Tuesday, 10 February 2009

What Peter Greenaway can teach us about creating better business events?

Sodden and feeling a little Monday I arrived at the ICA last night to see a talk by Peter Greenaway, part of the Feedback series. Two hours later I left enlivened by his energy and urgency (he began his talk by saying something along the live of "I reckon I've got 14 working years left and I have a lot I want to do").

Greenaway has broken away from the regimentation of the cinema and works instead in museums, art galleries, interesting buildings and clubs. He collaborates with composers, calligraphers, DJ's and gallery currators to create spectacular experiences. Rather than stumbling through a rehash of what he said, especially when it will be widely blogged elsewhere, I thought I'd try and pull out a few points he made which seem pertinent to how we communicate business information in the live environment.

1) The constraints of the cinema that he tried to leave behind, are the same as the constraints of the conference room. People sitting in the dark, movement discouraged.

2) Digital empowerment tends to be interpreted to mean people being able to produce as well as consume, the other side is people being able to experience things in different environments. Sit people in a cinema and they engage and expect to be engaged in a certain fashion. Put them in a more interesting space and their horizons naturally expand.

3) Screens don't need to be 16:9 (giraffes fit better on really tall screens and snakes on horizontal ones). Different screens of different proportions change the audience's perspective.

4) People like moving about. Use different screens so that people can move through a space and follow a narrative from different points of view.

5) Think about how technology can be used creatively to re-ignite people's interest in an idea or piece of content. Greenaway used projection to reinterpret The Last Supper.

I know there are often practical and budget reasons for not doing this stuff, but it is definitely worth checking out Greenaway's work to see how powerful the techniques he uses can be.