Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: August 2010

26 August 2010

From Independence To Integration, Part Two

"To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday."
- John Burroughs

People I meet often ask me what it is I'm doing out on the road – and since my touring combines art, music, and lecturing along with a profound amount of synchronous conversation and spontaneous diversions that don't make sense until days or weeks later...well, I've had a hard time explaining what exactly I do for a living. But here it is:

I'm developing my intuition to navigate an accelerating and increasingly complex world – and in the process, inspire people to find their purpose in the wondrous cosmic order so that they can bring their love and effort into alignment. I'm learning to be in the right place at the right time, all the time...to be useful to the world as only I can be, continuously.

There's still a gap between the guidance I get and my decision to act upon it – a gap I'm learning to narrow until choice disappears and I am always doing and being what I must. There is a profound satisfaction that comes from this, and it seems like more and more of what I do is about helping people find the insights they need to figure this out for themselves.

Because I am the agent of a future in which everyone is the loving participant in a harmonious greater whole; when everyone is connected to both the dignity and humility of their lives, here; when we all know why we matter and are so blown open to wonder that our greatness can't possibly go to our heads.

Last week, the Perseid meteor shower lit up the skies of North America with streaking fireballs. Here are the latest tracers burning off from my own meteoric descent – into the truth of my human nature, my own reconciliation with body and destiny, as this tour draws to a close and I return home with new eyes and a wider heart...

Lecture Notes (ITC 2010)
2010 07 30 – 08 01 John F. Kennedy University
(Integral Theory Conference 2010)
Prismacolor markers on Bristol paper
11"x17" prints available: $20 + $5 s/h (order)


Allow me to geek out for a moment. I haven't doodled in class ince 2005, but I was psyched to have another opportunity to engage this favorite pastime when invited to the second biennial Integral Theory Conference at John F. Kennedy University. All weekend, there were eight tracks of presentations on everything from the neurophysiological correlates of post-rational consciousness, to the woeful state of evolutionary science in the academic integral theory community, to the multiple ecologies perceived by people at different developmental levels, to the role of metatheory in architecture. I was in dork heaven. And consequently, I got to spend some time with my old techniques, good old markers on paper (although both have gotten an upgrade in recent years), starting small and working out from the middle instead of starting big and filling in detail like I can do with the paint markers. What you see above are both original pages and a single-sheet compilation of the weekend's sketches, photo-stitched for print-making convenience.

Custom Name Badges (ITC 2010)

I also had the opportunity to customize the name tags for several other attendees, which is a wonderful exercise in reading a person and doing my best to give strangers some deeply-relevant, intuitively uncanny bling. In fact, customizing badges at another integral conference in 2007 was my first taste of using intuition to create a work of art and check it against the person's response. Made a few people pretty happy with these, which as you know feels really good.

Thanks to Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Mark Forman for working so hard to organize this conference, and for inviting me to participate in the landmark Integral Art discussion panel...unquestionably the best conversation I've ever had about the future of human creativity.

Bubble Matrix
2010 08 04 Club 6
(Psychedelic Bicycle Ride Visionary Arts Expo)
paint markers on cradled gesso board
original: check price & availability here
11"x17" prints available: $20 + $5 s/h (order)




While in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I was invited to set up an art table across from my boyz and girlz at MAPS for an arts exposition honoring psychedelic art, concert posters, and the like. Stanley Mouse was there (and borrowed a lamp I never got back); DJ Logic was playing in the basement (and was nice enough to stop by my table and chat).

This painting inaugurates my use of fill-them-yourself pens loaded with shimmering blue acrylic to create a semi-transparent layer between patterns. I thought I'd never be able to do this! That this was something restricted to the MFA, we-use-brushes crowd. Apparently not. Admittedly, this one is in the ranks of my rare paintings for which I used a ruler on the first layer (but we're talking about five out of a hundred and ninety, here, so I don't feel too bad about it).

Thanks goes out to Erin Cadigan for organizing the event and having me on board.

Fire From Ice
(before)
(after)
2010 08 06 & 2008 12 14 Rootwire & The Mountain Sun
(Zoogma, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, Magmablood, Garanta)
paint markers on masonite
original: check price & availability here
11"x17" prints available: $20 + $5 s/h (order)

Once upon a time, I traveled with the band Zoogma on their first tour up to Colorado (my first time as a dedicated tour painter). The results included this timelapse video and the original version of this painting...but after a few years of it sitting around, narrowly avoiding one buyer after another, I figured it was time to take it a little deeper. New technique: paint numerous glowing metallic layers and then smudge them until it looks like dirty money. (Zoom in on the "after" shot for more detail...)

This one goes out to the Zoogma boys, who have gotten so much better over the years...

Cosm Eye
(before)

(after)
2010 08 07 Rootwire, 2009 11 07 Trinumeral Festival,
& 2009 09 10 Boulder Farmer's Market
(Pnuma Trio, M80 Dubstation, Conspirator, Papadosio, EP3, The Malah)
paint markers on masonite
original: check price & availability
here
11"x17" prints available: $20 + $5 s/h (order)


This painting has almost gone through more transformation than I have in the past year. Click on it for a closer look at those translucent structures in the foreground...I definitely want to do more "space squid" type stuff, as these luminous biomechanical patterns – the angelic to H.R. Giger's demonic – are so core to my own mystical experiences I don't know what else to say about it.

