Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Beyond the Object-Beyond Sensation conference 2012
Beyond the Object – Beyond Sensation: A Narrative Report 2012 by David Adams Let me state up front that for me this conference last July in Hudson, New York, was probably the most inspiring, stimulating, and innovative anthroposophical event I have participated in during nearly forty years of involvement with anthroposophy. I’m not sure everyone there would feel this way, but it was a very diverse group of participants. This conference not only explored and showcased a number of new, cutting-edge modes of activity in the visual arts that anthroposophists are beginning to experiment with, in the general direction of adding elements of motion and time (and observer involvement) to the visual arts to give them more of the nature of music, a direction that Rudolf Steiner said art must take in the future. It also can be seen as pioneering a new mobile structure for an anthroposophical conference – partly by the design and openness of the planners, partly by the creativity of those present, virtually all of whom were visual artists and/or musicians. This new form of anthroposophical gathering is essentially permeated by the artistic element but also brings deep content in a way that leaves the participants free to attend to it, even to modify it, as well as to deepen it with further contemplation and activity, or not. Participation is possible at a number of different levels simultaneously. However, I’m not yet sure how much this sort of approach can be extended to other kinds of conferences on other topics. Still, it gives me hope that anthroposophy may, in fact, continue to evolve in the forms of its expression. In my opinion, Beyond the Object’s key innovative element was two open, ever-changing, semi-joined central installation-art areas that involved stimulating, performing, absorbing, and reflecting the very events of the conference in “the installation” and changing it as appropriate each time. It felt as if those of us in Hudson were placed in a kind of threshold transformation zone or crucible. We lived an artistic life those intensive three days, and the processes of artistic creativity enveloped us from all directions. Our habitual or perhaps even drifting everyday selves were taken into the pressure cooker of the conference and emerged clearer, more inspired, and directed, each in our own individual ways. This will be difficult to capture in words in the form of a report, but I will attempt it, mostly in the form of a chronological narrative of the events of the gathering. It also does not help for the task of sharing that photography of conference events and artworks was difficult, due to the generally dark and shifting light conditions where the conference took place. The conference exhibition, titled “Spacing Time,” opened the evening before the conference formally began, starting at 4:00 on Thursday, July 19, in the “Great Hall “ of the Basilica, a former factory/warehouse building now devoted to cultural purposes in Hudson, New York. Since the artists exhibiting also spoke about their work at the start of the conference, I will cover the works included a bit later in this report. At 5:00 was shown a somewhat rambling film, which seemed to me to be about the mysteries of destiny and incarnation, by performer/filmmaker/Waldorf graduate Sampsa Pirtola, from Helsinki and Los Angeles, with some added live rap/spoken poetry by Los Angeles spoken word artist Matre (Matt Sawaya), who, among other things, is active internationally in the Youth Section of the School of Spiritual Science (see www.mcmatre.com). The nearly all black-and-white film showed the tall, slender figure of “the world’s greatest unknown rock musician,” Immanuel (who is “managed” by Sampsa and whose name, by the way, means “God with us”), briefly performing on stage and then seemingly searching for his destiny in various contemporary settings. (Immanuel is really Sampsa’s performance alter ego.) Among other things in the film, we saw Immanuel with guitar slung over his shoulder along with Matre seemingly wandering by vehicle and on foot through a mountainous southern California wilderness that looked something like Joshua Tree National Park, intercut with scenes of the culminating fire from last year’s Burning Man festival in the northern Nevada desert, scenes from an Occupy protest in (I think) Los Angeles, graffiti art in a Los Angeles neighborhood as well as an art gallery with poetic narration by Matre (who spoke of “a ray of light coming down through dark clouds,” “a landscape of expression,” and “an oasis of exploding creativity” giving life to even the darkest landscape), and ending with a large gathering (festival? concert?) of mostly young people, who followed Immanuel from a dark building out along a street where they were led to shake hands with him and then walk through a mobile “portal” (like a kind of detached door frame). As the film ended, Immanuel himself – with trademark sunglasses and unusually striped black-and-white shirts – appeared at the doorway holding that very framed portal, and we seventy-plus persons in the audience were all silently invited to arise, shake his hand, and walk through the “portal” from the “auditorium” space into the large hall of the Basilica. I came to understand this as Immanuel’s friendly invitation to us to join him in the somewhat magical and certainly artistic realm from which he comes, Iland (or Ilandea). We were then directed (with a bit of interpretive help by Matre) to form a circle of people around a large chalk circle previously marked on the concrete floor of the hall as part of the continuation of this piece of group-participation performance art. Placing the frame over one of the four chairs of the adjoining installation by Manfred Bleffert, Immanuel began to gesture to us and speak in some unknown language (sounding something like Italian with a bit of mixed-in German and English and probably Finnish). Somehow, again with a bit of interpretive aid from Matre, we understood that this small circle was to connect with the larger circle of the cosmos (macrocosm and microcosm). Immanuel then grabbed hold of some invisible vertical force or light ray, struggling to pull it down from the cosmic into the earthly circle (a difficult task that Matre had to help him with). After that, he wrote the word “Ilandea” in the center of the circle, distributing pieces of chalk and inviting us to also write a word in the circle (during which task he somehow disappeared). It seemed that nearly everyone wrote some word or phrase of inspiration and hope into the circle (sometimes with a bit of accompanying graphic form), a sense for which can be conveyed by the accompanying photographs (“peace,” “listen,” “patience,” “awaken,” “breathe,” “trust,” “connection,” “acceptance,” “modesty,” “fearless,” “nurture,” “love,” etc.). I came to understand “Ilandea” as a realm of human creative possibility, and it certainly proved its potency at this conference. That day being the birthday of Nelson Mandela, the chalk circle was later titled the Nelson Mandala by Sampsa and dedicated to him. Around 6:00 we were then called to move back to the auditorium/theater room to view a “color/light/sound performance” (or “vocal music/kinetic painting piece”) of William Blake’s early, dreamlike, visionary poem, “The Book of Thel” (1789). Created during the preceding July 14-18 experimental workshop on “Light, Color, Music, and Puppetry,” this was presented with a new kind of “puppetry” (initially inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s unfulfilled 1918 project for a new colored “light-play-art” as an alternative to cinema) on a large screen (maybe 12 feet high?) by a group of 5 puppeteers led by Nathaniel Williams and Laura Summer (also including Lisa Bono, Karen Dare, and Andera Williams) along with 5 singers. The presentation involved three overhead projectors throwing various prepared transparent colored backgrounds onto the screen, as well as some spontaneously painted backgrounds that were part of the performance, moving jointed “shadow puppets” (of an anthroposophical design, perhaps combined with a bit of Picasso influence), stencils and cut-out figures, reflections from patterned and segmented mirrors, as well as other special effects, the most impressive (in my opinion) being the delicate waving forms of nature beings created by blowing on clear trays of water placed on top of an overhead projector.1 After some cautionary words by Nathaniel that these new techniques were still in an experimental stage and an initial reading of a retelling of Blake’s poem by Ellen Cimono, the performance on the large screen began, accompanied by some extraordinary, very original, haunting, and moving – at times, even otherworldly – a capella vocal music and rhythms partly composed, seemingly partly improvised, and led by Marisa Michelson and Faye Shapiro, with additional accompaniment at times by Ellen Cimino, Katie Schwerin, and Don Jamison. The poem is basically a tale of a young virgin, the youngest daughter of the Seraphim, named Thel who tentatively moves from the realm of the unborn or innocence into the world of experience and earthly nature. She begins to explore the mysteries of sorrow, death, and the flesh through encounters with nature spirits in the form of a Lily of the Valley, then a cloud, then a worm, and finally a Clod of Clay (and/or “the matron Clay”), but then fearfully flees back into her unborn heavenly realm. The poem begins (and sometimes ends) with “Thel’s Motto” with its Blakean metaphors of sexual regeneration and the call to take the state of innocence into the state of experience: Does the Eagle know what is in the pit? Or wilt thou go ask the Mole? Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod? Or Love in a golden bowl? After this most unusual and interesting performance, Sampsa and Matre were joined by guitar player Seamus Maynard and Julian Seidenberg (beat-box)I think a couple of others to play hiphop-oriented music for appreciative listeners and dancers outside in back of the Basilica until after dark. Introductions The next morning the conference proper began at 10:00 – as an overnight rain continued to fall with only a small decrease in the hot temperatures – with a welcome and initial reading by our “M.C.” Seth Jordan of an inspirational poem selected by Matt/Matre, William Stafford’s “When I Met My Muse” (see sidebar). We then went around the circle having every person introduce themselves by name and place and a work of art they felt was like themselves (or to which they were particularly attracted). While there were citings of the usual number of paintings by Monet, Matisse, Chagall, and Klee, other, more unusual works were also mentioned, such as performance pieces by Joseph Beuys and Marina Abramovich, graffiti artists Saber and Retna, and works of modern music. We discovered that participants had come to the conference not only from New York state but from far-flung locations: Ontario, Israel, Germany, and several places in California, also including a few high school students from the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. Experiencing the Exhibition In introducing the exhibition in the great hall, Laura Summer suggested that the artistic process was more like going into a “space of meaning” with no specific artistic medium in mind in advance. We then walked around the great hall to view the various artworks on display, with the artist offering a short explanation or presentation of each work. First up was Lailah Amstutuz’s hanging assemblage piece consisting of a row of 37 test tubes full of red liquid and capped by beeswax, hanging in front of two windows in the brightest corner of the Basilica (see photo). We were encouraged to shake the tubes and observe the fluid inside (which turned out to be blood drawn under a nurse’s supervision from eight of her friends). My interpretive mind immediately rushed to references to the ego/sun forces in the blood and the warmth community of the beehive as an image of a futuristic spiritual community life – but one also could just appreciate the beautiful red colors and unusual substances glowing in the sunlight. We then moved on to Manfred Bleffert’s complex, ever-changing, Beuys-like installation, concerned, as he said, with the nature of America – part of an ongoing effort by someone European-born to understand the American inner and outer constitution in relationship to the forces of the American environment. He suggested that, not only could we expect his installation to continue changing “all the time,” but it would also change depending on how we looked at and felt it. The initial installation on Thursday afternoon, executed with the aid of Manfred’s two teenage sons, consisted in a path of parallel chalk lines and rope that extended down the main axis of the great hall and then “bent” around the edge of the center circle (the Nelson Mandala), featured a number of “stations” along the way (some with chalk writing on the floor in both English and German, forward and backward), continued out a side door of the hall, and ended in an adjoining room where some black paint long ago had splattered on the floor in a flood of light from a bright skylight above – an appropriate ending to Manfred’s path that thereby seemed to dissolve into light (especially after he enhanced the black splatter with some white material the next day; see figures X & Y). Gradually over the three days this “splatter” became surrounded, first by a loop of rope, and then by various large, flat, dark-painted wooden palettes or risers, upon which Manfred arranged various, changing configurations of small drawings and paintings (see photograph) as well as other objects. As the conference progressed, Manfred showed himself to be a master artistic shaper of both the given physical space and social environment of the conference. All along the path the various “stations” were marked in a variety of ways, including tone bars from a Bleffert wooden xylophone as well as a number of found materials that Manfred had located in the vicinity of the Basilica (bricks, metal pipes, wood, pieces of iron, etc.). In its initial incarnation the installation pathway featured a number of books and drawings at its various stations. While some books were closed or open to blank pages, others were open to pages filled with a dense handwriting in German and appeared to be Manfred’s own journals, concerned perhaps with his observations of American life and geological forces from his trips to North America over the past several years. By Friday morning the books had disappeared, many being replaced by further writings in chalk on the floor as well as paper drawings. See, for example, the illustrations of some of the individual “stations” in figures XYZ. Writing in English and German, forward and backward, at the beginning of the installation briefly and poetically referenced some of its themes: a book of life, the death penalty, contrasts of falling and progressing, even falling in love (figure 20). Manfred was kind enough to share with me a number of his many preparatory drawings or sketches, which is one way he uses to generate, research, and explore ideas both for his musical and visual artistic compositions. A few relating to the installation and its various stations are reproduced here. The installation also seemed to work with the theme of “black and white,” “dark and light,” or “death and life (forces)” as well as positive and negative electrical charges – themes also relevant to the forces of America. Some drawings suggest that one also could look (from above) at the stations as “vertebrae” along a “spine”, whereby the installation could also be seen (from above) as a bent human form (see drawing mysteriously titled “way of post-death to where?” figure 23)), perhaps a semi-fetal astronaut position (which would reflect a Beuys drawing; figure 24) on the journey to a new birth. I also should point out that Manfred has a way of artistic writing, both with his drawings and his installation, that mixes both English and German words and can turn some or all of these words backwards (but not the individual letters) or even upside down or apparently start to disintegrate certain words ¬– sometimes all of the above in a single line of print! While this can make for poetic juxtapositions and suggestions of multiple or metaphorical meanings, it also sometimes requires a fair effort of deciphering to gain some idea of what he is expressing. One of Manfred’s drawings for his installation is labeled “The radioactive forces of America and their relieving through the waters from the depths of the earth” (water being a common image of life forces, of the etheric) and shows the jagged or rectangular radioactive forces interpenetrated by weaving blue watery lines that transform them to become more irregular or organic (see figure X). Rudolf Steiner described how persons in America have a particularly strong connection to the rigidifying and densifying sub-earthly forces of magnetism, electricity, and gravity (working through the Ahrimanic human Double in our unconscious will life).2 To counter this influence, we need to rediscover the powers of life and resurrection that also live within our will and the Christianized life forces of the earth, like a kind of healing water flowing below the surface. This can also be a reference to our human social-etheric connection, as Steiner describes in his lecture The Structure of the Lord’s Prayer as relating to the petition “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” One is a member of a community by virtue of certain qualities or characteristics of the etheric body. . . . it is important for Man’s life in the community that his etheric body should harmonize with the etheric bodies of those with whom he has to associate. . . . The task of man’s etheric body therefore is to adjust itself to the etheric bodies of others. . . . Failure to achieve harmony with the community is the consequence of defects of the etheric body.3 This theme of a kind of redemption or transformation of the subearthly electromagnetic forces of America by the purifying power of water and etheric community is also echoed in the 18th-century American “Rosicrucian” fairy tale, “The Ramapo Salamander,” which Manfred has composed into a narrated musical presentation.4 At one point in that story holy water is sprinkled over the hero Hugo by his seriously ill wife as he is becoming snared/entranced by the power of the giant underground fire salamander (who is really an enchanted angelic being). This loving deed by Hugo’s wife causes her sacrificial death but also leads to an extinguishing by rain of the underground fire in which the salamander lives and the freeing of the angelic being, (also through the purity and love of Hugo’s daughter), who thereby learns to master not only fire but also water. This is again a kind of parable for the transformation of the forces of America into vibrant life forces that Manfred referred to in various ways in his installation. At some point during the conference someone painted onto the floor at the edge of the installation the word “WATER” in splashy light blue (see photograph). One of his “stations” (as well as certain later activities and adjustments) concerned itself with symbolic references to the human constitution of certain geometric forms: a square for the physical body, circle for the etheric (“life forces”) body, a lemniscate (or spiral) for the astral (“soul consciousness”) body, and a triangle for the ego, or self. One of his drawing studies for this feature is titled, “how to go to an end in America unsaid” and depicts the line of his installation as a progression through four forms (see drawing): first a doubled triangle of self, then a spiraling “electric coil” astral form (perhaps conflating the themes of radioactive/electromagnetic geological forces in America with the “death forces” of consciousness that the astral body brings), then the square physical world, and finally the round etheric body. Is he suggesting that the American path must progress from increased self-consciousness awareness of the electro-magnetic forces of our continent (and technological culture) that tend to direct us to the physical level of life, and only then can one find the way to emerge again into the abundant life (and will) forces also present in America? If so, this picture also resonated with certain later images in the conference. The most prominent station in the installation consisted of a close grouping of four hand-made wooden chairs with the “door-frame” from Immanuel still draped over them. Below the chairs was inscribed in chalk on the floor what I interpret as a kind of “American sun-cross” shape (a combination of the elements of sun-circle and earth-cross, of life and death ¬– used often in various versions in the early work of Joseph Beuys to refer to the Christ impulse within the earth; see figure X for a view of the cross with the chairs removed). As one can see from one of Manfred’s preparatory drawings (see figure), this cross, which has an element of polarity built into its very form, reflects on the one hand, a version of the Old Celtic and Irish Early