Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: 2013

26 December 2013

Rants 2010 - 2013 | Purging The Music Vaults | New Live Painting | SonArte | Nocturnal Sketches | BassAware

“It’s absolutely irrational to not be filled with the fire of consuming hope.”

“You need a balance of gloom and optimism.  Let one get out of control and take over and you are in trouble.”

I hope you guys don't mind that I don't have much to say in preface to the fullest, most abundant newsletter I've ever put out there.  My hands are sore from typing this week - the natural consequence of preparing pics of my latest live painting; a collection of my best concert banter from the last four years; not one but FOUR musical releases (mostly old material for super-fans only – to clear the brush from the trail of my mind, as it were, in preparation for a few truly excellent releases in 2014); previews of the collected sketchbooks I plan to publish in the next year; news on my recent partnership with audio-to-artwork startup SonArte; an article on the coolest new music technology I've seen in years; and the long-overdue page I created for Live Painting on Facebook.

I'm as open to your correspondence as ever.  Stay in touch, and have a beautiful last few days of 2013!

Rants: Concert Banter on Aliens, Love,
and Other Great Mysteries, 2010 - 2013

Culled from four years of live concert recordings, "Rants: 2010 - 2013" highlights the visionary diatribes, cornball goofery, and contagious enthusiasm that make my shows so distinct and personal. Every set is an opportunity to blow minds - and not just with music. 

Enjoy this journey into the mind of a modern performance philosopher coming of age on tangents both profound and profane. Thirty-six minutes of sheer...sheerness, somewhere between bardic wit, standup comedy, and raving lunacy.
 
"Amazingly well-spoken."
- Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics

"[Michael has] a wonderful ability to articulate the difficult and complex divinity of this world."
- Sarah Dawn Haynes, coordinator for Bioneers Colorado

"You goof-a-potamus."
- Nicole Taylor, Beautiful Music Violins

Purging The Music Vaults – Happy Holidays!
  

B Universe: Experiments & Outtakes

Here is a little journey through my developing sound over the past four years, as improvised guitar loopscapes became a bigger and bigger part of my singer-songwriter sets...and eventually took over, as I gathered new gear, new techniques, and new confidence in flying by the seat of my pants.

I think each of these performances has something to love, but the recordings are too raw to justify putting them out on a "big" release. So here they are, the black sheep and weirdos – which, maybe, say more about me than anything else.

(If you only download one of the four releases I threw at you this week, this is the one.)

A Global Odyssey of the Arts

Just over one year ago, Dixon's Violin, Texas State University experimental music professor Richard Hall, and myself got together for a show withARTheism and acclaimed hooper Brecken Rivara.

"A Global Odyssey of the Arts" was a night to remember. Here is a free recording of the instrumental magic that transpired...a superb soundtrack to peaceful winter ambiance. Enjoy!

  

Listening to these is kind of painful now, but also proud – to hear how far I've come.  Recommended for anyone interested to know my roots, here are two windows into the very early days of my experimental guitar work.  Scapegoat was the first of my annual winter holiday releases, back in the dinosaur-infested yonder-year of 2008; Live From Zero Point is mostly made of good songs performed by someone who hasn't grown into his pants, but features "Zipline," my first ever attempt at a danceable cyberacoustic groovescape.  

Both of them are beyond free...if you're dedicated enough to listen to these greenhorn releases, let me know who you are so I can declare you a super-fan and lavish you with appreciation.

~ New Live Painting ~
Feathered Tongues of Flame
20"x30" - paint markers on canvas
Painted during the music of:
The Parish, 2013-11-15 ... A.J. Vincent, Holiday Mountain, ishi
The Parish Austin, 2013-11-22 ... Holding Space, The Motet
Speakeasy, 2013-11-29 ... Immortal Guardian, Consider the Source

Part nudibranch, part fire elemental, kind of erotic, based on this sketch I did on the plane coming back from playing a New Year's concert in Costa Rica in 2011.  Click on the picture for a closer look – I'm really happy with all of the subtle detail that went into this one, the transparencies and jellylike rippling effects.  Evidence that the more things change, the more they stay the same...

Alien Queen & Black Pearl 
 

I don't doodle as much as I used to.  But I did just scan hundreds of pages of my sketchbooks in preparation for a formal release sometime in 2014.  Stay posted, and enjoy these two more recent white-paint-marker-on-black-construction-paper pieces in the meantime!

