THE THING WE SHARE
The Thing We Share is an interactive performance installation selected for a Burning Man Honoraria grant in 2017. Through the combination of immersive projection, human interaction and unexpected technologies we hope to create deeply personal experiences for people. The High Focus Institute would like to invite you to participate in making this project a reality. If you have any of the following interests or abilities please contact us via the the FINDING US link at the top of this page.
The Thing that We Share isn’t a thing at all. It’s an interactive environment, a social sculpture where participants explore a magical Artefact that reveals the place where “I” turns into “We”. Enter the Video Sanctum and discover how we create the world around us by sharing action with each other.
The Thing that We Share is a physical space, but more importantly it is a social sculpture: it centers on a social interaction between two or more people, catalyzed by the special conditions of the dynamic video environment that surrounds them. It is a ritual that involves creating chains of social interactions, where Guides initiate sharing with the Artefact and participants are empowered to share the Artefact with each other. The Artefact stands in for actual things that can be shared, but its true purpose is to give participants access to the simple phenomenon of shared action/creation in a way that allows them to see that fundamental experience for itself. This is the root of the knowledge and interpersonal wisdom that they can take away from the installation and share with others in turn.
During the day, it is a clean, simple architectural structure, floating, bright white across the playa. Its sheer white walls and beams present a bright landmark to aim towards. Inside, a clean, simple white room with curved walls and a sunshade top invites explorers to sit and rest on the central, circular bench. A message written around the bench states: “JOIN US FROM DUSK TIL DAWN.”
When night falls, participants see the glowing building from afar. They enter the Video Sanctum through the entrance, marked by lights pointing up along the entrance arch, and a Guide waiting inside offers them an Artefact. The Artefact is a simple abstract object that fits in both hands, endowed with hidden technologies that map the Artefact’s motion through space. Its motion is translated onto the walls of the video sanctum. “What is it?” the Guide asks, answering themselves, “It’s the thing that we share.” Participants are invited to touch the object, but the Guide does not let go. It rests between them. Sharing is the foundation of this piece: participants share an Artefact with the Guide and then with each other. The contour of their interaction is expressed via a dynamic video environment that responds in real-time to participants’ shared motion. When the Artefact turns, so does the world, in the form of a beautiful multicolored web that symbolizes infinite interconnection.
The Guide leads them to a state where control over the Artefact is truly shared between participants, where it moves nearly spontaneously, Ouija-board-like, without the secret control of any single person. “It’s not mine,” states the Guide. “It’s not yours. It’s between us.”
Up to 8 participants can share the object at any one time, and the Guide monitors & continuously participates to ensure that the state of equal sharing is maintained. As participants become comfortable with the social rules of the space, they also take on the role of guides and invite others to participate.
This ritual of entering, learning by sharing, and being given the tools to become a teacher yourself is the foundation of The High Focus Institute’s mission. We strive to draw people into novel experiences that reward them with safe, explorative, open-ended spaces in which they can learn something new about themselves. That thing might be as small as discovering in yourself the power to meet eyes with a stranger, the power to invite them into your circle for a moment and share the experience of Being Together, without fear or suspicion. That knowledge travels on with our participants when they choose to leave, and that new understanding is the seed we are planting to grow a better world.