Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: 2011

25 December 2011

Halcyon Days: A Winter Solstice Mix [FREE DL] & Dolphin Fedora

“The higher he ascends the less he understands, because the cloud is dark which lit up the night; whoever knows this remains always in unknowing transcending all knowledge.”

Welcome to the dark middle of the year, everyone – the trough into which our Sun dips before rising to summer zenith, a moment of brooding introspection ironically thrust into holiday parties and social responsibility.  Enjoy the tension and take a few deep breaths for yourselves...these are precious, beautiful days, days we will remember taking for granted.

For the last three years I've released free instrumental albums in celebration of the winter solstice.  Here is the latest – my last live album while I get ready to mount a studio release.

It's a "best of" collection from improvised cyberguitar instrumentals performed in listening symbiosis with venues across Colorado and Texas:  magnificent, cathedral-esque dripping underground caves and fire-crackling, snowboots-and-horse-art mountain lodges...backyard BYOBs and rain-drenched last-day-of-festival refugee parties...

This is the grooviest, spaciest, most compelling instrumental release I've assembled so far, animated by the self-sacrificing love of Halcyon and the characteristic veil-piercing dive of the bird that took her name.  Download it for free as a soundtrack to your new commitments for the new year, given strength by the recent New Moon in Capricorn:


"The kingfisher is a long-time symbol of peace and prosperity. It is often seen flying along ponds, streams, and rivers [and] will dive headlong into the water for small fish. If a kingfisher has come to you, prepare yourself to dive into something new. Have you been afraid to take the plunge? Are you needing new warmth? Don't worry. If a kingfisher is around, you won't drown. In fact, you will find that, as a result, you will have new sunshine and prosperity unfolding within your life." 
– Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

When I went looking for halcyon pictures to include in album cover art, I found Wildlife Kate's gorgeous kingfisher photography and decided to make two covers instead of one.  So every download includes both:


Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Solstice...however you honor the sacredness of this time of year, may these days be clear sailing for you.  Thanks for listening!

Custom Star Dolphin Fedora

A custom hat for my friend, astrologer Adam Sommer (subscribe to his work here):

(click to enlarge – like & comment on facebook)

"What does it mean to communicate with an 'alien' when we barely have the first idea of how to understand the intricacies of rain forest plant communications, nuclei-trading mycelial networks, and ultraviolet light-detecting superorganisms of bees, let alone the conscious or unconscious minds of a humpback, great blue or white whale – whose mathematical, philosophical, aesthetic and perceptual abilities may – for all we know – far outstrip those of our greatest geniuses?"

29 November 2011

The Sacred Geography of 21st Century Renaissance Civilization

(If you got this by email, read it as a web page for full rich media splendor...)

Reading Music:
"Meridians" – improvised at Art Outside Festival 2011
(download this track for free)

“As viewed by astronauts from the moon, the earth lacks those lines of sociopolitical division that are so prominent on maps. And as recognized here below, the web of interlacing socioeconomic interdependencies that now enfold the planet is of one life. All that is required is a general change of vision to accord with those contemporary facts.”
– Joseph Campbell, comparative mythologist

“It’s not science to me unless it’s integrated, in such a way that it makes a story. I have this holistic view. If symbiosis is simply the living together of organisms in the same place and the same time, in physical contact with each other…then Gaia, which is the whole Earth living system, is symbiosis as seen from space. You can’t talk about cost-benefit and cooperation/competition because those words are proper for the banks and the basketball courts, but they’re not proper for a scientific explanation.“
– Lynn Margulis, evolutionary biologist

This month marks the maiden voyage of a most exciting collaboration as lead blogger for The Renaissance Project – an international team of writers and film-makers chronicling the emergence of a new planetary culture, performing a new evolutionary mythos through the personal stories of genre-breaking creative innovators.

As part of our launch, I just published what I think might be my finest piece of writing so far – a jazzy, poetic romp inspired in equal parts by Google Earth, media theory, archeoastronomy, and ayahuasca.

If my calling is indeed to inspire by sharing what inspires me, then it's time for me to take up the sacred sword and devote myself to the illuminated word – to give a voice to this swirling nexus of culture and consciousness, art and science, religion and everyday life in which all of us find ourselves as we cross the threshold into a new way of being.  Out of the clamor of interconnected perspectives, we can hear a new tune playing – the angelic choir of seven billion people unified in a blooming ecology of mind, our flesh quickened in exaltation of the transcendental living mystery in which all of us are woven – the song of the human condition as it awakens ever more deeply to itself through a re-animated sacred and sentient cosmos.

