THE POLITICS OF PERCEPTION
A DIRECT CINEMA FEATURE FILM FOR CREATIVE SYSTEM CHANGE
The Politics of Perception is an extraordinarily visionary, impressive, promising and timely undertaking.
Emeritus Professor of International Law,
This is an amazing project. I hope it will open the 'doors of perception’. I wish you good luck and great success.
Editor, Resurgence & Ecologist magazine. London.
Geneva, city of the Red Cross and the United Nations, needs perspectives for the planetary transition; this project provides an invaluable source of fresh, visionary ideas to that end.
Author, Rousseau, une histoire genevoise.
Former Director, RTS TV network. Geneva.
This is a big deal.
Author, Inner Revolution. Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Columbia University. New York.
This seems to be an important project!
Director of Research Emeritus, CNRS
National Centre of Scientific Research.
UNESCO Chair of Complex Thought. Paris.
Geneva is the microcosm of the planet where the meridians of global governance, trade, finance, politics and civil society intersect. It has a long history of democracy, neutrality, tolerance, refuge and peace. It was the capital of the Reformation which humanised European religion, the home of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who wrote The Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract, the birthplace of the Red Cross and the League of Nations. It's the humanitarian capital of the world and the de facto hub of global governance.
This project will position Geneva as the potential catalyst of a global renaissane.
Geneva has the world’s greatest concentration of planetary players who shape the world today.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY • UPDATED 25 JUNE 2020
THE POLITICS OF PERCEPTION is a forthcoming feature documentary film about the connection between the global crisis and our ways of seeing it.
It’s a crisis of perception. The Covid-19 pandemic, climate emergency, limits to growth, failure to finance the SDGs and Paris Accord, species extinction, resource depletion, pollution, concentration, inequality, mass migration, polarisation, social unrest, terrorism, surveillance and the debt of nations are the tangled symptoms of a systemic dysfunction. If unresolved, the crisis threatens the end of democracy and human rights, and the possible collapse of civilisation.
Attacking the symptoms doesn’t work. This is why global teenagers and the emerging global civil society consensus are calling for creative system change to implement a rapid transition to a sustainable post-growth regenerative future.
It’s the evolutionary challenge of the Anthropocene: Adapt or perish! Homo sapiens still has the goodwill, knowledge, technology, resources and financial means to adapt and thrive in our planetary biosphere. But the path is blocked by ignorance, greed, lack of imagination, democratic deficit, conflicts of interest, conformism and fear of change. Our system is stuck. Nobody knows how to overcome the blockage, and we are all responsible. The time has therefore come to embrace our ignorance and to think outside the box.
The Politics of Perception is an artistic response to this challenge. The project is designed to focus global public attention on our ways of making sense of the world as the crisis unfolds in time. Perception is a political act! The future of humankind now requires each of us take personal responsibility for how we think and communicate. The first step is to activate our innate capacity to distinguish between knowledge and opinion. The rest will follow. This may sound naive, but such a small act of personal responsibility is in fact the biggest thing we all can do to make a difference. Its systemic effect would be transformational.
GENEVA: Principal photography for the film is planned for 2021 at Geneva— the planetary acupuncture point where the meridians of global governance, trade, finance, politics and civil society intersect. The set now being prepared is a trans-disciplinary 4-day special event —the Global Vision Geneva conference— whose VIP lineup includes a selection of the most visionary and/or powerful leaders of science, civil society, TNCs, UN organisations, think tanks, intelligence & big data agencies, indigenous peoples, youth, and the media. The conference will be livestreamed and framed by spectacular infographics, an art exhibition that challenges our perceptions of reality, the première of a theatrical play that turns the audience into the protagonist of the global drama, and a musical wrap party.
