Introducing The Balter Foundation x GB Project Collaboration
Balter was originally born as a project in Beth Altringer Eagle’s lab at Harvard University in the Summer of 2020, before becoming a foundation in 2021.
Balter means ‘to dance without particular skill or grace, but with extreme joy’.
The Balter Foundation is a non-profit creative social club and an experiment in creating a world-class decentralized arts foundation.
The Foundation’s mission is to use art and community to improve everyday mental wellness.
Altringer Eagle chose the name Balter because she knows from experience that working through pain together is a clumsy-but-joyful process.
Balter and The GBs make a perfect partnership. They both value art that is psychologically and philosophically meaningful. Below are the core values of The GlitchyBitches Project.
The Balter x GlitchyBitches Collaboration: Selecting a group of creatives for a Balter Arts Fellowship to help shape the next chapter of art and virtual culture
In 2022, Balter will honor a carefully selected group of global artists whose work helps people ‘see and think differently’. These artists can be from any domain and any part of the world. They need not be involved in NFTs. Many artists will be honored and a few will be invited to create new collaborative works that speak to psychological and mental health themes.
Every GlitchyBitches NFT doubles as a nomination token for the 2022 Balter Fellowship. Holders have an opportunity to nominate artists until March 31, 2022. The GB community will vet submissions and recommend finalists through a process that happens in the GB Discord.
Balter Foundation: Great Art = Catharsis + Empathy. But What about NFTs?
The Balter Foundation began in an unlikely place for anything related to NFTs. It started as a project at Harvard University in 2020.
Artists make things that help us contemplate meaning in the world. Altringer Eagle thinks NFTs might offer a more direct route for communities to experience art’s dual blessings of catharsis and empathy than has been possible in a long time. No one expects educational-psychological depth from NFTs. But this technology enables new possibilities; and she started experimenting with them through the Balter project.
There is a long history of people using art as a tool for dealing with the things that keep them up at night, both alone and together. However, many of us are out of practice using the visual arts as a tool for emotion regulation.
The rise of NFTs, and specifically their art + community functionality, offers new possibilities. As we figure out what digital-native life looks like in the eventual metaverse, and consider how we might build more thoughtfully for our mental health this time, it helps to revisit great thinkers.
Plato thought of art as beauty, a divine path that helped us navigate our contradictory desires. Enlightenment thinkers saw it as helping us escape meaningless routines to rise to a higher purpose. Anaïs Nin saw it as a way to release excess emotion. In all these views, art plays a role of catharsis. However, the greatest potential of art might be its ability to combine catharsis with empathy. Tolstoy saw art as a gateway to empathy with others and different sides of ourselves.
The GBs (GlitchyBitches) Project: Digital-first Mental Health in the Metaverse
An experiment in building deeper digital-first human connection
Art and philosophy can have therapeutic benefits, especially when explored in a trusted community. The Metaverse will likely, as social media apps have done, flatten us into idealized projections of ourselves. What becomes of all those parts — physical and psychological — we edited out? Is the answer to edit them out, or to learn to love them in ourselves and one another?
The Balter Foundation and The Glitchy Bitches are creating a positive and welcoming art-filled community where people are encouraged to express their full complexity during the inevitable highs and lows of life, and to support that kind of digital interaction for others.
“Suffering, as horrible as it feels, is human. I would not wish it on anyone, but I also would not wish it away. What I want us to think about is how pain has powerful fuel in it, and how cultures of silence prevent people from many of the benefits of this fuel. Suffering has depth that can give us a world of compassion, the ability to see the humanity in polarized others, and the courage to heal the past and imagine a new story. Getting to the other side of it can give life more meaning.” — Beth Altringer Eagle
There are no answers; the plan is to learn together from artists and philosophers from the past and present, and to play an active role in selecting artists and thinkers who can help guide the future. The GB x Balter collaboration is our opportunity to discover new people and ideas to inspire what happens next.
Therapeutic communities may work better than therapy for everyday mental wellness.
Basic therapy is expensive and often isolating. Yet, the core ideas of therapy 101 are well-known and repetitive. Nonetheless, people are still stressed out because mental wellness is less about ideas and more about practice. It is also often about feeling seen, heard, and loved by others. Therapeutic communities may work better for everyday mental wellness, and digital life presents a new opportunity to build them.
The GBs are filled with symbols designed to be revealed one at a time so that people have time to think about and digest them. These symbols reference key ideas in philosophy, psychology, and culture.
For people who want to engage with all of it, The GB Project offers an educational mental wellness journey through art and culture, within the comfort of a like-minded community.
The GBs are just one experiment along these lines. There is room for many more.