seemed a natural fit to get Michael on the phone to discuss the project, link it into the larger Beams community, and spread the word on this sucker to start making connections. People out there listening should jump on board if they're interested and definitely visit the site to check out some of the micro-docs there. You wont regret it.
(right click to download, run time 37mins)
The Renaissance Project is, in Michael's words,
"Reconnecting to the activist energy of the 60’s but updating it with the attitude of urban culture and an embrace of electronic music, hip hop, digital technology and humanitarianism, The Renaissance Project is a global platform dedicated to the celebration of creativity, culture, technology, story and the common bond that links us all– our humanity."
An important inspiration for Michael was the Creator's Project, a partnership between Intel and Vice Magazine. While the project is awesome one thing he felt was lacking was a human component - the vision and values behind the Creators themselves.
"When I first found [the Creator's Project] they had about 118 videos on their site and I spent two weeks watching every single one. But every single video had a moment where it became about the creator. There was a moment with something about emotional intelligence, or transcendental meditation, or Buddhism, or whatever - where a thread could have been followed and could have really humanized the creator. But every single time, in all 118 videos, they immediately chose to focus on the artifact. So it became these videos that were really cold - about artifacts that just happened to be made by humans, rather than humans as conduits for these artifacts."
So he began asking himself some questions, "How would we create a new type of arts initiative for a new world and how would we make it more open source and more democratic where it's not just Vice Magazine making the videos? And how do we humanize it and not separate out the creators?"
Michael decided to build his own platform, and the Renaissance Project was born. He put together a team in San Francisco and a team in New York City, and started making documentary films. The first two of these micro docs are now live on the site.
Here's one about Knowa Knowone, a dubstep producer with a degree in comparative religion who says his dubstep, glitch-hop, and experimental hip-hop are highly informed by his love of world religions. The cool thing about the Renaissance Project is that the world of values, interests, views and inspirations behind the music of this popular artist (this conduit) has been, until now, essentially unknown. Look for more of these micro docs with other creators in months to come.
During the interview I also asked Michael about an upcoming project I'd heard he was working on; this one related to modern rites of passage. He relates some of his thinking behind it to the work of electronic music composer Amon Tobin, as well as the evolution dance of Dylan Newcomb. Michael hopes to use 3D projection mapping and electronic music to tell a story, asking the question "How do we give people an embodied experience of integral consciousness through a rite of passage - and not just by talking about it - we let them feel it, experience it.... [through the] connections of energy, movement, our bodies, sounds, and language".
Here's an example of 3D projection mapping.
This short audio clip didn't make the final cut of the interview but it was too good to send to compost. Here Michael speaks about some of the wider vision behind the Renaissance Project, including an integral media channel covering things like financial literacy, religion, sex, self-intelligence (worldview literacy) and "everything you should have been taught in school but weren't". For those integrally inclined among us he also speaks about how he sees the spiral of development in relation to the project.
(right click to download, run time 5mins)
(By the way, the artist whose name I can't remember at 3:10 is Android Jones. We also spoke about him in Pt.1 of the interview. His art formed the title image to this interview and you can hear him in the video below)