Social Engineering Project Meets Art Project: JeJune Institute intrigues on many levels….what is Art? Can you break social norms? Why do you want to be a secret agent? What is reality??? Is this a game or a cult?
The documentary The Institute , which I recently watched on Netflix, reminds me eerily of a game my teenagers play, Bioshock: Infinite, a brilliant game where your decisions throughout the gameplay affect the outcome. That and a trilogy of books I read when I was young about two starcrossed lovers (Griffin and Sabine) whose correspondences were secured within the pages of these three books:
I remember a certain thrill at opening each envelope, peeking into the private lives of others. I was part of that hope that one day they could be together again as if my reading of the letters would hasten their reunion.
I think this is the allure of projects such as Jejune….the mystery…the unknown…. the unknowable and the discovery of our power within the mystery. It plays on our imagination…and the story becomes whatever we want it to be. We covet the ‘secret knowing’ we have been inducted into and for me it is no co-incidence that what we experience in the realm of the conspiratorial world mimicks what projects like JeJune and Griffin and Sabine and BioShock tap into. We are curious beasts…by that I mean full of curiosity. We desire truth and are perplexed by the beautiful mysteries and while we may get older….we never truly grow up.
What can we gain from JeJune Institute? It explores human nature, our personality and our willingness or unwillingness to conform. It explains why team building exercises in the workplace are gaining in popularity. It highlights what is so attractive about activism, collectivism, socialism and humanism. It epitomizes our yearning for belonging, for adventure and knowledge and most of all the quest for the divine. But mostly what can be learned from the experiment is the participants reactions to the project. When our reality is unsettled in such a profound way…we can hardly return to the way things were. The world around us is the same, but we never can see it that way again.
Read a great review of JeJune here: