Berlin Heist
By Bryan Kam
July 5, 2022
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Bryan00:00

Hi, my name is Bryan Kam and I am a writer and an independent researcher. I'm originally from Southern California, but I'm now based in London. And I am a member of the Bloom Collective. The Bloom Collective is a group of other writers, artists and creatives that came together in 2020 over the lockdown.

We were. Attendees and hosts of digital salons through a larger organization called the Interintellect. So in 2020, when the lockdowns hit, we connected over zoom in these salons that were quite intense into intellectually.

Some are quite personal and vulnerable salons and they ranged over many different topics. We were not only attendees, but we hosted these salons and attended each others'. From that point, we became friends through twitter DMS and WhatsApp voice notes and Discord. And in 2021 that allowed us to meet up together in France.

Now, this was the first time that we had ever met in person, most of us. And we spent a week in Provence and really connected at that point.

It was after that summer that we decided to form the Bloom Collective and begin collaborating on projects together. And once we had formed the bloom collective, we applied for a grant from iPortunus, which we received, and that grant allowed us to travel to Germany, where we put on an art exhibition in Berlin.

The art exhibition covered the past three years of our journey, both individually and collectively. So it was a reflection on both the solitude, isolation and loneliness that we experienced during the lockdown, but also the connections that we made online. And the mobility fund allowed us to come together for our first in person project, which we delivered in about a week, which included photography, music composition, digital art, Including art produced by AI.

And this allowed us to produce a kind of triptych of our three years, the first in isolation searching for like-minded souls across the world, which we found the second, when we first met in person. And the third, when we came together to collaborate on the art exhibition that we did in Germany,

To me, mobility is quite important. We could not have put on the art exhibition that we put on without the ability to see each other in person, the embodied feedback and the speed of being face to face is quite important. I really think it's something immensely important to the creative process. And that's not from someone who hasn't made best use of digital technologies.

Of course, I'm recording to you on a digital camera right now, but also I am someone who has made lifelong friends over Zoom, Twitter, WhatsApp across the world. So as important as those relationships are to me, they must culminate in an embodied interaction. There are so many advantages to being in person in the creative process.

Just to name one, the ability to split off and go into side conversations and then reconvene with the group, which we did in our brainstorming sessions, we kind of split off individually and then came back to the group. Side conversations are not something that's easily done over zoom or over any other digital technology.

And that's just one advantage of being in person. Another is just the amount of feedback that you can get from a look. Or a single word or the tone of voice and all of that is just much, much clearer in person.

And this is not just in the service of our particular art exhibition, but in my view, it is really important just for psychological wellbeing to feel that you are heard, you are seen by the other person. And frankly on Zoom eye contact is very difficult. So I just think mobility is incredibly important. This grant was instrumental in allowing us to convene and to find that sense of togetherness, which was so lacking in the solitude and isolation of the pandemic.

The art exhibition also allowed us to search for venues and get to know the local scene in Berlin. We of course had friends in attendance, but we also had people just popping in from the street to see what was going on.

So overall, I would just like to say that as important as digital communication is to me, it will never be a replacement for physical mobility and the ability to meet with other people face to face and to have conversations that way. So thank you very much for your generosity and for listening to me today.