Sageism Versus Ageism

Have you noticed that you and everyone around you is aging?  What’s up with that?  Anyway, you may be interested in watching my latest video entitled “Sageism Versus Ageism”.  Playing with video is what I do to keep halfway sane these days.  So, thanks for watching and keep the comments coming.  See the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKjCTdN9J7bhP7QCS16d1sA

 

Na Na Yeah Yeah by Eurecka Magicka

If you’ve been feeling a bit distraught of late, this 4-minute music/video may help.  It’s called “Na Na Yeah Yeah by Eureka Magicka” and I’m sure you will recognize the tune.  You can find it on the link below:  Remember to watch in full screen mode and with good stereo speakers or headphones.

Regards,

Steve

 

“Absurd It Thru The Vape Grind” By Eureka Magicka and the Vape Grind Dancers

If you think that things of late have seemed a bit absurd, this short music video (see below) might be for you.  It’s called “Absurd it Thru the Vape Grind” by Eureka Magicka and the Vape Grind Dancers.  If the title seems absurd, it will start to make sense if you watch to the very end.  As always, please watch on full screen mode with stereo speakers or headphones for enhanced enjoyment.  You can see related videos on the “Art and Zen Today” Youtube Channel.

“Wunjo”: A Music Video for the Times.

Have you been feeling confined lately and in need for a trip?   Today’s video from Shrink Wrap/Wilson Bros. may be the ticket.  But, first the back story.

Last Fall, I invited my brother, James and his wife to visit us in March 2020 in order to escape from the harsh Minnesota weather. I also suggested that we plan an event where our band and others would play.

Over time, the date got pushed back to April 11th and the event became what I called a “Happening” where a handful of visual artists, word artists and musicians would creatively interact.  The number of participants was kept small since this was seen as an experiment that might be done on a larger scale, if successful.  Needless to say, something happened that prevented this Happening from happening.  Maybe another Happening will be planned down the pike.  For now, I feel like I would like to try release some videos that might come close to capturing what I imagine might have been the “feel” of such an event.  I am posting this on the day the Happening would have happened.

As part of my preparation for the event, I created a 50 min. video that I planned to project in a loop, during the event.   A couple of weeks ago, my brother sent me a new tune called “Wunjo” so I could provide some feedback.  As I listened to this tune, it occurred to me that it might work with some of the video material I had planned for the Happening.  Both the music and the video conjured up for me a Journey to places and times beyond the ordinary.  So, the video below incorporates my brother’s music with a small portion of the larger video I had prepared for the Happening

The videos I will be releasing in the future have incorporated some images by the artists that had committed to be part of the Happening.  In Wunjo, you will see some digital images from Jake Gage’s Buddha series, a video of a swinging Buddha by Annie Pirruccello and a painting by Barry Robson. For the best experience, watch on “full screen” mode with headphones.

I asked my brother to provide some insight into the title Wunjo.    Below is his response.

“Wunjo” refers to a letter in the Rune alphabet. Runes in general, reference an alphabet that was used in Northern Europe before the eventual adoption of the Latin alphabet.  The earliest runic inscriptions date from around 150 AD.  Each rune, often made of bone, wood or stone was imprinted with a carved symbol, has a name and a sound, as well as a given meaning.  Like Chinese characters, Runes can represent a letter as well as a “concept “, or a word, and thus sometimes used for fortune telling and divinations, much like a Tarot card.  Wunjo was used to symbolize emotional satisfaction, happiness, and/or light, i.e., a generally positive state-of-mind. 

Use of Runes is tied to Celtic cultures.  Today, the term Celtic generally refers to the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, also known as the Celtic nations.  The vocalist you hear on this track, Celica Soldream, calls herself “Celtia”, and has focused her talent on evoking a “Celtic feeling” with her singing.   I personally find Celtic vocals mesmerizing and even transcendent, which is why you will hear Celtia’s vocals on a number of my tracks.  I believe it lends an overall “other worldly” feeling to the music.

