Monday, July 11, 2011

the imaginary foundation--interview with the director

it's refreshing, for a change not to read about politics, religion, human decadence, or facebook, if only briefly.



The Imaginary Foundation says "Great art expands the way we see—it uplifts the human spirit from the barbaric and thrusts it toward the numinous." An Interview with The Director of The Imaginary Foundation, (reprinted with permission from The Imaginary Foundation from a recent feature in JuxtapozMagazine)

The Imaginary Foundation is a think tank from Switzerland that does experimental research on new ways of thinking and the power of the imagination. They hold dear a belief in human potential and seek progress in all directions. The small clandestine team is headed up by the mysterious "Director," a 70-something über-intellectual whose father founded the Dadaist movement. Avoiding direct publicity, the team has sought clothing as an unlikely vehicle for bringing their ideas beyond the academic realm and into popular culture. A multicultural design team based in San Francisco articulates The Director's ideas and translates them into consumable formats for the new generation. The questions for this interview with The Director were asked by members of the Imaginary Foundation community via Facebook.

1) How did The Imaginary Foundation come to be? What was the inspiration? –Matt Zeutenhorst

It's a rather amusing story, actually: I was having a coffee with my dear friend at the time, Jean-Paul Sartre, at this great little place on the left bank in the early 1960s. Somewhere during our animated exchange, Jean-Paul uttered the words, "because we can imagine we are free." I dropped my brioche in astonishment, my synapses standing on end, awestruck by his profound insight. All at once, I felt every cell in my body command me to create a context for this idea to come alive, to unleash the conditions for this ontological liberation to manifest and to surround myself with a group of people who felt the same compulsive urge to give power to the imagination. I had a moment of synesthetic ecstasy as I watched my favorite pastry tumble down the cobblestone street only to be finally intercepted by a hungry crow (I think it was a corneille noire, native to the area). Sadly, a little while after that Jean-Paul and I had a falling out, as he felt I'd become a little too bourgeois, but the glow of his inspiration stayed with me and in 1973 I formed The Imaginary Foundation.

2) What is it about The Imaginary Foundation that makes you wake up in the morning? What compels you to work with this foundation? –Rebecca Renberg

The unquenchable yearning to experience nature's elegant truths and her exquisite interrelationships. I feel it's profound that atoms have assembled into entities which are somehow able to ponder their own origins. I am humbled by each and every moment that I'm conscious enough to engage in this mysterious and poetic byproduct of cosmic evolution. IF we at The Imaginary Foundation can imbue our work with the most minuscule twinkle of this reverence, and in doing so inspire someone to act with the strength and courage to accomplish something positive, then this is worth getting out of bed for.

3) Why is the imagination so important? –Marshall Harding

Imagination is the factory that makes legends. It is the beginning of all achievement. To imagine is to perceive many potential futures, select the most delightful possibility, and then pull the present forward to meet it. Imagination has transported us from shivering in dark caves to triumphantly floating above our precious blue earth. It reminds us that reality is malleable and we are the architects of our own fate.

4) So, what is beauty? –Pierre Mâché

Beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. It can spontaneously arise at any moment given the right circumstances, point of view, and context. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. It can be a rousing symphonic climax, or just the way the light catches the edge of a rusty old trash can. To seek beauty is to have the willingness, the inclination, and the impetuous desire for this chance encounter to transpire. IF you look at history, great art expands the way we see—it uplifts the human spirit from the barbaric and thrusts it toward the numinous.

5) Why do you have so much faith in creativity? –Everett Ruskin

Because there is a moment that emerges when the creative process itself seems to "talk" to the artist. Those who have listened deeply to this "voice" that echoes the rhythms of the universe, and can recite its reverberations back into the stream, are capable of creating work that can enchant the very cosmos itself. So I have faith in the surrender and acceptance of the creative act and the humility to know that a great artist is but a conduit for an expression that resonates with something that is greater than him or herself.

6) Who creates reality? –Donald Maynard

Our experience of reality is created by our perception of it. Robert Anton Wilson asserted that our"reality tunnel" could be likened to a perception filter. The pores of this filter are in the shapes of embodied metaphors. To make biological survival possible, the immensity of perception has to be funneled through the "reducing valve"of the brain and the nervous system. The function of the brain and sense organs is thus to eliminate, or filter, data. Each person is, at each moment, capable of perceiving the totality of awareness—the function of the brain is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely irrelevant knowledge. We do, however, erratically make contact with other realms where we perceive a more absolute knowledge of reality. At this more fundamental level, the "who" dissolves and there only "is." In this realm we're not the centre of things, but merely one of the vertices of the infinite polygon that unites nature, reason, and imagination to the multiverse.

(continues through link)

Jason Silva is a media personality and Fellow at the Hybrid Reality Instiute

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