Christian sun-cross ¬– an expression of the pure forces of the resurrected sun-being Christ now dwelling within the life forces of the earth.5– and, on the other hand, a kind of electrical wiring diagram with positive and negative poles. This preparatory drawing was made with a single continuous line that traced around the sun cross form three times, a kind of threefold cross. It seems to me an image of the polar potential of forces within America, both strong electro-magnetic forces and Christianized life forces. As we walked over to view the installation, Manfred related his imagination (or parable) behind the chairs in the form of a little American story, concerned, among other things, with these pervasive electrical forces on the American continent. He gave us the picture of a man who was sentenced to death in the electric chair by the government, but whose three friends sacrificially volunteered to hold his hand at the moment of electrocution. Because this caused the electrical charge to circulate through and be absorbed by all four men, the force of the current was not enough to kill any of them individually, thereby saving their friend from death. This sacrifice of the three for the one was also referred to by words in German chalked onto the floor at the “chairs” station (see figure X). Manfred then related a historical story from China that he said was like the opposite of the American tendency. During the Chinese Revolution the Yellow River was rising due to heavy rain, and it was feared that it would flood the downstream areas. Mao Tse-tung joined his hands with many others and stepped into the river, creating a wall of people that raised the water level so it flowed over the banks and over the upper countryside, thereby saving the lands downstream from flooding. America itself is the electric chair, said Manfred. Its forces are like we sat on them, yet we are connected to each other. This is different than anywhere else in the world. It is not possible to really live in America without transforming these electrical (“decaying light”6) and subnature forces into life forces (one message of this installation, and which can only be accomplished by creating counterforces the aid of Christ).7 We must start to change, he said, as he began to move the four chairs into a new configuration in the center of the Nelson Mandala circle. He first moved the “electric chair” into the center of the circle, then the other three chairs, which would mutually “free each other.” He formed a triangular arrangement of the three chairs that then supported the one “electric chair” above them with the “portal frame” slung around it and an earth-brick on its seat (see figure X). Manfred then took a rope from the path of his installation with one of the wooden tone bars tied onto it and slung it up and over one of the girders high up in the ceiling of the Basilica, raising and lowering it several times, and then also attaching the rope to the brick on the seat of the “electric chair,” while the rest of the rope continued to serve to mark part of the “path” of his installation (see figure X?). We then moved on to consider the first of Laura Summer’s large painting installations, Traveling. This consisted of 36 separate paintings on unstretched canvas arranged in 6 rows of 6 paintings each hanging on one side of the great hall (see photograph). She suggested we might consider our encounter with this work like a kind of walking interview, and she posted a set of interactive instructions for us to consider. These invited us to choose sequences of three or four of the paintings at a time, contemplate the gesture of movement between them (“Ask yourself, “What movement do I feel?’ Example: Is it a feeling of expanding? Contracting? Crouching down? Lifting up?”), assign qualities to this (and write them on pieces of paper provided nearby), and then try to figure out the overall theme of the work and also write that down. She had placed a few clues around the hall to tell us what the work is about and would add more clues over the next couple of days. Nonetheless, I only found out after the conference that it was based on passages from St. John’s Gospel, although at least a couple of people more or less figured this out through the observation exercise. I almost guessed this from one of Laura’s clues, which was a paper on a small table with a list of the chapters and verses used as the basis of each painted panel. We then looked at Jude Neu’s metamorphosis studies on the adjoining wall, both paintings and reliefs (see photo). These were from a sculpture class she took with Patrick Stolfo where the group first focused on patterns of plant metamorphosis, then forces of space and form, and then movement. They worked as a group on 12 clay reliefs, but these works apparently have been lost or destroyed. The whole group worked on a sequence of 7 pieces, 5 of which captured planetary gestures on space and form, and the examples displayed were just reflections of that group work. Along the far end of the great hall were hung Laura’s twelve “collage/paintings” related to the narrative of a booklet she had published titled let go the shore with the images based on her reading of Rudolf Steiner’s ca. 1888 “Credo: the Individual and the All,” which was only discovered in 1944 (see photos). Finally, Laura introduced her large, interactive “swinging paintings” work, Behind Color, with its strong red, blue, and yellow tones (see photo). This work also included a page of instructions for viewers posted on the wall nearby, which read as follows: “What is behind color? Look at the blue painting. Ask yourself, ‘How is it to be in blue?’ Look at the yellow painting. “Ask yourself, ‘How is it to be in yellow?’ Look at the red painting. Ask yourself, ‘How is it to be in red?’ Go around and see.” Sampsa Pirtola then discussed his film from the previous night and the Nelson Mandala created on the floor in the great hall. We were creating a cosmos in a circle. At one point it was as if Immanuel pulled down the logos in the form of beams of light with a great struggle (needing some help). In the film that preceded this there was a similar beam of light shining down from above in one of the Los Angeles graffiti pieces shown, bursting into the world below. He wanted to ask us to each pull down our own thread of the logos so that it descended on everyone. The circle formed and inscribed was an invitation for all of us to hold a space and create a higher potential. The Word can be considered like a seed for rhythm, like a seed we plant in the ground. Matt added: What is the water for that seed? Our attention is the water. The growth process will be finished by the closing of the conference. Another similar project was also mentioned in South Africa, where colored powder was used to make a mandala for Nelson Mandela. Along with this goes a concept of collective ownership as a way to transform the field. Perhaps it was this idea, along with the constant availability of chalk, that led some participants to continue to modify the “central installation” or to create new chalk drawings across the floor of the great hall as the conference progressed (see figure 40). At this point Manfred intervened, announcing that, because the earth in its rotation changes every seven minutes, he needed to again change his installation. Raising the suspended wooden tone-bar to hang it over the stack of the 4 chairs and link it through Immanuel’s portal-frame, he rhythmically raised up and lowered both of these objects on the hanging rope, proceeding to rhythmically swing and dance them about, as if to music, raising and lowering them from the warehouse rafters down to the floor again and up to a state of suspension in mid-air, concluding by making the portal-frame perform a little walking “dance” across the concrete until it came to rest leaning against the stack of 4 chairs. The Initial Four Workshops After lunch the participants convened again from 1:30 to 4:30 in their respective four workshops: 1. Kinetic Painting and Puppetry, led by Nathaniel Williams. “In this workshop we will paint with light and color using overhead projectors, dyes, paper, lighting gels, and cardboard. We will learn the basics of the tools and then experiment with creating small pieces on a large screen. 2. Performing Rudolf Steiner’s Fourth Apocalyptic Seal, led by David Adams. “The primary activity of this workshop will be to bring to life Rudolf Steiner’s static image of the Fourth Apocalyptic Seal by creating a work of performance art based on the seal and its numerous underlying occult meanings (involving movement, speech, music, costumes, lighting, etc.). A possible second performance art piece may also be created by the group. 3. Tone and Sound, led by Manfred Bleffert. “An exploration of tone and sound using improvisation with newly developed instruments.” 4. Translation from Text to Other Mediums, led by Laura Summer. “When we translate, be it from one language to another or from one medium to another, we must enter a space of meaning. In this workshop we will enter into this realm using text, paint, charcoal, light, shadow, ink, paper.” I can only report on the first day of my workshop, and a little bit of Manfred’s, since we had agreed to join our workshops for their last 45 minutes to explore some possible collaborative performance piece work. The first hour was spent introducing the six people in my workshop to the medium of performance art and to some of the many meanings of the fourth apocalyptic seal (see figure X), so that it would be possible to be at least somewhat creative and improvisatory in developing a performance art work based on it. This began with a brief history of this seal, adapted by Steiner from earlier versions and introduced with the other apocalyptic seals as part of the initial expression (“installation”) of anthroposophical visual art at the 1907 Theosophical Society International Congress in Munich. The seal’s multifaceted meanings include its relationship to mysteries of the human blood circulation (red and blue blood), the polarity of the red Jachin and blue Boaz columns in the soul, sun and moon forces (and Old Sun and Old Moon evolutions), Solomon’s Temple and the Temple Legend, wisdom and power, the Trees of Life and Knowledge, future states of human evolution, new Christ mysteries of the blood, and ultimately two fundamental cosmic forces or steams of uprising expansion and withering contraction that govern and project into all of life and evolution. In Munich the meeting hall was designed to surround participants with the color red or blue. I then circulated my 3-page outline of possible