I hope that Wunjo will carry you away to distant times and lands, but most importantly, clear your mind, relax, and enjoy!   Peace.

James Wilson

Here is the link to “Wunjo”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WvF3Dq0CxA

“Dancing With Death” and “The Elegy Project”

 

Where do we come from?  Where do we go?  Acrylic Painting by Steve Wilson

Over the past year or so, my brother James and I (collectively “Wilson Bros / Shrink Wrap”) have been creating musical pieces with spoken words having to do with death embedded in them. Two pieces were released in previous posts on Art And Zen Today.  I’ve received feedback that some people were reluctant to listen because they thought the music would be depressing, however, most reported feeling just the opposite after actually hearing the tunes. 

In today’s post I am providing links to two sites where you can go to listen to all the tunes we created and learn more about our project (see links below). First, you can listen to and download (for free) the album “Dancing With Death” which is based on this project.  At the second site you can see our contribution to “The Elegy Project”, an art-based exploration of death and dying created by Valerie Grove in the UK.

In creating our music, my brother and I attempted to pick messages we felt would help us face our own mortality by including them in music we liked and would listen to. It’s sort of an experiment inspired by Stephen Levine’s wonderful book ” A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last.” I have listened to the music we created almost daily over the past year, and although I am unsure whether my fear of death has subsided I do believe that, in subtle ways, the messages are helping me become more mindful in my life.

For instance one song (“Soon We All Will Die”) includes the repetitive phrase “Soon we all will die, our hopes and fears are irrelevant”. I find this phrase popping into my head at various times throughout the day, usually when I am frustrated or annoyed by what is presently going on. More often than in the past, I may remember that my time on earth is limited and that getting worked up over whatever is bothering me at the moment, is not worth it.  Now that the tunes are finished and I look back over them for a common theme, it seems that most of the messages on the album remind us that by fully acknowledging our mortality, we can choose to live a more authentic life.

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Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.”

― Carlos CastanedaJourney to Ixtlan

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Here are the links:

1) http://www.onemindmedia.net/music-2/

Here you can listen to or download “Dancing With Death”.  I would urge you to also explore other pages of this site (which is in it’s infancy) as it is rather unusual.

2) http://naturestrikesback.com/voices-from-the-void

This is a link to Valerie’s website “Nature Fights Back” and the “Elegy Project”.  I would strongly suggest that you visit her site to see her wonderful artwork and to experience “Voices From The Void” as well as the other contributions to the project.

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“MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT)” FEATURING M.C. DONALD TRUMP

Over the past few months I have been using my Digital Audio Workstation to put my personal signature on some of my favorite dance tunes.  In one, ” Money (That’s What I Want)”, I used selections from some Trump speeches to create a “Trump Rap” section. Probably because the Republican Convention began today, I remembered this revamped tune and decided it might be interesting to post it on Youtube.  So I quickly downloaded a bunch of photos and videos that I thought might go with the music.

Here at Art and Zen Today, we tend to try to remain bipartisan or at least bi-polar,  so this is not the usual type of video featured here.  However, I just could not help myself and hope that you enjoy it.  Believe me, it’s huge!!  “Money” is a great dance tune, so if your going to listen to it, you might as well get up and dance as well. To watch the video, click on the link below:

 

https://youtu.be/sIhXrihI2QQ

 

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BORDER MUSIC BY GLENN WEYANT

 

ARTIST GLENN WEYANT, ACCOMPANIED BY BORDER PATROL, PLAYING THE US/MEXICO BORDER FENCE.

Today’s post features a socially conscious musician/artist who raises interesting questions about  art, music, social activism and spiritual practice.  You will be introduced to Glenn Weyant in a couple of short videos.  This feature is the beginning of a shift in my approach to this blog.  Up to now, most post have mainly been devoted to exploring the interrelationship between art and Zen practice.  In the future, I will not spend so much time with theory and focus instead on actual art and actual artists.  There is so much interesting work going on out there, locally as well as globally, and I aim to make my readers aware of it.

