Immersive Art Installation at Project Drawdown Conference

Imagine this:

You’re at a conference. There’s the standard florescent lights and gray carpet, but there’s also excitement.

This is the first international Project Drawdown conference. The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. Groups from around the world sent representatives: Universities. NGOs. Media. The UN.

This is the Manhattan Project of our era.

You’re looking at academic posters. Each explains some solution to reverse global warming like using alternative cements or farming seaweed at massive scale.

Then you see it.

It looks like a child’s fort — about 5 feet on each side. It’s covered in jet black cloth, and the front is purple velvet. There seems to be a doorway made of more black cloth, but it’s see-through and covered in silver stars.

There’s a beautiful woman standing at the doorway, and she seems to know what’s going on.

“What’s this?” you ask.

“It’s a mystery,” she says with a wink.

“Can I go in?”

“Absolutely, but you have to wait in line.”

She points to a line with about ten people.

Intrigued, you can feel your eyes sparkling.

You wonder, “Why is this at a conference? Alright, why not? I already have my glass of wine.”

You go to the end of the line.

As you wait, people come out of the fort and you hear what they say:

“Interesting…”

“That was amazing!”

“That was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life! I have to get one for my house.”

Finally it’s your turn. Someone comes out of the fort, and the beautiful woman says, “Are you ready?”

She pulls back the curtain — what you come to learn is only the first of several doorways — and you bow your head to enter the four foot opening.

It’s dark inside, but you see a figure sitting on the floor. It’s a man with a flowing white beard, a glowing, multicolored staff, and a wizard’s hat. Above his head is a sign:

“Welcome to the cave of imagination! Or was it the tent of imagination… Now what’s your name?”

The mysterious sage asks you who, in your childhood, most nurtured your imagination.

“And how’d they do it?” he asks.

You think back, recalling someone who touched you with magic. You answer his question then ask, “How have others answered your question?”

“Well,” he says, “the last person said it was their 3rd grade teacher. They gave the children plenty of freedom. For example, they’d ask a student for a question then spend the rest of the class answering that question in-depth. And when they were learning about rainforests, the students got to decorate the entire classroom as one.”

Then Zombo gives you an MP3 player, a pair of headphones, and a viking hat.

“Put these on. The music will begin in a moment.”

Click play before reading on…

He points to a sign on a second curtain doorway:

You pull back that doorway and enter an even smaller room.

In front of you is a large pitcher, full of dried beans. On the wall is another sign:

You submerge one of your hands into the pitcher of beans and count to thirty.

Then you pass through the third doorway.

You are now inside an even smaller room, about two by two feet. It’s dark, but you see a tiny red velvet pillow and sit on it.

There’s another sign on the wall:

And there’s one last sign on the wall:

You look at the small box, open it, and see many strips of paper and instructions:

“Take five slips of paper. Complete the prompt on each. Then fold the slips, and place them back into the box.”

All of the slips of paper say: “What if…”

What if…

For the next few minutes you revisit that ancient, “childish” question.

After you write on five slips of paper you leave The Really Inner Sanctumâ„¢ and rejoin the wizard man.

“So… why do you think this cave of imagination is at a conference about reversing global warming?” he asks.

And: “What can you do to nurture imagination in your daily life?”

He brings his palms together in front of his chest, bows slightly, and says, “Thank you for sharing your time with me. Goodbye.”

You turn around, pull the original curtain doorway back and emerge into the florescent lights. Everyone in line is looking at you with questioning eyes.

You look at the beautiful woman and smile like a child.

Then you walk into the buzzing crowd, quietly wondering.

Now It’s Your Turn

Complete the five prompts below:

Here are some submissions from the form above:

What if…

  • everyone realized they could be happier with less stuff.
  • everyone realized they could be happier spending more time with friends.
  • everyone realized they could be happier helping & serving others who aren’t as fortunate.
  • everyone realized they could be happier cultivating community instead of rugged individualism.
  • everyone realized that everything above was true & better for the planet!
  • All foods were safe to eat
  • Medical care was free
  • We stopped killing, judging and bullying
  • Everyone picked up their trash
  • We listened more and talked less
  • Climate change didn’t exist?
  • We worked together to restore world peace
  • We were all happy
  • You told me you were a wizard
  • At the end of these questions there was a surprise waiting

3 thoughts on “Immersive Art Installation at Project Drawdown Conference

  • I love the idea of this installation! It reminds me of the immersive art installations they have in cubicles at Healer, an art/music venue in Beech Grove. I wonder if they’d be interested in hosting an adapted version that didn’t have to be actively facilitated by a wizard?

    • Julia, brilliant! Would you believe I was at Healer for the first time only a few weeks ago?

      Before the conference I sat beside a river with eyes closed. I sort of prayed to my imagination, asking for something truly special to bring to the conference. This idea started emerging. I sat there for 20-30 minutes, weaving more and more detail. The core idea no doubt came from Healer. That. Place. Is. Awesome!

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