performance activities and narrations, involving speech, movement, music, and images for participants to read over. We spent the rest of the time beginning to explore the qualities of possible movements, speech sounds, or bodily imagery related to the two polar forces. After this we joined the “Tone and Sound” workshop, where we found the participants exploring the contrasts of tone and silence as well as the potential sounding tones of various found substances in the vicinity of the Basilica, especially a number of bricks that were being drug around by lengths of fishline in circular motions on the concrete floor. During the 45 minutes of our combined session I attempted to organize the participants to form outer and inner circles that would move and sound in different but connected ways as a moving image of the human constitution, a kind of “Moving Mandala,” as I titled this performance piece. The “breathing” outer circle represented the rhythmically repetitious and supportive qualities of the human etheric body, while the inner two circles (which rhythmically exchanged places) represented the more musical and colorful polar tendencies of the astral body (represented by alternation of sounding musical instruments and waving colored cloths), with the idea of a “silent ego point” in the middle of the circle (which originally was supposed to be a “cross” of four Bleffert glockenspiels tuned to the four tones of the “Tao,’ which is explained later). We didn’t seem to have quite enough people for this idea to be fully realized, and it was not always clear that the participants understood what we were doing. Afterward I learned that several people from the “Tone” workshop did not participate in this exercise because they had never heard the terms “etheric body” and “astral body” before. It was at that point that it first dawned on me how open the conference advertising and enrollment had been and how new some participants were to anthroposophy, if they even had any previous acquaintance with it at all. In any case, it seemed that more than half of the conference participants were still in their twenties (with a few even younger). Although the impulse and theme of the conference arose from anthroposophical concerns, anthroposophical terminology was rarely used in presentations, conversations, and workshops. While an announcement was soon made about the use and understanding of anthroposophical terms, after that it seemed to me that overt anthroposophical content played a more “passive” role, being present and available for those knowledgeable, interested, or curious, but not being central to any group activities. Setting the Context We convened again in a circle in the great hall at 4:30 for an hour’s talk by Nathaniel Williams to help set the context for the conference and its theme – purposely scheduled only after the participants had already accumulated a fair amount of observations and experiences without much conceptual content. As were most of our events, this was opened with a few minutes of spoken, spontaneously improvised, poetic, rhyming rap by Matt, including the sentiment of wishing to “dismiss my overload before it explodes. . . . let myself ignite and observe myself as I light up.” Matt continued these contributions throughout the conference, doing a brilliant job of capturing and reflecting back to us the aesthetic process of striving and transformation that we were invited to go through during the conference. Nathaniel began by asking the question of what connects the artistic experiences we’ve been working with here. He suggested we consider and compare ideas from three people about how to approach artistic experience. Heinrich Steffens (1773-1845), the first, was a 19th-century Norwegian-born scientist of geology, chemistry, and optics. At one point in his life he found himself deeply moved and weeping in front of a Raphael painting of the madonna and child. At another time he had a moving experience in reading Goethe’s Faust, Part 1, where the character of Faust destroys the life of the innocent girl Gretchen. When later in his life (1840-1845) as a Professor of Idealistic Sciences Steffen wrote his ten-volume reminiscences titled What I Experienced, he noted these two key artistic experiences as signposts in his life that gave his life meaning. Since artistic experience is a furtherer of knowledge, he wrote, people need to make the effort to understand what happens in artistic experience. He asked how we can approach and do justice to artistic experiences, and gave examples of people who struggled with this. The second person Nathaniel discussed was the postmodern French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, who in his 1979 book The Postmodern Condition sought, among other things, to understand the nature of creativity.8 Lyotard argued that the moment postmodern art exists, it is no longer postmodern. Postmodernism is always that which doesn’t yet exist; as soon as it already exists, it is modernism. For Lyotard artistic experience was always making what doesn’t yet exist and will always contradict what does exist. Since art fights against coherence and totalities, we want only differences. Otherwise you are actually moving people toward violence, and even war (the failures of modernism). The job of the artist is to break rules, to form contradictions – rebellion rather than beauty, which is an aesthetic of the past. For Lyotard, the real artist needs to break apart the coherent varieties that make up art (and society) today. Thirdly, Nathaniel cited Julian Stallabrass, a professor of art history in England and author of many books, including the Oxford Press’s Introduction to Contemporary Art. One of the principles of art of the last forty years that he cites is innovation, especially a tendency toward hybridization in a disintegrating mode – that is, putting things together that don’t go together in order to break up our usual, habitual sensations. Stallabrass mentions the various Lego-toy works by Zbigniew Libera, illustrating skeleton figures, concentration camps, watchtowers, barbed wire, etc., using toys to express the most horrible things human beings do to each other. He also cites the Christian religious works of Chris Offli – for example, combining the Virgin Mary with porno images (or elephant dung). Sallabrass notes how artists are often interested in creating a sensation in this way in order to attract a place in the artworld and establish a unique individual “brand” or style. For Stallabrass art is about making objects that will sell, and the art market is a laboratory to find out which works will sell the best. Thus, the artwork is objectified into a commodity. Nathaniel asked us to compare Stallabrass and Lyotard: Lyotard argued that artists are called to make metaphors and contradictions, to work against beauty, to speak what is taboo. Stallabrass sees art as a free realm for creativity and experiment, although sooner or later it becomes done for its own sake. The effects of free-market capitalism create horrible conditions in the world. For example, he argued that if you want to remove capitalism, you also have to remove artistic freedom, to take out everything that doesn’t have a specific use. Free-market capitalism is intrinsically linked with artistic freedom; art is just the “research and development” activity for capitalism and the market. Thus, the free artworld today is just the nourishing body for the production of useless salable commodities, unsustainable production, and global oppression. Nathaniel then asked: Is it possible for me to recognize Steffen’s deeply meaningful experiences of art when I read Lyotard or Stallabrass? No, it is not. He does not trust them to sense the area of art that he especially experiences and values. Deconstructionist philosophy holds a superficial definition of art, and Stallabrass just writes about the economic value of art objects. Neither seems to recognize what I experience about art and even denies that a unique artistic experience exists (or that it is valuable if it does exist). If, for example, you look at the paintings of Paul Klee, a certain playfulness appears that can’t be quantified. It is ephemeral and subtle, difficult to pay attention to, easily slipping out of our consciousness. This conference is about trying to pay attention to artistic experience. This can be difficult because, as Rudolf Steiner said, as we move into the future, art is less and less about objects. Now more and more what is most interesting in art is what is not visible, is the subtle experience that happens within you and me. Art really lives “slightly beyond the object.” Friday Evening Performances That evening began with a musical concert by Manfred on his specially designed glockenspiels with alternating copper and iron bars, as well as another all-iron glockenspiel for contrast. Manfred had chosen the side room to the great hall for his concerts (the same location where his winding installation ends by emerging into a “beyond-the-physical” or “after death” realm), flooded during the concerts with an early-evening warm, golden light from the skylights above. Listening to his seemingly improvised music certainly also led the mind’s attention “beyond the physical” as well. This was followed by another performance of William Blake’s “The Book of Thel,” presented for the full conference (and some visiting community members), followed by my program of projected works of historical examples from the tradition of “visual music.” I showed these in the context of Rudolf Steiner’s unfulfilled 1918 initiative with Jan Stuten to create a new colored “light-play-art” of forms and colors moving to music or speech, but controlled by the human being” as an alternative to cinema. A diverse tradition reaching back several centuries, “visual music” or “color music” includes the invention of color organs and other similar machines, abstract experimental films, concert light shows, and more recent projected computer animation works. All of these works strive to move beyond the fixed visual-art object, bringing more time, motion, and music into the visual arts. We looked at a couple of early films from the 1920s in Germany by Viking Eggling and Oskar Fischinger (who was very interested in anthroposophy at the time), followed by two later color animated films by Fischinger, one set to jazz music and one silent (see photograph). Two films by California artist Jordan Belson followed (who was inspired by Fischinger after his move to Hollywood in 1936), Samadhi (1967) and Epilogue (1984), showcasing examples of his very spiritual approach to setting moving colored forms to music (which