Philip Seymour Hoffman
It was saddening to learn of the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Even more so given the manner of his death: drug overdose. He was an incredibly gifted actor and extremely creative artist. Within an industry that can be even more shallow than that of popular music, he was truly the latter, an Artist. It is a title that gets thrown about all too nonchalantly in today’s conversations, but he was one whose vision, ability and diversity of craft inspired emotion and thought. Realizing roles that instilled laughter, reflection, inspiration, insight, hope, and in the simplest of these, entertainment.
Like many creative artists that have left before their time, Philip Seymour Hoffman battled drug addiction and abuse. It is a familiar story seen in Hollywood headlines since its original inception. Actors, musicians, and artists of all kinds have a collective legacy of dabbling in the realm of substance experimentation and abuse. Many of the more notable accounts, appended by this latest news, ultimately ending in tragedy and loss.
A quick reflection upon some of the bigger names in music and acting reveals a long list of artists that played a profound role in shaping the art culture of their time. The list is not a complete one, but some of the more notable of which I am familiar.
Artists Who Died from Drug Complications
- Layne Staley - Alice In Chains - Heroin
- Jimi Hendrix - Barbiturates
- Janis Joplin - Heroin and Alcohol
- Jim Morrison - The Doors - Heroin and Cocaine overdose
- Keith Moon - The Who - Prescription drugs
- Sid Vicious - The Sex Pistols - Heroin and Alcohol
- Bon Scott - AC/DC - Alcohol Poisoning
- Dee Dee Ramone - Heroin overdose
- Shannon Hoon - Blind Melon - Cocaine
- Bradley Nowell - Sublime - Heroin overdose
- Paul Gray - Slipknot - Morphine and Fentanyl
- Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan - Avenged Sevenfold - oxycodone, oxymorphone, diazepam, nordiazepam and ethanol.
- Kurt Cobain - Nirvana - Gunshot wound to head; heroin and diazepam found in body (suicide)
- Hillel Slovak - RHCP - Heroin
- Elvis - Prescription drug overdose
- Jon Bonham - Led Zeppelin - Asphyxiation due to massive alcohol consumption
- Michael Jackson - Cardiac arrest, acute propofol intoxication; midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam, lorazepam also noted in autopsy report
- Amy Winehouse - Alcohol Poisoning
- Heath Ledger - Prescription drug overdose
- Chris Farley - Cocaine and Morphine overdose
- John Belushi - Cocaine and Heroin
- River Phoenix - Heroin and cocaine overdose
- Philip Seymour Hoffman - Heroin overdose
CREATIVE CONDUIT / EXPLORING THE EDGE
With such a long list of influential artists, it begs the question: Is it inherent within the artistic mind to be susceptible to addiction?
The Artist is generally known for being one who pushes the limits and boundaries of convention, asks all the unasked questions and playfully dances on the edge of the conscious abyss. Is it there upon the precipice of darkness and discovery that The Artist is vulnerable to holding on too loosely to the thread leading back to balance?
Many artists also cite substances as catalytic muses serving to lubricate the creative process and more easily yield the output of genius as it is so passionately sought. Such a pursuit is understandable seeing that new doors opened might provide alternate pathways for the vision the minds eye. But there are certainly considerations that must be acknowledged...
Speaking as someone familiar with the notion of pushing the limit of convention, asking questions that yield exponentially more, and dividing the atoms of understanding to such a miniscule amount that it causes one to lose touch with direction, I understand how seeking in such a manner leads one down every possible path of experiencing. The question and concern, however, lies in the reasons why these explorations can lead to dependency or destruction.
With the strength and boldness that it takes to explore the edges of reason and understanding as an artistic routinely does, why is that strength diminished when faced with addiction? Perhaps a form of escapism to a state of greater freedom and thought, emotional nirvana, or even just healing solitude.
Perhaps in the cases of the masters, ones who have reached a sufficient pinnacle in their creative careers, there is a point at which aspirations wane and the one time heroes that inspired their ascent are no longer there, or merely diminished in stature from the new vantage. And perhaps for the struggling artist fighting for voice and craft with all energy and vitality, loses perspective and spirals out of control while on the path to their creative ideal.
For both, perhaps the pursuit of perfection and constant advancement has fatigued passion and provided diminishing returns. All the realms of mind and soul have seemingly been exhausted of exploration and there is no where left to venture. At this point perhaps, the only avenue appears to be a persistent state of alteration in which to continue to explore the edges of the unknown. Diving deeper and deeper into the abyss, until it devours you completely.
What is it that allows Addiction and The Artist to maintain such intimate bonds?
It is a genuine question, the meaning of which I continue to ponder. I believe deeply in the power of progressive thinking and advancement, the power of questioning and pursuing, and exploring oneself and others through pushing the bounds of artistic expression. Perhaps in that though, there is a limit, a threshold past which reference becomes blurred and the way back to where you once were is no longer clear. I’m not yet sure. Another in the limitless stream of questions facing a seeker in the pursuit of wisdom, but with exploration of each, closer than I was before..