This piece is dedicated to Erik Davis, who wrote the best article ever on the Lovecraftian tentacled-space-god meme and its relationship to the dignity and disaster of modernity...

Let It Go
2010 08 06, 07, 08 Rootwire
(roeVy, Freepeoples Frequency, Nala,
The Werks, Papadosio acoustic)
paint markers on masonite
original: check price & availability
here
11"x17" prints available: $20 + $5 s/h (order)



Instructions for finding an awesome new style:
1) Paint something you don't like, then spray a fog of paint over it to make it a background layer;
2) Paint something else you don't like over that, and raise your hands in frustration;
3) Black out half the painting with more spray paint;
4) Add a transparent layer of monochrome intricacy over the whole thing, as if a new universe is fading into this one, pushing the grimy graffiti of mere human creativity into the irrelevant past.

This one reminds me of that uniquely psychedelic bother of ideas coming too quickly to hold onto them – just as you try to focus on one pattern, it becomes the background of the next. You might as well just give up and watch the show...

In fact, I think this is what is happening with our accelerating techno-culture right now, the prophecy of various visionaries like Timothy Leary & Terence McKenna (I've written about this at length) and fictionalized beautifully by Charles Stross' sci-fi masterpiece Accelerando.

Because this painting is the closest I've gotten so far to reproducing that feeling of future shock in a visual form, I dedicate it to Mr. Stross. Keep blowing minds, man.

04 August 2010

From Independence To Integration, Part One

"As a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do."
- Ursula LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea

The last few weeks found me out on the road again – first, from a swirl of exit gigs in Boulder up to Edmonton, Alberta for the Motion Notion Festival; then to Portland, Oregon for a lesson in the permaculture and sacred arts of dying developed by medieval monks; then down the California coast for stops to paint alongside Alex & Allyson Grey at Trinity Tribal Stomp before sitting on a panel about the future of art at the Integral Theory Conference. (You can find a photo gallery from the tour so far on my facebook page.)

Hopefully, I'll be able to resolve the challenge of integrating hardcore travel with personal availability, and can turn this fall's forthcoming national tour (!) into an awesome live internet chronicle of discovery and creativity. (I'm definitely interested to hear suggestions for creative ways to engage everyone from the road...) In the meantime, you have my apologies for letting work pile up until we have to choke it all down at once.

There is so much more to come – music, presentations, timelapse videos, and small-format art – but for now, I hope you enjoy this flurry of recent live paintings!

Stay in touch and have a beautiful day...

(Click on any image to enlarge it – especially the process pics.)

Temporary Autonomous Zone Flag #1
2010 07 03, 05, 10 Mishawaka, Red Rocks, Fox Theatre
(Whitewater Ramble, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Hyde Thompson Band, Dechen Hawk, Varlette)
24"x24" - opaque pens on 1/8" masonite
11"x17" poster prints for $25 - order
original painting available - inquire




The "Temporary Autonomous Zone" is Hakim Bey's idea of an anarchic ephemeropolis, based on the understanding that the universe is too creative for any one vision of perfection to stand forever. Even the most noble utopian visions eventually degrade into fascism as time marches on and our current ideals are replaced with newer forms...even the American Dream eventually became the American Nightmare. So the T.A.Z. isn't about revolutions; it's about insurrections. It's about knowing that nothing lasts and that we party here today in service of kosmic creativity, not our fixation to human political agendas.

And by the way, Oh My God, part of this piece was painted during my first creative sojourn to Red Rocks Amphitheater for their free July 5th Colorado Symphony show – all the good old American standards like the 1812 Overture and Yankee Doodle. Painting alongside Scramble Campbell, I now know why he's made that place his home away from home for live art...

In honor of Bey and Thomas Jefferson – America's first paleontologist – I dedicate this painting to the ongoing spirit of independence, exploration, and ethical humanism that drove this nation's founding, even though those ideals have now congealed into something horrifying. Here's to hoping that that T.A.Z. spirit – ecstatic, irreverent, erotic, and deviously, lovingly, tragically hopeful – finds itself again in all of us, like flowers growing from rotten meat. Constructive deconstruction.

Gestalt
2010 07 15 & 16 Motion Notion Festival
(Fergie, Cruz-ae vs Tristan Newton, Sundrop, Schwag Dankus, Lo Progression, k3v, Groovy Cuvy, Kristoff, Organic Manic)
23"x31" - opaque pens on 1/4" masonite
11"x17" poster prints for $25 - order
original painting available - inquire

I'm sure this one had a lot to do with the incessant rain at Motion Notion...beautiful, but it turned the entire festival into a Woodstock-esque mud party and prevented me from wearing my white pants. And I'm sure it had something to do with the repetition of psytrance oontz for days on end. It's not often I limit my color palette so dramatically, but doing so deepened the meditative quality of this one, both during and after. And it's true to the incessant electronic rhythms in which I was bathing as this piece emerged.

