Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: June 2011

22 June 2011

- "A Million Anniversaries," My Sleek New CyberAcoustic Guitar LP -

"Fortunately, most people still believe in love, and love, after all, is God's secret name.
The inevitable consequence of love is the building of temples."

“When we win it’s with small things, and the triumph itself makes us small. If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too, and not need names.”

This spring, I was blessed enough to perform my evolving "cyberacoustic" guitar music for audiences across Colorado, Texas, Oregon, Arkansas, and New Mexico. These improvised instrumental pieces soaked up the energies of each location – places with history and holiness that I can't even describe, except through music. From the sacred deserts of the Southwest to the rain forests of the Northwest...playing along with aerial fabric dancers in Denver and to dinosaur skeletons in Dallas...I gathered the most evocative and inspiring numbers into a new double-disc LP that takes my experiments in acoustic-electronic integration to a whole new level.

An all-terrain album if there ever were one, A Million Anniversaries: CyberAcoustic Guitar for Lovemaking journeys through anthemic electro-grooves into hypnotic tribal ambience, cinematic instrumental rock and tender romantic interludes. It's a testament to the orchestra hidden in an acoustic guitar, pushing the envelope of this traditional instrument into an age of digital angels and mycelial technology – and after months of preparation it's finally available:


The entire ninety-four minute, two-disc album (along with liner notes and exclusive high-resolution fractal zoom poster art) is yours for supporting my tireless tour schedule with your donations.

I'm also offering six of my favorite tracks together as a free EP for people who dig this music but can't purchase the whole album...just head over to the download page and turn yourself on to the freshest, deepest, grooviest, most intelligent music I have to offer!

Please blog about this, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and turn on your friends in the live music scene. Word of mouth is really important and anything you do to spread the word about this work makes an incalculable difference. Playing for you is my passion and I deeply appreciate your support!

Beyond the music itself, this album is a milestone in another important way: it marks my first physical release and a new style of hybrid freehand/digital illustration. The music is free when you buy a package of the ayahuasca-inspired fractal zoom stickers I designed while on retreat at Shimbre Shamanic Center with Papadosio & Kurt Redeker back in March:

Two each of all three fractal zoom designs
3.5" across, printed on die-cut glossy sticker paper
$15 for the set - free shipping & digital download of A Million Anniversaries with purchase

The first video showing how I layer all of these tracks live is now online – a romantic clip from The Manifestation Celebration with Alex & Allyson Grey, The Nadis Warriors, Govinda, Phutureprimitive, D.V.S*, and many other amazing talents at the Dallas Natural History Museum (!):


Watch it in full HD!

"Extinct" is one of the six free tracks from A Million Anniversaries. Go grab it and join the celebration – the new era of cybernetic instrumental folk music is here!

For anyone curious to learn more about the story behind this new work, Matthew Warnock of Guitar International Magazine recently interviewed me about making a career out of improvisation:

GI: Improvising that much on an album seems to offer up a lot of freedom...but there is also a lot of other pressure due to the fact that no one, including you, knows what’s coming next. Do you think that this is why more artists don’t attempt this sort of thing, that they’ve weighed the options and the risks outweigh the rewards?

MG: I think it’s a more common thing these days. I’m basically following the lead of live electronic acts like EOTO, who are very vocal in their publicity about how they improvise everything. On the other hand, you find out very quickly the result is that you end up flying in small tight circles, improvising similar patterns over and over, precisely because you don’t want to explode in flaming wreckage by taking it too far out of your zone. At some point I started wondering just how adventurous it really is, if you’re not writing anything but you’re not really putting yourself out on a limb, either.

(Read the whole interview here.)

...And while we're on the topic of interviews, I just published a fabulously far-ranging interview with Shannon Clay of Evergreen State College on SolPurpose.com. It's my most articulate attempt yet to explain how I see art & science as two wings on the same bird, and to offer a unifying paradigm in which everything can be seen as both art & science:

SC: What are the benefits of reconnecting the two and how can we combine them? Talk about how we can do this in the scientific world…a lot of people in academia are very sincere about keeping science and the metaphysical separate.