Making Sound Into Art w/ SonArte

Sample graphic for the kind of sonograph-to-painting commission work I'm now doing for a new Los Angeles-based company, SonArte. Cool concept, check it out:

"Behind every sound is a story told through a waveform. With each beat, note and tone comes a beautiful pattern which is the physical representation of sound. Now you can have that waveform created as a work of art. SonArte takes the unique waveform of any sound be it a song, a phrase, or a heartbeat and creates luxuriously handmade custom paintings and digital art. SonArte paintings and digital art are created by real artists, not computers. The parameters are specified by the customer so each piece of art sent out is unique and will never be duplicated. Using a waveform of sound of your choice, SonArte’s artists transfer your sound onto a canvas."

I'm one of six artists on the ground floor. If you want your favorite sounds transformed into visual poetry, go here.

~ New Article on SolPurpose ~
Introducing BassAware: A Revolution In Wearable Audio

I have been tracking audio technology developments since 2007, excited to imagine how our accelerating world might change the way we relate to our senses. But years of speculation takes its toll, resulting in a kind of “future fatigue” (“Where is my hoverboard?”) – and so it was with immense delight that, on a trip to New York this summer, I met inventor Michael White and experienced his new device bassAware, a wearable subwoofer that takes personal audio into an entirely new and sexy dimension.

This isn’t just a concept; it’s a reality, market-ready, and poised to change the way we relate to our favorite music forever. Michael was kind enough to indulge SolPurpose with an email interview on the history and social implications of bassAware...


Live Painting has a home on Facebook
FINALLY.

Blessings, everyone.  Thanks for your support!

17 December 2013

Great Coverage From LostInSound | New Painted Hats & Shoes | Looper's Night at Burning Man | Holiday Sale at Ravenectar

“It’s not what you fight against that matters as much as knowing what is worth fighting for. Wake up and dream.”

"If Art can't tell us about the world we live in, then I don't believe there's much point in having it."
Wow, life!  After years of hard work the world is finally starting to show me some love for all I've done to try and inspire people.  My talks on the visionary horizons of human experience from Center Camp and Fractal Planet at Burning Man 2013 were just featured in Jack Rabbit Speaks, the official Burning Man newsletter!  I am so honored...and even more honored to receive not one, but two gushingly positive reviews of my festival performances from the excellent webzine, LostInSound.

Life has been an incredible challenge for me this year – legally, romantically, financially.  But we all have to polish that pearl somehow.  Thank you for growing with me.  I hope that this newsletter offers you something meaningful to carry into the rest of your life.  Stay in touch if you have anything to say, or to ask...I'm always available to help you find your way, or cheer you on.

Art Outside & Gratifly Reviews by LostInSound
Photo & Article by Bridget Chaney

"Arguably Garfield’s greatest success lies in how seamlessly he flows from one role to another – a friendly teacher, a minstrel, and a visionary – all while setting and maintaining a thoughtful, kind, and introspective tone through all of his work...offering us a refreshing dose of relatable academia that is too often left out of the festival environment. It is largely because of him, and others like him, that these events are evolving from 'just another party' to a social movement capable of 'transforming' our society and bringing about the evolution of new ideas."

"His intricately developed soundscapes delve into the internal harmonies of what it means to be human: the percussion our pulse and the melody the flow of our spirit, like blood vessels serpentinely traversing through the labyrinthine veins of the body. If cellular mitosis had a trippy soundtrack, it might be Michael Garfield."


Photo by Yvonne Smith | Article by Matt Bovard

"Welcome to the future...Michael is a pioneer exploring the edge realms where the electric and old world meet. His improvised sets are the modern equivalent of Charlie Parker blowing out his soul into the smoky nights of the 1940’s...The soundscapes vibrate with eco-delic cowboy vibrato that takes the listener on a journey from which they cannot return the same as they left."
Looper's Night at Burning Man Center Camp 2013

One of the most magical things that ever happened to me at Burning Man: I barely made it onto stage at all, I was so sick. But I made it work, and the act after mine at Center Camp canceled, leaving me 45 minutes to do whatever I wanted...

With an audience full of amazing musicians, including Erothyme and Cualli, I had no choice but to break out a series of unprecedented and improvised live looping collaborations.  This is deep heavy chill, perfect for late-night listening.  Throat-singing, didjeridoo, and cybernetic sound mangling for journeying and dreamwork.

After jamming with the third group, all total strangers, (my favorite jam, unfortunately not recorded), everyone left the stage in different directions and I called after them to stay in touch. A guy in a couch in the front row slapped his forehead and exclaimed, "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW EACH OTHER??"  Not bad for being propped up by DayQuil and playa love.  ;)

New Painted Hats & Shoes

After a short hiatus, I'm back in the game!  Email me if you'd like a custom lid, or shoes, or anything that will hold a coat of paint.  (The Bassnectar flatbill you see below is my very last, though.  I would rather make you something more uniquely you.)  You can click on each picture to get a better look:






Holiday Discount on MG Ravenectar Tees!

