My artistic output is developed using an approach that I have come to call Stewarding experience, where the goal is neither to construct a story, nor interpret experience. Instead the aim is to re-present (bring back into the present) details that create a non-linear (because the present is not linear… it just is) experience for the consumer. Further, rather than favouring re-presenting details that can be easily combined into a coherent, compelling or convincing narrative, stewarding experience favours re-presenting details that, in a sense, are confounding of coherence—highlighting the potential for multiple complex connections between details. 

The stewarding experience approach is built upon concepts and research findings in the field of artificial intelligence, which show that, generally speaking, networks that are pruned to favour complexity(the number of connections that can be drawn between details) perform better on novel, complex tasks than networks that are pruned to favour magnitude(those connections or details that come into play or are consulted most-frequently). 

The idea here is that in the social life of humans, when we tell a story (convey a specific set of details arranged in a certain manner) about experience, and that story receives positive feedback (or correlates with secondary rewards), we are likely to repeatedly engage that story. Eventually, any details or relationships between details that don’t fit into these reinforced narratives are marginalized, and we become more likely to base future action on increasingly high-magnitude details with increasingly low-complexity relationships between them.

Stewarding experience is not about supplanting a “dominant problem story” with a “preferred story” (as in Narrative Therapy—akin to network pruning based on “expert selection”). It is about zeroing out the values of individual details—and instead arriving at value based on the complexity of connections between details (thus helping the network to perform with what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy would call “psychological flexibility”). Ultimately, the point is to create conditions that allow information/details to support adaptive functioning (by evaluating them for contextual relevance/utility), and to undermine conditions that enable information/details to be constructed into intractable truth(by minimizing evaluation based on global precedence/applicability).

Experience may guide us to build a canoe—and we might even find use for it, but, as Heraclitus put it, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river—and he is not the same man.”