MG: It’s like having two separate personae and you can’t show your friends one, and you can’t show your parents the other. You know you’re both, but those two lives can’t meet. It’s an awful place to be. Science and art are interwoven so profoundly that to speak of them as NEEDING to be bridged belies a horrible rift in the modern mind. [We are] getting to a place where there isn’t “a dialogue between art and science,” but rather both are recognized as specific strategies that we may choose to adopt in order to frame our experience in a particular fashion appropriate to the place and time.

It’s not about building a bridge between art and science, any more than we can build a bridge between your left and right arm. That’s ridiculous. It’s about recognizing the larger context in which both of these methodologies emerge to answer specific needs in human culture and psychology. It’s about moving into an “integral” perspective, within which all of our various methods of inquiry – art and science being only two of many – precipitate as adaptive responses.

(Read the whole interview here.)

Last but not least, I just edited the HD video I took of our amazing live art team at Wakarusa Festival. I am so incredibly proud of everyone involved and look forward to doing it again in just a few days at Sonic Bloom!

(If you happen to be in Colorado this weekend, you'd be silly to miss this one – in addition to 78 of the world's finest electronic acts on three stages, workshops, aerial and fire dancers, and gorgeous installations, I'm also coordinating an eleven-person live painting team and our new Unified Field Gallery in Grassroots California's 30-foot dome! More info here.)


Watch it in full HD!

Next Week: tasty new custom fedoras, another live music video from A Million Anniversaries, and the recording of my talk at The Manifestation Celebration on "Evolution, Astrology, & The Science of 2012"...

14 June 2011

- Four New Live Paintings From Wakarusa 2011 -

"Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself."
Henry Miller

"It is the function of art to carry us beyond speech to experience."
Joseph Campbell

(I apologize in advance for the seasonal shift from a biweekly to a weekly newsletter in order to keep up with the flow of new work – I know we're all feeling the acceleration by now (whether you consider it technological, spiritual, or both) and as the evermore rapid influx of information and energy builds toward a local climax over the Summer Solstice, it's all I can do to get the art, music, and talks I've given over the last couple of weeks online before they start to ferment. For a little while here, we'll be in full-bore festival season mode...hold on tight and open wide!)

This week chronicles my third annual stint as the Wakarusa Festival's resident live artist – and this was the year of fruition. The festival granted me permission to coordinate their first-ever Live Art Team & Gallery, and I was blessed to invite eight of my favorite emerging artists to join me in a forty-foot tent poised directly center of the 50,000 person festival's vending area. With the help of Ehren and Renee Cruz of SolPurpose.com and installation artist Nate "Nature" Hogen, we turned it into a glorious, altar-filled chill spot – a sanctuary from the blazing heat, and a non sequitur sacred space in the midst of the event's commercial bustle. It was the fullest realization yet of my efforts to transmute the raw energy of the festival environment into an opportunity for growth, empowerment, and change, as I mentioned in my popular manifesto, "The Problem – & Promise – of Festivals" back in March.

Huge thanks to all of the live artists and friends who contributed to the space, and to Tia Christiansen at Moving Parts Productions and Ami Heinrich at Tsunami Publicity for helping us make this a reality!

Very soon, I'll have much more to share about that – including video of all of us set up en force at the Main Stage painting to acts including STS9, Thievery Corporation, Shpongletron, & Umphrey's McGee – but until that's ready I want to show you my own work from the weekend. For the first time ever, I had every painting sold before they even started:

(Click on any image to enlarge it for a better look!)