Thanks to Montreal-based sublimation printing company Ravenectar, I now have my art on some very cool shirts.  If you want one of these – in men's OR women's sizes – you can use the coupon code "MGHOLIDAY" to take 15% off any order, including gift card purchases, until the first of next year.  And if I see you around wearing one of these, you're getting a huge hug.  Check out their store.

Thanks for reading and have a beautiful week!

01 December 2013

New Painting | New Ravenectar Tees | My Talk From Fractal Planet | Year-End Art Sale!

“The gift turns toward the empty place.”

"The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool."

Hello, everyone!  As my search for a booking agent continues (as well as my work on not one but two books, and a studio album of my percussive guitar songs), I'm still somehow managing to crank out an entirely unwholesome amount of art, music, and writing that I hope will inspire you this holiday season.  Here it is, followed by a note about my year-end sale on original art.

Thank you for your support and have a wonderful week!

Optimus De Los Muertos


Paint markers on stretched canvas – 20"x30" – Original painting sold.

Painted live at the following concerts:

• 2013 11 01 The Parish •Random Rab, Happy Happy James
• 2013 11 09 Fun Fun Fun Fest •Miami Improv Machine, Jenny Slate, Doug Benson, Tenacious D, Quasi, Sparks• 2013 11 10 Fun Fun Fun Fest •Sarah Silverman, Wild Child, Daniel Johnston, The Dismemberment Plan, Washed Out, MGMT

Working during comedians at an uncomfortably-small festival venue packed with sweaty hipsters was a new experience for me.  But I liked it, for the most part!  Thanks to FYounK Clothing for having me and the Third Coast Visions Collective out to paint at Fun Fun Fun Fest.  

I filmed some of each layer through my Google Glass (the painting was a perk for my crowdfunding campaign) and will post the video soon...stay tuned!

Click below for a detailed view of the process:

New Ravenectar Tees!


My friends Ravenectar in Montreal, Quebec have the coolest t-shirt company in the world and I'm delighted to have two new shirts in their winter line!  And in a world full of exploited artists, I'm happy to say that they're not just putting out the best shirts I can find; they're also giving us designers a great percentage on the sales.  Go pick up "his" or "hers" editions on their website and know that you're supporting the same people who brought you this awesome social network.

Cosmic Perspectives From A Fractal Planet

Recorded on 29 August 2013 as part of Burning Man's Fractal Planet Village Speaker Series. This hour of ecodelic philosophy explores the shifting boundaries between human and machine, past and future, self and society...one of Michael's noteworthy performances, energized by an excellent venue and audience. Appearances by Jonathan Zap and Mitch Mignano round out the discussion.

Topics include:

• The evolutionary imperative of taking a "cosmic" perspective;
• Why you don't need to fear a killer robot uprising;
• How an internet for dolphins will help with humanity's coming of age;
• The importance of absurdity and play in 21st Century society;
• And other "required" listening for post-millenial existence.

In related news, you can find links to free downloads of my entire archive of Burning Man recordings – both music and talks – right here.  The archive starts in 2009 with my first public speech at a festival, and continues through this year's inspiring music/dance collaboration with the Center Camp Aerial Fabric Showcase.  Enjoy!

Follow Me On Instagram

Because as great as these newsletters are, you and I would like to also be in constant superficial contact.  Follow me on Instagram and you'll see a bunch of cool stuff that won't make it into this newsletter, including shots of work in progress and pics from stage at festivals...also, wildlife adventure!  Yes.

Here are a few recent highlights – clickable links:


The Year-End Painting Sale Continues!

I know this is no way to talk about fine art – art that I labored over for hours and hours, carried with me across the country, shared in some of the best festival galleries in the world...but seriously, folks:

Get this art out of my apartment.  I'm happy to negotiate with you if 30% off still isn't enough.

Thank you.  That is all.  :)



20 November 2013

Annual Art Sale | Featured Artist on Integral Life | New Collab Painting | New Article on High Existence | Frank Heiss Remix | Sonic Bloom 2013 Panel | ISO Booking Agent

"Human beings must have an epic, a sublime account of how the world was created and how humanity became part of it.  Religious epics satisfy another primal need. They confirm we are part of something greater than ourselves.  The way to achieve our epic that unites human spirituality, instead of cleave it, it is to compose it from the best empirical knowledge that science and history can provide."
– E.O. Wilson

I have so much to tell you.  I'm sure you have so much to say.  I don't even know where to start having that kind of authentic exchange via this newsletter.  Feel free to write to me – I'd love to know what Great Work consumes you, these days, and if I could contribute to it.  And of course, more goes on in my life than I have space for in this newsletter – so feel free to follow my thoughts and recommended reading over twitter, instagram, facebook, tumblr, or youtube.