So please, enjoy this declarative first step down the pilgrimage road of my newly-inhabited role as the muezzin for this post-historical call to prayer – I welcome your comments, your sharing, and your reflections as I gear up to expand this work into a regular flow of philosophical performances and, perhaps, finally, a book:


"This all starts right here by recognizing that you live on a spherical creature spiraling around the Sun’s own helical trajectory through the dynamic interstellar medium, through cosmic dust and lightning storms, and whichever way you point we can go no deeper into 'space' than we already are. And as the feeling of humanity as a layer stretching out in every direction on the surface of this sphere increases, as you can almost sense those people in their houses, watching tv or making love or crying about work, the children wondering what adulthood is like, the adults wondering about God…this is you, this is your body, and everyone’s successes are your successes. Every new idea is as yours as your heartbeat – out of your control but part of what defines your being in this time and place." (read more)

This is an open-ended project and we welcome collaborators.  If you feel inspired to contribute to this with your own celebration of world creative culture in an accelerating age, you can fill out an application on the website...here's the video I made as part of that process, to state my interest and intentions.  It's the closest thing I have right now to a mission statement:


Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.  :)


While we're on the topic of awesome creative projects in which I am honored to participate, here's the coolest wall calendar you've ever seen (Long Now Foundation clocks that measure time in the passing of seasonal flowers don't count).  "FutureEarth" is both a solar and lunar 13-month calendar that gives not only the standard weeks and months but also the Dreamspell dates some people use to feel a closer connection to the harmonic currents of time reimagined as art...and with contributions from an all-star line-up of visionary artists (including Martina HoffmannAndroid Jones, Amanda Sage, Adam Scott Miller, Autumn Skye, Jessica Perlstein, and almost the entire Colorado live painting crew), it's easy to see time as art.

AND the $20 you spend on this calendar funds a FREE Youth Art Workshop Series for 2012!  So you're empowering the next generation of creative brilliance by picking up some of these for your family and friends.

Here's my page – big thanks to Justin Maynes for organizing this, and for making me May:


So Many Hats

I've been on a roll with the hand-painted hats, of late, and here's your proof.  Most of these are still available for purchase, if you see something you like:








Stay Healthy For The Holidays!

It's out of form for me to publish a bunch of health links in this blog, but I am after all addicted to sharing, and just found some helpful short articles about psychosocial health and nutrition I think it would be a crime not to spread around.  Here you go – a few easy tips for staying sane and in top form during one of the most stressful times of year:


From the above article:
"Avoid openly trying to reform people. Every man knows he is imperfect, but he doesn't want someone else trying to correct his faults. If you want to improve a person, help him to embrace a higher working goal — a standard, an ideal — and he will do his own 'making over' far more effectively than you can do it for him."

Forthcoming:

Austin is treating me better than I could have imagined.  Not only do I get to celebrate my 28th birthday and Saturn Return with a free concert at Austin's utterly delectable Whip In on January 8th, but – dude! – I just landed an opening slot for two of my favorite bands in Texas, at one of my favorite venues in Texas.  Click the flyer for more info...I hope to see you there!


...and, lastly, if you've made it this far then you probably have the attention span and dorkitude required to reap full satisfaction from the two-hour interview I just did with poet, former MIT cultural historian, and planetary culture pioneer William Irwin Thompson.  It was an incredible conversation that took us from the religious underpinnings of the singularity movement, to the emergence of new multimodal electronic art forms, to comparisons between the current economic crisis and the critical emergence of photosynthesis on primordial Earth.  And I've never met anyone with betteradvice for a future-shocked planet on how to surf accelerating change.  I can't wait to share it with you.

In the meantime, much love and many thanks to each and every one of you for giving me your time and support!  Lord knows I don't get to book shows at amazing conscious festivals, publish on thoughtful and inspiring websites, and create art that adds lustre to a viewer's soul without this amazing network of friends and co-conspirators turning me onto amazing opportunities and making resonant introductions.  Anything I can do to repay you for your help, please let me know.

17 November 2011

New Paintings from Art Outside, Sonic Blossom, & The Parish | Denver Live Art on the Cover of Kush Magazine!

“Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs.”
- Frederick Buechner

"Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree."
- Henry Miller

I want to start by expressing my enormous gratitude to everyone reading this newsletter.  You've given me a voice – a way to satisfy my urge to share and maybe kindle some creative purpose in others at the same time.  I subscribe to marketing guru Seth Godin's blog, and he had this to say about Thanksgiving:

‎"A great way to give thanks for the privileges we've got is to do important work. Your job, your internet access, your education, your role in a civilized society...all of them are a platform, a chance to do art, a way for you to give back and to honor those that enabled you to get to this point. For every person reading this there are a thousand people (literally a thousand) in underprivileged nations and situations that would love to have your slot. Don't waste it."

Thank you for helping me not waste it.  (I'm always open to suggestions for how to waste this opportunity even less by helping more people.  Let me know if you have some...)

"Introducing Denver: Live Art Capitol of America"
on the cover of Kush Magazine

One thing I love is using my work as a writer to applaud, exalt, and promote my artist friends and the venues that support us – and I'm lucky enough to do this as the new Colorado Arts Correspondent for national cannabis culture journal Kush Magazine.  You can read my first feature with them, an ode to the special magic that makes Colorado's Front Range such a uniquely excellent place for the emerging live art community, right here in their sleek e-reader on pages 74-75.

If you've been looking for a way to explain what live art is all about, here's a good place to start:

Here on the edge of the Midwest, perched on high ground where the crisp air and mountain view gives everything a sense of adventure, a growing cadre of live artists is working to liberate three generations of suburbanites from their alienation.  Live art isn't just a symptom of the internet's new society of transparency, or a gimmick; it's a spiritual guerrilla movement to help everyone recognize their personal calling and collaboratively create a new positive vision for society.  It's leadership by example, telling people, "You can do this too. Don't deny your creative spirit.  Get out there.  Take the initiative and shine." (read more)

I'll continue to report on the Colorado scene in the months to come.  Stay tuned!

Mobius Brain
2011 10 07, 08, 09 Art Outside Festival
(Psymbionic, David Starfire, Bird of Prey, Riders Against The Storm, Sorne, Ricochet, Dolomites, Soundfounder, Butcher Bear, Kinder Lo Phi, Ntropy, Nicoluminous, Happy Happy James)
2011 10 14, 15 Sonic Blossom at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
(Ott, Kraddy, Random Rab, Octopus Nebula, Kaminanda, The Human Experience, Karsh Kale & Jamie Janover)
2011 10 16 Fusion Gallery (Bird of Prey, Kaminanda, The Gaia Experiment)
24"x30" - paint markers on canvas panel (click image to enlarge)

Possibly my most time-intensive painting yet, and certainly my most deconstructed, this one rides the divide between my lives in Colorado and Texas.  (I don't know if you can tell, but all of this music was super inspiring, beautiful sounds for the creative process.)  In response to my friend Jonathan Zap's suggestion that I "rupture the plane" more frequently, it marks a deliberate attempt to break as many of my own rules and inject as many visual paradoxes as I can...a kind of glossy, cortical Devil's Fork.  Painting myself into and then back out of a problem is delicious, and of course I have high esteem for plane-rupturing geniuses like Oliver Vernon, whose work helped to inspire this piece.  Here it is in stages:


Homeward
Commissioned Studio Painting for Thomas & Ruth Carter
16"x24" - paint markers on masonite (click image to enlarge)

As above, so below.  Trying to imagine the world through animal eyes, to feel it as they do.  My first attempt at moonlight on the water.  (Can you find the lady bug?)

Sunny With Pteranodons
2011 11 18 The Parish (Paper Diamond, Run DMT, One4All, White Noise)
18"x24" - paint markers on stretched canvas (click image to enlarge)

Ah, my first gig as an Austinite, painting at the legendary 6th Street venue for none other than Boulder's own Alex Botwin (DJ'ing as his alter ego, Paper Diamond).  This is how I feel in my new home – easy, lucky, and free, like I caught a tall thermal and have a belly full of fresh fish under the warm prehistoric sun.  It was a pleasure to work alongside fellow live art mainstays Tourmaline Todd and Chance Roberts, and much love goes out to the guys at Polaris Presents for welcoming me on such short notice.  My friend Jonathan Garza took great pictures of this show, which you can find on his Austin arts/music/culture blog, Collective Perspectives.