State of Music Industry Taste
To a certain degree it is necessary to rely on tastemakers and critics to suggest, support and sometime unveil quality within an industry so that they, as experts, can vette the mass of material for fans of the craft. This is particular important in the area of art whereas it is a subjective medium and therefore more difficult to measure success and quality. With that said, methods seen so far don’t always equate to the ideal, especially given the influence of money and commercialism. I understand that to a certain degree money is a tenant of any “successful” industry, with commercialism an often necessary precursor, but they can often corrupt otherwise honest efforts. That is to say in another way, if left to only the influence of these, prospects such as art can be easily diluted and compromised to a significant degree.
It is my belief that the industry, in its current state of flux and re-invention, is fully immersed in a wave of this compromise. New tastemakers and trusted sources are emerging and gaining trust, but old avenues still play a big role. Terrestrial radio still play a very large part in music discovery for a large percentage of listeners and recognition from publications and awards are integral for credibility and exposure.
The most sought after recognition in the commercial realm of music is to receive a Grammy award. I say in the commercial realm, because from both a fan and artist perspective the rewards of connection and communication through art are exponentially greater when aligned, but that is another topic.. The Grammy’s are hosted and decided by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. Other than the notion of popularity as pertains to commercialism, they are meant and assumed to be an agnostic establishment that chooses nominations based on industry and artistic merit within a voting structure by select members.
Controversy surrounding Grammy credibility is nothing new, but it seems to be continuing down the wrong direction whereas artistic integrity and innovation make less and less of an appearance in each of the last several years. Granted, I can put bias aside and tolerate the merging of Hard Rock and Metal categories for Best Performance, and to clarify, these words come from that of a fan primarily rather than that of an artist, but the decline seems to be ubiquitous across genres. Far removed are the days of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd where talent, innovation and raw expression superseded sexual exploitation and clever marketing.
Historical Contrast of Nominees
With all that stated, let’s look some of this years nominees
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE
Always Alright - Alabama Shakes
The Stars (Are Out Tonight) - David Bowie
Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
Kashmir - Led Zeppelin
My God Is The Sun - Queens Of The Stone Age
I'm Shakin' - Jack White
Other than Imagine Dragons (who are actually pandering pop, adult contemporary) and Alabama Shakes (folk, adult contemporary), all the other acts came up in the 90’s and before. It’s one of my favorite songs by them, but didn’t “Kashmir” release in the 70’s?
A similar trend can be seen in the Metal Performance category:
BEST METAL PERFORMANCE
T.N.T. - Anthrax
God Is Dead? - Black Sabbath
The Enemy Inside - Dream Theater
In Due Time - Killswitch Engage
Room 24 - Volbeat Featuring King Diamond
Only Volbeat was even formed since the turn of the century, let alone Black Sabbath, who again, favorites and originators of the genre that they are, released most of their seminal work more than 30 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that they are releasing new material and I would rather have them nominated than much of the other material that passes for metal and rock these days, but there seems to be a disconnect here...
Looking at the BEST ROCK ALBUM category shows no difference in trend.
I agree that the mainstream media and majority opinion should not be relied upon to define art and quality especially today, but like to admit it or not, it does say something about culture as a whole. And it’s speaking volumes at the moment.
Taking a look back at past winners servers to validate the point that there has indeed been a loss and regression in artistic integrity supported in the music industry. Spanning the 90s and into the first couple years of the 2000’s there has been clear recognition of innovation and artistic voice.
1992 - NIN - Wish - Best Metal Performance
1992 - Ozzy - I Don’t Want to Change the World - Best Metal Performance
1994 - Soundgarden - Both Best Hard Rock and Metal Performances
1995 - NIN - Happiness In Slavery - Best Metal Performance
1996 - RATM - Tire Me - Best Metal Performance
1997 - TOOL - Aenema - Best Metal Performance
2000 - RATM - Guerrilla Radio - Best Metal Performance
2000 - Deftones - Elite - Best Metal Performance
2001 - TOOL - Schism - Best Metal Performance
Reflection on Artistic Integrity in the Mainstream
These bands also had commercial success, but it is hard to deny that they didn’t compromise their artistic voice and exploration to achieve it. Tool and Rage Against the Machine are both well known for loathing and shunning censorship as opposition to artistic voice and integrity. Nine Inch Nails and Deftones have continued to evolve their sounds and message never compromising by chasing the mainstream market. You may attempt to say that statement is bias and editorial, but contrasted with the acts at the forefront today, it is hard to even make a comparison.
Maybe this says something about the musicians as well as the sentiment and scene today. Something was lost in the over commercialization of rock emerging from the Grunge era with labels manufacturing bands like Creed to bastardize the principles and foundation of what made the genre so unique and impactful. Gone is dissent and rebellion in trade for delusional rock star fantasy rife with images of drugs, women, excess and no artistic voice whatsoever. Apparently the musicians and bands that best embody those traits today are the same ones that were doing it 20 years ago. This is incredibly unsettling.
With no disrespect, (some of the included are personal favorites, NIN, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin) much of that talent lost connection with vitriol and decent many years ago when they became rock gods, subsequently dampening the fire of desperation and is more inherent in those in a less comfortable position. Their influence lies dormant but still resonates in many underground musicians and artists, it just has to be rekindled.
