"Have wings that feared ever touched the sun?
I was born when all I once feared--I could love." - Rabia
Although I've been to museums and other artistic and creative venues and shows lately after a long hiatus, I found his presence to be most illuminating for me personally. This is what I took in:
Saul Williams inspires other poets and musicians to create--and he does this through inspiration. Sure, there's always the worshipful fans, yet for the most part he seems to make you really want to make, rather than just sit in awe spellbound and mute over his genius.
He invited the audience to break the 'fouth wall' (and he used that specific phrase as in let's "drop the fourth wall" and "dialogue"). The fourth wall is that conceptual yet strict adherence to separating participants into passive audience or active actor. This is what I've been intrigued with for ages: participatory art. I write more about Saul's invitation to call-and-response or to a jam session in a new blog, The Stream is the Medium.
The last thing I learned was he means it when he says, "I only do what I feel like doing." (Just for context, the tone was gracious and it was the last sentence in response to an audience members' request that he say a curse word, although I think he said a variation of that theme when someone else asked for specific poem to be read.) That open secret is the key to his success. Saul Williams doesn't apologize for being true to expression.
To my detriment, I often attempt to read (or prejudge) others' expectations, judgments, opinions and unspoken 'rules.' So I do not do what I honestly feel like doing. Lately, I've asked myself when evaluating an opportunity, "If I take money out the equation, would I still do this?" I used to think I wasn't compromising enough. Now I realize in making the leap from mainstream technologist and marketer to an artist, I've consistently compromised vision and inspiration to the point its power is diluted. Following inspiration isn't sissy stuff and demands staying true to it despite core conditioning to abandon anything that doesn't fit the static quo and the ol' fight-or-flight survival instinct.
"Culture is likely to break out in a society not when its poietai begin to voice a line contrary to that of society, but when they begin to ignore all lines whatsoever and concern themselves with bringing the audience back into play -- not competitive play, but play that affirms itself as play." - Infinite and Finite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility, by James Carse
And, since I've not been blogging that consistently, I've a backlog of annoucements to share (they're all invitations to jam) and want to get these out since they could involve you, if you'd like to participate and engage:
1. I'm in Oakland, CA right now. Perhaps for a few weeks, perhaps longer. How long I stay is predicated on if there are projects to jam on with other playmates, collaborators and muses. Are you in the Bay Area? Are you interested in engagement, play, street theater, possibility spaces, urban games, storytelling the future, participatory art, incubating dreams? Drop me a note. I'll go anywhere where I can make a real contribution.
2. I'm currently engaged in an awesome project, EdZedOmega.org--a participatory, improvisational online documentary where six teens drop out of high school this fall semester and go their own way in a self-directed learning. They're crowdsourcing OUR (i.e. as in us, you, me, you!) visions and stories around education and how to improve it. (Check out this WIRED article on the behind-the-scenes to Ed Zed Omega.) If there's a downside (for me) it's that nearly everyone on the team is in Minneapolis and I'm in Oakland (and I've really yearning for face-to-face collaboration of late).
3. I've been kicking around a transactive narrative + real-world experience + urban theater (in select cities) juxtaposing the year 2020 with the multicultural, cross-pollinating Golden Age of Al-Andalus (medieval Spain) to spur people’s own dream ventures. In conversation with a partner that's into this idea too in New York. This is happenening and soon; may mean anything from moving to NY to visiting Andalucia this winter as a group pilgrimage (that's YOU I'm speaking about group).
4. "I was once a sleeping ocean and in a dream became jealous of a pond." Or, "So amazing this choir of socks, shoes, shirt, skirt, undergarments, earth, sky, suns, and moons. No wonder I too, now, sing all day." Or, "Have wings that feared ever touched the sun? I was born when all I once feared--I could love." I've been very inspired by Sufi poetry lately (goes with #3) and am leaning towards visiting New Orleans for a spell and conjuring a street improv and urban game of sorts (during New Orleans Fringe Festival perhaps?) that may weave in Rabia--the 8th century female mystic and poet born in Basra, Iraq that was such an influence on Rumi--as a central character. Do you live in New Orleans? Intrigued? Make this a magical mystery tour where we live from a poetic perspective? (Timing: Halloween to mid-November 2012.)
5. I'm facilitating the exchange in experiential, online workshop on using the Web as an artistic medium in its own right. (The Internet is often delegated to being explanatory, promotional or distributive for other creative media.) It starts October 8th and runs seven weeks. Afterwards, assuming there was enough give-and-take feedback to have complete course materials--I'll package it up as a Creative Commons-licensed course that any student anywhere in the world with Internet access can use to teach themselves. (Limited to small group; minimum ten students to ensure generative feedback.)
That's not even the half of it, yet enough of a seed to jump in and ask, participate, sip, write, sketch, dialogue, share.... Yep, first and last of all, the art of living.
Art credits: My favorite visual interactive artist's latest: The Weather Project now at the Tate Modern, by Olafur Eliasson, although Olafur himself calls the exhibit The Little Sun; PaPaYa art and gifts' credo.