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

25 September 2011

What do acoustic guitar, hand-painted hats, and the science of fractals have in common?

"There will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

“Music is everybody's possession; it's only the publishers who think that people own it.”
John Lennon

After three years of talking about it, I'm taking a leap of faith to more completely dedicate myself to a life of art, music, and performance philosophy...and finally moving from Boulder to Austin at the end of October.  If music is my religion, then Austin is Mecca, and this pilgrimage is the natural fulfillment of my faith.  Just maybe, it'll also be the next stage of my development as an artist in service to the planetization of human culture.

Between now and my official first gig there on 11/11/11, I'll be down in Austin for Art Outside Festival, and playing a few going-away shows in Denver on the 14th and 25th.  I've met a lot of wonderful people over my four years in Colorado.  Hope I'll see some of you out there!


While I'm getting ready to make the move, it's a good time pick up some of my original artwork at cut rates we can decide together.  I'm holding another art sale to help me fund this transition, and you can read all about it and browse the available paintings on my facebook art page.  Please share with anyone you know who's looking for some art to tie the room together...

In other, more gift-related news, editing the talk and concerts I gave at Burning Man is taking longer than I expected.  But while all of that slow-cooks to tender, delicious completion, I'm excited to share my latest live recordings, digital artwork, philosophy talk, live art video, and custom-painted hat.  Enjoy!


These latest live recordings strike a new balance between my jazz-inflected folk roots and more recent forays into improvised cyber-acoustic psychedelia...alternately tender and apocalyptic, it's a showcase for both sides of me: the performing songwriter and the hyperspace engineer.

Performed live at the extremely ironic Buddha Asian Bistro in Kansas City, Alive in the Zone of the Rose is a record of my attempt to transform the restaurant's hipster-chic spirituality into a genuine experience of the transcendent for a roomful of distracted weekend diners.  Did it work?  I don't know...but I got some good tracks out of it.  And an excuse to conjure up some intense new digital artwork for the album cover!

In the spirit of the gift economy, I make all of my music available for free.  Anything you can offer to support my work is greatly appreciated – even if that means simply sharing it with your friends.  Thanks for listening!


"If you ask three questions – 'Who are we?' 'Where do we come from?' 'Where are we going?' – any answer to those will give you a myth. You can give a Marxist answer, you can give a sociobiological answer, you can give a Christian fundamentalist or Moslem answer. So myth is basically macro thinking. Technical thinking is micro. It's saying, 'I'm a neuroscientist, I'm a geneticist and I'm not interested in answering the big questions.' If you step back and ask the big questions then you're beginning to think mythopoeically. Science is inherently mythic."

In this talk I gave at Tribal Convergence 2011, I examine the changing paradigm in modern science – articulating an emerging worldview that sees a fractal self-similarity between cells, organisms, and planets, and a correlation between the complexity of mind and matter – a worldview that highlights our participation in a cosmic superconsciousness which might eventually become a part of the everyday experience for humankind.

Inspired by poet and cultural historian William Irwin Thompson's "intellectual free jazz," this talk roams through chaos theory, developmental psychology, philosophy of science, and personal narrative to suggest a vaster world than any one domain provides...

"The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it."

"As a poet, of course, I have a highly developed imagination, so I ask no one to believe in anything I write here."


My apologies for taking so freakishly long to publish this in our instantaneous culture, but here it is!  Working as live art director for Sonic Bloom Festival again this summer was so fulfilling – three days, two domes, and over a dozen artists made this one of the real standout live painting events of my summer.  Visit the video page for full information on the artists...

~ New Custom Hat ~

...lastly, here's the latest to show from this enjoyable new pastime.  Click on the picture to take a closer look at the layered design:

for Kyle Dietrich

If you'd like one of these, email me with your budget, hat size, and any stylistic preferences you have.  You can check out my full gallery of custom hats for inspiration...

~ In The Next Newsletter ~

• Full audio from my talk at Burning Man, "Evolutionary Transitions In Individuality;"
• Video from my forthcoming live album of Burning Man musical highlights, Rites of Passage;
• More hand-painted and digital artwork from the highest branches I can reach!

16 September 2011

New Paintings from Papadosio, Burning Man, STS9 – and Vinyl Stickers!

"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."

"In their daily life, all are braver than they know."

My adventure at Burning Man 2011 was a success.  I played five concerts in an inhospitable desert environment, including one as "opening act" for living legend John Perry Barlow and one improvising the score for an aerial dance showcase; spoke to a packed house at Red Lightning Camp and sat in on a now-annual panel discussion with my friends Daniel Pinchbeck and Mitch Mignano; and helped hold it down at the kick-ass new visionary art camp, Fractal Nation Village in my own modest way.  More importantly, however, I helped friends new and old navigate their own rites of passage, and they helped me through my own.  I wrote a short note about it you can read here, if you like.

The music and talks will all be ready to share in time for the next newsletter...

In the meantime, here are the latest offerings from my visual universe.  Click any image to enlarge:

New Vinyl Stickers!

2"x6" die-cut vinyl indoor/outdoor stickers

$3 each or $10 for five (shipping included)
(to order, use the "donate" link at my blog – leave your address
and the name of the prints in a note when you check out)

This is the closest thing I have to a slogan – I came up with it in 2008 as a retort to the argument that capitalism could not continue to grow unchecked, because obviously if we trade in ideas we can have a closed-loop material infrastructure and continue to expand exponentially into the imagination.  Or maybe I'm wrong.  But insofar as the invisible environment of one age becomes the conscious canvas of the next, I do think it's time we took a lead from Terence McKenna and Bucky Fuller, and started treating our planetary problems as shortages of imagination.  There's always an overlooked perspective that solves even the most impossible paradoxes...and now you can share that insight with anyone who sees the back of your laptop.  Maybe – just maybe – this will help us reach critical mass.