Entertainment vs. Art
To me there is a clear delineation between art and entertainment, now more than ever, and we are drowning in a sea of cheap thrills and hollow entertainment. In the past there had always been room for both, but we as consumers have allowed art and dissent to diminish. The internet era of immediate gratification and infinite choice leaves us all one click on a sexually exploitative thumbnail away from leaving and abandoning the deeper connection with true art that we were so faintly trying to discover. We are allowing our animal selves to be exploited and our greater Selves to be comfortable with stagnace. The power to break the hypnosis lies in our collective hands.
All we have to do is wake up to our own awareness. Unite. And act.
Let the mainstream chase ledger lines of hopeful profit in the new industry by exploiting masses. In the mean time we will be exploring ourselves, finding our voices, and connecting with those who share the same fire and conviction. With more tools and opportunity than ever for connection and communication, together we will start a scene and movement to a new era of expression and uncensored artistic voice.
Together we can change art.
Together we can change minds.
Together we can change the world.
It appears that the masterminds behind the Grammy's show production have gone and proven me right, adding to the validity of an already cynical rant. After 3 hours of mostly pop musical performances during last night's production, Trent Reznor joined Queens of The Stone age and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckinham on stage to perform as rock's sole representation of the night. Not even halfway through a the collaborative set, credits and ads started to roll damnpening the display and ultimately cutting off the performance all together, snubbing the all star lineup who, I might add has collectively contributed quite a bit to the darker more rebellious side of music over the last 20 years.
Way to drive my earlier points home.
Trent Reznor agrees:
Music's biggest night... to be disrespected. A heartfelt FUCK YOU guys.
— Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) January 27, 2014
Music needs more dissent. So glad he spoke his mind rather than staying PC.
I've before mentioned our penchant and passion for the beauty and power lying in the depths of expression behind dark art. To some this medium of macabre serves to suit only superficial shock, but to those that can connect and possess the vision to look deep within the inspiration behind such pieces, the boldness and beauty of dark exploration reveals its power and intellect. The Conjoined series of art shows (curated by the talented Chet Zar) being one of the more complete and talented collectives of such found within Los Angeles, I was greatly excited to attend and discover what was in store.
Some of the best and most beautiful things the we encounter in life are not immediately obvious. Hidden doors and unmentioned pathways often reveal the most rewarding and fruitful experiences when unearthed. Such is the sentiment that reflected upon me as I approached the Copro Gallery tonight's home of Conjoined IV: A New Beginning in the hidden side streets of Santa Monica, an otherwise sterile and unsuspecting geography for a mecca of visual dark art display. Anticipation and excitement grew as I approached and merged with the vast and bustling crowd of alternatively attired patrons eagerly shuffling to get a glimpse of the exhibits on display.
Upon entering the gateway to the gallery I was first greeted with an oversized bust of an incredibly detailed Andy Warhol, aptly titled "Andy". The irony and artistic impact of the piece was overwhelmed by the incredibly fine detail found in its craftsmanship. The eerie parody seemed to be looking through me as I was mesmerized by the intricacy of its existence.
Immediately after the greeting of the host Warhol likeness there opened up a foyer will a vast wall full of diverse and beautiful paintings and other framed artwork. Each possessing its own unique personality and message, it was if they all immediately screamed at me at once to purvey the simultaneous origin and destination of their inspirations. The eye and mind were initially overwhelmed but eventually alighted upon a various few that spoke to me most intimately.
The two main showcase rooms were adorned with mainly sculptured, three dimensional artworks varying from fabricated sculpts to mixed media pieces all ornately detailed and speaking each a language of their own expression. Each of the rooms overflowed with engaged onlookers, weaving and walking amidst each other from one presentation to the next.
The quality of the artworks continued to impress as I made my way around the galleries taking in the nuance and craftsmanship of each. Here are some highlights from those that spoke to me loudest. I'll let their visual descriptions speak for themselves.
It was invigorating and inspiring to see such a great turnout for the event, full of like minded admirers of the beautiful underground dark art scene. Many of our friends and peers were there as well including members of the progressive ambient band Kolm Giog Yela and Tas Limur, the latter whom participated in the visual art show with aforementioned "Vesicahedron". Acclaimed music photographer, Kaley Nelson (who has shot our shows in the past) was also there chronicling through the talents of her medium of choice. I also had the pleasure of meeting Lustmord, who is known for his dark ambient music production and work with Tool and Puscifer. And I'm sure there were droves of other inspiringly creative people among the crowd whom I failed to recognize at the moment.
Overall it was an incredibly inspiring event of art and community and it reassured the strength of the dark art scene in Los Angeles. I encourage you to come and experience the exhibit for yourselves, it will be open until February 8th at the CoproGallery in Santa Monica. More information below.