Belson also often composed; figure X). We then viewed a couple of excerpts of silent, flowing color works created by Thomas Wilfred in New York as part of his “lumia” art on specially invented machines (the Clavilux) in 1932 and 1948 (figure X). Finally we concluded with three somewhat more recent works by experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, scratched and painted directly onto filmstrip and silently projecting a more rapid dance of ever-changing colors expressing various themes (see figure X). Workshop on Form Saturday morning I noticed that Manfred’s installation had again changed. For one thing, the four chairs were now facing outward at the periphery of the central circle facing all four directions, in an expanded cross-like formation (suggesting to my mind the cross-in-circle designs of ancient Celtic and Irish and early Christian art). Secondly, the dark, wooden “palettes” in the side room were covered with numerous, methodically arranged small drawings made by Manfred. The drawings were placed in very orderly, gradually metamorphosing, gridlike patterns – reminding me of the orderly world of the music we had heard in this room the previous evening – in contrast to the more irregular, even somewhat chaotic “earthy” part of his installation winding through the great hall (see photographs). After an announcement was made that participants could choose to change workshops today only, our activities began with Nick Shiver Pomeroy’s whole-group workshop on experiencing form. Nick commented that today is a difficult time for experiencing forms. We tend to see forms as objects, as things, instead of focusing on formal qualities, but we must expand our view. What do we need to make a form? He began to answer this by introducing the idea of experiencing a language of form-qualities with various potentials and polarities, which Nick illustrated with drawings on the blackboard: One drawing based on Beuys depicted a range of “form” from one extreme of form-too-fixed to the other extreme of formless chaos. Another reflected form in nature, ranging from heavy, gravity-bound forms (and substances) to light, uprising plant forms, such as a shamrock or conifer. A further drawing, reflecting one by Steiner, contrasted weight bearing down from above and supporting forces from below. The balanced forms halfway in-between the extremes create a natural center. Nick then had us don aprons and form from a local whitish-gray clay thirty-some balls approximately 6-8 inches in diameter to use as “particles” to carry out several spatial formations and phenomenological form-perception exercises at a scale that called on whole-body perceptions. First he had each individual simply place his or her clay ball in some location on the floor within the circle of the group, and we noted how this seemed to create multiple “centers” as well as seeming “orbits” of some balls around the centers as well as other more chaotic movement. Then Nick asked the group to adjust the location of the balls so that they together formed one organic experience, which, among other things, led to a few balls being placed on top of other balls (see photograph). Next Nick asked us to see how concentrated we can make the clay balls within the circle, how “tight and uncomfortable” we can make them using our creativity for form (see photograph). Finally, we explored how expansive we can make the balls go. We discovered that we still need to retain the feeling for movement and relationship between the balls as well as a relationship to the center of the circle; otherwise the energy between the balls seemed to become dissipated or exhausted. Other suggestions were to see the balls like stars in the nighttime sky or to experience a kind of breathing between them. In the following short discussion of these exercises people shared the observations and questions these experiences had raised for them. One comment concerned developing a new understanding for just what is possible to be the center and what the periphery, in a given formation. It was felt that too much density was generated where the balls were too close to each other. What was essential about being a center? How many centers could there be in an expansive formation of the balls? Is it possible to experience the balls on the “periphery” as also forming centers, or even being another kind of center? If so, then this seemed more one-sided and in a state of constant movement – a more dynamic experience. The area of a center ball in the midst of other balls seemed a tranquil zone. Even the spaces between balls could be experienced as “centers.” It was also noted that when we define a center, we also define where our intentionality is – that is, “this” center. We also can ask what area we intend as part of “our space.” To help reveal this, we were reminded not to neglect our first impression, our naïve intention. We were also asked to consider “who is speaking” in the way the clay balls are being moved and arranged. Are the patterns we find more accidents of our birth, results of some kind of conditioning from growing up in, say, 20th-century North America, or have we been striving to transcend that level? At the end of this Manfred made some further “adjustments,” both to the arrangements of the clay balls and to his installation. First he began turning the final “expanded” arrangement of the balls into a kind of artistic installation, covering certain groups of the balls with the blue denim aprons, and asking us to observe the effect. Then he asked individuals to take one of the balls and move it beyond the circle of the workshop exercise into relationship with the “central installation.” So some of the clay balls (even some of the aprons) were placed by various individuals into positions within Manfred’s installation and the Nelson Mandala, also by him. One interesting conjunction I noticed was the molded earth/clay of the balls on top of and next to the large rusted iron element in the installation – two different substances from the earth, “sounding” in different ways with different qualities (see photographs for some of the results). After this session and over the next day or so, these balls seemed to be used more or less as carriers or signs for the group process we had experienced of balancing soul qualities. They continued to be placed and replaced around the hall in connection with the main installation and other features. Another comparative meaning I perceived in the installation was in the contrast between the red clay brick and the white clay balls: the dry, old bricks from the structure of the Basilica represented the past, rectangular, already formed earth, while the “purer” white clay balls were recently formed of fresh clay, still damp, and could be thought to represent, variously, the life forces of the earth or a more conscious and living artistic practice for the future. As I will describe, it seemed as if Manfred in his installation and workshop, tried in several ways to enliven or raise up the old bricks/earth element: 1. They were incorporated into the artistic installation that gave them new meanings. 2. They were made to sound and move by dragging them in circles over the concrete floor on attached lengths of fishline or scraping them on the floor in rhythmic musical patterns and forms. 3. Manfred in one of his preliminary drawings and in his panel presentation (see description immediately following) contrasted a dry, powdery, dead earth element (with a strong relationship to radioactivity and electro-magnetic forces in North America) with the healing, even etheric forces represented by water (including subearthly aquifers; see drawing X). What in Contemporary Art Has Something of the Future in It? At 11:15 we reconvened into a circle to listen to and discuss for an hour with a selected panel – Faye Shapiro, Manfred, and myself – on the topic of “What Do You See in Contemporary Art That Has Something of the Future in It?” Each of us made a short (ten minutes or less) introductory presentation and then the floor was opened for both questions and other contributions to the theme. Matt’s opening rap spoke of the courage to face death and being witnesses of mystery and included the following line: “Something is being born all around us. Let it grow.” Manfred began with a somewhat enigmatic presentation. First he drew on the slate blackboard a chalk circle and next to it a vertical line out of water – two quite different substances and shapes, emblematic of the contrast of life and death forces he has been working with in his installation. He said this related both to the panel theme and to his larger installation. He began by mentioning John Cage’s 1950 premiere in Cologne of his famous “silent composition, 4’33”( “4 minutes, 33 seconds,” although I thought it premiered in Woodstock, NY, in 1952) when Manfred was age 5. It was soon afterward, around 1955, that the question arose in Manfred: “What is new?” Every 7 to 8 seconds there is a different relationship between the sun and the earth. There is a breathing, circulating relationship or interval between them, which can be seen in the waves of the ocean. So this question of “What is new?” can be seen as continually arising every 7 to 8 seconds. The greatest change can be seen in that interval. If you look at the change in painting from Vincent van Gogh to Vassily Kandinsky to Robert Rauschenberg, you can see similar steps in the development in modern music. All the arts are always changing, and this has a connection to the creation of the world. At this point he noted that the chalk circle (which he mentioned could also have been drawn in charcoal, or burnt wood) remained on the slate board, while the line of water had evaporated (although leaving a trace). Yet these formative steps taken by human beings continue to the end of the world, through all time; nothing can dissolve them. Consider also the element of iron, which the atmosphere rusts. It is a difficult work to extract ore out of the earth and then iron from the ore. Iron is the opposite of charcoal or chalk. He then erased the chalk circle and drew a series of looping, organic, interpenetrating circles in water on the blackboard, through the traces of the chalk circle – again drawing our attention to the qualities of different earthly substances and their transformation through human activity as well as to the contrasts in his installation of American earth and subearthly water/etheric forces. He concluded by quoting Cage’s saying: “Something is an echo of nothing; nothing is an echo of something.” In her contribution (and in answers to questions following it) Faye pointed to three prophecies and three artistic examples from her experience that have a future element in them, as follows: 1. Prophecy of “The Book of Thel”: In William Blake’s poem a young lady in the meadow meets various beings and asks them about the meaning of life, receiving different answers. It is an encounter between life and death, innocence and experience. 