River Dragon
2011 08 24 Hodi's Half Note & 2011 08 26 The Fox
(Papadosio, Damn Right)
24"x36" - paint markers on stretched canvas

signed 11"x17" poster prints $20/1 $30/2 plus $5 s/h
(to order, use the "donate" link at my blog – leave your address
and the name of the prints in a note when you check out)
original painting negotiable – serious inquiries, email me

I just finished reading David Wade's excellent Crystal and Dragon: The Cosmic Dance of Symmetry and Chaos in Art, Nature, and Consciousness – basically, a thorough overview of the ways that crystalline and fluid patterns have alternately dominated human art, religion, and philosophy.  Wade contrasts the intensely crystalline tradition of Islam, with its emphasis on extraordinarily precise geometries as a way of pointing to the ultimate reality of divine perfection, and the chaotic tradition of Taoism, with its emphasis on the light and motion of water, gnarled pines, and other ephemeral natural phenomena as a way of pointing to the ultimate reality of the ever-changing Tao.

He turned me on to an an awesome new term:  "shang shui," or "mountain-water," the name for an entire school of Chinese painting that praises the fluid forms of nature.  To the shang shui tradition of painters, it's less important that you capture the exact shape of a thing than its motion, life, and essence...and by that criterion, I identify with this tradition.  "River Dragons" is an attempt to connect with the vitality of this lineage and their higher truth.


Fiestaraptor
2011 09 01 Burning Man - Fractal Nation Village
(Imagika Om, Janover, Ganga Giri, Future Simple Project, Sub Swara, FreQ Nasty, Opiuo, LowRIDERz, PussyMonster, Heyoka)
24"x36" - paint markers on stretched canvas

signed 11"x17" poster prints $20/1 $30/2 plus $5 s/h
(to order, use the "donate" link at my blog – leave your address
and the name of the prints in a note when you check out)
original painting negotiable – serious inquiries, email me

Most of y'all know I was trained as a paleontologist and scientific illustrator, and every once in a while I try to bring my old life into my new life.  I get the feeling, after working on paintings like this one, that I'm not doing it frequently enough.  Somewhere between festival culture and museum culture lives "Fiestaraptor," the painting I made during Fractal Nation's opening night of all-star programming at Burning Man.

(For the record, I'm still kind of ambivalent about the idea of a big-budget production theme camp at what is supposed to be a radically-participatory event...putting on huge concerts out there seems to support spectator culture and ends up being a weird badge of pride for the producers, when what I really love about Burning Man is the emergent, collaborative, collective, personal, intimate, and weird experiences everyone creates together that cannot be reproduced anywhere else.  That said, this was basically a party put on by my friends, and it was an honor to contribute to it.)

While I was working on this piece, I was also responsible for keeping people out of the backstage area – so there was a lot of "bouncer" energy that went into it.  Sometimes I had to use my longer-than-Tyrannosaurus arms and actually grab people and pull them while they were jumping over the gate.  I can't help but think it influenced this intense, roaring, guardian vibe this one radiates.  Maybe, also, the fact that Tribe 13's unprecedentedly awesome sixty-foot dome visionary art gallery was just two hundred feet away had something to do with it.  I didn't see any ayahuasca-sauruses when I was down in Peru last March, but Lord knows Tyrannosaurus is one of my spirit animals...


STS9 Red Rocks 2011 (Guerrilla Poster)
signed 11"x17" poster prints $20/1 $30/2 plus $5 s/h
(to order, use the "donate" link at my blog – leave your address
and the name of the prints in a note when you check out)

My latest foray into hybridizing the hand-painted work with basic digital layering techniques to create something that shines with the best of both worlds, this piece alloys work from The Manifestation Celebration, Bear Creek Festival, and Electric Forest Festival.  It wasn't quite a full moon when STS9 showed up to rock Colorado's most legendary sandstone slabs, but close...so I worked to make something that conveyed what a lot of people were probably feeling (maybe even seeing) that weekend, crowded between the rocks and gazing into the extraordinary fullness of theater and the sky beyond.

This is a signed and numbered series of 75 prints and I have a few left, if anyone would like one.

Press

First, here's an entertaining short interview with me about my crazy path from biologist to vagabond-artist by precocious and inspirational video blogger Kevin May (aka Phil Osophical). I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin last month at Papadosio's Rootwire Festival and was happy to talk while we ran to the bathrooms in the crescendo of anticipation right before they burned the Man...the excitement is palpable all around us as Kevin and I run from my panel discussion to the bathrooms:




In music news, taste-making electronic dance music site TheUntz.com just gave my latest album, A Million Anniversaries, a sterling review – especially cool, given it's not really EDM:

"It takes creativity to make the next step in a newer, more shocking direction, but it takes a visionary to go beyond the breaking point and meet music on the other end of the spectrum. That’s what Michael Garfield does."

Musician and blogger Skinny Hendrix also gave me a feature on his site and had some kind things to say about that same album.  It's always a special pleasure to find approval from a fellow artist:

"Beautiful soundscapes....Garfield has a dynamic ability to express himself on the acoustic guitar and to allow the listener to climb inside of his head and connect with him on a deep level."

...and while it's not exactly a review, this lovely poem by my friend Sofia was inspired by the album and is a kind of tribute:  "The Dripping Place"

Enjoy!  Thanks to everyone for your time, attention, and support.  It takes a planetary village to raise the emergent starchild of the human "superorganism."  We're all in this together.