Conjoined IV: A New Beginning
Dimensional Group Art Exhibition
Curated by Chet Zar
January 18 - February 8 2014
From Press Release:
CONJOINED 4: A New Begining curated by Chet Zar, Starts all over for the next chapter in the Conjoined Chronicle.The New Begining features some of the most outrageous and majestic work yet! Classic sculptures, Lifelike & Life sized models, Surreal assemblages, mixed media paintings, Art Toys and other conjoined work will all be featured. Curated by Chet Zar this show will include many artists of Pop-Surrealism as well as motion picture industry special effects and Toy Art. All the artists will be exhibiting their Top Notch #1 craft for A NEW BEGINING so don't miss it!
Full List of Gallery Pieces complete with titles and artists
More Notable Pieces
Image Below - Craig_Larotonda - "The Incarnation"
Today I pay respect and say good bye to my close friend, Rachel Devine.
She passed away this past Christmas which also happened to be her birthday. She was far too young and vibrant with life to have left so early, and her presence is already dearly missed by the many whom she touched.
Thinking back on our friendship I realize that I spent more time hanging out with Rachel in the past year than any of my other friends. We shared an avid love for music and art and she was always the first person I would go to when I wanted to go see live music. She loved all the same music as I, from Hard Rock to Metal, Industrial to Progressive, Ambient and anything that exuded the passion and expression of art.
She loved dark art and music. She saw the beauty in raw and unfiltered confession and expression found in those mediums. She was one of the few friends that I could count on to to go with me to the concerts and art shows that embodied those deep expressions. She understood and connected with these as I did, and that made her friendship so unique and valued. She was a person in whom I could confide and trust, and share vulnerable conflicts from the depths of a complex soul.
This is a new and difficult experience for me, losing someone close with whom you expected to share so many more memories and to be around forever. It’s a haunting and vacant sentiment to come to that reality. Through all the stages of dealing with tragedy, I am flooded with confusion and emotion. Denial, anger, sorrow, regret. I want to just text her or send a message asking if these vile rumors are true. Chronicling and re-reading conversations that were only days before, I stare at the digital reflection and type the words:
“Are you ok?”
“When will I see you again?”
“Why would you ever leave so soon?”
But I do not send them, only struggle to come to terms with a reality that seems so surreal.
There are so few people so unique, so vibrant and in love with art and the compassion that comes with embracing and understanding the beauty behind darkness and confessional expressions of others. Such unique people are a rare treasure in this predatory world, and the balance of it is tipped in the wrong direction with our loss.
The reflection on tragedy brings one to the realization and gratitude of the things that they do have. And for all with which I am fortunately given, I will continue to honor, grow and share with others.
We should all be grateful for the friends and family that we currently have and the ways in which they help and better us. Show them love and appreciation, you might not know when they will be leaving.
Rachel leaves behind friends and family that loved and adored her. But with them she also leaves her influence, and through that she will live on forever with the actions and expressions that she inspires.
Goodbye, my friend. I will think of you every time I see a stage. Forever missed, never forgotten...
Some of concerts that we attended together over the past two years:
NIN @ Staples
Depeche Mode @ Staples
Aesthetic Perfection @ Complex
HIM @ Palladium
Volbeat @ Palladium
Megadeth @ Gibson
Motorhead @ Gibson
10 Years @ The Key Club
Local shows @ The Roxy
Local shows @ The Troubadour
Stolen Babies @ Whiskey
Black Label Society @ SSMF
The Offspring @ SSMF
Marilyn Manson @ SSMF
Bad Religion @ SSMF
Linkin Park @ SSMF
Shows at Das Bunker
Kaura @ Bar Sinister
A Perfect Circle and Puscifer (were supposed to go together in May 2014)
Others I’m sure I missed...
… and many shows in support of us, Socionic
This time of year it is often appropriate, at least traditional, to look back and take stock of what has happened over the last year. In Japanese culture there is a word, Kaizen ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen ) which exemplifies a cultural method of continuous devotion to improvement by reflecting on and learning from past efforts. It is often used in business and engineering processes in origin, but can be applied to all things including Self improvement and greater life wisdom. Through reflection we can identify and apply Kaizen to the experiences and efforts that happened over the last year.
With an effort to stay true to the mantra of exploration and expression through various mediums with a goal of growth and progression on the path to Individuation, much of what we did over the last year was to explore that realm.
Shortly after the release of our first professionally produced album, “Identity” ( http://socionic.spinshop.com ), we put efforts into evangelizing it as well as informing people of the visuals and symbolism around it. The new age of the music industry finds artists and musicians often wearing many different hats and there was much experimentation done to try and reach out through social media to connect with those who appreciate our creative efforts. With all that is possible but also required, it is difficult to find a good balance between promotion and creativity, and we continue to explore that balance and learn from our efforts. At the end of the day the fruits of creation and its exploration outweigh any other effort and will always yield something positive for the undertaking. This is an important concept that becomes more and more personal to us and we strive to hold it close.
As part of completion of a milestone the original dream of this band, to express through rich mediums from aural to visual and farther, we also created and published two music videos for songs off the album. The exponential depth of the marriage of sight and sound is very intriguing and powerful and we sought to amplify the meaning and symbolism behind the songs by bringing the respective song artwork to life. With that approach we also wanted to do something different and unique in comparison to what is often a promotional effort of shooting a band in a parking garage with quick edits of pretty faces to market a product (cynical editorial sustained). So we spent significant time and effort over the middle part of the year producing them. We are quite proud of the outcome and feel it helps represent a big part of who we are as artists as well as an insight into where we would like to go in our creative journey.
