Experimental Production

The Hologram

Collective Health as a Really Beautiful Artwork

The Hologram is a mythoreal viral distribution system for non-expert healthcare, practiced from couches around the world. The premise is simple: three people – the ‘Triangle’ – meet on a regular basis, digitally or in person, to focus on the physical, mental and social health of a fourth – the ‘Hologram’. The Hologram, in turn, teaches these listeners how to give and also receive care. When they are ready, the Hologram will support them to each set up their own triangle, and so the system expands. This social technology is based on the experimental care models developed in the Social Solidarity Clinics in Greece during the height of the financial and migration crisis. The result is the construction of a robust multidimensional health network, collectively-oriented social practices, and trust that can outlive capitalism. Its protocol ensures that all caretakers are cared for, and regards properly supporting someone else’s wellbeing as therapeutic in itself.

“We must begin again: Asking for help as a new world” was the second ever Hologram course that ran from Sept-October 2020, in which people from all over the world were invited to meet online to study and practice what it means to ask for help.

“We believe that destruction is making space for new beginnings and that we have no choice but to begin again. We see asking for help as a way of coming into a new world with humility, curiosity and interdependence with all beings. We want to work together with you to remind ourselves what we have been forced to forget: how to be a cooperative, interdependent species. In this project, the person who articulates their needs and asks for support can take us to a whole new world.”
– Hologram course invitation

Participants were guided through a process to remember together why and how to ask for support, and how to ensure that our supporters are supported. As the racist, capitalist and patriarchal world crumbles around us, people were invited to design long-lasting systems for support and solidarity that can ensure that our species can outlast the coming social, economic and planetary emergencies.

In this series of six online sessions 26 participants experimented with how to organize and value the support they need to survive and thrive in the coming new world.  They practiced and discussed the social skills, values, and priorities that are central to the Hologram model for collective p2p healthcare. Each session focused on a particular topic. These included: Trust and questions of Bad Support; Atrophy of the Sharing Muscle; Failienation; Learning to Trust Ourselves Again; Wishes and Time. Participants also practiced Social Presencing Theatre and experimented with their first Hologram meeting. The last session was dedicated to building a Community of Practice and discussing the co-creation of the film work. 

Each person left the course empowered to assemble and participate in their own Hologram. 40 people signed up and participated in Minimum Viable Holograms (MVH) (taster sessions that enable people to create their own care clusters);  11 people are known to have set up their own holograms;  35 people joined the Hologram Community of Practice telegram; 36 people who have joined a new, monthly Community of Practice meeting and the Hologram is now funded through other social and cultural organisations to run 2 more courses, to develop and run the MVH programmes with focus on diversity, and to build a community website.

 A CreaTures researcher was embedded throughout the process and shared auto-ethnographic logs of their experience throughout, giving the Hologram facilitators and invaluable participants’ perspective. This provided insights into the complex tensions and interplay between personal/individual and shared/collective experiences across the 6 weeks. Also reflections on the appeal (or otherwise) of certain elements of the experimental practices employed.

The Hologram: Collective Health as a Really Beautiful Artwork Since 2020 (image credits: Cassie Thornton)

An ongoing conversation surrounds the Hologram about the sensitivities of evaluative processes including data gathering and their potential impacts on the value of the experience and the development of the Hologram into the future. Connected with this The Hologram team are in conversation with Public Health England exploring the potential suitability and engagement pathways to offering The Hologram under the NHS social prescribing scheme in the UK. These conversations have reinforced the care as a legitimate subject for experimental co-creation, and the value of co-creative activities as responses to intense pressures on health under the pandemic lockdown, especially the impacts of loneliness on mental and physical health. 

The second phase of the Experimental Programme for Creatures is We were made for this: 2050 Fugitive Planning a Live Action Role Play for course participants March – April 2021. This is intended to provide the next level of learning and transformation through social holography. It has two related goals, offering participants an opportunity to “author a new radical relationship to time and relationships […] to make contact with who we want to  become, individually and collectively, by 2050 [and to] see yourself as a powerful and supported being who will survive and thrive the coming emergencies and crises that await us…”.

The filmmaker Melanie Gilligan is then working with this process to create a participatory film that will help new people understand and feel how The Hologram practice works and what it is, in all its wisdom and weirdness. The film will be distributed in Summer 2021 with the goal of documenting some of the very basic magic that happens within the practice and project, and to challenge viewers to engage with  their own radical imagination. Both of these elements have a double status as para-fictional artworks and as introductions to The Hologram as a new collective healthcare model. 

The Hologram: Collective Health as a Really Beautiful Artwork Since 2020 (image credits: Cassie Thornton)