Painted Hats Galore

I've found some awesome allies in Austin with Whomp, a new art and fashion store now selling my hats and paintings as well as a tremendous amount of other cool stuff.  Here are the latest adventures in headwear I've cooked up:

 

...and for those of you who missed them, here are my most recent live albums.  Together, they represent the full spectrum of my work, from passionate jazz-pop through guitar-tapping instrumentals and into improvised psychedelic loopscapes.  Until I get my next studio album together, these are the definitive recordings.  And like all of my music, you can download them free:


I've started booking my spring and summer festival circuit, so if you know of events that'd like conscious, intelligent acoustic-electronic music to put a star in people's eyes, please refer me to the organizers!  Few things in my life are sweeter than creating sacred space with an audience and feeling into it together.  I'm nourished by the opportunity to play for you, and deeply appreciate your support as I start to weave a year of pilgrimage to creative, genuine communities where I can put my work to the greatest good.

That's it for now.  Have a spectacular day and don't hesitate to write!

11 November 2011

New Digital Art & Live Album, "Rites of Passage" – and Custom Furniture

“Die while you’re alive and be absolutely dead. Then you can do whatever you want; it’s all good.” 
Bunan

We live in a culture that has forgotten its rites of passage – criminalized the psychedelic initiations we inherited from our ancestors, denying the scientific validity of adult psychological development and mocking the elderly rather than soliciting their wisdom.  But everywhere I look, I see people reconnecting to lost traditions and honoring life's transitions with newly created rituals.  It seems to be a basic and instinctual human need, to sacralize big changes – both to commemorate them and to give them meaning.

This week I'm writing from my new home in Austin, Texas – on the other end of a big and scary move away from a comfortable and familiar world full of friends and natural beauty, leaping straight into a hunch.  And I'm here to tell you, as the saying goes, that "death is absolutely safe."  Take the leap – because it'll never get any easier, you have people who love and support you, and the sky will hold your feet.  

It is in this spirit that I present Rites of Passage, an hour of live recordings from my performances at Burning Man 2011, as a gift to encourage your own difficult transitions – a friendly poke on the arm to let you know that everyone goes through it, and these changes only free the light we have inside us.  Download it for free now:


"Let your fears be the catalyst for change in your life, the motivator to go after what you want, not the barrier you build around yourself to stay safe."
Morgan Spurlock

"Remember, the water's always going to be cold. You might as well jump now."
Yehuda Berg

Enjoy!  And thank you.  Your sharing, reposting, and reviewing of this music is what allows me to keep it coming, and to find time for even more inclusive and ambitious collaborative multimedia projects.  A couple times a week I get a letter from someone I've never met about how I touched their life in some way.  It's because you help me get out there and into the ears and hearts of people who want depth, soul, and drive in their music...because it's time for songs that marry sincerity and smarts, heads and hearts.

Rites of Passage is a gift, in Burning Man spirit.  Please feel welcome to pass it on (or the live videos, available as a youtube playlist) to anyone you feel would stand to benefit.

But the music is just one part of what goes into an album, and making the cover art is always something I cherish.  This image in particular was such a treat to compose that I decided to make it available as a 1280 x 800 desktop graphic – just right click and "save as" or "set desktop background" for some new wallpaper:


Something to contemplate while looking at this image, and listening to my own modest human attempts at transcendence through music:

"If you draw a circle and you move to a second dimension of a sphere, it's possible to move out of that circle without crossing a boundary. If you have a sphere and you go from the three-dimensional to the four-dimensional you can also do that without crossing a boundary. So at three dimensions you can say I'm Euclideanly located here, but in the multi-dimensionality of my subtle bodies I'm involved with Andromeda. The whole notion of what is location and what is the body gets really dicey. What I break with in American culture is the notion that things are located in elementary particles, or in genes or in brains, and that by manipulating them through elite minds at Harvard or MIT, you can control everything. I'm much more involved in a diversity and an ecology of consciousness where an individual flame can't exist if there's not an atmosphere, that we can't exist if there weren't bacteria in our guts taking care of the poisons. The new theory about bacteria is that they're actually a planetary bioplasm and that we're inside them, they're not inside us – it's like a sheath around the earth. So the whole notion of location is becoming much more complicated – and much more interesting."

In other news, I got some totally cool commissions and spent my last few days in Colorado working up this custom end-table...and painting some new hats (full gallery here):


If these are giving you any ideas and you'd like me to ornament, decorate, illustrate, or embellish anything, drop me a line and we can get down to scheming...

Meanwhile, my rites of passage continue.  Nobody is ever completely "arrived," and now that I'm in Austin, I'm working to establish new collaborations – both visual and musical, intellectual and spiritual.  Here's to losing myself in something bigger...always a wonderful feeling.

For now, nothing really solid to report, but I'm going to hold myself accountable to you with the public promise that there will be full band and studio recordings.  I just have to find the band.

Next newsletter, more paintings.  Promise.