2. Prophecy of Rudolf Steiner’s story “The Being of the Arts” [October 28, 1909]: This is a kind of fairy tale that begins with two women appearing in a frozen landscape. One falls into unconsciousness, and the other wakes up in a different reality and encounters the spiritual beings of the senses. She becomes a vessel for their transformation, and from this the various arts are born. In this picture the muse is no longer working from outside but is incarnated in and even is our art itself. Each art is created out of this encounter with reality. The woman who fell asleep represents modern science. If science does not meet reality, then the arts must become (or save?) reality. 3. The prophetic 700+ gouache paintings of young German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943) now in the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam. These were made while living in exile in France during the Nazi occupation and tell the story of her life and coming-of-age. Titled Life? Or Theatre?: A Play with Music, they are also ordered in acts and scenes and set to music as a kind of musical theater, or Gesamtkunstwerk. She could hear specific, previously composed music when she created her art, which became a kind of inverse vision of Richard Wagner’s “union of the arts” idea. She eventually gave her life (in Auschwitz) for that work to be manifested. 1. Francis Alys (born 1959), a Belgian “neo-conceptual” artist (who lives in Mexico City) who over fifteen years has collected 300-some mostly amateur paintings copying an 1885 painting by Jean-Jacques Henner of the possibly fictitious fourth-century Saint Fabiola, patron saint of difficult marriages, abuse victims, and nurses. Mounted together on a green background, these create a kind of free image of devotion for painting as well as investigation (see photograph). 2. A performance art piece by Marina Abramovic (born in 1946 in Serbia) that will occur in her new Performance Art School in Hudson (similar to her The Artist Is Present performed for 736 hours at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from March to May, 2010). It involves chairs for visitors to sit on and gaze into Marina’s eyes for an extended time. The visitors will be given food to eat and be taken care of for days, so they can take part in the extended performance. It is intended to help build bridges between worlds. 3. In one part of Matthew Barney’s (born 1967) extended, filmed performance piece, the Cremaster Cycle, there is a zeppelin hovering above a football field with cheerleaders dancing below in the field making forms. Muses in the zeppelin are playing with grapes in certain forms that the cheerleaders are then imitating by their movements below. There is a relation and translation of form between the two worlds. Because it is the Genius (or Muse) that inspires the solitary artist, there is only encounter or meeting outside reality, and then the artist must translate this into reality. In my third offering I spoke about how in the early twentieth century the new impulse in art of abstraction or non-objectivity (pure form and color) emerged, rather than art that imitated the appearance of the sensory world. But originally, at least, this was not just abstraction for its own sake, but intended to reveal the working of the invisible spiritual world behind the outer visible appearance. This original impulse was somewhat lost from the 1930s to the 1960s, especially after World War 2. Those souls who experienced from the spirit (during pre-birth) this lost period, and especially the World War with all the souls of the dead whose lives had been cut short ascending to the spirit after death, incarnated with a new impulse as the “sixties generation,” also in the arts. In addition to trying to bring art and life (or society) closer together (if not make life itself artistic), this generation wanted to bring motion and time into the static spatial/visual arts (as Rudolf Steiner had already called for as needed for the future of visual art). The aim was through the development of new media and forms of artistic practice to restore the living spirit to art. As one of those sixties artists, Claes Oldenburg, said, “I’m for an art that does something more than sit on its ass in a museum.” While this new impulse didn’t completely succeed, it did develop several useful new forms of artistic practice: installation, process art, performance art, environmental art, even conceptual art – and it worked further on the already existing tradition of “visual music”/color music (especially through the concert “light shows” of the period). Although these new forms became somewhat overshadowed during the 1980s and 1990s, they seem to be re-emerging and developing further since the start of the 21st century (although they for the most part have been ignored by anthroposophical visual artists, who continued on their own isolated path during the last century). But fortunately the developing spirit of humanity and of Anthroposophia itself is larger than the current anthroposophical movement on earth. I find that an anthroposophically schooled observation of contemporary art helps me to wake up to something of a higher being that seeks to reveal itself in our time, a being oriented toward the future. Contemporary art reminds me that, in trying to find ways of uniting matter and spirit in works of visual art, we are not limited to traditional media. Some contemporary art provides ideas and strategies for finding the practical means to move from the static, “space-image” to the mobile “time-image” in artwork – that is, to move visual art closer to musical art, to bring elements of motion and time into our work, and to emphasize the work as the experience rather than an object. Contemporary artwork can suggest different strategies of uniting art and “everyday life.” It can show or suggest to us a whole spectrum of possible ways to relate meaning and appearance (or form). Today it helps me to understand that ultimately it is our own spiritual activity, our own being as artists that is the medium. In whatever forms we work, we must first transform ourselves. That is why I consider Steiner’s How to Know the Higher Worlds as the pre-eminent anthroposophical artist training manual. We don’t need to be afraid of some kind of corrupting influence from involving ourselves with contemporary art, but we can enter into it, strengthened by our own spiritual, anthroposophical preparation and discrimination, for the sake of discovering what positive potentials it has to offer, leaving aside the less positive aspects. Later, in response to a question, I added that most of what I think I know about the approaching future I have learned from Rudolf Steiner with his clairvoyant capacities and spiritual scientific research. Two “future developments” I can mention that have already begun to manifest and must be affecting contemporary art: 1) Steiner tells us that our etheric bodies, the organic working of life and growth forces in our constitutions, are beginning to loosen themselves and become more independent of our physical bodies (as was the case in ancient times when human beings had a natural, atavistic clairvoyance). 2) Because humanity has already crossed the threshold of the spirit unconsciously in our time, we can see both a troubling psychological separation of the traditionally unconscious union of thinking, feeling, and willing within us as well as a longing of the isolated self for clairvoyant experiences of immersion into the flowing spiritual world of color and tone, the world ego. Some contemporary expressions of installation and projective digital art environments are like an external imitation of this longing as well as attempts to satisfy it. Finally, I also suggested a list of about 25 contemporary artists whom I have found are working with deeper, future-oriented impulses in their art (either form or content or both). In the ensuing discussion (some of which I have also incorporated into the content of the above initial presentations), several questions and comments were raised, as follows. In response to the question of what advice we might give to a young person on how to work in a new way, Manfred made the drawing in figure X on the chalkboard as a picture of the training to follow over three years. A few comments were made, in the context of contemporary music but also true for contemporary visual arts, that the audience has a difficult time “getting” or appreciating it. It then was suggested that contemporary art should have everyone participate instead of the traditional division between active artist and passive audience. This is in line with Joseph Beuys’s famous saying that “every person is an artist.” Perhaps the “audience” needs to themselves become creative musicians or artists in order to “get” it. Sampsa gave examples of pioneering artists whose work was not known, wanted, or paid for over many years, but then became very famous and successful artists years later. Kandinsky in his book On the Spiritual in Art gives the image of a triangle, mentioning that the higher you get in art, the fewer people you know (or who accompany you). A philosopher might ask: If there is the most incredible painter in the world, and no one sees his work or knows that he exists, is he still “the greatest painter in the world”? If you are true to your vision, people eventually will understand and follow it. Any “prophet” ahead of his or her time has this problem. We are often too much concerned about the product of artmaking (or even developing a professional artistic career and selling our work), but art is more about developing the individual process of making art than it is about the object made. The direction must be toward authenticity and freedom. To see spiritual growth, one must transform oneself, which is a different process for each individual. It might be some small step taken out of actualization and freedom that allows one to create something “new.” But seeking the “new” for its own sake is a dead end seen in much contemporary art. Really being oneself in this process is what is truly “new” in art. Andrew Cook contributed the following thoughts: “For me the future of art is irrelevant. What is important is about the present (and to some extent even the past) experience. The