The theology stream at this years Christian New Media Conference (#cnmac12) is focusing on ‘Depixelating God’. It’s interesting to consider how God is portrayed online, particularly through our personal tweets, posts, updates or comments. Images are a pretty big deal too and I’ve been asked to be part of organising the session on depixelating God through the arts. There’s 2 questions in the programme that I’ve used as the basis for my initial thoughts.
1. How can the arts help us to explore a pixelated image of God online?
I think there are a number of questions that stem from this… ‘what are the arts’ has to be considered and then how the arts are currently used online in a wider context. It think it may be useful to quickly explore examples of a pixelated God online and perhaps discuss whether they are helpful or not and in what context.
It struck me as I thought about this that art has always shown one person’s impression of God in whatever medium they choose so are the online depictions of God any different? I think we can find a good number of slightly more cheesy examples online that in other art forms but I wonder if this is just to do with our culture rather than the fact it’s online? There is a lot of pictorial dross online, especially where religious images are concerned but I wonder if this is just because the people producing the dross are the only ones daring enough to publish their ‘work’ online?
That’s just for starters… I think the answer to this is question is yes but lets be honest, no one is going to come to a session just to hear me say “yes, i believe the arts can help us to explore a pixelated God online”, I think we need to share our experiences and talk about context and culture – this is not going to be a 40 minute talk from the front.
2. Are there opportunities to see God more clearly or to embrace the pixelation more deeply?
I think it’s great that the conference theme is ‘story’ this year, after all, that’s what the arts are aren’t they, a way to tell stories. So it will be interesting to see what people have to share about their experience of God through the arts online.
Again, I do believe we can get a clearer picture of God through the arts, particularly as the arts are not really used in church but what’s YOUR experience?
The later part of the session will probably have to be dedicated to considering if we can embrace the pixelation and what that means. Does it mean it’s ok to only engage with a narrow view of God online? Does it mean we need to do more to create high quality artistic work online? does it mean we need to explore changes in the arts for post modern culture?
The Christian New Media Conference gives us an excellent opportunity to explore some of these questions as there is a diverse mix of people but its likely that all of us will, at some point, have posted something online that portrays God in a particular way.
As a parting thought (that subtly tries to get you thinking about all this at the same time as making you intrigued enough to come to the session), at what point did the church miss the fact that you don’t need a cross in every single logo?
Hope to see you there, come prepared for discussion and sharing of experience.