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

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.