The Visionary Art & Music of Michael Garfield: January 2012

21 January 2012

First Live Painting of 2012, New Apparel, Waxing Philosophical

"New maps for new realities! Reality is a verb!"
Richard Doyle

2012 is off like a rocket!  I hope it's treating you all as well as it's been treating me...

Here is the second video in a series of "performance philosophy" rants I've made to marry my ongoing studies in evolutionary biology and ecology with my passion for understanding the great transformation we're going through together...

We Are Growing A Remix Economy

You can watch the first video, "We Are Something The Planet Is Doing," at two of my favorite blogs:  LostInSound.org and SpiritOfSpider.com.  Both of them are highly browse-worthy...

In related news (evolution, art, and economy), I just wrote this article for Reality Sandwich on my friend Dadara's awesome "Art As Money" project, The Exchanghibition Bank, and their new 2012 banknote.  From the article:

I met Dadara in person at Burning Man this year, where Exchanghibition Bank set up on the dusty expanse offering people their suspiciously money-esque art notes in exchange for signing a "Karma Laundering" statement that claims you will never again compromise artistic freedom for money. It's an idea whose time has come – a time when drastic government cutbacks on the arts are exceeded by scarcely-imaginable subsidies afforded the failing banks (largely because art itself has become a commodity, with worth measured in auction price). If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! What is money, exactly, if not an agreement – the ritual magical performance of a consensual values-reality? (read more)

Clear on Direction
2012 01 12 The Parish (Heyoka, Sugarpill, Starlynx)
2012 01 13 Ruta Maya (Voice Mau, El John, Matthew Ian Blagg,
DJ Hobo D, Boombaptist, King Art, OT23, Ruler Why)
24"x30" – paint markers on masonite
11"x17" signed poster prints: $25 (incl. s/h) – email me to order
Original painting – check availability and asking price on FB

My first live painting of 2012, courtesy of two fine evenings produced by my friends at Art Seen Alliance and Collective Perspectives.  True to the intensity of this year (so far, and I imagine it's only ramping up), I wanted to paint something that captured in one image my microbiological leanings, the vacuoles and cilia of some pond water protist; an explosive collision like Zeus' thunderbolt; and the jeweled geometries of of the divine mind of time.  This is, in the words of my badass painter friend Chaeli Cardenas, "some intense masculine energy."  Yes!  Directedness.  Focus.  Follow through.  All good things for a year when everyone seems to be talking about manifestation.  I had to laugh at myself halfway through the show when someone pointed out to me it was pointing straight at my book of prints!

You can click on the pictures above and below to get a super-close look at the detail and its various stages of completion:



Courtesy of my merchandise shop at ArtsProjekt, new print-on-demand tees for the ladies, to join the existing men's tees and a horde of other options.  These are only available through their website – I'm making a small commission on sales, but most of that price goes to the company for their printing services.  If you make shirts and think we can offer people a better deal, let me know!

Some Of My Best Hats Yet

The scientific illustrator in me still loves doing commissioned work where I get to relish in the challenge of tackling new and specific subjects, like this Cessna hat and the Rasta Lion below that...although I still love making chrysanthemum mandalas, obviously:

~ Commissioned for Jason Taylor: Leave your comments on FB ~

~ Commissioned for Leigh DeBor: Leave your comments on FB ~

~ Available for purchase: See details & leave your comments on FB ~

~ Available for purchase: See details & leave your comments on FB ~

~ Available for purchase: See details & leave your comments on FB ~

Much love to all of you.  Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!

Next week:  triumphant new live music video, transhumanism essays, and more as-glorious-as-possible hand-painted designs.