This piece is dedicated to James Katalyst, organizer of Motion Notion, who gave me a fabulous reception and who nearly ran himself into the ground to put on a killer weekend of dance music. Thanks for having me up in Canada, James...and that includes "Thanks for letting me play the only acoustic guitar set at your electronic dance music festival, on the same stage as Bluetech, Blue Lunar Monkey, and Crystal Method." Aw, yeah.

Gate Crashers
2010 01 16 & 24 BMoCA & Trinity Tribal Stomp
(Fresh2Death, H1N1, DJ Grabass, Elephant Art Jam)
20"x30" - opaque pens on 1/8" masonite
11"x17" poster prints for $25 - order
original painting available - inquire

Not a new piece, but considerably more deep and defined than when I first posted it. It was definitely missing something after the first night, and after months of looking at it funny I finally gave it the treatment it deserved. Something to the tune of "salts crossing a permeable membrane," or (since, I guess, salts don't have tri-radial symmetry) the collective and narrative version of this painting.

Tunnel To The Moon
2010 07 24 Trinity Tribal Stomp
(Dumpstaphunk, Clan Dyken, Garaj Mahal, David Starfire)
25"x31" - opaque pens on 1/4" masonite
11"x17" poster prints for $25 - order
original painting available - inquire



It was a full moon in Aquarius the night this painting emerged in epic fashion from the piney woods of Northern California's Junction City Park. Garaj Mahal (a seriously amazing group, all musicians of rare talent) missed the dimly-illuminated turn-off to the festival and ended up getting there hours late – but it was ultimately for the best, because they played in the late night dome, at ground level, creating a house concert vibe that I haven't seen since...well, since they got screwed out of a gig in Lawrence, Kansas a few years ago and ended up playing an actual house concert. The rest of the music was fabulous, as well...Fareed Haque of Garaj Mahal played guitar with DJ David Starfire for much of David's set, which was a total treat – to say nothing of Dumpstaphunk's loose and delicious throwdown earlier in the evening.

And did I mention I got to paint alongside Alex & Allyson Grey again? If it's not obvious, creating in their company forces me to seriously step up my game. This painting has a few things going on that I've never even attempted, including an Escher-esque stairwell paradox if you follow the diamonds around in a circle (the rainbow ones are going in and the white ones are going out, which is impossible in three dimensions because of how they overlap). And the Fibonacci Sequence is in there in two different dimensions: both as Golden Spirals in the plane of the board, and also from five to eight staring down the tunnel at the Moon. Lots going on, here.

This painting is dedicated to Johnathan Singer, maestro VJ and the guy who coordinated the visual arts for the Stomp. What a mensch!

Fiddleheads
2010 07 25 Trinity Tribal Stomp
(The Wailin' Jennys, Freedom Tribe Reunion, Heyoka)
24"x24" - opaque pens on 1/8" masonite
11"x17" poster prints for $25 - order
original painting available - inquire


A variation on a familiar theme...be they ferns, tentacles, or whatever, I'm obviously kinda hooked on the grabby swirls. These strike me as somewhat "mecha-caterpillar," like the self-assembling military robots in the climactic scene of Greg Bear's badass sci-fi novel /Slant. Look closely and you'll see the eight-pointed star motif that has become another of my calling cards, ringing out in rows through the resonant space.

This painting is dedicated to Alex & Allyson Grey for all they have done to inspire me and so many other artists...what else can I say?

Seraph Body
2010 07 17, 18, 25, 29, 31 Motion Notion, Trinity Tribal Stomp, ITC 2010
(Blue Lunar Monkey, Anahata, Bluetech, Adham Shaikh with John Wilkinson, Jay Michael, Michelle C, Cary Chang vs David Stone, Crystal Method, and during poster presentations)
17"x23" - opaque pens on 1/4" masonite
11"x17" poster prints for $25 - order
original painting available - inquire



The Caduceus, as a low-resolution map of the human subtle body, doesn't really translate here. Too many wings; not enough coiling. The serpents are joined at the bottom, where all five of the lower chakras are fused into a contracted nub. What's going on, here? Near as I can figure, we're looking at the corresponding map of a seraph or "burning one," historically related to the serpent, six-winged and unexpressed in its lower chakras (no material form) but wide open up above. A being of musical intersections and mathematical balance, reeking of eternity, glowing from within, too aware for human rationality to fathom without terror, rising calmly from the eternal flux of creation and destruction. (Tangentially, I find it extremely interesting that the angels nearest to God take form as burning serpents...)

I finally crossed the event horizon for this one and bought some empty paint markers to fill with my own colors. First stop: interference pigments like the pearlescent red filling the background space in this piece (even though it's hard to make out in pictures).

It'll be a while before I get over the novelty of starting this piece at an outdoor rave in the Canadian wilderness and finishing it in a Hilton hotel in California during the poster presentations at an academic conference. In the meantime, I dedicate it to Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, my once-professor and founding chair of John F. Kennedy University's Integral Theory Program. You changed my world, man.

More art next week. :)