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14Jun

The Ocean Cleanup

 

If the planet looks blue from our sky, it is only when one’s head is in the water that one becomes aware of reality. The ocean has become a vast garbage can where gyres are accumulating waste at an alarming rate. “Ocean Cleanup”, a revolutionary device created by Boyan Slat aspires to give our Earth a new hope.

The idea

Boyan Slat, the young engineer at the initiative of this project, hopes with his plan “Ocean Cleanup”, to succeed in cleaning the oceans of plastic waste. Originally announced to be in place from 2020, this project should emerge in the coming months.

Called “The Ocean Cleanup”, the ambitious project aims to recover no less than five trillion plastic waste from bottles or bags floating on the surface of the seas. How? Thanks to a system using marine currents to trap waste.

A new system set up in few months

In June 2016, the 22-year-old Dutchman launched his first test in the North Sea. To ensure the viability of the project, the company build a 100-kilometer long barrier of floats and nets in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands. But since then, things seem to have accelerated.

At a recent presentation in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Boyan Slat and the engineers with whom he is working, have announced that a new, more efficient system is emerging. The latter indeed replace this unique barrier in the form of a “V” with a fleet of several small systems, much more profitable.

Over the next twelve months, about 30 km of smaller, 2-kilometer-long barriers attached to a 12-kilometer floating anchor should be launched and navigated by sea currents to collect plastic waste on their way.

The Ocean Cleanup Deployment Simulation

An inspiring example

His project was born from a simple sketch drawn on a paper towel. Boyan Slat was then 17 years old. “During a scuba diving on holiday in Greece: under water, I saw more plastic than fish”, he explained. Today, the dream of the young Dutchman, to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, is about to become reality.

Ocean Cleanup is an inspiring example of how we can address the growing problem of water pollution.

We believe that we are all creative people. We share the talent to think of simple but efficient sollutions to the problems that we face today. We have to have dreams to create the impossible. But the example of Boyan shows that we can.

Boyan SLAT – CEO & Founder

DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY believes in projects like The Ocean Cleanup, because it inspires people in the way of protecting our planet. Indeed, by minimizing our impact on the Earth, we could offer a better future for the next generations.

As we saw in the previous blog about crowdfunding, the power of people is changing through the evolution of the Internet. New ways of actions are emerging and people can now act from anywhere they are on subjects they care about. At your level you can act for the oceans’ protection by signing the petition: Save our Oceans – End plastic pollution now!

“They didn’t know it was impossible so they did it” – Mark Twain

24Nov

Triggering Empathy with Virtual Reality Storytelling

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

Arousing empathy has almost always been at the core of storytelling. In Virtual Reality (VR), storytellers have found a new tool with which to give viewers an even closer physical sensation of another person’s lived experience. In other words, VR has the possibility of most fully realizing a second person experience of a story: YOU transform into a character in the film, experiencing their visual and auditory sensations in 360 degrees. Director Chris Milk has dubbed virtual reality films “empathy machines” that move and stimulate viewers to social action more than any other media to date. The art world has been exploring this claim in performance pieces and virtual reality films. Meanwhile, scientific researchers are investigating the quantitative and qualitative evidence for and against the empathetic effects of virtual reality. Critics remain skeptical of virtual reality, citing a confusion between immersion and empathy.

Much furor and fuss is being made over virtual reality – but the energy and attitude towards VR is overwhelmingly positive. The most compelling consequence of these studies and experiments is the multi-layered conversation which reveals that VR is no simple subject. Virtual reality is, after all, a part of the complex chain and tradition of storytelling that dates to the beginning of culture and humanity.

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FILM AND PERFORMANCE ART 

Along with director Gabo Arora, Chris Milk and VRSE production company joined the United Nations in making the 2015 VR film Clouds Over Sidra, which tells the story of a young Syrian girl living in a refugee camp in Jordan. The film debuted in January 2015 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, making a strong emotional impact upon the audience. Based on the response to the film in Davos and elsewhere (at a fundraiser in Kuwait, the film raised 3.8 billion USD, nearly double the amount anticipated), Milk believes that VR films can change the world, connecting human beings and altering their perceptions of one another. In a March 2015 TED talk, Milk explains, “So, it’s a machine, but through this machine we become more compassionate, become more empathetic, and we become more connected, and ultimately we become more human.”