Watch the videos for ‘Epiphany’ and ‘Stain Serenity’ here. Also check out explanations of the artwork and song symbolism in the ‘Identity’ section of the site: http://socionicband.com/identity
Advanced Photoshop Magazine Features
Continuing with the concept of visual expression, we also had the honor of being featured twice by Advanced Photoshop Magazine for the artworks for ‘Epiphany’ and ‘Ignorant Idiot’. The publication has international distribution, so it is a great honor to be included within their pages, especially given the quality of the visual content that they publish. A strong thanks to Valp (http://valpnow.com) for his incredible efforts in translating our visions for the songs into lush and vibrant artworks. It is humbling to get such positive response from both fans and critics.
Music Connection Magazine Accolades
Another huge and humbling accolade that we received this year was the inclusion in the Top 25 New Music Reviews of 2013 list by Music Connection Magazine. In February we received a great review and rating from them which cited: “Stellar performances, rich production and an ability to craft multi-level, Tool-like tunes that would improve any sci-fi/horror soundtrack.” And of ‘Epiphany’ they said: “[It’s] a winner, a rock-radio-ready cut with singer Michael's whisper/whine riding well above the showers of cymbals and riffs.” The review and rating were enough to rate us in the top of all submissions that they received this year. Again a huge and humbling honor given the credibility of an industry magazine to which we have long subscribed and that circulates and receives submissions nationally.
To close out the year, we have been busy working on new demos as well as finding new ways to express ourselves and communicate in between albums while we are working in the lab. We’ve already tracked some inspiring ideas and can’t wait to see what further exploration produces. We are also exploring plans for live performances in the new year which we can’t wait to return to as well.
Looking forward to 2014 we have high hopes and big plans. The prospects of the future are exciting and we greatly look forward to continuing conversations, and connecting with new people who share our passion for exploration and expression through music and art.
Happy New Year. Let’s make it one to remember.
'Epiphany' Tshirt Giveaway Instructions
Now that the ‘Epiphany’ Artwork Video is released, we want to see YOUR visual interpretation of the song. Now that you've seen our version, but we want to give you the chance to express yourselves as well. We will be giving away a FREE limited edition t-shirt to fans who create a video slide show and get 10 of their friends to give it a ThumbsUP!!
The limited edition tshirt was created by Jill Colbert of Manfish Inc who originally created a similar piece from inspiration of the song ‘Epiphany’. Now, by showing us your interpretation, you could win the free limited edition shirt for yourself. The contest has a limited amount of shirts to give away, so be sure to make your video soon! We're looking forward to seeing what everyone creates!
( Note: Shipping charges apply if outside the US )
Click here to begin - http://distrogr.am/?tnum=6800
Here’s what you have to earn your shirt:
- Create your Distrogram (Instructions below) - http://distrogr.am/?tnum=6800
- Distro (share) your Distrogram to your friends and show them what you’ve created and ask them to ThumbsUp your work
- When 10 friends have given your Distrogram a ThumbsUp you will get the shirt!
Get images from Instagram and Flickr and synch them to Epiphany. In the search box enter:
- a word, to search Instagram for images with that hash tag
- ilikes to pull the Instagram images that you have Liked
- a Flickr Photoset or Gallery URL (Explore Flickr Galleries) to pull those images
- f# followed by a tag to search Flickr images e.g. f#surfing pulls images with the tag "surfing" from Flickr
You can set the order of the images any way you like and remove any images you don’t want. When you’re ready click the Distro button to share your work with your friends asking them to give your Distrogram a ThumbsUp and if you get 10 ThumbsUps you get our Limited Edition shirt!
So, here I stand, another year further experienced and a couple days past the marked representation of that fact, commonly referred to as the Anniversary of Birth. An integer incremented as I more forward in growth of mind and spirit, and death of body. It is a glaring and looming stigma that floats about and above the notion of what all that means in respect to our place and progression within this existence. Yet I've always felt I've been moving closer to where I need to be mentally and within my own spirit and skin. Not without struggle and challenge have I learned more and more to love myself and fully embrace the realization of who it is that I am destined to become. The pursuit of creative exploration being the conduit for that connection. Where society serves to vex and suffocate, the greater harmony in the world encourages and embraces growth far detached from trivial cycles on the march to an end, as we know it anyway.
While the masses mired in detraction instill notions of fear and stagnancy, those who share and believe in the pursuit continue to applaud movements in opposition of such traits. Upon reflection, the once illogical now rewards my efforts, growth, and burgeoning understanding of Self on this anniversary of its inception. I celebrate and share the notion, progression and exploration with those that follow and adhere to the same mantra. I move forward into another iteration excited by what new progress and wisdom lies before me, and invigorated by what these once infantile efforts have brought me thus far. Without detraction or doubt I delve again into the continuing search of my own peace and understanding, excited by what I will find, and fully open in reception to those I will meet and be inspired by along the way. I hope too that I can connect and inspire in return so that our symbiotic reflections of energy further enrich our unified path. Together we will ascend above the sea of stagnation and realize the true nature and potential of our consciousness of Self.