Love Bites
2011 05 28 3SidedWhole (Banu Noor, Kobiana and Friends, Faracet and Autumn)
& 2011 06 02 Wakarusa Festival (Papadosio, Umphrey's McGee)
24"x24" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. And no, it's not about my mommy issues...more about the dual nature of creation and destruction with a cheeky nod to the Cheshire Cat and other slippery archetypes. Plus, I like vampire romance – not teeny-bopper fang fiction, but the gothic profundity of what love means when you live forever and recognize that you subsist on violence (and we all do).

I'm surprised that there aren't more stories out there with enlightened ancient vampires...after thousands of years of satiating your every carnal desire, don't you think you'd long for something more and eventually grow into a deeper wisdom than one human life can hold?


Tree of Eyes
2011 06 04 Wakarusa Festival
(Shpongletron, Ott, Hallucinogen, STS9, My Morning Jacket)
24"x24" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

I just finished reading Catherynne M. Valente's immensely lush and sensuous fantasy, The Habitation of the Blessed, about a lost Oriental kingdom ruled by the legendary Christian king Prester John. In this magical land, anything planted in the ground will return as the fruit of a tree that grows in its place – so the dead are never really dead, only transformed. In a passage I found especially moving, one character brings another to the grave of his wife, whose eyes gaze out from the leaves and branches. He laments how the whim of nature gave back only her eyes and how, even though he is blessed to look upon her still, he misses being able to hear her voice. In line with my mention of vampire love above, I'm increasingly possessed by a fascination with how eternal life shifts our values and experience. What it is to be Forever.

This painting alludes to the sentience of the vegetable world, to the voiceless reaching of our own planet's living skin to the touch of other distant worlds...the drama of cosmic communion in the fathomless depth of space. "I know you're out there somewhere..."


Paradigm Shift
2011 06 04 Wakarusa Festival
(Emancipator, Nadis Warriors, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Big Gigantic)
24"x30" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

Regarding the interplay of one reality emerging from another – of recognizable from crystallizing from the hyper-order of chaotic flow – of layers upon layers shining diaphanous emergence. This piece is a more well-considered continuation of the themes I established last year, in which one painting is interrupted and dominated by another (see "Let It Go" from last year's Rootwire Festival, here). The best stories start in medias res – and the changes we're going through now are no exception. I don't know if I buy into the whole "Ascension" mythos, but I definitely agree that radical change and black swan events in general demand that we surf the change with as much grace as we can muster.


Maria
2011 06 05 Wakarusa Festival
(EOTO with Beats Antique, Jamie Janover, & Karsh Kale)
16"x24" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

My first live painting started and finished for a trade – in this case, the beautiful jewelry by Carl Weiseth of Third-Eye Pinecones. Like Carl, I see more than just a reminder of our own human pineal organ in these natural wonders...I see a potent lesson in the wisdom and intelligence of the natural world. A pinecone is an advertisement for sex, a testament to selfless progeneration, and a window into the timeless now. No wonder this painting ended up with the same mandorla that graces portraits of the Virgin Mary. They both speak to our wonder at the same enduring archetype of creation...


More soon! In the meantime, I've posted a few new summer dates on my calendar – including appearances at Electric Forest Festival (Michigan), Rootwire Festival (Ohio), and Burning Man (Nevada) – and am always available to answer your questions. Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!

08 June 2011

...in which I organize a benefit for Sasha Shulgin, paint with Alex Grey, talk to NASA, and rock the Nelson Ledges

"We are all completely dependent on everyone else. The point is to live freely, in the present, freely giving and freely taking, which is the way of nature. The idea is to give up control of credit and debt, and just trust the cycle of nature."

"We have been hypnotized into this scarcity-based thinking. At every corner of our society, there is a conversation revolving around how much there is not enough to go around. If you can, not in a cheesy and unauthentic way, but in a truly heartfelt way embrace the world, and engage the world with that faith, and that conviction of the ultimate abundance of life, you will change the world. You will, and you will not be trying to change it, and you'll be having fun."
- John Marshall Roberts

Hi everyone. ♥ I am still love-drunk from organizing Wakarusa Festival's first-ever Live Art Team & Gallery, but it'll be a little while before I can get all of that online. Besides, there's still a lot to catch up on! Firstly, and most proudly, I coordinated this:



Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin is probably the most important chemist alive. In addition to rediscovering MDMA and popularizing its therapeutic use, he also synthesized hundreds of new psychoactive chemicals and – with his wife and companion Ann – chronicled their effects in the extraordinary detail of two legendary volumes, PIKHAL & TIKHAL.

