Eden project makes foray into Bhutan

Bhutan Times - - Home - Con­trib­uted by Namkhai Norbu , For­mer Ed­i­tor , Bhutan Times

After an im­pres­sive run for 14 years in the United King­dom (UK), Eden Project, the fa­mous en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion, at­trac­tion from the UK, is for the first time mak­ing a foray into Bhutan, land­ing as Eden­lab.

Eden­lab, the in­ter­na­tional cre­ative part­ner of Eden Project UK - one of the UK’s most popular tourist des­ti­na­tions - will stage in­ter­ac­tive, im­mer­sive artis­tic events and in­stal­la­tions to pro­mote en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and well­be­ing dur­ing the first-ever Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val sched­uled in Thimphu from Fe­bru­ary 14-23 this year.

Eden­lab’s cre­ative pro­ducer, John Hen­di­cott de­scribes the ar­rival of Eden­lab in Bhutan as ‘build­ing a re­la­tion­ship and pro­mot­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tion and cul­tural ex­change’. “It’s not about par­tic­i­pat­ing in an event and dis­ap­pear­ing after that. It’s about in­te­gra­tion and learn­ing from each other. It’s about shar­ing and col­lab­o­rat­ing. It’s about cul­tural ex­change and build­ing a legacy to­gether. That’s what mu­sic and arts are all about,” he said.

Eden­lab, he said, also en­vis­ages Bhutan as a per­fect place be­cause of the shared common goals. “We share a lot of the same ideas about our re­la­tion­ship to na­ture and sus­tain­abil­ity, es­pe­cially when we think about Bhutan be­ing car­bon neg­a­tive and Bhutan’s com­mit­ment to main­tain 60 per­cent of its to­tal land area un­der for­est cover. It’s also about art as an ex­pres­sion and re­flec­tion of cur­rent val­ues; so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal. It’s th­ese things we think are im­por­tant as well,” he added. “From our time here so far, we have also met a lot of cre­ative young peo­ple who seemed very keen to col­lab­o­rate and we look for­ward to do­ing ex­actly that dur­ing Eden­lab’s 10 day visit to Bhutan.”

As Eden­lab’s main mis­sion is to in­spire be­hav­ioral change, Mr Hen­di­cott said, “It’s not just about peo­ple com­ing and see­ing our events, but it’s about par­tic­i­pa­tion, so that they take some­thing away; a new per­spec­tive, greater in­sight or a new way of re­lat­ing to the nat­u­ral world. It should in­spire them to re­flect on is­sues that will be crit­i­cal to our fu­tures. Look­ing after the planet means look­ing after each other.”

At an ear­marked space dur­ing the 10-day Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, Eden­lab will hold en­gag­ing pub­lic events such as in­for­ma­tive art in­stal­la­tions, ex­plor­ing peo­ple’s con­nec­tion with na­ture. Eden­lab artist, known as Mileece, will wire up a di­verse se­lec­tion of plants from all over Bhutan to mea­sure their elec­tro-con­duc­tiv­ity. Vis­i­tors are then in­vited to in­ter­act with the plants by touch­ing or breath­ing on them and the in­ter­ac­tion sets off a se­ries of sounds and light re­sponses demon­strat­ing the sen­tience of plants and how our con­nec­tion with the plants stim­u­lates and there­fore changes their con­duc­tiv­ity.

“It’s ba­si­cally the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of our re­la­tion­ship with plants. Plants are alive the same way as we are,” ex­plains Mr. Hen­di­cott

Another en­gag­ing pro­gram is the mul­ti­award win­ning dance­room Spec­troscopy (dS) - a high-im­pact and ac­ces­si­ble dig­i­tal in­stal­la­tion. Fus­ing rig­or­ous meth­ods from com­pu­ta­tional physics with the state-of-theart com­put­ing, dS uses real-time 3d cap­ture to in­ter­pret peo­ple as fields whose move­ment cre­ates rip­ples and waves in an in­vis­i­ble sea of en­ergy.

“The re­sults are in­ter­ac­tive graph­ics and sound­scapes, all aris­ing in di­rect re­sponse to the mo­tion of dancers’ bod­ies. Peo­ple can see how they in­ter­act with the mol­e­cules in the air,” Mr. Hen­di­cott said, de­scrib­ing it as a bi­ol­ogy les­son brought alive through arts.

Be­sides par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­ti­val, Mr. Hen­di­cott said they are also keen on ex­plor­ing other po­ten­tial ar­eas for long-term re­la­tion­ships in Bhutan. “Other re­la­tion­ships which might be on­go­ing in the ar­eas of en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion and the cre­ative arts; and which we can carry out out­side the fes­ti­val and long after,” he said.

Popular mu­si­cians rep­re­sent­ing Eden­lab such as Nick Mul­vey, Dizraeli, and Bel­la­trix, among oth­ers, mean­while, are also ex­pected to host live mu­sic events and per­for­mances dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Eden­lab will also build two large ge­o­desic domes in the Cen­te­nary Park in Thimphu to host Mileece and dance­room Spec­troscopy. Both artists will be hold­ing work­shops and talks through­out the fes­ti­val for any­one who is in­ter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing. The Founder of Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit, is also sched­uled to de­liver a talk at the TEDx Thimphu dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

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