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NXTLVL Experience Design

Episode 47: Justin Bolognino

The Synchronicity Architect and the Art of Being There with Justin Bolognino, Founder + CEO of META, Unreality / Silent G Farms / Immersive Artist

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EPISODE SUMMARY

Justin “JB” Bolognino creates ground-breaking immersive experiences that are focused on revealing hidden human connections. He combines technology, design and storytelling to ignite the human spirit. As a “Synchronicity Architect” and Founder/CEO of META, he runs an immersive experience studio that specializes in “The Art of Being There.” In EP.47 of the NXTLVL Experience Design podcast called “The Synchronicity Architect and a the Art of Being There,” Bolognino and host David Kepron cover Synchronicity, Consciousness, ‘The Map of Realities,’ Concept of Mind, Jazz, ‘Unreality’ and much more!

EPISODE NOTES

ABOUT JUSTIN BOLOGNINO:

Justin “JB”’s LinkedIn Profile

linkedin.com/in/jbolognino

Websites

Links:

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Flatland: https://www.metajb.com/flatland-a-romance-of-many

Unreality: https://www.metajb.com/unreality-1

The Map of Realities: https://medium.com/@jbolognino/the-map-of-realities-4dc12875adbc

Twitter

Justin Bologninos’ Bio:

Justin Bolognino is the original META.

His ground-breaking endeavors are threaded by technology, real-time design and evolutionary immersive experiences focused on revealing hidden human connections. The “Synchronicity Architect” is founder and CEO of META, an immersive experience studio that specializes in “The Art of Being There.” A new META spinoff, launching publicly in early 2022, Unreality is set to be the definitive professional ecosystem for the global “Immersive Media industry.” Taking their skills and touch to nature, Bolognino and wife Elizabeth founded Silent G Farms in North Branch, NY, a retreat compound designed for nourishing creativity and consciousness. JB also helped to develop and launch of Brooklyn Bowl (2009), serving as Creative and Media Director, as well as Arcadia Earth (2019) in NYC, the first artist-driven immersive experience dedicated to sustainability, where he also designed two of the installations.

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With brand clients like Spotify, Twitter, HP, Samsung, Google, Vimeo, and artistic collaborations with St. Vincent, Dubfire, Skrillex, Phish, Porter Robinson, Troye Sivan, Tiesto and many more, META creates live, multi-sensory experiences that use technology, design and storytelling to ignite the human spirit. META was born originally as “the Meta Agency” in 2009 under Bolognino’s philosophy that the artists creating cutting-edge digital event designs and high-tech performance elements should be recognized, much like the celebrities and brands they create for.

An industry visionary, Bolognino is extremely forward-thinking when it comes to technology’s role in immersive experiences. Over the last 15 years, Bolognino has helped make Brooklyn Bowl a celebrated institution, redefined the SXSW experience through #FEED, produced multiple documentaries, led marketing campaigns, and created interactive art and live music for the sake of creation through his first company, Learned Evolution. His role as designer and curator of The Lab at Panorama, and Director of The Antarctic dome show at Coachella, “FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions”, has played an essential part in the evolution of the festival experience.

Bolognino currently lives at Silent G Farms with wife Elizabeth, daughters Chloe and Francesca, son Just, and puppy Billie Holiday.

SHOW INTRO:

For some time now I have been interested in the merging of design, AI, technology, neuroscience, and art. They all seem to be coalescing into the creation of a new form of place-making.

I like most others have been calling it ‘immersive experiences’

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And while the places that are now being created to provide them are proliferating, I think that we are often seeing them only as spectacle. We pay a few dollars, get immersed in data paintings and surround sound, sometimes get corralled into a gift shop, and we’re done.

My guess is that we don’t often look beyond the use of light and data as building materials – which on it’s own is a fantastic and transformational tool in our designers tool box – to consider things like the interrelationship of the design of our environment and consciousness.

I’m a big advocate of ontological design, which in its most basic description can be frames as – the things we design design us back. Our brain/body/mind is in a reciprocal feedback loop in which the things we design and put into the world in turn influence our neuro-biochemistry and neuro-physiology so that we are literally made in the image of the environments we inhabit.

If we venture down the path of consciousness, we need to consider then that we are not singular entities in this world but that we are part of an integrated and interdependent rhythmic whole.

Nicola Tesla wrote an article for Colliers Magazine in 1926 where he penned …“When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole earth will be converted to a huge brain, which in fact it is. All things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole…” 

He went on to explain that ‘the devices with which we would do this would fit in our breast packet and we would communicate with each other independent of geography…’

1926!

While written almost a hundred years ago Tesla was envisioning a future of digital communication where we would share information, enabled by software and hardware, and in doing so, we would augment our mindware.

Dr. Dan Siegal has a definition of mind that seems to work from me.

He explains the mind this way:

The Mind is an “emergent, self-organizing, embodied, and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.”

Our minds are in constant reciprocal feedback loop with the environment including the people in it. We are not independent of it. Each of us as a constituent of a larger whole.

The environments we inhabit change us as do the other people that we share those environments with.