experience itself will be the future. Music or art that is created in the cultural context in which I’m embedded is what speaks to me. If you divide people into future-oriented or not, then this just reinforces certain social and cultural divisions. Ultimately this is based on the duality of self and not-self, artist and audience/perceiver/admirer. As artists, we all have an experience that what strikes a chord with the universal human spirit is what could take us into the future. In what Rudolf Steiner calls “Inspiration” we experience a direct correlation between what we think or imagine and how we are present to the face of the spiritual hierarchies. The hierarchical beings created our sense organs so they are not able to err; it is we as humans who err. This is part of a self-corrective process of learning. Through this, we open to first smaller, then larger imaginations, as described in How to Know the Higher Worlds. If we can meet based on our authentic sensations, not ego errors, it then becomes more of a question of our relationship to the cosmos.” Kristin Barton added a Martha Graham quotation about the quickening of life from within us and moving to expression differently in each person. Rather than judging art, we should express it. Practicing Steiner’s “six month (subsidiary) exercises” can help us see how to enter into the process of creation, and even create experiences that are interactive with the audience. We then spent a final half hour sharing and gathering questions that were living or had arisen in participants, to be able to use these in small group discussions on Sunday. The following numbered statements are some of these: 1. We each bring our own karma and intentions to this life. I sense many new percolating impulses in this group. We must not be afraid to try to express these. It is often only in trying to do something, to realize or explore these impulses through art, that we can discover if there is really something substantial there. But, that said, the timing of an expression must be right. One may push to express something too soon when it needs more digestion and maturation; or by waiting too long, becoming distracted or fearful, one may miss a key opportunity moment, maybe even the only opportunity in this life. How can we stay alert to this issue of timing? 2. My question concerns our senses, developing a “clear seeing” (the literal meaning of clairvoyance). How can we get our natural mind and personality out of the way (which tends to deaden the senses)? How can we cultivate our relationship with ourselves, the audience, and the world so that we can hear the voice of art, so that our senses can hear the call of art? 3. A lot of contemporary art seems angry and negative, a kind of outlet for personal frustrations. How can we turn this into something positive and transform it? How do we use art not just for shock value or to try to prove something or for venting, but do it in order to inspire people? 4. What is the relationship between the object itself and its explanation, as part of the viewer’s experience? How much does the viewer need to be brought into the experience, to be given a context, even if it is only communicating that a work is known as a certain genre or style? 5. I am wondering about the relationship of center and periphery, how the artist functions without an audience. If internal processes alone are works of art, then can we imagine that the spiritual world is actually the audience? Can art exist without (past) time? Does the future of art have any validity without context and memory, especially if the world process is where art lives? I want to understand the interplay between becoming the process and being, with the observer apart from that and perhaps not needed. What does this mean for what is coming in the future? 6. What is the relationship between the artistic process and Rudolf Steiner’s exercises of observation and soul cultivation? How does this develop over time for an artist? What does Steiner’s work really add to the practice of art? 7. I was struck by seeing the visual music presentations; what if our souls were always nourished by such experiences? What if for a performance like “The Book of Thel” one started with an empty table and then showed what each individual involved was doing as part of the performance? This would not be like “announcing from above” but rather starting from a horizontal point (of equality) and then coming to a higher point. 8. Could something like the postmodernism Nathaniel mentioned happen here? 9. Could we do collaborative artistic work? Can we be each other’s audience? If so, how? 10. How do we determine who or what speaks through art? 11. What will replace manifestos and theories in future art making? Do they have a role? How can we put them in the right place? 12. How can we bring art more into daily life or relate art better to everyday life – that is, create an “Everyday Art”? At the end of this session we were asked to move our chairs out of the circle formation, but Manfred proposed that we stack them up as high as we could instead, so that is what happened (see figure X). In Manfred’s Tone Workshop I was surprised when only one person came to my second afternoon workshop on Saturday. We nonetheless worked a bit further on understanding the various meanings of the fourth apocalyptic seal, and then I canceled the rest of the workshop since we no longer had enough participants to prepare a work of performance art based on the seal. Although a couple of participants told me they changed workshops because they were not comfortable “acting” in a theatrical performance-art presentation (even a partly improvised one), and others found the apocalyptic seal theme too complex and already formed, I at first was puzzled by this reaction. With further reflection, I realized that this conference also was not really oriented toward preparing finished pieces but rather toward experiencing the process, keeping forms fluid, and focusing on experience in the moment. For the remaining workshop time we joined the last part of Manfred’s workshop for a series of exercises where he seemed to be working with a kind of “nothing” of sound, or silence. He first asked the participants to stand in a circle, holding up the different colored cloths. They then were to wave them into the center of the circle, as if a wind was almost blowing it out of their hands, apparently using the colored cloths as silent visual substitutes for tone. Then he divided the circle into two different groups so that they could rhythmically alternate waving their cloths according to polar crescendo and decrescendo movements. They then worked at strongly thrusting the cloths up and forward, then bringing them back to oneself more slowly. Gradually a kind of “breathing” movement was developed, slowly increasing and decreasing the speed of the waving movements. Then after a break two circles were formed at either end of the long great hall, and each person was given a tone bar and a wooden striking stick. Our circle led the exercise by going around the circle and having a different individual each time lead the group in collectively, simultaneously striking our tone bars with the stick in some way. Then soon afterward the other group answered with a similar striking activity. This “call-and-response” activity continued for some time, and a great deal of variety was developed in our group, involving not only a “normal” or extra-quiet striking in the center or on the side or end of the bar, but scraping the striking stick in different ways along the side and edge of the bar, striking the bar on the floor, striking one’s bar against that of the next person, etc. At the end of the exercise both groups tossed their tone bars and sticks high up into the air so they fell randomly and noisily into the central circle/installation area, where they remained as they had fallen until the next day. I wondered: Was this exercise a gesture of raising or enlivening the wooden bars to become sounding tones and then adding or sacrificing them to the central installation’s project of raising subnature or earthly matter up toward life forces? More Changes to the America Installation Following the workshop I noticed a couple of new stations in Manfred’s installation. First at the place where at the beginning the four chairs had stood over the “sun cross” form drawn on the floor, Manfred has created a halved- or divided-cross formation out of the white clay vessels brought in by Lailah set on top of bricks with the original chalk “suncross” in the center of the new half-cross (see photo). This half-cross was a motif that had been introduced in the early 1960s and repeatedly used by Joseph Beuys (whom Manfred knew) as an image relating to the Christ impulse, among other things. For Beuys the image of the cross combines opposites such as mind and matter, intuition and reason, east and west, passive suffering and active doing. The half-cross represents a one-sidededness or unhealthy split that needs to be balanced or healed by creative human activity. Sometimes he indicated the empty half of the cross remaining to be filled as “n,” which he said represented human will, energy, and initiative. Manfred also included “N”s at a couple of stations in his installation (see photographs). In the context of one of Beuys’s key Actions using this symbol, Manresa of 1966 in Düsseldorf, the half-cross is part of a call for creative intuition to reach into invisible countertime and counterspace to complete the cross. Then there was a station concerning “tension,” both inner “intention” and emotional tension as well as external tension and “extension” (see drawing I copied of this station in figure X). This relates to a preparatory drawing by Manfred labeled, “Make it an installation of intension of changing extension” (see figure X). Finally, Manfred pointed out to me that in the center circle there were now four cords/ropes stretched from the rafters under tension with the connected but loose, swinging metal pipe also hanging near them. Taped to one end of the pipe was a piece of chalk, and Manfred had used this implement to originally draw and write his installation pattern on the floor of the great hall. Now, however, its purpose had been transformed (raised?) to be a kind of semi-functional or symbolic bow for “playing” the four tone-cords (like violin strings) representing the four (invisible and inaudible) tones of the Tao. This refers to a sequence of four tones (B A E D) that Steiner called the “Tao” and gave as “an esoteric exercise” or “meditation for eurythmists.”9 In this sequence can be experienced “the highest