I have always used the terms “art” and “spiritual” in the widest possible ways and will continue to do  so in the future.  To my mind, almost any activity can be approached as an art and so if you know of some art or artists who you think should be covered in my blog posts, please let me know.  For now, enjoy the videos below.  For those familiar with the work of John Cage, be sure to listen to the last part of the second video.

 

 

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FLOW OF LIGHT AND MUSIC: A VIDEO EXPERIENCE BY JAMES WILSON

This post starts off with a visual and auditory experience for you that will work best if I don’t provide any “up front” information.  Below you will see a link to a short video that will provide that experience.  It is best if you watch the video before reading on.

To view video, click on link:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYDW9lOnuwM

 

Now that you’ve watched the video, please take a moment to briefly let  James, the artist, know what you experienced.  It would be helpful for him to know what you thought or felt at various points in the video.  You can provide this feedback by clicking on the bubble at the right of the picture at the top of the post.  If you want your comment to remain anonymous, just write in “anonymous” when prompted for a name.

Below is an interview with James which I think you will find interesting.  My intention was to find out more about how this particular artistic experience came about.

A&Z TODAY: Most of your current music, music videos, and of course your visual device, “The Adagio”,  seem to tap into a sort of slow motion in conjunction with music.  How did you get started along this line of thinking?

James:  I can remember the circumstances pretty vividly.  It was a while ago, probably around 1966 or 1967 when I was a music student at Boston University.  One evening, a weekend night I’m pretty sure since I had nothing pending the next day, I was chilling out at my apartment with some friends, listening to jazz, mainly Miles Davis.  One of my friends shared some weed, and I probably had had a few beers by that point in the evening.  I think it is pretty common when “high”, either on just life or with the assistance of some mind-altering substance, one gets into a state of mind where he/she is somewhat removed from oneself; almost like you become an “observer” observing oneself. 

Miles was playing “Solea” from his “Sketches of Spain” album.  I was very much in the “observer” state of mind at the time, and looked down to notice my hand was moving very slowly to the music, kind of in an up and down fashion along with the characteristic  “arcs” that Miles plays during his solos. ( If you listen carefully to this piece in particular, you will notice that he hits high points, then his trumpet lines slowly descend to a low point.  He then begins to build the tension, and overall pitch, back up, etc. etc. )  My hand was following that, the up and down motion, but also moving very slowly in a smooth arc, not at all as part of any of the rhythmic elements of the piece.    I was hearing/feeling some other motion in the music that no one was talking about.   It was not anything you could consider “rhythmic”. 

Fortunately, I hadn’t partied too hearty that night, and the next day I remembered the evening’s experience pretty vividly.  I thought about it off and on for the next several years, and in 1969 I built the first prototype of “The Adagio”.  It was pretty crude, but it worked, and was my first attempt to capture what I had experienced, and something I could work with in more detail.

A&Z TODAY: In a previous A&Z article, you discussed some of the thinking that led to the actual building of the Adagio. 

Yes, I won’t repeat that here again.  Anyone interested can go HERE to read the article in your blog.  I did go into some detail at that time about how and why I came up with using the sine curve to measure the up and down motion.  Using a slowly rotating cylinder, that was speed adjustable from 0 rpm up to about 3 rpm allowed me to create a slow moving, continuously flowing arc of light across the viewer’s vision.  

A&Z TODAY: At one point, you used Adagio in a biofeedback experiment.  How did that evolve?

After I built the first Adagio, I spent a lot of my free time watching it while listening to music.  I also began to notice certain patterns that might someday be of interest to music theorists.  From working with Adagio and music over the years, several patterns have emerged:

 1.   Most music falls within several rotation speeds: roughly 1 rpm, and 1 rev. every 90 seconds.  Some outliers do occur, for example Gregorian Chant which moves incredibly slow, like 1 rev every 3 minutes, and Bartok’s piece for Celeste, Orchestra  – adagio movement, also crawls along at a barely perceptible pace.

