Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Inducing Synaesthesia, My First Mural, Burning Man Schedule, & More Hats

25 August 2011

Inducing Synaesthesia, My First Mural, Burning Man Schedule, & More Hats

"Remember to ask the phrase, 'What do you need?' It's a powerful phrase that will allow you to find out what someone else needs and start figuring out who you know that can help this person. And of course, don't be shy in sharing what you need. You never know who that person is connected to, who could help you!"

"Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive…then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
- Howard Thurman

In this recent article, techno-optimist and singularity-surfer Jason Silva succinctly outlines my job description:  "the creating and sharing of awe" via novel and evocative media recombination; "performance philosophy" in an age of collapsing boundaries and exponential creativity.  (You have to be in a state of wonder to share it...but luckily, the world provides more than enough wonder.)

This manifests in my work as electronic music for acoustic guitarscientific illustration of psychedelic realities, and using science to challenge materialism...playing hopscotch across illusory divides in the intertidal zone between technology and spirituality, science and art, self and otherindividual and collective.  It's how evolution works!  And it is the finest way to illuminate otherwise invisible connections, opening the mind to the lush poetry of existence.

Every once in a while I'll attempt this through the time-honored medium of the music video.  The brain automatically attempts to align what it sees with what it hears (Ever watch muted kung fu movies to techno?), and using music to accentuate the emotional undercurrents of the small moments in my life (the reflection of light on water, a flock of birds in flight) allows these moments to unfold and evoke the true mystery and grandeur of everything – what William Blake called "the world in a grain of sand."

So here you are...a tour of some small wonders I've witnessed on my journey, scored to apocalyptic solo guitar from this summer's festival bedlam:


• The Road To Burning Man •

My first trip to Burning Man Festival back in 2008 changed my life.  It inspired me to live outside the rules I had inherited...to find better rules, and to treat the world as a playground, lover, adventure.  I wrote "Giving In To Astonishment," one of my most epic essays, there – and during the weeks after, while I was vagabonding around the luminous grit of San Francisco.

THIS year, I'm hitting the playa hard all week with music, live art, and talks on this year's theme, "Rites of Passage."  I'll be camped with an epic all-star line-up of event producers and visionaries at FractalNation Village (Android Jones' camp!), where I'll be heading up a live art team and managing the stage for some truly epic parties.  I'll be playing interlude music for an amazing speaker series featuring cultural icons and personal heroes John Perry Barlow and Cory Doctorow.  I'll be test piloting a new "cultural first responder" emergency music studio designed to be dropped into disaster areas.  I'll be participating in what is now an annual panel discussion with author Daniel Pinchbeck on the subject of art and artists in rites of passage.  And I'll be improvising a cyberacoustic score for this year's aerial fabric dance showcase at the magnificent Center Camp Café...basically, creative potentiation beyond my own wild fantasies, and I'm incredibly humbled and honored to be a part of it all.

If you won't be at Burning Man this year, don't sweat it.  I'll be recording everything to share with you soon.  If you are going to be there, let's meet up!


Whether you make it out or not, audio excerpts from my "Giving In To Astonishment" have been reworked into a Burning Man-themed musical podcast by DiscoPup that you can listen to right here:


• Ladies & Gentlemen, My First Mural •

Yeah, it finally went there.  I am delighted to share with you "Subterranean Windows," my first commissioned mural project for a friend's basement jam room and recording studio.  This was a rite of passage in its own respect: it was an initiation into working VERY LARGE.  Relating to a work of art is completely different when you can stand in front of it and it fills the entire space before you...I was going to go rainbow all over, but after laying down the first white layer I realized that it looked like light splashing on the walls and chose lacey detail over vivid chromatics.

Here is a micro-tour of the work...you can click on any of these images for a better look:

Subterranean Windows

• Custom Hats All Day Long! •

The custom hat thing is rolling right along, with two new designs that will likely become production hats by festival-scene mainstays Grassroots California (again, click for a better look):

for Ryan Connelly of Grassroots California

for Ryan Connelly of Grassroots California

for Sarah Hollington

for Ryan Sandman

If you want a hat like one of these, you know how to get ahold of me.  :)

The last thing I have to share with you before I bounce for the Black Rock Desert is "Atavism: Old is the New 'New'," my new article for trickster/genius/tastemaker RU Sirius' new technology and philosophy magazine, Acceler8or.  I'm a big fan of The Singularity and Transhumanism in general, but I have to poke fun at "nerd rapturists" who think that technological progress is a one-way street to total transcendence.  If you think time is a cyclical (or helical) affair, then you'll get a kick out of this...because sometimes, going forward means going backward.

Enjoy the read, and thanks again so deeply for your time and support!  I'll see you on the other side...