THE POLITICS OF PERCEPTION

A DIRECT CINEMA FEATURE FILM FOR CREATIVE SYSTEM CHANGE
THE POLITICS OF PERCEPTION
A global special event + feature documentary film
to promote critical thinking and action for creative system change

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY • Updated 10 November 2020
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THE POLITICS OF PERCEPTION is a forthcoming feature documentary film about the connection between the global crisis and our ways of seeing it.
We all know the symptoms —pandemic, climate emergency, species extinction, resource limits, erosion of democracy, unsustainable debt, poverty, unemployment, mass migration, racism, polarisation, brutality, information warfare, conspiracy theories, loss of hope for the future etc. These are clear signals of a widespread systemic dysfunction in which we all play a part. 

This project in an artistic response to the challenge. Our aim to create and film a historic “situation” to focus attention on the connection between the crisis and our ways of seeing it — because the creative system change we need for a sustainable future now requires everyone to activate our capacity to distinguish knowledge from opinion. Our survival depends on this, it is easy to learn, and we all can do it.

The centrepiece of our adventure is a special event called GLOBAL VISION GENEVA, which we are planning to hold in 2021 at Geneva —the unique location where the planetary meridians of global governance, trade, finance and civil society intersect. The event involves an international trans-disciplinary multi-stakeholder conference —framed by spectacular infographics, an art exhibition and a theatrical play— that will serve as the set for the production of a feature documentary film called THE POLITICS OF PERCEPTION.
 

I’m producing this project under the aegis of GLOBAL VISION FOUNDATION, an international public interest nonprofit organisation based in Geneva, in collaboration with a trans-disciplinary network of progressive thinkers and partners around the world.

I will co-chair the conference with the complex dynamic systems thinker, filmmaker and author Nora Bateson , Director of the International Bateson Institute in Stockholm. Mark Halle will coordinate the stakeholders’ action agenda; he is a veteran of global sustainable development, former European director of IISD, and a board-member of Sustainable Finance Geneva. 
We have completed the conceptual design, R&D, feasibility study and business plan. A third of the invited lineup and 16 organisations have already expressed their interest to participate. The estimated budget is CHF 2.74m Swiss francs (≃ € 2.55m / GB£ 2.31m / US$ 3m).

We invite your participation to raise CHF 55,000 ( ≃ US$ 60k / GB£ 46k / €51k Euro) by 31 December 2020 to engage a world-class co-director for the film, the first celebrities & VIPs for the lineup, a famous playwright and some major artists, and thus secure the interest of film & TV distributors.

These results will generate the buzz to leverage the rest of the budget by providing a world class sponsorship opportunity for compatible philanthropists, foundations, public institutions and ethical corporate sponsors worthy of recognition as real progressive leaders on the global stage.

We want to reach our crowdfunding target by 31 December 2020 to have the time to prepare the event and shoot the film in autumn 2021, possibly screen a trailer at the UN Climate Change conference (COP 26) in November 2021, and to complete the film for worldwide cinema and TV release in early 2022.

Rationale

Critical thinking is the prerequisite to make sense and deal effectively with the global crisis. Perception is now a political act, and the time has come for everyone to accept his or her personal responsibility for how we see the world. This realisation is based on the following facts:

1. A non-violent transition to a sustainable, regenerative and equitable future urgently requires some kind of creative system change that has not yet been fully conceived, defined or agreed.

2. This creative system change involves mobilising our collective intelligence and a process of mutual learning and co-creation with an unprecedented level of agreement and collaboration between governments and public and private stakeholders, who often work at cross purposes.

3. The path is essentially blocked by the false perception of intrinsic conflicts of interest between these stakeholders, which seems insurmountable in the current economic and political circumstances.

4. Overcoming this blockage therefore requires a paradigm shift, which starts with critical thinking. In order to implement the transition with the necessary momentum for success before it is too late, we must take personal and institutional responsibility for how we perceive and how we communicate.