For now:

Annual Live Art Sale

Last week I lost a shoulder bag containing about 150 of my prints and a nice presentation book, as well as electrical cords for live painting. In other words, it's Holiday Art Sale time! Take 30% off the listed price on all original paintings, and pieces priced on my (seven-year-old) hourly wage are now stupidly cheap (like the only live painting ever made at NASA, for example).  I'll accept monthly payments as low as $100 if you want a piece but have to pay for it gradually.

This isn't just good news for high rollin' gangstas who want to line their cribs with original art - you're also in luck if you want inexpensive prints, pins, merch, etc. for your loved ones (or enemies - good for you!) this year. More details on the FB event page.

Featured Artist on IntegralLife.com!

Big thanks to Integral Life for featuring my art this month! Here is a community that really knows how to THINK about stuff...it's an honor.  I've been an admirer of Ken Wilber's integral philosophy for a whole decade, and am delighted to give back by sharing my art and ideas.

Check out the great gallery they put together with academic commentary and a new artist's statement...

The Encroaching Tides
(a collab with Tourmaline Todd)

My friend "Tourmaline" Todd Shepherd is a fixture in the Austin, Texas live art scene and familiar to admirers all over the country for his cool work on hat racks, vinyl figurines, and all kinds of other unusual media.  I think his futuristic, spacey style and mine dovetailed together quite nicely on our first-ever studio collaboration...

New Article on HighExistence.com

We humans have a bad habit of assuming we're special.  But science teaches us over and over that we're not.  Here is my latest morsel of food for thought, on High Existence, about how to strike a balance between grandeur and humility.  A teaser:

The accepted story of physics right now is that we live on a miraculous, impossible planet where solar eclipses can happen because the Moon is the same apparent size in the sky as the Sun, and where our orbital wobble, the Precession of the Equinoxes, takes exactly as many years as we are light years from the center of the galaxy – which just so happens to be a cozy intermediate zone where core radiation won’t melt DNA and the frigid depths of space don’t render chemistry a moot point. (And all chemistry is biochemistry, it seems .) Above it all, we live at a special moment in the life cycle of our star, a narrow window before it swells to consume the entire Earth. Statistically, life is impossible, but if it’s possible anywhere, it’s here – in this impossibly convenient place.

This is the Goldilocks Hypothesis, and it’s junk. If we’re going to take the Copernican Revolution all the way, let’s go there: we are perfectly adapted for this place because life is always adapted to its surroundings. All that hawking radiation from the supermassive black hole at the galactic center might boil carbon-based life, but as NASA’s astrobiologists are quick to remind us there’s no reason to suppose that heavier elements haven’t grown metal minds, evolving at breakneck pace in the roiling creation, linked through the instantaneous communication of frictionless superfluid field dynamics, vortices within vortices.

Sonic Bloom 2013 Panel Discussion

The third annual Sonic Bloom Festival all-star panel discussion was our most diverse and impassioned yet. In a conversation moderated by Solpurpose.com editor-in-chief Michael Garfield, festival director Jamie Janover, community builder Mark Heley, bass producer Lux Moderna, astrologer Ver Dar Luz, dream interpreter Jonathan Zap, healer Alaya Love, video blogger Jordan Pearce, and his friend Ray all gave real talk on life, death, and categories beyond and between. This hour is the fruit of a truly transformational festival - potent, raw, and deep...

Remixed by Frank Heiss

I recently uploaded an archive of my guitar loops for producers to play with – little did I know that living legend Frank Heiss would take advantage of it for his next album!  But he did.  Now you can listen to his strange and beautiful remix, "The Good, The True and the Beautiful," the closer for his awesome full-length release.  You might recognize some of it from various instrumental improvisations on last year's Love Scenes & Field Recordings – as well as the artwork, by my homie Michael Divine.

In Search Of A Booking Agent

This week in the Ask-And-Ye-Shall-Receive Department:  I've been booking my own gigs for the last six years (full history here) and as successful as it may seem I've been with that, I can't keep making all of this art, music, and writing AND book 70+ shows a year.  It's hard work that I have to outsource if I'm going to take my career to the next level...and I'm ready to make friends in some different scenes.