29 October 2011

A Grip of New Hats & Burning Man Music Videos

"Sometimes, as a result of people leaving their original intended career and going into something else where their creativity could make a difference, depressions and all kinds of other unfortunate events can have a paradoxically stimulating effect. We are living in a time of unexpected possibilities...many important creative things can happen when people learn from disasters."
– Historian Edward Tenner

"Not worrying about rent allowed me to spend my time doing what I love. Living a nomadic existence has been hard at times, but it's allowed me to live in beautiful places and keep a balance in my life that I'm happy with."
– Physicist Garret Lisi

Life's most creative moments seem to have something in common:  they all involve taking an old idea and putting it in a new context (eg, genre crossovers, biomimicry, invasive species, and doing something you never expected with your education).  It's a formula heavy on my mind as I say farewell (for now) to the gorgeous Colorado Front Range and get ready to make my way down to Austin, Texas to find a new angle and hopefully a new grasp of my usefulness to this age of transition...

In the meantime, I encourage you to take these riotous autumn energies and use them to fuel some checkpoint life inquiry.  I recognize that my life so far is a comedy of errors and that none of my dearest friends, proudest achievements, and awe-inspiring experiences would have happened if everything had gone as planned...and that I also need to kick myself off the rails every once in a while to keep my life challenging and fresh, infused with new perspectives.  Can't be an example to anyone else without first taking the leap of faith, myself.  Maybe I can use this momentum to encourage the same in you.

If I'm doing this right, all of this is subliminally encoded in these trippy hats and guitar music...

~ Custom Hats ~

There is something so appealing about hand-painting custom hats for people – a combination of the affordability of small-scale original artwork, the notion of wearable paintings, and the opportunity for soul-reading I get to do when coming up with something that'll really suit someone.  If you'd like one, take a gander at the gallery on my facebook art page, where you can find the info on how to order your own unique and memorable lid.

Here are the latest – both custom designs and a few I have available for sale.  Click on the images to view them in full detail:

Custom design for Whomp, Austin TX

Custom design for Ricky Elm

Consigned design for Whomp, Austin TX

Consigned design for Whomp, Austin TX

Custom design for The420Spot, Austin TX

~ New Music Videos ~

One of the most memorable shows of my musical life so far was at this year's Burning Man Festival, where I helped test-run The Music Box, a new portable music stage and studio in a shipping container, designed to be dropped into disaster areas as a way for survivors to enjoy and share their musical culture.  Burning Man is often discussed as a kind of test bed for post-apocalyptic society, and it was a real honor to contribute in my small way to this wonderful project. 

Rites of Passage: Live at Burning Man – recorded at The Music Box, as well as Saraswati Tea House and the legendary Center Camp Café, will be available for free on 11/11/11 at michaelgarfield.net.  In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy these videos from an exceptionally raw, vulnerable, and energetic performance:


"Underground River" (passionate loop-based electro-ballad)


"You Don't Have To Move" (extended guitar technique showcase anthem)


"Die Before Dying" (improvised thematic loopscape with nylon brushes)

More art, music, and philosophy from the other side of the Boulder/Austin divide very soon.  In the meantime, please go get connected with my facebook art and music pages, enjoy the numerous free talks and live albums I have up online, introduce me to your friends...and don't despair, because we are all stepping forward into an era of celebratory collaborative culture, and each of us has something special to give.  If there's any way we can help each other, please let me know.

17 October 2011

Introducing Denver: Live Art Capitol of America

Originally published in Kush Magazine.

 Live painters from across the U.S. working on a collaborative mural at Sonic Bloom Festival 2010.

“The Mile High City,” Denver has developed something of a reputation as a mythic city on the hill, a holy mountain where musicians flock to the sweet nectar of the scene and the “green rush” of medical marijuana has opened the possibility for a new culture of arts patronage.  But the rarefied air of America’s new cannabis capitol is also atmosphere to the historical epicenter of another progressive movement:  live painting.

Painting as a performance, usually as accompaniment to live bands or electronic musicians, has exploded in recent years as a symptom of the evolution from the concert as a spectator sport to entertainment events as participatory multimedia environments. Part of a re-tribalization of culture enabled by border-breaking electronic communication, this new breed of concert encourages dancers, video artists, and installation designers to collaborate on fully immersive spaces that transport attendees from the mundane world outside to mini-festivals where the overwhelming display of creativity triggers a sympathetic response.  The internet world where an increasing slice of society resides is highly interactive, responsive, and tactile compared to television or print…and consequently, people are starting to demand more from these older media.