While we participate in our environments, digitally immersive or otherwise, our perceptions are our realities.

This too invites us to consider the various types of realities we now engage in. We are growing beyond what we would have only considered as the reality of immediate experience. The ‘as lived’ in ‘real-time’ reality of every day.

We now have Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. But it doesn’t stop there.

This is where Justin Bolognino helps created a framework for how we are coming to experience the world around us.

Justin’s ground-breaking endeavors are threaded by technology, real-time design and evolutionary immersive experiences that focus on revealing hidden human connections.

For Justin, our world of experiences include a number of realities can be mapped. Between the Universe – the analog realities and the Metaverse – the digital realities, he defines 6 realities including sonic, IRL, conscious, augmented, virtual and on-line realities.

All of these are interrelated and influence the others as well as how we create experiences. Justin’s Map of realities is complex and layered with an acute awareness of where each plays a role in our lives creating context meaning and levels of consciousness.

He calls himself a “Synchronicity Architect”, which is a whole other realm of discussion that we get to in our conversation, and is the founder and CEO of META, an immersive experience studio that specializes in “The Art of Being There.”

His company was founded originally as “the Meta Agency” in 2009 under Bolognino’s philosophy that the artists creating cutting-edge digital event designs and high-tech performance elements should be recognized, much like the celebrities and brands they create for.

Bolognino is extremely forward-thinking when it comes to technology’s role in immersive experiences.

Over the last 15 years, Bolognino has helped make Brooklyn Bowl a celebrated institution, redefined the SXSW experience through #FEED, produced multiple documentaries, led marketing campaigns, and created interactive art and live music for the sake of creation through his first company, Learned Evolution.

He is a jazz musician and our conversation was woven with music theory, neuro and social science, digital media making, consciousness, branding, the influence of social networks on culture and more.

There’s a lot to Justin Bolognino, much more than I could ever hope to unpack in one podcast.

Furthermore, I got the deep impression that the simple auditory format of the show would not do justice to Justin.

I nevertheless take that limitation as a given and encourage all to visit his website and dive into his multilayered creative framework for creating live, multi-sensory experiences that use technology, design and storytelling to ignite the human spirit.

ABOUT DAVID KEPRON:

LinkedIn Profile: linkedin.com/in/david-kepron-9a1582b

Websites: 

https://www.davidkepron.com    (personal website)

vmsd.com/taxonomy/term/8645  (Blog)

Email: david.kepron@NXTLVLexperiencedesign.com

Twitter: DavidKepron

Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidkepron/

NXTLVL Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nxtlvl_experience_design/

Bio:

David Kepron is a multifaceted creative professional with a deep curiosity to understand ‘why’, ‘what’s now’ and ‘what’s next’. He brings together his background as an architect, artist, educator, author, podcast host and builder to the making of meaningful and empathically-focused, community-centric customer connections at brand experience places around the globe.

David is a former VP – Global Design Strategies at Marriott International. While at Marriott, his focus was on the creation of compelling customer experiences within Marriott’s “Premium Distinctive” segment which included: Westin, Renaissance, Le Meridien, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels and Gaylord hotels.

In 2020 Kepron founded NXTLVL Experience Design, a strategy and design consultancy, where he combines his multidisciplinary approach to the creation of relevant brand engagements with his passion for social and cultural anthropology, neuroscience and emerging digital technologies.

As a frequently requested international speaker at corporate events and international conferences focusing on CX, digital transformation, retail, hospitality, emerging technology, David shares his expertise on subjects ranging from consumer behaviors and trends, brain science and buying behavior, store design and visual merchandising, hotel design and strategy as well as creativity and innovation. In his talks, David shares visionary ideas on how brand strategy, brain science and emerging technologies are changing guest expectations about relationships they want to have with brands and how companies can remain relevant in a digitally enabled marketplace.

David currently shares his experience and insight on various industry boards including: VMSD magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, the Interactive Customer Experience Association, Sign Research Foundation’s Program Committee as well as the Center For Retail Transformation at George Mason University.

He has held teaching positions at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), the Department of Architecture & Interior Design of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (L.I.M.) in New York, the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Montreal and he served as the Director of the Visual Merchandising Department at LaSalle International Fashion School (L.I.F.S.) in Singapore.

In 2014 Kepron published his first book titled: “Retail (r)Evolution: Why Creating Right-Brain Stores Will Shape the Future of Shopping in a Digitally Driven World” and he is currently working on his second book to be published soon. David also writes a popular blog called “Brain Food” which is published monthly on vmsd.com.

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The next level experience design podcast is presented by VMSD magazine and SmartWork Media. It is hosted and executive produced by David Kepron. Our original music and audio production by Kano Sound. 

The content of this podcast is copyright to David Kepron and NXTLVL Experience Design. Any publication or rebroadcast of the content is prohibited without the expressed written consent of David Kepron and NXTLVL Experience Design.

Make sure to tune in for more NXTLVL “Dialogues on DATA: Design Architecture Technology and the Arts” wherever you find your favorite podcasts and make sure to visit vmsd.com and look for the tab for the NXTLVL Experience Design podcast there too. 

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