So if you know people who represent musicians or performing artists, please introduce us!  Anyone who can hook me up with a good booking agent gets my eternal gratitude and a bunch of sweet art.  (Here is my full EPK, to make things a little easier.)

Thanks again for reading, enjoy the art and ideas, and have a beautiful day!

05 November 2013

Owl Painting from Rootwire/AO | Gratifly 2013 Live Set | MG on Google Glass at Burning Man

"The next time you get really angry about the evils of the system, notice how good it feels, and understand how that feeling takes power away from the better angels of your nature and turns it over to something that longs for destruction, conflict and brutality as goods unto themselves. Understand that the best practice is the cultivation of your own consciousness."
KMO

In this issue, I'm proud to share some of my finest work to date – new art, music, and ideas! An illustration from my imaginary field guide to hyperspace creatures; my first-ever full concert recording, from Gratifly Festival; and the talk I gave at Burning Man on the social and philosophical implications of wearable computing.

While I continue my search for an appropriate booking agent and record label, I'm still doing the occasional gig and soaking up inspiration for the next round of cool offerings.  As always, your comments and suggestions are encouraged.  Enjoy, and thank you for your support!

20"x30" – oil & acrylic paint markers on canvas – painted live at:
• Little Tree Art Studios - 2013 08 08 (Atlanta, GA) for Kynara, Feverkin, The Fresh French
• Rootwire Music & Arts Festival 2013 08 15 - 18 for Papadosio Live PA, Evan Marc, Aligning Minds, Open Source, Hundred Waters, Dirtwire, ESKMO, The Malah, Bluetech, Welder
• Be:Tribe Gathering - 2013 09 12 (Dallas, TX) for Kaminanda, The Nadis Warriors
• Art Outside Festival 2013 10 20, 21 for Rena Jones, Bluetech, Psymbionic, Nit Grit, Happy Happy James, Brede, Somatoast, Bird of Prey, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, ISHI, The Nadis Warriors

My latest live painting is the consequence of a collision between hyperspace and the owl fetish that's haunted me since moving to Austin two years ago. Shout out to Augustin Lesage and Louis Wain, two men who went famously mad and became awesome (entirely sober) psychedelic artists.  This piece is inspired by their work,  as well as a few positively strange experiences that got me wondering about the origins of owl medicine.  Basically:  do hyperdimensional intelligences appear to us in the form of cartoon animals, as an interface that helps manage the overwhelming ineffability of higher realms?  Do our folk stories and animal archetypes point to a totally nuts "self-transforming" world beyond mundane appearances?  My vote is yes.

I had this piece scanned, so if you'd like a full-size stretched canvas giclee (practically indistinguishable from the original, and maybe even a little more durable) – email me for pricing.

Click below for a detailed look at the process:


A record of the most ambitious, visionary concert I have ever performed.  Listen to this loud on big speakers...preferably during a storm.

Improvised on guitar, voice, and effects at Gratifly Music & Arts Festival on the LostInSound.org Synergy Stage, 26 July 2013 (Carl Jung & Aldous Huxley's birthday). This chronicles, in its entirety, the first concert ever streamed through Google Glass over video chat and projected back on stage, creating an artist-audience feedback loop!

Lyrics are from poems turned into song on the spot. All instrumental sounds are from live guitar and hardware processing (no computers). The Glass was ceremonially consecrated that evening to ensure its use as an instrument of good.

Special thanks to my Indiegogo campaign supporters:
Adam Scott Miller, Alan Wood, Allan Badiner, Asa Henderson, Austin W. Lucas, Ben Gordon, Billy Mays III, Brett Bonnist, Brett Thomas, Brian Hampton, Candy Hogrefe, Carl Jacobson, Chelsea Schulz, Christopher Ergen, Cody Westerlund, Connor Wood, Dan Sockrider, David Hyde, David Swirsky, Diana Martinez, Douglas Tataryn, Eliza R. Williams, Erin O'Brien, Evan Snyder, George Crosby, Harlan Emil Gruber, Isabella Melo, Jason White, Jessica Nielson, Joey Walter, John Harrison, Jonathan Zap, Jordan Allen, Jordan Sadler, Joseph Chang, Josh Audiss, Kevin Seagraves, Kristen Wood, Kylie stein, Lawrence Wang, Lindsey Wilkinson, Marcello Herreshoff, Marya Stark, Michael William Benton, Molly Gardner, Nick Kampe, Patrick Gomez, Phil Osophical, Philip Heath, Richard Guerra, Robin Arnott, Ryan Meredith, Sandra Lam, Sebastian Siegel, Simon Haiduk, Stephen C. Drena, Steven Sampson, Sven Jorgensen, Tara Fahmie, Taylor Steelman, Thomas Stokes, Tristan Gulliford, Tyler Kimbro, Ursula Anderson, Vance Feldman
...we did it!