Live painting – which destroys the ancient stereotype of artist-as-solitary-magician by planting the studio amidst reveling crowds and integrating real-time feedback from the audience – is an idea whose time has come.  And it finds a natural home in Denver, where the music – be it jam bands, bluegrass, or electronica – has always been about making parties happen.

There are many excellent live painters in the accelerated cultures of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, as well as fringey college towns like Austin and Asheville.  But some of the Denver area’s landmark venues have famously supported a multi-generational live art culture that took the art from the sideshow amusement it was in the days of “Speed Painter Denny Dent” to the international movement coalescing today.

Chaeli Cardenas, Michael Garfield, and Kevin Odenedo painting together at Red Rocks for Sound Tribe Sector Nine, September 2011.

The momentum of this movement was obvious when documentary camera crews descended on the Arvada Art Center last year, after community elder Keith “Scramble” Campbell organized an historic marriage of live painting’s rascally outsider culture with the institution of fine art.  There is no one better than Scramble to do so – the man spent decades introducing people to the art form as the resident artist of the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside of town.  It was at Red Rocks that I was first inspired to paint at concerts, watching Kris D paint with touring instrumental electronic band Sound Tribe Sector Nine.  I am one of many.  And four years later to the day, I found myself painting at Red Rocks, inspiring an even newer generation of live artists.

Live artist J Garcia speaks to the Film Cartel documentary crew at the Arvada Center in 2010.  Their new movie about live painting, ScrambleVision, will debut in the 2012 film festival season.

Scramble and fellow local live painter John Bükaty – with nearly forty years of experience between them – are two of many who have helped popularize live art at venues like Denver’s Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom and Boulder’s Fox Theatre.  Concertgoers now often expect it as part of the production.  Local megabands like the String Cheese Incident have always encouraged it, and SCI family electronic music festival Sonic Bloom has one of the strongest showings of live artists in the nation.  (Full disclosure:  I have been live art director at Sonic Bloom for the last few years, so there’s no small amount of home-team pride behind these words.)

Rae Vena, Michael Garfield, and Warren Binder were just three of over a dozen live artists at Sonic Bloom Festival 2011.

Cervantes in particular has kept an open-door policy for local and national artists who want to contribute their talents to the commons.  Live art events like “Thunk,” organized by Scramble and Bükaty, brought artists from across the U.S. – movement founders like Los Angeles’ Norton Wisdom and New Orleans’ Frenchy – to collaborate on massive indoor and outdoor murals.  Throughout the year, Sonic Bloom holds parties that routinely draw nearly a dozen live painters into the 600-person house.  The walls proudly display art created on site, and the mythical lost Welton Street Mural – one of the largest live art collaborations ever – is hidden beneath beige paint outside, cultural catastrophe at the command of a building owner who didn’t get it.

Left to right, live painters Scramble Campbell, Lauri Keener, Dylan Brooks, and Patrick Beery converge on Quixote’s True Blue in Denver for “Thunk,” a multi-generational celebration of painting to music.

The area has made such a name for itself as a haven for live art that deeper forces must be responsible, “something in the water.” Live painters Amanda Sage and Andrew “Android” Jones grew up in Boulder, mere miles from the home of legendary visionary artists Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffmann…connecting the region’s independent western attitude through the Viennese “Fantastic Realists” to a centuries-old tradition of mastery.

 Martina Hoffmann and her husband, the late Robert Venosa, at work on a collaborative live painting at The Mishawaka Amphitheatre in 2010.

Between the noble European tradition and more contemporary graffiti culture, it exerts an undeniable pull. For an entire subculture of nomadic live artists who follow concerts like the native peoples of this land once followed the buffalo, Denver is an important stopping point on the annual festival circuit.  For other more stationary artists across the country, it has become a kind of live art Mecca.
Nationally-acclaimed live painter Jason Garcia moved here from the Bay Area around the same time as an influx of new blood from Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Virginia.  It is a palpable tide of creativity taking shape.

Internationally-touring visionary artists Alex & Allyson Grey painting at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in April 2011.

Here at the edge of the Midwest, perched on strategically advantageous high ground where the crisp air and mountain view gives everything a sense of adventure, a growing cadre of live artists is working to liberate three generations of suburbanites from their alienation.  Live art isn’t just a symptom of the internet’s new society of transparency, or a gimmick; it’s a spiritual guerrilla movement to help everyone recognize their personal calling and collaboratively create a new positive vision for society.  It’s leadership by example, telling people, “You can do this too.  Don’t deny your creative spirit.  Get out there.  Take the initiative and shine.”