- Michael M.
As mentioned before, we are fascinated and passionate about all forms and mediums of art as methods of expression and pathways to vain and understanding of the deeper and abstract layers of ourselves, others and the worlds we all share. As musicians primary art form is of sound, made up of rhythm, harmony, melody and words. Through the aid and vision of others, we have also foraged into visual, digital art and motion graphics, but there are many other avenues and forms through which to express.
Another such medium is that of makeup and performance art. Mo Meinhart ( momeinhart.com ), a makeup artist and creature performer here in Los Angeles, recently created a character inspired by the lyrics and visual art from our album, "Identity". She was kind enough to provide us with photos as well as answer some question about her process in creating the character.
As always we are greatly inspired ourselves by artists who create and express and who fuel each other creating and connecting a circle of creation and constructive energy, helping to sharpen the vision of each other through expressive perspective. We encourage anyone who creates in any from, from paint to digital and motion, to music, prose and any other medium to share their creations with us, so that we all might inspire each other to new levels of exploration and vision.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into creative makeup?
Makeup has always been my creative outlet. I recently moved from Florida to Los Angeles to learn more about prosthetics and special effects makeup by attending Cinema Makeup School. Creative options are endless in this form of makeup and I ended up falling in love with it, learning something new everyday.
2. What was the main inspiration for the this character?
The artwork that represents Socionic is incredible, It reminds me of a Dali painting in the sense that every time you look at it you discover something new, whether it a figure, symbol, or even an emotion. The lyrics "reach through the dark to find the light" and artwork from epiphany inspired this piece. I believe individuals go through a sort of metamorphosis throughout their life, shedding their past evolving into a new with a sense of enlightenment yet vulnerability.
3. What are some other ways that you draw inspiration for your creative work?
Like any artist inspiration can come from anywhere; an emotion, nature, history, fashion, architecture, textures...etc. In this piece I was exploring texture...
Lately I have been fascinated with organisms under a microscope, the beautiful patterns, shapes, textures and saturation of color is fascinating.
4. How was the application done for the body makeup? Also, the logo symbol on the back is impressive, how was that applied?
Some of the best ideas and creations come from being resourceful. First, I applied eye shadow to my eyes and airbrushed a gunmetal metallic color on my face, neck and shoulders. Using alcohol colors and a chip brush I spattered warm and cool tones to give the makeup depth and dimension. I enlarged the logo/symbol and printed it out using an ink jet printer, I then had an assistant transfer the logo on my back using acetone, this releases the ink from the paper and transfers it to the skin. Color touch-ups to the logo was made using eye shadow.
The cracked clay look is actually Kids Crayola Air-Dry White Clay...It's great for this kind of look because its non-toxic, very inexpensive and washes off with warm water even after its dry. Before application I mixed a 1 to 1 ratio of white clay and water to make a paste consistency. I then applied it with my hands covering specific areas. I am very flexible so for the back I loaded my hand up with clay stood looking in the mirror and reached my back placing the clay around the symbol. This is a messy effect but can produce great results.
5. The eyes do much to accentuate the feel of the character, how did you achieve that effect?
Contacts can help bring another level of life to a makeup. These are a pair of contacts that muddy the true color of your eye and also reflect a small amount of light when photographed giving the appearance of absence, lack of emotion or vulnerability.
6. In music we express with lyrics and sound, how do you use makeup to express yourself creatively?
By creating dimension using highlight and shadow, colors, design, & texture.
7. Thanks for your time and sharing this awesome artwork with us. Do you have anything else in the works or coming up that we can look out for?
As of right now, a few of us are working on a Spider character for Comic-Con. We had presented this character at Monsterpolooza and it received such great feedback we were asked to represent Cinema Makeup School at Comic-Con with this creature. I am also a model and creature performer and I love bringing these creatures to life!! When you spend so much time creating and developing a creature you know how you would want the creature to act and behave. After Comic-Con, Son of Monsterpolooza is coming up in October, I am brainstorming with a few concepts that I would love to present there.
Photographer - Ann Summa
Comic-Con Spider Character
I've always considered myself to be somewhat compassionate and progressive in thought, and often times in active pursuit of empathy even initially evaluation of another party appears selfish and short sighted. With that said, there comes a point at which you must identify something for what it is and confront ignorance with the aggressive base mentality that it requires. Definitions with which to describe simple ignorance should not be extended into eloquence when there is none to be had. Anger exists for a reason, it’s application is clear and direct in response to offense.
The inspiration for the lyrics of this song contained a list of names. Names of people with whom this writer had irrational conflict that was unresolvable for at least the given time. I think that it is something to which we all relate, and maybe some of us have many lists. Collectively they inspired the state of this expression.
Note: To protect the self assumed innocent, said names shall not be published here.