Dedicated to Donna Merrill.


"Glass’s success isn’t predicated on how it looks. Rather, it’s all about how Glass invites us to lookand how it makes us more aware of when and where we’re looking. The ecstasy-inducing capacity of Google Glass lies in the pleasure of watching: watching others, being watched, and watching for the meaning of the technocultural moment heralded by Google’s evocative new product. Glass promises a new way to get out of our own bodies and to enter those of others. And we like it."
John Garrison, "How Glass Magnifies Desire"

My provocative talk on Google Glass as the emblem of a new era – in which democratized surveillance and the "individual" self have become the medium of avant social art, and we have a responsibility to reprogram them for the greater good of an emerging planetary consciousness.  Recorded for the Psychedelic Salon podcast, as part of the Palenque Norte lecture series at Burning Man, 30 August 2013.

If this talk inspires you and you'd like to stay abreast of my tech news and commentary, join the conversation about art, technology, and consciousness in my new facebook group, Life in the Glass Age.

24 October 2013

The Evolution of Surveillance Part 2, Looper's Night Archive, Skateboard Preorders, Perspectives on a New Age, Questions from a Grade-School Art Class, Another Hat

"Tribalism is very hard to reconcile with progressive visions of a world of equality, fairness, and understanding. The moment you being to see other human beings as being somehow outside your perimeter, you can believe they’re less than human – objects to use or, worse, destroy."

"To fight the empire is to be infected by its derangement. Whoever defeats part of the empire becomes the empire; it proliferates like a virus…thereby it becomes its enemies."
– Philip K. Dick, Valis

For the first time in six years, I have no upcoming gigs on my calendar.  Art Outside was a profound, beautiful farewell to my festival season and a lovely port to kiss goodbye as I set out to sea on a frightening new adventure in self-discovery, study, writing, studio work, and wide-eyed travel.

I don't know who I am or what I am becoming, but I promise I'll have even more time to help you even more directly than I did before.

• If you'd like Skype/Hangout lessons in guitar, songwriting, live art, public speaking, or any of the other things I do, email me and I'll be happy to help.

• If you'd like to scoop a superb cut-rate deal on any of my available original live paintings, now is your chance to hit me up with an offer I can't refuse.  Split payments and offensively low bids encouraged.

• If you'd like new custom work, you know how to get ahold of me with your budget and ideas...

• And if you want to book me for music, art, or speaking, it would be my pleasure to fly out there.

For now, I'm off to the cave.  See you with more inspiring goodies in two weeks.  Enjoy, and be well!


Afraid of the machines? Worried the universe is running down into chaos? Afraid of a surveillance state, or ecstatic that we're nearing The Ascension? (Choose your flavor.) Well, cut it out. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This talk should help you keep a healthy realist optimism for, oh, another twenty years or so...

Michael Garfield at Burning Man's Center Camp Café (in a talk originally titled "These Are The Good Old Days: Reverse Nostalgia From A Citizen Of The Future") explores the basic dyads of life and death, past and future, Heaven & Hell, self & other – and explains how to move beyond them for Better Living in the 21st Century.

Note: Due to dust in the equipment, this recording was cut short right before the Q & A. Typical Burning Man technical difficulties. Apologies!


The next installment of my serial essay on cyborg spirituality and evolutionary conflict is now online at Reality Sandwich:

With the evolution of the eye came predation, and with predation came herd behaviors...So began an evolutionary arms race that modern biologists describe with the Red Queen Hypothesis, named for the way that teeth and armor, poisons and immunities, continue to leapfrog each other on a treadmill as generations come and go. Police call it 'escalation.' The logic is simple: over numberless generations, offensive and defensive strategies sharpen each other, drawing both into remarkable intricacy and precisely interlocking interdependence...  (Read more.)


The boards are almost in – now is your last chance to preorder my limited series Creation Skateboards deck artist-direct!  $85 includes the board (signed, if you like), a sticker of the painting, a download of my forthcoming album, and shipping anywhere in the US.

To order, use paypal to send money to my  email with a note including your shipping address.  That's it!  Your board will be at your doorstep ready to shred or hang on the wall in a few short weeks.