The event is conceived as an historic situation. The artist Guy Debord used this term to describe extraordinary moments in time —like May ‘68— whose festive atmosphere can bring forth new ideas and behaviour. The conference will use this artistic mise-en-scène as the context for public and private stakeholders with divergent views to collaborate in critical thinking about the perceptual nature of the crisis, based on the rigour of cognitive science and complex dynamic systems. It’s designed as a safe convivial space for an immersive experience of paradigm-shift. The first day’s programme will challenge participants to understand the systemic urgency of the crisis, its link to perception and the need to think outside the box. The 2nd day will explore the unforeseen emergent properties of solution synergies. The 3d and 4th days will mobilise the stakeholders’ capacity for imagination, innovation, mutual learning and discovery. Expected outcomes include the co-creation and launch of collaborative projects to fast-track and finance the transition to a regenerative future. The event will showcase international Geneva’s potential to become the microcosm and catalyst of a global renaissance.
DIRECT CINEMA: The conference programme is choreographed as a rapid cultural learning process. As the first global psycho-social event of its kind, the interaction of the public and private stakeholders will no doubt be fascinating and revealing, but impossible to predict. Our unscripted film will therefore use the direct cinema (cinéma vérité) approach developped by Jean Rouch and D.A. Pennebaker to tell the story of whatever happens. We expect to shoot 40 hours of footage of presentations, panel discussions, expert interviews and conversations during the conference, edited with colourful visual imagery from the play and art exhibit. We plan to combine this material in post-production with contemporary and archival footage of related global events, to situate the crisis as the tipping point of history that will determine the fate of Homo sapiens for the next millennium.
This project is now in development by GLOBAL VISION FOUNDATION, an international non-profit public interest NGO established in Geneva in 2012 by the information-artist Michael O’Callaghan. Our strategy is informed by a transdiciplinary network of leading thinkers. Our accounts are verified by an independent auditor and our work is supervised by the Swiss Confederation.
- Michael O’Callaghan will co-chair the conference, and co-direct the film with a world-class director TBA. Inspired by the cognitive epistemology of the anthropologist Gregory Bateson and the neuroscientist Francisco J. Varela, he is a veteran trans-disciplinary global networker, film-maker, author, conference convener, activist, and community organiser. He was President of Global Vision Corporation in New York (1981-2001) and Coordinator of the GM-free Ireland Network (2004-2010). He has filmed 40 interviews of leading thinkers including Time for Change with the Dalai Lama. He has organised international conferences for the UN and NGOs in New York, Ireland, and the Graduate Institute Geneva. His work has been supported by Apple, MIT, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNEP, UNFPA, WHO, IISD, WWF, IUCN, FOE, Earth Day, Greenpeace, Slow Food, Bucky Fuller, Richard Leakey, Rigoberta Menchú, Jane Goodall, Hazel Henderson, Maurice Strong, Achim Steiner, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Berry, Stan Grof, Robert Rauschenberg, Bernardo Bertolucci and Martin Scorsese.
- Nora Bateson, President of the International Bateson Institute in Stockholm, will co-chair the conference. A brilliant complexity thinker, world-renowned educator, and originator of the concept of warm data, she is the producer and director of the award-winning film An Ecology of Mind, the author of Small Arcs of Larger Circles (taught at Harvard Innovation Lab), and winner of the Media Ecology Association’s 2019 Neil Postman Award for Public Intellectual Activity.
- Partners: The first organisations that have expressed an interest to participate include UNOG - the United Nations Office at Geneva, OHCHR - Office of the UN HIgh Commissioner for Human Rights, CNRS, Doctors Without Borders, World Future Council, Millennium Institute, International Forum on Globalization, Kofi Annan Foundation, ETC Group, Cardi Gallery, Finance Watch, Resurgence / Ecologist magazine, Geneva 2030 Ecosystem, Drawdown Switzerland, B Lab Switzerland and Sustainable Finance Geneva. Many more organisations will be invited, including major global players from the private and public sectors.
Development, production and pre-production of the film will take up to 12 months. With timely funding and assuming the end of Covid-19 lockdowns, our ideal launch date for the livestreamed event is 22 April, Earth Day 2021. This annual festival mobilises 1 billion people and 77,000 partners in 190 countries — priceless publicity ahead of a target film release in September 2021.
We plan to market the film at Cannes, Venice, Locarno, Berlin, Sundance and other festivals for international TV broadcast, streaming and cinema release. In addition to the Earth Day livestream, we will also promote it through embedded journalists, UNESCO and via the European Broadcasting Union to its 150 member broadcasters in 77 countries. Co-production of a related TV miniseries is under consideration.