INSPIRATION / MEANING
Excessive tolerance and the perpetual notion of maintaining a positive perspective and conceding everyone the benefit of doubt eventually leads to a threshold that will be crossed. A breaking point on the edge of a limit. Innocent naïveté on the side of compassion leads to an influx of resentment when it is continually betrayed. With others, the foundation of logic and reason aren't always the chosen place from which to build as one might assume. The ravenous ego seeks to gorge it's appetite on anything but rational in pursuit of its devices, for some rendering all other logic, compassion and empathy inert in the shadow of its influence. It blinds the mind’s eye, in some cases its apparently permanent.
The transformation to that realization that reason and compassion can cause no effect on certain people was a difficult and painful one. Something on which I based all my evaluation of truth, could be rendered useless in application toward some. At which point the ability to tolerate and navigate become illogical. The conscious defers to the unconscious. Thinking turns to feeling. And there is a reason that our emotions exist and play such a role in our judgement and action. Nature and forces older and greater than our consciousness have deemed it so. There comes a time at which there is no other option but to defer to our animal self. For preservation of self as well as the beliefs for which we all fight so hard.
The visuals for the artwork are inspired by the notion of irrationality, but also exclusion. The notion of a group of people, who are seemingly devoid of reason and compassion still have sway over such forces through collective ignorance and adherence to their own set of selfish and blind beliefs. Their power comes in their union, aligning to perpetuating the false essence of their actions and beliefs in lieu of worship of the Ego.
These concepts are expressed within a theme loosely based on the mythology of Cassiopeia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiopeia_%28mythology%29 ) and exhibit a visual style somewhat inspired by Greek mythology. The symbol for the artwork is also based on the constellation which was named after Cassiopeia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiopeia_%28constellation%29
A metaphorical connection also exists where as the story goes, Cassiopeia was beautiful and fortunate, but also arrogant and vain, the latter of these traits leading to her downfall. The sentiment of this song strongly resonates the implication and eventual decline brought on by hubris.
The search for Self. The path to peace and Individuation. At the time of conception (many years before the song release), I didn't even understand what these concepts meant, but the lyrics and sentiment came as if a foreshadowing of what would become a life long journey. Written early in that journey, the tone may skew bleak, but from that was born a greater and more positive insight which I now better understand.
INSPIRATION / MEANING
The search for true Self and the path to inner peace leads to questions. New doors opened reveal exponentially more divides and decisions. Stepping through each threshold elevates understanding and moves you ever closer to to who you are meant to become yet with each answer comes more questions. Understanding folds into itself leaving you feeling farther from your perceived destination than you were when you began. The keener the perception and the broader the view, the more complexity, detail and possibility can be seen and conceived. Many choose not to continue down this path because of such near maddening pursuits to completion and what we might see as understanding. They stop at one of those doors and turn to the side, choosing not to reach and reveal what might lie on the other side. They instead live out their mortal life as was defined and limited by the body which holds and defines it within this immediate world. They eventually shrivel away to dust in the soil from which the vessel originally sprouted.
Those that choose to continue on, unwavering, through doubt and uncertainty, will continue grow, and expand their vision beyond bounds that were never before known to exist. They will move path the mundane constructs that to which their animal and physical vessel holds limitation, and become privy to so much more than what is initially shown by this world. By choosing the path of boldness and struggle, the reward of persistence and devotion will lead to a new richness of vision an understanding that only those that possess such fortitude will have the pleasure of experiencing.
This is what I believe. Though the path is often darkly lit, sparsely traveled, and the obstacles encountered seemingly ominous and unpassable, the reward of ever progressing and fulfilling the hunger of the deeper Self is limitless and infinite. It has the power to bring wisdom and understanding to every moment of this existence. The imagery contained within this video is an extension of these original concepts, transformed into symbols and a take on the visual representations within the essence of that journey. Seeking, progressing, growing, ascending, forever…
The original vision for the music video for ‘Epiphany’ was very ambitious and large in terms of scale and effort. Everything from mixed CG, live action, to a trifecta of atmospheres reflecting planes of existence through which the protagonist traverses via physical body, consciousness and subconsciousness. As with many things encompassed in this project, the time, budget, and energy involved in the effort quickly became unrealistic. As much as we wanted to fulfill that vision, as an independent band, it was simply unrealistic, and we figured we might want to write, record and release more songs one day was well, so decided to leave some energy for that.
A decent amount of initially planning and storyboarding was done regarding the initial effort however, two concepts of which are described in the following as the “Planes Reference” and “Original Storyboard”. Some of these concepts made it into the existing video, many of them did not. Both of these diagrams and the concepts therein preceded the actual artwork for ‘Epiphany’ that was included in the album.
The “Planes Reference” diagram roughly describes the abstract journey of Individuation juxtaposed onto the metaphysical realm mapped against the composition of the parts of the song. The diagram describes the traversing of one through each of 4 planes:
Literal / Physical
Ego / Material Juxtaposition
Divine Infinity or Ultimate Completion
Each section has rough symbolism and imagery to describe the visuals that would correspond with each scene and level respectfully. Along each respective plane, the constructs within evolve along the timeline of the journey, the physical realm decaying and crumbling with time, the Ego/Material realm merging and blending the conscious and subconscious over time, and the Subconscious realm becoming more detailed and complex as it approaches the final realm of infinite divinity. The climax of the journey relapses the transition through each of the planes into infinity.