20 January 2012

Godhood Is Boring


Image by Michael Garfield, 2011 04 23

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”
– Albert Einstein, physicist

"We live on an island of knowledge surrounded by a shore of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."
– John A. Wheeler, physicist

'All scientifically possible technology and social change predicted in science fiction will come to pass, but none of it will work properly.'
– Neil Gaiman's Second Law

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”
– Jellaludin Rumi

Perhaps within our lifetimes, humankind's coevolutionary dance with biomedical technology will extend the lifespan of our bodies to currently inconceivable lengths.  There are a lot of brilliant minds today waxing poetic about such a future, in which our newfound immortality makes existence an ongoing act of creative bliss where the medium is reality itself.

But these Singularity pundits almost entirely neglect the obvious psychological effects of such radical life extension, imagining that we would continue to trundle on as a species with similar needs and desires.  This is about as sophisticated as 19th Century lithographs of the year 2000, when everyone rides to their formal affairs in sleek dirigibles and flies masted ships to the Moon.

It also forgets the initial rush of power we all felt when taking our first steps, or shaking a rattle.  The thrill of control is the seed of the self, the earliest and most primitive emotional response to discovering our participation in reality.  This rush sustained the growth of modernity as it magnified and became dams, skyscrapers, and space shuttles.  But what sustains our awe into adulthood is not the continued magnification of the control thrill – for which we quickly develop a tolerance and require even more bombastic displays of control – but the deepening recognition of a world finally and utterly beyond our ability to rule.

Science is, in the final count, not about the increase of knowledge, but the increase of ignorance – if every question answered means two more questions asked, what we don't know is growing faster than what we do.  And so a mature science, grounded in the same wonder at mystery that impelled natural inquiry in the first place, welcomes this mystery.  It is not a program of rapturous domination, or prideful power en route to ultimate mastery of the matter, but the cultivation of wisdom through the exploration of nature as macrocosm and the self as microcosm, of the ego embedded in a world defined by interbeing.

This is the curve ignored by graph-happy Singulitarians when they give the hockey stick chart argument for our impending divinity.  We're spiraling increasingly out of control, not into it – evermore aware that control is actually the delusion of a not-actually-separate self, woven dynamically with uncountable feedback loops into the rest of the world.  We are participants, not lords – not creators, but co-creators.  We will learn to work with, not upon.

But even if we don't end up as the Lactobacillus in Google's intestinal tract, even if we become the genie we let out of this bottle, it'll undoubtedly disappoint us.  "Turning into gods" may seem exciting now, but eventually every new plateau becomes the norm, every age's fancy new garb goes out of fashion – and it seems pretty likely that one day, moving planets will be as prosaic as moving chairs is to us today.  When that age comes, will we still seek the awesome creative power of even greater deities?  Or will we finally accept the horizon of our knowledge and ability as an ever-receding target and, humbled to the transcendental mystery of life, find the transhuman here and now, deeper in the present?

After all, it only takes a cursory study of world mythology to realize that the gods are BORED.  Omnipotence is a dead-end street.  Once you have it all, the only way forward is to imagine yourself as a lesser and lesser being, like Alan Watts' lucid dreamer who eventually hides himself so deep he forgets he is dreaming...and here we are, imagining in a distinctly un-Copernican fashion that meaning and purpose exist only in the head, and ours is the first and un-simulated world.

2011 11 22, Orlando FL

Post-script:

"'Transhumanist' comes from 'transhuman,' a word that seems to have received its modern meaning in correspondence between Julian Huxley and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit paleontologist and theologian. Teilhard distinguished the 'transhuman' from the 'ultrahuman,' with the latter meaning a kind of souped-up version of the human, and the former indicating an actual transformation – evolution – of who we are. The challenge of the transhuman is to actualize our unique individuality within the much larger planetary collective he saw emerging...he insisted that planetary 'communion' could only come about through the difficult work of individuation: In order to evolve, we each must become who we are, together.