ChelseaLyn Graber painting live at Sonic Bloom 2011.

14 October 2011

Two Paintings-In-Progress, Going Away Concerts, & More Cyborg Philosophy

"As if snapping out of a trance, I found myself not out of my mind, in the sense that I was crazy, but rather, inside of my mind, which was now discovered to be everywhere, in that I was beginning to realize that I was dreaming."

"Everything is funny as long as it is happening to Somebody Else."

As summer turns to autumn and my impending move from Boulder to Austin looms ever-nearer, change is in the air.  Appropriate to the season, it's a time of closing accounts and kisses goodbye.  But I won't wear black to my own funeral – so the next couple of weeks are going to be full of parties!

Beyond hosting a flexible-price sale on all of my original paintings to raise money for the move, here is how I'm celebrating the end of four years in Colorado and the leap into a new adventure:

8 pm - 2 am: live painting & body art by donation at SONIC BLOSSOM
with Ott, Random Rab, Kraddy, Janover & Karsh Kale, Octopus Nebula, Project Aspect,
Phadroid, Govinda, The Human Experience, Bird of Prey, and more
- last scheduled live art gig in CO -

8 - 11 pm: three full songbird & cyberacoustic guitar sets (FREE)

9 - 10 pm: cyberacoustic songbird set w/ Three-Legged Fox ($7)

6:30 - 9 pm: balladry & cyberacoustic guitar sets (FREE)
- last scheduled concert in CO -

...and now on to the juice.  We got new artwork, new writing, and new music in this one.  But first, here are pictures from last weekend's live painting fiesta at Art Outside – an absolute gem of a festival, positively overflowing with amazing undiscovered artists and musicians.  Click through to the gallery, and feel free to comment!

Photos: Art Outside 2011

As part of my emphasis on process, I've always tried to find ways to make this blog more immediate and immersive – to bring the people who can't be at every show into the experience of live art and music.  (Hence the photo album above.)

But I'm spending more time on each piece these days, which means a longer lag between when you saw me at the show working on the painting and when it finally spreads its feathers and does a mating dance for your brain.  So here are snapshots of two paintings-in-progress that I started over the last month, caught in their awkward pimply adolescence.  Click to view full-size:

Many Worlds (tentative)
2011 09 01, 02 Burning Man Festival - Fractal Nation Village
(Left Coast, Heyoka, Mimosa, Dov, FreQ Nasty, Ill Gates, An-Ten-Nae)
& 2011 09 10 Red Rocks Amphitheatre (STS9, Savoy)
paint markers on stretched canvas - 24"x36"

A minor homage to the worlds-within-worlds paintings of my friend Melissa Leigh...minus the worlds, of course!  So that's where this piece is headed:  a unique terrarium ecology for each of those floating orbs.  If something goes horribly wrong, I might just paint a big Brontosaurus on top.


Mobius Brain (tentative)
2011 10 07, 08, 09 Art Outside Festival
(Psymbionic, David Starfire, Bird of Prey, Riders Against The Storm, Sorne, Ricochet, Dolomites, Soundfounder, Butcher Bear, Kinder Lo Phi, Ntropy, Nicoluminous, Happy Happy James)
paint markers on canvas panel - 24"x30"

As many paradoxes as I can fit into a single painting...it's like the Impossible Fork times a million.  Painted myself into a corner with this one, and eager to see how I paint myself out of it.


Recent Philosophy Riffs

For those of you who enjoy heady ideas (and that's hopefully all of you), here are two recent articles I wrote for transhumanism website Acceler8or about 1) our evolving relationship with emotional machines, and 2) the implications of CERN's recent superluminal neutrino research...some of the more interesting topics, I think, here at the edge of the future:

"Coevolution & The Technology of Desire"
A few years ago, the first emotional robot pet hit the market. Designed by the co-inventor of Furby, Pleo the Dinosaur is an adorable little beast, big eyes and feet, curious and playful and a little awkward...just like a baby dinosaur, except it comes in a box and is full of electronic innards.  Pleo — as well as earlier incarnations like Furby, Teddy Ruxpin, and even the Pet Rock — speak to a deep-seated human desire to relate with the world around us. It only makes sense that as the machine world becomes more and more a part of daily life, our technology’s rocket trajectory out of the spirited and sentient world of our ancestors would plunge right back into an age of cute computers. (read more)