Over the last eight months I have held about a dozen experiments in musical collaboration between people who have never jammed before, all of us running through my multi-channel loop station so I can remix everyone's live performances on the fly.  Half DJ, half conductor, all terror!  What started as a residency at Flipnotics Coffeehouse in Austin grew wings and came with me on tour this summer for awesomely fun experiences at Rootwire Festival and Burning Man, among others.

Now my favorite Looper's Night performances are free for your enjoyment.  Caution: we get weird.


Tia Parr & Cory Nevins collected these questions from their art class with The Homegrown Kids Of Conway, Arkansas, Fall 2013. Here's an excerpt:

Q: Where do you think the future of art is going, and as an artist, do you feel that you are co-creator in the evolution of art?

A: I think we're creating more and more media and that art is more popularly understood as being creative in any medium. So there will be gene-poets who make new kinds of animals and plants, there will be professional dreamers who share their recorded imaginations, there will be mind sculptors who connect people's experiences in novel ways, there will be artistic explorations in robotics (musical sculptures that play along with you like living bandmates, and buildings that respond to your mood), there will be chefs who make impossible foods out of 3D printers...and there will STILL be painters, and blues guitarists, and standup comedians, and all of the other art forms. We will continue finding new ways to express ourselves and share those ideas.
(Read more.)

Aaaand, More Hats

My last bass drop hat ever.  I'm still totally open to other designs – power animals?  magical sigils?  sacred geometries? – if you'd like something with personal flair.  Let's make something that is uniquely YOURS.  You'll still be proud to wear it in a decade...

09 October 2013

What We Can Learn From Mass Extinctions | Metaphors & Meta-organisms | The Science of Transformation | Back in the Hat Game

"You don't own your reputation. Most people think they do, but the reality is different. Your reputation is the accumulation of what other people think about what they think you have done or said. In other words, your reputation consists of other people's projections. You don't own that and you don't control it. You can influence it, but only up to a point."

“If you don't have enemies, you don't have character.”


Thank you to everyone who supported my recent crowdfunding campaign!  We managed to raise enough to keep me warm and fed this winter as I get cracking on the backbone of my new book and continue to freely share more videos and writing through and about Google Glass (and living through intense technological change in general).

I've started a new FB group – "Life in the Glass Age: Technology, Art, & Consciousness" – to keep the conversation going.  Please join us there with your questions, comments, and news items.

If you'd still like to donate but missed the window for contributing to my Indiegogo campaign, don't sweat it - you can make a paypal donation, and just let me know in the "note" section which of the perks from my campaign you'd like as a gesture of my appreciation for your support.

And now for some big new stuff:



From catastrophe, new life.  Luckily I've been a compulsive note-taker for the last eight years...


My summer tour is over and I'm ready again for cozy months of painting while I listen to inspiring podcasts.  If you'd like a custom hat, feel free to drop me a line.  Orders start at $150 (including the hat) and I am not doing any more Bassnectar or Pretty Lights designs.  (Sorry, kids, but I'd rather not capitalize on someone else's stardom – and you'll thank me when you can still wear the hat in ten years.)


Since “no problem can be solved from the level of thinking that created it,” let’s look at our ecological crisis from the only angle that will help us solve it: not as an invasive species separate from the rest of the biosphere and “killing the planet,” but as something the Earth is doing, part of the story of life, participants in the distributed intelligence of the evolutionary process and thus performing a valuable function we cannot fully understand. This is the sixth mass extinction, so let’s look at how we (identifying with life as a whole, since we have never been completely removed from the layer of life that covers this planet) made it through a comparable crisis before.  (Read more...)


Or if you're more of a video person, here is the article above in improvised rant form.  Not as articulate, perhaps, but you can read along to the transcript and listen to the stirring musical accompaniment!


"Metaphorical thinking — our instinct not just for describing but for comprehending one thing in terms of another, for equating I with an other — shapes our view of the world, and is essential to how we communicate, learn, discover, and invent. Metaphor is a way of thought long before it is a way with words."

My talk from Rootwire Music and Arts Festival 2013 on how to use a suite of new metaphors to navigate the shifting landscape of 21st Century self and society. Topics include:

• What "The Great Oxygenation Event" of 2.5 billion years ago has in common with our current industrial eco-catastrophe, and how it might inform a solution;
• Why the universe is equally well-described as ramping "up" and "down" – and how these forces merge in the ever-morphing now;
• How every act of communication is both a manifestation of mind and an attempt to promote a specific perspective;
• How experiencing the Earth as a superorganism informs a more responsible theory of economics;
• And more ideas from the fractal horizons of human experience...