"Now 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. Huxley, a biologist, very much intended 'transhumanism' to indicate a change in who and how we are, and this change centered on a recognize of our radical interconnection with the cosmos, a perception of unity. Now 'transhuman' etymologically suggests 'beyond the human,' and 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."
Richard Doyle, information scientist

06 January 2012

We Are Something The Planet Is Doing

"To increase awareness of one's scientific universe is to face unpredictable increases in one's awareness of the self."
– Gregory Bateson 

“I don’t believe in anything that doesn’t choose everybody.”
– Sara Bates

Watch on Vimeo ~
Music: "Eschatons" (featuring Andrew McNew) – Free Download

I believe that the definitive image of the early 21st Century will be of a sphere – of the Earth from space – of the cosmic plenitude and wholeness of a full belly and breast and basket, and a recognition of the archetypal as-above-so-below-ness that we are embedded in, that we can take a perspective on by zooming out into orbit and recognizing the common unity of all live on Earth. 

By going back four billion years and examining the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all of the major kingdoms of life, we see a foreshadowing, a precursor, of contemporary impetus to build this internet, to destroy national boundaries. The earliest life on Earth was a globe-encircling bioplasm of individual cells that were exchanging, freely, their genetic code -- their selfhood -- and there's an obvious parallel between that and the contemporary obsessive sharing of blogs and video and personal narratives.

There's something going on that we are feeding, this greater self, this inevitability, this project that is continuing to fractally diversify within the ionospheric envelope of our planet, inside of the dreaming noosphere that has been present since the beginning of life on this planet. We're not building this thing, we are participating in it, we are the idea that it is having, we are a fashionable new trend in the creative, ongoing, purposive unfolding of the Gaian mind.

Teilhard de Chardin recognized that collectivization leads to hyperpersonalization and somehow, by recognizing our embeddedness in and our precipitation through and from, as an expression of, this planetary archetype, that each of us is able to align ourselves with the higher purpose of evolution -- not as a mechanism of control, not as a way of escaping our mortality, but as a way of exemplifying and exalting this process that is living through us, that we are just a transitional stage in. And to the degree that we are able to do this -- to the degree that we are able to recognize our own egoic purpose as the fulfillment of the life on this planet -- then we can heal ourselves of the alienation of the separate self of the modern world.

There's always been this one creature. Everything we're doing is something the Earth is doing.

More in this format soon.  In other news...

News & Discussions

I love starting conversations, which turned out to be one of my favorite things about live painting – the ability to capture people, to draw them into a discourse that could change both of our lives.  

Here are a few highlights from my Facebook wall of recent news items that triggered fantastic conversations – feel free to join in!

• To Know But Not Understand: David Weinberger on Big Data

...And then there's THIS silly thing, which I dug up from the misty recesses of 2009:

 

My 28th Birthday Concert

If you can make it, awesome!  If you can't, let's talk about getting me out to your city to play this summer.  If you know of any conscious festivals that would enjoy having me around to paint, play music, and speak about the marriage of creativity, science, and spirituality...please let me know, or better, let them know.  Personal recommendations go a lot further.  Thank you!

• 8 - 10pm: cyberballadry & guitar tapping BIRTHDAY CONCERT! Michael turns 28 and rocks out with special guests Kristin Astourian & Heidi Nadine

• 9 - 9:45pm: instrumental cyberacoustic guitar
• 10pm - 2am: live painting for El John (Thievery Corporation), Matthew Ian Blagg, Applied Pressure, & more (w/ Karina Thome, Chance Roberts, & Molly Gardner)

• 9 - 10pm: cyberballadry & guitar tapping supporting Sam Hammerman & Shawn Madden

~ Full concert calendar at MichaelGarfield.blogspot.com ~

Where's The Art??

It's coming, I promise.  I've been working on some epic, super time-intensive live paintings, a score of new hats, and even a couple of graffiti pieces – Austin offers up a lot of places where public art contributions are actually appreciated, so I'm going to start taking advantage of that.  I'll have more to show in the next newsletter!

In the meantime, there is still plenty of original artwork to browse (and purchase, if you're interested) on my Facebook Visual Art Page.  Enjoy, and thank you from the top of my heart – where love spills over and the birds drink from its open petals.