I visited one of my favourite places this week; The Tate Modern. I love having my thinking challenged and on this visit Cildo Meireles’ sculpture ‘Babel’ resonated with me. The artwork is described as a ‘tower of incomprehension’ and explores information overload and failed communication. It’s made up of hundreds of radios, each tuned to a different station. The sculpture relates to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. God was offended by this structure, and caused the builders to speak in different languages. No longer able to understand one another, they became divided and scattered across the earth, and so began all mankind’s conflicts.
‘Babel’ by Cildo Meireles
Information overload and failed communication feels like such a common theme in the world we live in. We are exposed to millions of bits of sensory information every second of our lives. Although, at times, it may feel like we are processing it all, we can’t physically process all that information so we filter it; we delete, distort and generalise information. We filter information depending on our history and memories and our values and beliefs and with the language we use. That filtered version of ‘reality’ becomes our unique story about who we are and how we experience the world.
But how do you know you’re filtering out the right information? How do you know you’re not holding onto a story about yourself that you have learned to be the truth about who you are and where you ‘fit’ in the world? Are you hanging onto a story which is limiting you or expanding your sense of possibility?
As Meireles’ sculpture seems to show us, are we so overloaded with inaccurate information that we are failing to communicate? Failing to communicate a true version of ourselves?
Walking out of the Tate Modern and taking a stroll down the South Bank I came across two Poets sitting on plastic chairs typing on old, traditional type-writers. In front of them was a sign inviting passers-by to give them a topic from which they would create a poem. The invitation being, if you liked their creation, you could pay them whatever you felt it was worth.
The authenticity, simplicity and pure connection with who they were made my heart sing. The ‘realness’ of having some meaningful words typed from the heart, onto a simple piece of paper with no flashy technology, no autocorrect (and no capital letters 😝), no performance and no pretence made my whole body smile. Just the courage and conviction to show up and be seen, spelling mistakes ‘n’ all.
How will you tune out the information overload this year and LISTEN to your heart? Notice how you might be filtering information; STOP listening to information which is limiting you and START listening to information which has the potential to expand your world so you are no longer scattered and divided or in conflict with yourself or others. When you are connected with YOU, you allow others to connect with you too and when we are connected the world is a beautiful place.
With love, Sarah x