Apologies that this post was not completed a few days after the conference, it would have been good to reflect slightly sooner. Sadly, the internet went down at Lee Abbey for 3 days and I was unable to get it done so I hope you will enjoy thinking back one month on…
I really enjoyed #CNMAC12, the venue was great, the programme in my opinion was much improved from the previous year and the organisers took a chance on having an open source session which went very well. This post however is going to focus on the ‘Depixelating God through the arts‘ session that took place as part of the theology stream.
The main questions we explored were;
- How can the arts help us to explore a pixelated image of God online?
- Are there opportunities to see God more clearly or to embrace the pixelation more deeply?
We began by reflecting on how we are all involved in the process of creating art. Even if we’re not artists or designers we all share, critique and endorse particular work. This discussion was followed by spending a few minutes framing what ‘the arts’ are and I gave a short presentation on the history of Christian art that led to establishing a focus on what is happening within the digital environment and new media specifically.
This led into a time of small group discussion with questions on; visual culture, apps, quality of expression, measuring impact, collaborative projects, new forms of digital creativity, use of non religious artistic expression and broadening our own artistic engagement.
After the discussion groups we explored how can move into a deeper understanding of how the arts function, particularly as metaphor and how broadening our own engagement in the arts can impact our own expressions, whatever form they may take. There was a short discussion on whether the God we see online is monochrome because of the types of media we consume and how, in the same way as theological discussion, collaboration within the arts often produces a higher quality product.
We concluded by spending 2 minutes listening to what God had to tell us through a series of Black and White photos, an exercise that broadened people’s engagement with both God and the arts, albeit offline.
The other exciting layer to the session was that Will Taylor (@bigdaddywhale) had set up a wordpress blog where people could send images relating to what was being discussed. You can find the site at depixelatinggod.wordpress.com to see what people sent during the session. The site gave people the opportunity to be much more participatory within the session, something I am very passionate about and would love to see more at other conferences.
Finally, thanks to everyone who took part and said lots of encouraging things.