The “Original Storyboard” diagram matches more literal imagery and environmental context to the storyline of the journey described in the “Planes Reference” diagram. Again, the diagram maps the sections of imagery and theoretical concepts against time and the sections of the song, naturally from left to right, and also matches each section with lyrics from the song. Here each section describes the imagery with a correlating concept along that journey to Individuation relating to the phases of struggle that one might encounter on that path. These phases also posses loose reference to the maturation of mind and spirit as might pertain to growth of the physical body and conscious mind through the more relatable process of adolescence.
The phases of Individuation described in this diagram are outlined as follows:
- (Pause / Reflection)
- Brink of first step into abstract unknown
- Potential loss of Self
- TAKING THE LEAP
- First taste - juvenile approach to understanding
- Unknown / Fearing
- THE FIGHT / LOSING CONTROL
- Caught in tumult
- Feeling outside yourself from inner reflection
- AGING / LIVING / PASSING
- Time marches on
- The world waits for no one
- Internal constructs materializing on terrestrial plane
- Understanding of inner being progresses
- Making that understanding a part of the material existence
- ACCEPTANCE / UNDERSTANDING
- Success (what you wanted)
- Ascension toward COMPLETION
- INDIVIDUATION / COMPLETION
- Inner Peace
- Connection with Deity / Infinity
- Completion / The concept of “Heaven”
VISUALS / SYMBOLISM
The visualization of the crops represent a metaphorical dichotomy of the growth and evolution of the physical body juxtaposed with that of the spirit. Throughout the field there exists various stages of growth and decay in each plant. Many follow the same cycle, budding and blossoming with their eyes set on the sky, but most, when at the integral point of conscious choice, where the possibility of ascension and spiritual growth is presented in an ambiguous and infinite sky, choose to cling in fear to the ground in which they budded and still hold root, and therefore follow the fate of their mortal coil as its cycle completes and they wither to the ground.
Ascension / Beams
The energy beams shown in the video, connecting ground and sky, represent the extroversion of the mind and its flowing connection with and between all planes of existence. [reference planes diagram]. As an individual entity fights and struggles to ascend, abandoning the limits of the physical world and the familiarity and control of the vessel that held it, greater forces aid and guide ascension, consuming, overcoming and transcending. Moving to another plane.
The concept of the temples, one in the far left distance, and the other in the far right distance, represent the wisdom and ideology on which we build and are able to stand upon, allowing us to reach higher and higher than previously capable. The left temple symbolizes historical wisdom and discovery. The historical temple could be described as ‘Historical Collective Wisdom and Experience’.
The right temple symbolizes theoretical projection and conjecture which we can use to postulate our future progress and direction. The future template could be described as ‘Philosophy’ and ‘Metaphysics’.
These pillars light the way of progress and ascension, giving us the tenets on which to build the strength to overcome fear, dogma and tradition to look upward from within and move beyond and transcend.
2 becomes 1 Symbol
The triangle symbol found in the ‘Epiphany’ artwork is loosely derived (employing some artistic license) from both the concept of ‘one becomes two’ or the Axiom of Maria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_of_Maria), and, more visually, the symbols of the I Ching (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching). It represents the process of growing awareness, individuation and the realization of true Self. The single bottom shape ascends each of the rows to become two at the third and top level. The symbol in itself has four shapes, which in its completion and description of the whole process represents wholeness, completion and arrival.
The third is the transcendent function, described as a "psychic function that arises from the tension between consciousness and the unconscious and supports their union"; and the one as the fourth is a transformed state of consciousness, relatively whole and at peace.
The ultimate culmination of the journey and path of spiritual growth and realization, superseding and separating from the limiting physical existence is depicted as the symbol of infinity, by the lemniscate. In this case an upright lemnicate that is included as part of the seal used in our logo. This idea here represents completeness, the arrival at inner peace, understanding of Self, full Individuation, divinity, infinity. This concept at its foundation is hard to conceive let alone define, and the asymptotic approach of such is completely different for everyone. The purpose of an attempted description here (both in text and in symbolic visuals) is to support and encourage the search and seeking of such a concept, whereas that effort will always bring you closer to the destination, however far it may yet remain. Searching, seeking, discovering, growing... Forever.
[From Creative Brief]
Concept of song is philosophy of self, introverted study; existentialism; looking for answers only leads to more questions; ultimately the cycle continues through generations ...forever.
Visual concepts: rebirth and expiration; some who fight to learn, ascend, others wither away with next cycle. This is depicted in sketch as rows of humanoids growing up as crops in a field like plants. Some are just hatching/budding/blooming, while others, at end of cycle are withering away into nothing. A very few ascend out of their encapsulation and above masses in a beam/aura of light [ref. images].
Center of image will be one of these figures ascending with arms back and head raised (see image refs). Possibly one or two others like it in background. For the most part the ground will be the budding and withering crops. The number of rows of “crops” should be a lot more than in sketch, can go into distant horizon. Should be a broad and vast scene with depth, (you do this very well in a lot of your pieces)