Planetary education: David McConville

David McConville is a world traveler and a knowledge explorer.

Like other Asheville residents who have an impact around the world, McConville can be hard to keep up with. In his work as a media artist and researcher who specializes in the development of dome-based display technologies, he travels the world. But McConville is also an avid adventurer of the mind, seeking nothing less than the advancement of knowledge itself.

McConville’s world: David McConville’s desire for new knowledge has led him to take part in a doctoral program of the Planetary Collegium, a program based out of the University of Plymouth in England. The goal is to promote the integration of art, science, technology and consciousness research to create a new way of thinking about the world and its problems. Xpress file photo

McConville is co-founder of The Elumenati, a design and engineering company that combines powerful software with an inflatable dome to project sound and images to create an “immersive environment.” But that’s really just the beginning. McConville seeks ideas, collaboration and solutions to real problems.

So what’s on his mind these days? As a member of the Planetary Collegium, McConville finds himself consumed with preparing papers, presenting them at conferences and working toward the collegium’s design doctoral degree. An international network based the University of Plymouth in England, the group consists of people with varied backgrounds—artists, theorists, scientists—who aim to develop new media art. The collegium also promotes the integration of art, science, technology and consciousness research.

Last year, for example, McConville spoke at a collegium conference in Spain about the role of play in life. In Vienna, he discussed the role of art and design in the study of consciousness. And in Brazil, he talked about what it means to have sensory crossover. This April, he’ll be back in Spain to talk about how our understanding of reality has been affected by scientific discoveries—all in celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.

“We’re giving talks through the lens of arts-based research,” says McConville, “and we’re looking for creative accidents.”

Another of his passions is serving on the board of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Named for R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the 20th century’s pre-eminent thinkers, the institute is in the second year of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a contest that seeks “the most comprehensive designs to address the pressing problems of humanity,” McConville explains. “We’re getting incredible entries from all over the world dealing with everything from hunger and clean water to bioremediation in toxic areas to visualizing carbon footprints inside cities.”

In his own business, meanwhile, McConville says he’s working on establishing a global network of his immersive GeoDomes.

“The more we experiment with this, the more we’re encouraged by the universality of the desire of knowledge,” he observes.

Through all his traveling and networking, McConville says he’s continually impressed by the commonality of humankind and the importance of working together to address such issues.

“I think what human societies need all over the planet is functional examples of how communities are addressing these challenges, because they’re global. Everybody is dealing with trash and with weird weather patterns,” McConville notes. “So I think it’s going to be increasingly important to be collaborative.”
Info: The Elumenati, 414 Haywood Road, Asheville NC 28806 (612-605-0826; www.elumenati.com).

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