PHILANTHROPY AND SPONSORSHIP
This is an adventure without precedent in art or motion-picture history. It is designed to catalyse the greatest untapped resources of our time: goodwill, critical thinking and common sense. Our target audience includes the 1.2 billion global teenager cohort. This project has significant potential to foster non-violent creative system change for the transition to a regenerative future. The international viewership, VIP lineup, participation of major artists and the creative vision of hope for the future provide an exceptional opportunity for donors and sponsors worthy of historic recognition as progressive leaders on the global stage. The estimated budget is CHF 2.74m.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
We have finished the conceptual design, R&D, and feasibility study. We now need to raise CHF 355k ASAP to confirm the VIP lineup, film co-director & playwright; engage the artists & film/theatre/multi-media crews; finalise the logistics, scheduling, PR & budget. We need to do this to secure distribution interest before pitching the project to major funders. The first CHF 100k is key to leverage the rest. Full details are available for prospective sponsors and donors on a need-to-know basis.
Your donation is tax-deductible in Switzerland. We invite your collaboration, sponsorship and philanthropic support. PERSON TO CONTACT
ON THE DIFFERENCE
KNOWLEDGE AND OPINION
The map is not the territory.
— ALFRED KORZYBSKI
It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
— MARK TWAIN
One must first of all be able to NOT understand many things. For if we understand things too quickly, we may perhaps fail to understand them well enough.
— FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
If everybody would agree that their current reality
is A reality, and that what we essentially share
is our capacity for constructing a reality, then perhaps we could all agree on a meta-argreement for computting a reality that would mean survival and dignity for everyone on the planet, rather than each group being sold on a particular way of doing things.
— FRANCISCO J. VARELA
Co-author, Autopoiesis and Cognition
Geneva — the microcosm of the planet where the meridians of global governance, trade, finance, politics and civil society intersect. Click here for info.
- 4,000 annual visits by heads of state & ministers.
- 2,700 annual inter-governmental meetings.
- 30 UN & international agencies.
- 300 global civil society NGOs.
- 130 transnational corporations.
- 400 trading companies.
- Global leader for trade finance (40% to 60% of global transactions).
- Handles 35% of world trade in oil, 35% in cereals and oilseeds, 35% in rice, 50% in coffee and sugar.
- World leader in commodities inspection and certification.
- 40% of global impact investing market. Increasingy active in SRI.
- 1,000 hedge funds • 63 banks • Numerous pension funds, family offices, wealth managers and asset managers.
- International community of 42,000 people who work at the global level.
Planetary players in Geneva include international agencies such as the UN European Headquarters, WMO, IGPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN High Commision for Refugees, UN Human Rights Council, WHO, UNICEF, ILO, WTO, CERN etc.; business organisations such as the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development; transnational corporations including major commodity traders, banks, and hedge funds; NGOs such as the ICRC - International Committee of the Red Cross, Club of Rome, World Future Council, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, WWF, IUCN, World Future Council, Via Campesina, South Centre, etc.
The SDG Lab, based in Geneva, is a multi-stakeholder initiative that contibutes to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem of UN and intergovernmental organisations, member states, civil society and NGOs, academia and the private sector.
THIS PROJECT ASKS THREE QUESTIONS OF GLOBAL STRATEGIC INTEREST
1. Is there an actionable connection between the global crisis and our ways of seeing it?
2. If so, could a simple paradigm-shift in our perception be the trigger for global public and private stakeholders with conflicts of interest to recalibrate our assumptions, recognise the gravity of the global crisis, agree the urgent need for creative system change, and activate the common sense, trust, goodwill, courage, compassion, humility, friendship, imagination, mutual learning, knowledge, cooperation, funding and action required for a non-violent transition to a sustainable civilisation, before it is too late? In other words: Is there any real hope for the future?
3. Does Geneva —the de facto hub of global governance where world trade, civil society, finance and politics intersect— have the potential to ground this hope as the microcosm and catalyst a global Renaissance?