"And Now, Faster-Than-Light Culture"
Last week’s discovery at CERN of neutrinos traveling faster than light has physics forums buzzing about the possibility that this is “solid” evidence of long-hypothesized additional dimensions. This is big news. For the first time in the modern world, the existence of invisible spatial dimensions is in the public discourse. Science is the closest thing much of the literate planet has to religion these days, and this is far closer to the otherworldly transcendent mythos of early cities than the heady, highly existential relativity physics delivered to us from on high by Einstein. (read more)

New Cyber-Acoustic Guitar Videos From Burning Man

I was honored to play the Center Camp 2011 Aerial Dance Showcase at this year's Burning Man.  Unfortunately, dust got into my digital audio recorder and the only surviving record of that performance is here, captured in these two short videos...a glimpse of dust and light, love and survival:





Much more music video on its way as I gear up for the 11/11/11 release of Rites of Passage: Live At Burning Man – in the meantime, all of my music is (as always) free or pay-what-you-like at MichaelGarfield.net.  If you haven't already, take my latest live album, Alive in the Zone of the Rose, for a spin...it's a transporting hour of my signature blend between acoustic songwriter fare and electronic guitar looping psychedelia, the musical version of my visual art.

HUGE thanks to everyone for supporting my tireless efforts by buying music, introducing your friends to my work, offering your thoughtful feedback, and inspiring people with your own creative lives.  Don't hesitate to write if you have something to say, and have a beautiful day!

06 October 2011

My Burning Man Talk, "Evolutionary Transitions In Individuality"

"The challenge of the transhuman is to actualize our unique individuality within the much larger planetary collective...most recent usages of 'transhuman,' it seems to me, have forgotten most of this, and mistaken the 'transhuman' for the 'ultrahuman' – a kind of upgrade to the same basic model, still denying our connection to each other and the environment.   In my view much of what we call 'transhuman' these days – the technological enhancement of our already existing nature to cling to life and deny the role of death, for example – is, as Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, 'human, all too human.' It is an individual ego’s vision of evolution."

A temporary break from visual art while I run off to Austin's Art Outside Festival this weekend and paint up a storm...in the meantime, enjoy some food for your brain and heart with my definitive rant on the evolution of our species beyond our current notions of selfhood and into a new planetary unity:


From the download page:

As electronic media and ecological catastrophe converge to unify individuals in a new planetary culture and identity, we can look back to the emergence of multicellularity, the advent of social behavior, and the appearance of syntactic language (all of which have occurred numerous times in separate groups of organisms) for insight on how humankind will make it through our own apocalyptic era.

This talk, given at Burning Man 2011's Red Lightning Camp, explores how converging crises catalyze organizational transformations biologists have come to call "evolutionary transitions in individuality" – and how this all applies to humankind's current global rite of passage.  Don't worry, we've been through this before...

(In the spirit of the gift economy, all of my recordings are available for free. If you are inspired by this talk, please carry on the spirit of giving by making a donation, or paying it forward with random kindness.)

For the more visually-oriented, you can watch the first ten minutes of this talk on Youtube:



A Philosophical Disagreement

If you resonate with and would like to join the discussion about the future of the human species, let me suggest jumping in on the comments thread for Jason Silva's recent blog at Huffington Post, "The Beginning of Infinity."

I don't ordinarily invite people to participate in philosophical disputes, but this is a special case: on the one hand, I'm honored to have been quoted by Silva alongside Timothy Leary, Buckminster Fuller, and Paul Stamets; on the other hand, I am horrified that my words were used to support his manic, uncritical techno-utopianism.  Silva completely ignores the reality that new technological power requires an equal evolution in human consciousness, if we are to survive these changes.  It's the exact naïve, power-enchanted hysteria that Disney criticized in The Sorceror's Apprentice seventy years ago.

Of course, I might be over-reacting, or just plain wrong.  Let me know what you think...

For those of you who feel like participating in the debate (or at least watching from the sidelines), I left my response in the comments to the article, permalinked here.

New Cyber-Guitar Video

And in music news, you can now watch me improvise "Mamma Gaia," closing track from my album A Million Anniversaries: CyberAcoustic Guitar For Lovemaking – which, by the way, recently topped 2,000 "likes" and is still completely free to download...



You can watch all six videos from the album in my new Youtube playlist for A Million Anniversaries while I'm getting the next series of live music videos from Burning Man ready to go.  Starting next week, I'll post a new video every week until the free release of Rites of Passage: Live at Burning Man on 11/11/11.  Lots of great footage I'm excited to share!

As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me for any reason.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.