In The Machine to Be Another, an experiment run by the art collective BeAnotherLab, VR is the foundation of a live performance piece in which participants virtually exchange bodies with the performer, who mimics their movements.  The purpose of the experiment is to better understand the Self by embodying the narrative of the Other. The collective collaborates with neurologists and neuroscientists. They aim to measure empathy in their future projects.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

Psychologists are also examining how effective VR is at generating empathy in viewers. The Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford Lab investigates how test subjects change their behavior after experiencing specific scenarios in virtual reality environments. Lab Manager Shawnee Baughman explains in a February 18, 2016 interview how they have found that virtual reality has the potential to positively influence test subjects’ behavior after experiencing staged scenarios in a VR environment.

In one scenario, participants became Superman and save a child lost in large city. The point of the experiment is not that the participants save the child in the VR scenario, however, but how they were more proactive and helpful to other people in their real lives in the period immediately following the video. The same principle follows with another scenario in which one test group chops down a tree in VR with a haptic device that mimics a saw, and another group chops the tree but without the haptic device. The group that uses the haptic device to “chop” the tree used 20% less paper immediately following the event in a staged, real-life water spill.

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VR is not only positive in the context of its impact on human relations, but also between humanity and the earth. Jeremy Bailensen, Associate Professor of Communication at Stanford University, shares this positive outlook: “With concepts like climate change or deforestation or even pollution, we can use virtual reality to make the relationship between human behavior and the impact on the environment less abstract and more concrete.” By immersing viewers in environments in danger of destruction or industrialization, perhaps the viewer will better appreciate the need to preserve the environment and our resources. Another example we might consider is an audience experiencing the world in VR from the perspective of an animal in the endangered environment – the hope is that by sharing an intimate perspective with the animal in nature, that the viewer will develop a greater capacity to empathize with the natural world.

NUANCED SKEPTICISM

The nuances of virtual reality come to the fore in myriad questions that surround it. In his New York Times article “Want to Know What Virtual Reality Might Become? Look to the Past,” Steven Johnson suggests, rather than Milk’s all-encompassing view of virtual reality films as “empathy machines,” that virtual reality offers the possibility of different kinds of empathy: “perceptual empathy” or “sensory immersion.” It is true that empathy is aroused by our recognition of facial muscle movements, as Johnson points out, so that if we as the viewer cannot see the face of the protagonist whom we are inhabiting, then we lose this traditional key to empathizing with this person’s experience. However, we gain a sensory and immersive experience of the character whose point-of-view we inhabit. Not seeing the person’s face might make a viewer more open as their preconceived notions based on the character’s appearance will not be provoked. Even the omission of the inhabited character’s face can be played with via the use of a mirror that could “reveal” the physical identity of the character after the viewer has been immersed in their story. Additionally, we do not lose the ability to see the faces of the other people featured in the film.

Other critics, such as adjunct professor Sam Gregory of Harvard University, do not believe that virtual reality necessarily equates to empathy. Jennifer Alsever quotes Gregory: “It’s confusing immersion for empathy.” Viewers might become distanced from the subject of the VR film if it’s too violent, and virtual reality’s potential for motivating social action might instead corrode into “poverty tourism.” Meanwhile, Adi Robertson wonders in her article “The UN wants to see how far VR empathy will go” whether VR’s apparently superior effectiveness in motivating social action results not necessarily from VR’s inherent qualities, but its novelty.

Meanwhile, in her article “The Limits of Virtual Reality: Debugging the Empathy Machine,” Ainsley Sutherland points out, “This is the central critique of VR as a successful medium for ‘increasing’ empathy: that it cannot reproduce internal states, only the physical conditions that might influence that.” In response to Sutherland’s criticism, I wonder if she makes an inaccurate division between internal and external states, devaluing the impact of physical conditions on the emotions. If we can experience the physical conditions of living in a refugee camp, would the very conditions not move us, knowing that the young Syrian protagonist is living what is but a simulation for us the viewers? Additionally, the physical conditions elicited by VR can make the story lines and relationships between people within a film more intimate because we physically have the impression of being beside them, and are thus psychologically more able to identify and empathize with them. Physical and emotional conditions are more intimately connected than we might realize.