2.  Most music, esp. classical such as Mozart and Bach, has cadences every ¼ rotation.  In other words, 8 or 16 measures of music usually equal ¼ rotations of the cylinder, or on the sine curve, at the 90, 180, 270, and 360/0 degree marks.  You can get an idea of this here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrnhYnNqjzU , along with a Mozart piece.  Note that the Adagio is at 180 degrees rotation when the piece cadences at around 47 seconds.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but then maybe not.

 3. Much good music (including Bach, Bartok, and oddly, Gil Evans – esp. Sketches of Spain with Miles Davis), follow the arch of the curve.  I.e., it builds up during the first ¼ rotation, then releases down to ¾ rotation, etc.   I have used these theories in my own compositions.  This video you included at the start of this article,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isvcRjRauSU uses an ambient piece I composed that was constructed specifically for use with the Adagio.  The rising and falling ball/”moon” follows the sine curve across the screen, with a cylinder rotation speed of 1 rev/90 seconds.  Hopefully you get a sense that the music is moving “upwards”, during the upward cycle of the Adagio, then “downwards”, etc.   That’s what I intended anyway.

 If you work with the Adagio long enough, it can affect you psychologically.  You almost feel a little “stoned”.  I think it slows your sense of time down, and you begin to notice things that perhaps you never noticed before.  Of course the study talks about the fact that it activates the right hemisphere, etc.  And so that kind of ties in with the altered-state one gets from viewing the Adagio over a period of time.

Of course the sensation of an altered-state is what eventually led to the biofeedback study.  I definitely noticed a change in how I was feeling and seeing things and I had several of my friends try it as well.  They also remarked on a change in their perceptions, a sense of “time slowed down”.  

 

In 1978 I was taking a few courses at Nova University in Florida, and also teaching some of the students there computer skills.  One of the doctoral students, a friend of mine, Joyce Keen, became interested in using the Adagio as part of a left brain/right brain activation experiment she was proposing.  She was able to get some heavy hitters of the time, such as Dr. Joe Kamiya, to be on the dissertation committee.  Anyway, the experiment produced some very strong and statistically conclusive results; namely, that the Adagio, and music, reduced stress in the experimental subjects.  The general conclusion is that the Adagio and music activated the right hemisphere, thus allowing the left hemisphere, which is the side of the brain that brings our “fight/flight” response back under control, to concentrate on that task.  In other words, while the right brain was engaged, the left brain had available “down time” so that it could more efficiently address the stressors that were being administered to the subjects.   A few weeks after the initial sessions, Joyce repeated just one session.  Evidently the effect did not seem to diminish over time, as the experimental group still recovered significantly faster than the control group.

Some interesting non-scientific results also occurred.  For example, one student swore she was being levitated in her chair while watching the Adagio.  Another student that suffered from insomnia, said he had started sleeping normally again. 

A&Z TODAY: The study was done a while ago, in 1978.  What has transpired since?

Well, for better or worse a something called “life” got in the way of my doing much else with it since that time.  I got off on a number of tangents, making a living, etc., so I really haven’t done much with it until recently.   I know this seems like a stretch, but I have become very interested in politics over the last 5-10 years, and am very concerned about the direction the country, and the world is taking.  The human race faces at best an uncertain future, and, according to the majority of climate scientists, quite possibly extinction.   What seems to be lacking most in our business leaders and politicians is a little thing called “empathy”.    Nobody seems to care about anyone else not within their immediate family or sphere of influence, much less the fate of future generations.   As long as they are OK, as long as they are comfortable,  who cares about anyone else?  That seems to be the current trend, the current way of thinking, especially here in the United States. 

Empathy emanates from the right brain.  It is a right brain attribute.  Well, you can probably guess where this is going.  In short, what the world needs most is a little  right brain activation, a little more right brain thinking.   What was that popular song “What the world needs now is love sweet love”?     – a  Burt Bacharach song from the mid-1960s if I recall.  Unfortunately it is truer now than ever.

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