For the first artwork created through our Conversation at HeART initiative, large-format artist Stéphanne Cellier has truly produced a conversation piece. Conversation at HeART is our global project to harness the cultural, communicative and aesthetic powers of art to provide our people with their own visual language of self-expression.
A conversation is an exchange of information, of ideas and crucially, of emotions. Thanks to the smartphone we carry in a bag, a pocket or in a hand clenched as tightly as it would be if we were guiding a child safely across a busy street, it has never been easier to communicate.
But are smartphones helping us to converse, or simply connect? Is their ubiquity preventing us from remembering there is a difference between communication and engagement?
For French artist Stéphanne Cellier, his goal when realizing his latest artwork for our Paris offices was to literally draw people into this discussion.
“Conversation is a very apt theme,” says Cellier. “In today’s society I see people are always on their telephones. They could be in restaurant sitting opposite someone and they could be communicating with someone on the other side of the planet, but they’re not communicating with the person in front of them.”
The first completed Conversation at HeART commission – our newest global initiative that aims to inspire, connect and empower Foundever™ associates through the power of creating and taking ownership of artworks in the spaces in which they work – the piece uses anamorphic techniques. This technique makes it so that the perspective of central image appears to distort and reform depending on how it is viewed.
Challenge your perspective
Similar to a trompe l’oeil, the image seems to come to life and, like a complex discussion the participant – in this case the viewer – may need to reconsider their stance in order to understand everything being communicated. All of this draws you even further into the conversation as, at the optimum vantage point the perspective changes again and the image, and therefore the message becomes deeper and more profound.
Thanks to the smartphone, we are constantly engaged in group chats and meme sharing. We have instant access to research, insights and renowned works of reference when we are looking to be inspired, when we seek new information or wish to test the validity of an idea. While if we need emotional stimulus or a multimedia means of lightening our moods, there’s 1 billion hours of new content uploaded to YouTube every single day waiting to lift our spirits.
But by engaging with our devices are we forgetting to engage with our surroundings? And what of those people we see and sit next to every day who we partially ignore because we have one eye on our screens?
As such, the work is a powerful and playful reminder that right in front us is a world of possibilities and possible connections, whether or not a WiFi hotspot is available.
When we do take a moment out of our digital day to sit down with someone, look that person in the eye and have a real world, not a virtual, or non-voice, exchange, we remember what communication and engagement really feel like.
The conversation, not the channel, is king
When you are in a real conversation, there is no need to scroll through an emoji menu to indicate how you are feeling. Tone of voice, facial expression and the words not said become as important as anything that is uttered, they all confer just as much information and insight.
We need to remember that the conversation is what matters, not the channel or the device. It is the person with whom we are engaging. Aligned to our new brand message, Crete Connection, Value Conversation– little wonder it’s the message our people want to share.