Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: A Manifesto For Live Art | The Evolution of Surveillance | New Tunes From Black Rock City | Indiegogo Campaign Update

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.