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COMPLEX POSITIVE POTENTIAL

Despite dimming the potential of virtual reality to increase empathy, such criticisms shed insight on VR’s complexity and further substantiates its potential to effect change. That VR entails a consideration of multi-layered technical, scientific, aesthetic, and theoretical perspectives evidences the vastness of VR filmmaking’s uncharted territory. Can theatre, literature, or cinema more effectively stimulate empathy in an audience for a subject’s internal state than virtual reality? To isolate virtual reality from the tradition of storytelling is simply false. VR is a continuation of the tradition of storytelling, but in a new medium. And as virtual reality filmmakers develop new tools and refine their skills, virtual reality might well evoke the same complexity of inner states as poetry. At DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY and VR EXPLORERS, we embrace the newest innovations and are eager to explore the possibilities of virtual reality and its potential to effect positive change in the world. We look forward to evoking empathy in our viewers for the issues and stories that we tell in our films.

31Mar

Future of banking

Recent documentaries and movies dismantled the hidden face of finance and banking sector and showed how they truly are. The wolf of Wall Street, the big short, Inside Job unveiled some complex and scary pieces of info about this “big money industry” on which we have no influence but can have so much impact. Speculation, hedge fund managers, private equity fund managers, real estate fund managers, and future and shorts… The industry is often depicted as a dehumanized world in which the only goal is to make more money.

What do I know about banking? Not so much, I hope the bank keeps my money safe but don’t try to understand what is behind this complex system. However, is it okay to know so little about what are banks doing with our money? As an individual always looking for ways to make this place on earth more pleasant and better, I believe that we SHOULD be aware and interested of what our banks are doing.

why-should-investing-money-real-estateWhat if the bank invests in the nuclear arms industry industries or very polluting industries, as many of them do?A recent Belgium’s study revealed that our money placement, were at the top of our carbon footprint with 100 tons of CO2 per year. That is so much more than our consumption and production footprint so we should care about the banks investments. We can make a choice by choosing a bank that doesn’t do this kind of investment. Big improvements have been made in this direction, particularly by the DIVEST movement; an international movement which only goal is to put away investment from polluting and fossil energy corporations through petitions and campaigns. I believe that these kind of initiatives are necessary to build a better world. Finally, changing our behaviors, sharing our beliefs and international movements of this type have all the same common purpose to influence the settled globalized system runs by big corporations.

Luckily some “ethical banks” are emerging; these banks are working according to the same model as the usual ones but with a different guideline: transparency and trustful policies. Their first objective is not to make profit and enrich the elite but invest and support actions and companies with social and environmental purposes; letting their customers aware of the bank’s activities. Then, choosing a more responsible bank can be a way to show that we don´t agree with the current system and would like to make it change. They are more and more present and popular in Europe.Coins and tree - Ethical Banking

But still they are part of the financial sector and work on the same model. I would like to explore if we can do without them? So what are our possibilities?

Alternatives to the current banking system exist; new currencies are emerging with communitarian monetary systems. A good example is the district of Brixton in London which has its own “Brixton pound” with its own printed bills and coins. I see these initiatives as a clever way to break the globalized consensus settled in the world today coming with a lot of advantages but some undesirable effects too. It reconciles communities, reduces the production circuit and proves that pull ourselves away from the usual national and international bank system is possible.  On top of that, they personalized their money appearance and its 10 pounds bill has the face of David Bowie printed on it; which is much more fun than the Queen! Those solutions are more sustainable as the economy doesn’t only profit to the elite but encourage local economy and small businesses, while limiting environmental impact.

Brixton pound

But what to do with your savings? Today, interest rates are so low and economy so fragile that it´s difficult to trust banks for our savings. Savings that we want to make for our children to have an education or to save for a nice holiday. Some people would just take out their money from the bank and hide it under their mattress. But actually, our possibilities are wider today. Crowdfunding platforms and projects like ‘kickstarter’ and ‘kiss kiss bank bank’ for example are a good way to place your money in projects that you believe in. However, you will not be able to send your children to university through crowdfunding invests. So, if you keep looking, there are still other solutions to  make profit from your invests… Going in this direction, new crowdfunding platforms like www.oneplanetcrowd.com allows you to invest in some startups and businesses’ projects with the possibility to get good percentage from it in return. Or, invest directly in renewable energy for example seems like a responsible option too to make profit if you’re concerned about the environment and sustainable solutions to fossil fuels and want to slow the bank industry’s power.