5. The first step for critical thinking is to activate our innate human capacity to recognise the difference between knowledge and opinion.

6. Our survival depends on this, it is easy to learn, and we all can do it.

Geneva — the microcosm of the planet where the meridians of global governance, trade, finance, politics and civil society intersect. Click here for info.

The setting: International Geneva

The setting for the POLITICS OF PERCEPTION film is Geneva — the de facto hub of global governance. It’s the microcosm of the world where many of the most important global policy decisions are made and implemented (for better or worse) on a daily basis.  I know the place well: I was born and live here, and regard Geneva as the social acupuncture point of the global body politic where the meridians of world governance, trade, finance, conflict resolution and civil society intersect. It’s no exaggeration to say that Geneva has the potential to become the catalyst for the regenerative transition of the planet.


The set we are preparing for the film is a 4-day special event called GLOBAL VISION GENEVA. It involves a trans-sectoral, multi-stakeholder, trans-disciplinary world conference about the relation between the crisis and our ways of seeing it. It features a VIP lineup of leading thinkers and celebrities including a selection of the world’s most powerful conservative & progressive, influential and/or visionary leaders of science, finance, civil society, transnational corporations, international law, UN agencies, think tanks, philanthropists, indigenous peoples, big data and intelligence agencies, young people, mainstream media and social networks. 

The conference will be framed by spectacular infographics about global issues, an art exhibition of works by major artists who challenge our perceptions, a short theatrical play that turns the participants into the principal protagonists of the global drama, and a musical wrap party..

The event venue has a capacity for 2,200 participants on site, and the proceedings will be livestreamed for the global public.

INTERNATIONAL GENEVA

  • 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.
  
ON THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN
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
 
FEEDBACK
 
The Politics of Perception is an extraordinarily visionary, impressive, promising and timely undertaking.
— RICHARD FALK
Emeritus Professor of International Law,
Princeton University.

This is an amazing project. I hope it will open the 'doors of perception’. I wish you good luck and great success.
— SATISH KUMAR
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.
— GUILLAUME CHÈNEVIÈRE
Author, Rousseau, une histoire genevoise.
Former Director, RTS TV network. Geneva.

This is a big deal.
— ROBERT THURMAN
Author, Inner Revolution. Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Columbia University. New York.

This seems to be an important project!
— EDGAR MORIN
Director of Research Emeritus, CNRS
National Centre of Scientific Research.
UNESCO Chair of Complex Thought. Paris.

D
ynamic idea, with trustworthy participants - we need to help make this a reality!
— NANCY ROOF
     Editor, Kosmos journal. USA.
Situationist approach

GLOBAL VISION GENEVA is designed artistically as a “context of information” or what the artist Guy Debord called a “situation”. He used this word to define extraordinary moments in time whose exciting atmosphere can bring forth new ways of thinking and behaviour.


Our goal is audacious and means to be historic in the context of the crisis: to bring together leading representatives of the world’s key stakeholder groups for 4 amazing days in Geneva in a politically neutral and psychologically safe setting with a convivial and festive social atmosphere. The film set will be constructed as a social situation or artistic mise-en-scène designed to provide the participants with an unique opportunity to temporarily suspend their contradictory assumptions and ideologies, practice rigorous critical thinking, liberate their collective intelligence, fire up each other’s imagination, unleash their creativity, think outside the box, and engage in a dynamic process of mutual learning and co-discovery of unforeseen synergies, solutions and actions to implement the transition.

PLEASE HELP US CROWDFUND THIS PROJECT


We want to raise at least CHF 55’000 ( ≃ US$ 60k / GB£ 46k / €51k Euro ) by 31 December 2020 to kickstart the next phase of project development with a view to host the event and shoot the film in the autumn of 2021, to screen a trailer at the UN climate conference (COP 26) scheduled for November 2021, and release the full-length movie in January 2022.