Mark Heley, author of The Everything Guide to 2012, speaks on taking a galactic perspective at Fractal Planet, Burning Man, 29 August 2013.  I sit in, along with my friends Mitch Mignano and Jonathan Zap, on the conversation.  We discuss the cosmic timing of mass extinctions, our need to understand the dynamic environment of interstellar space, and how we are learning to pilot "Spaceship Earth" into a new and stranger century...

28 September 2013

A Manifesto For Live Art | The Evolution of Surveillance | New Tunes From Black Rock City | Indiegogo Campaign Update

It's time to get real with you all.

Landing from another three month tour's been really difficult.  There's no use in hiding that the life I've chosen is full of its own unique hardships – like financial insecurity, endless car repairs, and coming home to new property managers changing everything about the one "stable" place I know.  I can talk about change all I like, but like most people I struggle to embody it.

I've loved dedicating my blood, sweat, and tears to festival culture for the last six years but I have to wonder what more I could be doing with my life.  There must be some way to make a bigger impact in the world, to serve more people with my gifts.

This blog goes out to 7,000 people, now.  I want to hear from you and learn what I can do to make my presence in your life more meaningful, inspiring, and useful than it is.  What could I be doing better?  How can I repay you for your time and your support?  Let me know.

...And while you're pondering that, I'll just keep doing what I love.  Here are two of my finest essays yet; a fierce new free live EP from Burning Man; and some fun new merchandise for supporters of my Indiegogo campaign:


It takes a special kind of person to be a live painter. It’s one of these emergent 21st Century art forms that remix performer and audience – exposing the mystique of the artist and inviting everyone else into the party. Most of us are used to – maybe even tired of – explaining what we’re doing to unfamiliar fans and promoters. Being an artist is weird enough; but being a live painter requires a person to actually thrive on the combination of fear and wonder that people inevitably bring to encounters with the strange.  (Read more.)


This campaign is about so, so much more than shiny new stuff – that's all just there to subsidize the deeper and more meaningful work I'm doing to start meaningful conversations about our rapidly-changing world.

I made an event page for my work as a Google Glass Explorer where I've been sharing tons of news and articles about the questions of Big Data, health issues, and general anxiety about the future raised by advanced technologies like Glass.  Definitely check it out.

And last week I hosted a public chat on Tawkers, a really cool site for social discourse, about all of this.  You can read the archived conversation here:  "Art & Spirit in The Age of Surveillance."

On that note...I promised all of you a new essay series combining my twin passions for the past and future, and here it is – part one of my paleontology/transhumanism remix:


New dimensions unfurled and into them grew an exponential burst of minds and bodies, urged by necessity into new games of sight. Endowed with the radical new ability to detect at a distance, the naïve ecologies of Earth accelerated into unprecedented combinations of locomotive swimming chasers and chased. Simple musculatures adapted to navigate new axes, to maneuver. Surveillance – literally, "to watch from above" – was born...and animals like Anomalocaris were the black helicopters of the prehistoric ocean.  (Read more.)


This year marks my second stint as the official music for Center Camp Café's aerial fabric dance showcase at Burning Man.  (Here are two videos from 2011.)  They get up there on aerial silks and dazzle a captive audience; I hang out on the ground and improvise a live electronic soundtrack to their movement on guitar and effects.  Earth Song For Sky Dance.

Think Boards of Canada meets instrumental Nine Inch Nails.  Can you hear the dust in my pedals?  :)

This is just the first of several performances I'll release for free this fall.  Something happened to me this summer and I feel like my live sets are suddenly much groovier, more textured, and passionate.  I'm opening new portals with this whole cyberguitar thing, and really look forward to sharing the best of my shows from Gratifly, Rootwire, Fractal Planet, and Scoot Inn with you all soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this one...it's a quickie but I like it.

Guitar Looping & Aerial Dance at Burning Man 2013


I recorded video through Glass while playing, so you can get a sense for how dizzying it is to try and operate a guitar, all of those pedals, and keep an eye on my collaborators while I'm playing.  Apologies in advance for the vertigo.


This is my favorite festival of fall, each year, and one of the highest artist/guest ratios of any of them year-round.  I'll be performing on the spectacularly beautiful laser-cut Folk It Up stage late night on Saturday and giving a talk on "Entertainment as Social Action" in the Pavilion on Saturday afternoon, as well as making an increasingly-rare live painting appearance with Third Coast Visions, the art collective my friends and I started here in Texas.  

This year's lineup is populated with many of my favorite local, regional, national, and international acts and the grounds themselves will be a magical wonderland of creativity, so I hope to see you there.