At the age of 85, Sasha recently suffered a stroke and now requires full-time medical care. This benefit compilation is the response from an international network of musicians whose work and lives have been enriched and inspired by the work of these two pioneers and their courageous exploration of nonordinary consciousness.

The L.A.B., or "Large Animal Bioassay," was the pet name given to visionary chemist Sasha Shulgin's small group of friend-volunteers who spent years exploring the effects of his newly-discovered molecules on their consciousness. This heroic team of psychonauts were the first to experience hundreds of novel states of consciousness, and it is in their honor that we name this compilation of eclectic tracks.

Just as their own journeys took them into realms of both the profound and profane, pleasure and anxiety, these two hours of music – spread over two discs, one danceable and one ambient – are the perfect accompaniment for an adventure to the human mind's furthest horizons...

Support the Shulgins in their hour of need by purchasing this epic 27-track album for at least $5!

"Can't Shut Us Down" by McDonough, Garfield, Uzzardi

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy McDonough, Renee Uzzardi, and I burned across country from Denver to eastern Ohio to play at the legendary Nelson Ledges Quarry Park. We rocked the festival's closing set, facing an enormous lake made from a filled-in forest gravel quarry...beautiful red pebbles everywhere, bats flying around, the woods full of revelers... Visuals provided by my nearly completed painting (see below) and Jeremy's glow-in-the-dark laser-reactive shirt. This improvised number was the festival's final moment.

Simmer on that for a while until I'm done readying the next album of acoustic-electronic guitar loops...

River To The Source
2011 04 29, 30 Cervantes (Nadis Warriors, Octopus Nebula, ESKMO)
2011 05 20, 21 Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
(Elemental Groove Theory, Boogie Matrix Mechanism, UV Hippo, The Werks, Broccoli Samurai)
2011 05 22 The Church (Jazzam)
32"x24" - opaque pens on masonite
signed 11"x17" poster prints - $20 or two for $30 (plus $5 s/h)

(click to view in hi-res)

Well, I'm in it. You are too. I'm not always proposing we view time as linear and goal-oriented, but even in an endless field there are divots - in an endless ocean there are whirlpools - and we are rolling into one. And as we whip around the margin of this strange attractor, the feeling of inevitably increases, but it's important to remember that there's no such thing as capital The capital End...


I started this piece at the Denver Alex & Allyson Grey shows in April, but was so busy body painting that weekend I had to wait around until my trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania to complete it. The final touches were laid on during an overnight in Pittsburg when my bandmate, lunatic keyboardist Jeremy McDonough, lost his keys after a reunion gig with his old band Jazzam back home. (Turns out the keys accidentally made it home with someone else in order that the universe might keep him around an extra night with his friends. Sneaky freakin' universe!)

While at the Nelson Ledges (and big thanks to The Werks for throwing that one and inviting us!), I managed to body paint a few people...it turned out pretty well. Check out pictures in my ongoing gallery:


Also, lastly – until next week, when I'll share all of the awesomeness that came out of our art team's work at Wakarusa – here's a video made by NASA, interviewing me at Yuri's Night 2010 at Moffett Air Force Base during one of the more unlikely concerts I've ever painted. To this day, I'm still the only person ever allowed to paint in an Air Force hanger. I had just driven nineteen straight hours to make it there on time to set up and then painted for twelve straight hours, so please excuse my rambling for being slightly more incoherent than ordinary. This might be the most honest NASA video you ever see:



More soon, with love.