Global Vision Foundation is an international public interest nonprofit organisation with registered charity status in Switzerland (Swiss ID: CHE-443.285.190).  Our accounts are verified by an independent auditor and are supervised by the Department of the Interior of the Swiss Confederation.  Contributions are tax-deductible if you pay tax in Switzerland.

For more detailed info and/or to make a donation, click this link: gofundme.com/f/The-Politics-of-Perception

Historical context

Humankind as a whole has the collective knowledge, information, technology, goodwill and financial means to adapt to the planetary system change now underway. This change is unavoidable because of global heating, limits to growth, overconsumption, unsustainable debt, economic turbulence, glaring inequality, social unrest, mass migration, etc.  A billion global teenagers feel threatened by the decline of human rights, the demise of democracy and the possible collapse of civilisation in their lifetime. Leading thinkers agree that a rapid transition to some kind of post-growth, equitable, sustainable and regenerative future is the only way to avoid the worst, mitigate the damage already underway, and build the resilience and solidarity required for our societies to adapt and thrive again in future centuries. But time is running out and we must act now.

Despite all the international political and financial commitments of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Earth Summit in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the Paris Climate Agreement, the 2030 Agenda and UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the transition remains blocked. Science and the IPCC warn us that the few years left before 2030 are humanity’s last chance to prevent a climate mega-catastrophe, and that the related political decisions must be agreed at the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in November 2021 in Scotland, in order to be implemented before it is too late.

Lao Tse said “the best way to handle a disaster is before it happens”, and Confucius was more specific: "When people share a common goal, their natural tendency is to collaborate to realise it."  It is precisely the lack of widely accepted common goals and strategies —and the financial disbursements for the immediate actions required to implement them— that is blocking the collaboration. The source of the problem lies in the false perception of irreconcilable contradictions between the planetary, national, public and private interests. Our worldviews are fragmented by history, ignorance, nationalism, specialist silos, obsolete assumptions, disinformation, false certainties, psychological projections, conspiracy theories, conformism and fear of the future that divide and polarise us and prevent our collaboration with the necessary scale and speed.

Nobody knows how to overcome this blockage. But as an intelligent species at the dawn of the global age, we can surely learn and co-discover how to do it, because when all is said and done, as Gregory Bateson, Fritjof Capra and Edgard Morin point out, the global crisis is essentially a crisis of perception. The time has therefore come to publicly embrace our ignorance and think outside the box. From now on, all of us together —international agencies, governments, transnational corporations, NGOs, academic institutions, the media and citizens— are mutually entangled in the drama, and we all have a part to play in its unfolding. In order to collaborate we need to change our ways of thinking, including how we see each other. Perception is a political act, and the single most essential thing we all can do is to take responsibility for how we perceive and how we communicate. This is a radical idea. We want to make it a mainstream meme.

This adventure is an artistic response to the crisis, because as the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "It’s important to encourage artists to use their creativity to address the issues of the world today. They obviously have an important role to play because of their creative spirit, their way of communicating and seeing the world. They often look outside the box. They touch our heart, and sometimes touch our heart before our mind! Their compassion is essential."
If the ostensible purpose of the World Economic Forum 2021 is “a great reset” of the capitalist system, ours is to foster critical thinking for its creative transformation, by providing the event participants —and film audience— with an immersive experience of the paradigm shift that we want to catalyse.

Expected outcomes

We have designed the conference process to create the right psycho-social conditions for critical thinking, mutual learning and co-creation.  We cannot predict the outcomes, but expect the following:.

  • Co-creation of innovative collaborative strategies to accelerate, finance and implement the transition to an ecologically sustainable, economically equitable and regenerative future.
  • Launch of immediate action projects for creative system change.
  • Showcase international Geneva’s potential to catalyse a global Renaissance.
This whole adventure is itself conceived as work of information art — a symbol which communicates the message it represents:.

The time has come for everyone to take responsibility
for how we perceive and how we communicate.

The film will disseminate the message via cinema release, TV broadcast, web streaming – and document the event for present & future generations.  A related book, MOOC & TV miniseries are under consideration.