So, making businesses, profit, investments, savings without banks is possible; collectivity and sharing have a lot of promises.

07Jan

Welcome 2016

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If I look back and reflect on 2015, it has been a year filled with peaceful mountain peaks and beautiful views. Collecting memories and feelings of the sun on my face and the wind in my back. Wonderful days of quiet sunrises and unique sunsets… But this year has also seen unreliable storms, and experiences that left a feeling of uncertainty and disbelief. Happenings, that left me without a view and no sunshine in sight. On those days, I have to find my inner power and keep believing in the bigger positive picture.

One specific individual reminds me of that inner power, Public Protector; Thulisile Madonsela. When she walks into a room and begins speaking, people sit up and listen. Her mission is to establish a trust in South Africa’s young and fragile democracy. She is a big inspirational example and we believe she can inspire many people. Last two years we have made big steps in getting access to her and capturing her amazing story. Also, this year we will keep going, keep believing in realizing a captivating story, in telling her unique part of history in a fight against corruption and perseverance. A fight not for someone’s own well being, but that of the society.

amazone green

2015 also had experiences that made me happy and hopeful for a better future, like the climate talks in Paris. For years people have demonstrated to make our voice heard, our concerns, of how we manage this planet. In Paris we didn’t win the war, but you can say we won a battle. There seems a momentum and governments seem to take serious steps to move away from oil, gas and coal. Meanwhile, energy from clean, renewable sources will grow. We know the agreement isn’t perfect – and it’s not, but over the past year, we saw a truly unprecedented show of support for a strong agreement. Friends like you who cared so much about the future to take action during the climate march. So take a moment to reflect on what you helped accomplish. It’s not every day you can say you were a part of history in the making. Be proud of that. Be very, very proud.

A mayor step is the fact that an organization, like Urgenda, and some international affiliates have won a court case against the Dutch government. And now the government need to take serious action to avoid the impact of climate change. Again an example we could not think a few years ago.
At the same time entrepreneurs and many designers in the Netherlands are taking up the challenge and renew our economy into a circular one. The ambition is to become a worldwide circular hotspot. Currently, there is happening so much in the development that makes us very proud. With the Netherlands as circular hotspot, we are going to inspire and motivate the world.

birds or ghosts

The amazing thing about reflecting is there are no rules. A new year is the symbolic starting point for new possibilities and the way to achieve these; is by doing, by making a change every day. Making a positive change NOW, sets the tone for the beautiful adventures in the year ahead. Erase all negativity and bring happiness and lessons we’ve picked up along the way. The good and the bad and learn from our experience. After we have learned we are able to grow, to give love, to acknowledge and to be thankful.

We are going to set sail on creative and unique adventures, and share this in as much as possible ways with you!

Wishing you all an enlightening, happy and healthy new year!

01Oct

Let the inspiration flow in

Inspiration can be hidden in simple things. What may give you inspiration is very personal. It can be a photograph, a painting, a music score, or in my case a simple thought. But to share these elements are very important as it may inspire others as well, that is why I like to push this door and let all inspiration flow in. This inspiration feeds our personal magic; it’s our sixth sense. It exists as an energy that lives inside us. Every thought we have creates an energy flow around our physical being. Let it be positive; you would be amazed how powerful positivism can be.

That doesn’t mean that setback and slumps don’t exist. Some are deeper than others. You may feel like losing motivation to accomplish your dream. These are the moments that inspiration is essential, to get you through the hour, the week or even a difficult month. Inspiration is creating an overview perspective, the broader picture and to forget our little troubles.

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For these moments in life, we want to share OUR inspirations, the big ones and the small ones. The things that make us flow and speeds up our heart beat. Every Monday we upload an “inspire video”. It’s in our eyes the receipt of good inspiration. Each video has the ingredients: beautiful quote, unique footage and sparkly music. In only 30 sec, we take you out of the slump in our world of inspiration. We do this for one year, and who knows what we do after that? We also have a huge database of incredible pictures, taken around the world. Why not share this beauty? Look at them as treats.
We want to connect as many people as possible to share positive inspiration and help each other out.

We hope that this blog inspires you to set sail on creative and fun adventures each day, and that you return again to share your experiences with us.

What inspires you lately?

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