to which humanity could aspire,” “ a seed, which one day will blossom fully out of innermost human nature.”10 The tension in these four central strings of the Tao tones could be seen as the ultimate “tension” expressed in the installation. Perhaps in conjunction with this “inaudible sounding” Manfred also added his modified quotation by John Cage by the station in figures 18 and 57: “every something is an echo of nothing – every nothing is an echo of something –” At this point in the conference it was also beginning to become difficult to determine what changes to the installation where being added by Manfred and what by others. After this I began setting up on the side of the central hall some of the “leftover” materials from my canceled workshop when, with some encouragement from Sampsa, I hit on an idea of integrating some of them with the “central installation.” I placed a large blue placard in one side chair and a red placard in the opposite side chair, backed by corresponding raised red and blue spotlights that were illuminated at night. Along the axis of the hall I placed a painted yellow placard at one end and then a chart I had prepared for my workshop at the opposite end. This roughly duplicated the color relationships of the red Jachin and blue Boaz columns with the yellow angelic sun between them, as in the apocalyptic seal (see figure X). Laura’s three large “swinging paintings,” Behind Color, had already sounded the red, blue, and yellow notes within the hall; I only tried to give them more specific meanings and placement in relationship to the central installation and conference theme. Under the title “The Fourth Apocalyptic Seal and Grail Art,” the diagram on the chart placed on the chair at the fourth, “top,” or “front” end attempted to summarize a number of esoteric relationships between the Jachin and Boaz columns on the fourth apocalyptic seal and their relationships to several different meanings (especially those related to the Temple Legend and Solomon’s Temple) and to the way this conference was trying to deal in a new, future-oriented way with the visual arts (see figure).11 I can summarize some of these esoteric ideas as follows: In past cosmic evolution the human being was given the two pillars of Wisdom (Jachin, etheric body) and Strength (Boaz, physical body) and in addition the means to achieve perfection through purifying the astral body (or kama in Theosophical terminology). This is possible for all humanity because Christ’s sacrifice made it possible to find the place for the principle of Beauty in addition to the older principles of Wisdom and Strength (as symbolized by the new Christ-Ego--sun potential hovering between and above the two pillars in the fourth apocalyptic seal). In this process of purifying the astral body to become Spirit Self (or Manas) humanity must learn to work both inwardly and outwardly with the fire of astrality (kama), raising it to become “Kama-Manas.” With Lucifer’s aid, we can use the astral fire with the strength of Boaz to practice the old, more outward “Royal Art,” which transforms the physical world into works of art, architecture, and beauty, as has been practiced for thousands of years. With Christ’s aid, we can use the astral fire with the wisdom of Jachin to practice the new, more inward Royal Art, converting human passions into piety, empathy, love and devotion, purifying the life-forces (etheric forces), transforming them into works of social or “etheric” art. Only by such inward and outward transformation can we unite the pillars of Strength and Wisdom, and here lies the evolutionary importance of the arts. The old Royal Art tended to create beautiful artistic objects out of matter, while the new Royal Art must master the etheric forces, which are always in motion. This bringing of time and motion into the visual arts gradually leads “beyond the object.” I might further add that an “etherically oriented art” works with what comes from the periphery rather than focusing on a central art object. This might involve collaborative artistic efforts as well as a holistic orientation that is also very open to change and even reversal. Thus, although the themes of my workshop were not able to enter the conference as a performance, they nevertheless were able to contribute in other ways. Saturday Evening Performances Saturday evening again began with a musical concert by Manfred, where, in addition to the copper-iron glockenspiels, he also played on a glockenspiel composed of bars of opalescent glass (introducing the substance of silica) with swirled coloring (a kind of opalescent colored glass invented in America in the 19th century) and three end bars, two of iron and one of stone (see photographs). Some of the glass bars had smaller pieces of laminated opalescent glass on them (probably as a means of tuning them). It was an interesting sonic addition to the metallic instruments. Also, I noticed that Manfred had added on one of the palettes a row of alternating bottles of white sand [silica] and charcoal-gray ashes (which were discovered in the Basilica as leftovers from an earlier installation) and then “continued” the row into invisibility with chalk-drawn circles. One could associate the silica with light and the ash with fire – both related to the theme of raising matter up to the invisible and emphasizing its energies – as well as with the black and white theme of his installation and, particularly, the meanings and performances in this side room area under the large skylight. After this, we gathered in the “auditorium” room for a demonstration of a new “colored light/shadow” approach to puppetry being worked out by Katie Schwerin from New Hampshire. She gave three separate demonstrations on a relatively small puppet-theater-sized screen, perhaps four feet in width, each accompanied by cello music played by Nathan Kimbal: the first was a piece called “October Waltz” by Aaron Minsky, the second a Saraband from Bach’s Fourth Suite for Solo Cello, and the third the First Prelude of Bach’s First Suite for Solo Cello. Visually, the first performance showed plant forms and flowers, the second one showed delicate moving veils of various colors (a bit like eurythmy veils), and the third showed more abstract or geometric forms and patterns on the screen. These forms were created by Katie’s two assistants, Jen Close and Eric O’Sullivan, working (“dancing,” as Katie said) from behind the screen and its large frame with various objects and materials, while Katie “painted” from the front by mixing in different proportions of colored lights with a six-channel dimmer box. All three pieces were performed again, with an invitation to watch them from “behind” the screen to see the techniques used. There we could see that there were three spotlights with colored theatrical gels mounted on each side of the screen directed to the space just behind it: three warm colors of red, orange, and yellow on one side, and three cool colors of blue, violet and green on the other side. The crossing of the changing colored lights over materials in the center created ever-shifting patterns of moving colored shadows on the screen. Then Sampsa showed a revised version of his film shown Thursday night, incorporating at the end colored footage from earlier in the conference, starting with the participants walking through the “portal-frame” Thursday night and creating the “Nelson Mandala” and ending with footage of activities from Nick’s workshop that morning with the clay balls. This fit together surprisingly well with the earlier, mainly black-and-white footage and helped us see how it related to our activities at the conference. Here Sampsa introduced Immanuel in the film as “the world’s most unknown artist” who had recently been touring Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and with whom Sampsa had worked for seven years. In his country of Iland (or Ilandeo) Immanuel is the President, a Professor at the University, and “a passionate part-time painter.” I then had Sampsa also show a short, abstract “visual music” film he had created as his Waldorf school senior project in Helsinki several years earlier. This led into my showing of further examples of visual music films by the same artists as Friday night as well as an example of projected computer animation and music by Bill Alves from 2002. Workshop on Substance We began Sunday morning with Matt again speaking the poem by William Stafford, “When I Met My Muse,” followed by a workshop on substance led by Lailah, who encouraged us to be aware of what we feel with different substances. She stated that we as artists need to develop a living vocabulary to work with the languages of form, substance, and color. She referred to her nearby “blood” installation, which we can appreciate better if we don’t associate it with illness, medicine, or grossness, but just observe it as a colored substance, shake it and watch it separate, and so forth. In trying to develop a deeper understanding of substances, it can be easier to start by focusing on the substance’s color, since colors more easily make us feel something. Lailah then arranged us into an inner circle and an outer circle and blindfolded those in both circles. She took out seven white ceramic bowls covered with cloths, each containing an unknown substance. While other volunteers held up the bowls, the persons in the inner circle felt the contents of the bowl with their hands. Meanwhile those in the outer circle – paired one-to-one or one-to-two – asked questions about the qualities of the substance to those in the inner circle feeling it. Lailah suggested that we ask more indirect or imaginative questions, such as, “If this substance was your mother, what relationship would you have with it?” Or: “ If the substance could speak, what noise would it make?” Lailah also drew our attention to the importance of our first impression in feeling the substance, quoting Emile Bernard’s saying: “To really experience something, you have to experience it either once or a million times.” The exercise was intended to slow down our visual perception (with the blindfolds) and give our other senses a chance to be foregrounded. Many creative and imaginative questions were formed by those in the outer circles to try to help them guess the substances (which those in the inner circle usually couldn’t identify either). Then the two circles reversed places for the exercise so everyone had a chance to play both roles and also rotated at least once around the circle. Afterward Lailah arranged the bowls in a kind of circular installation on the other side of the great hall, and there was much curiosity to try to identify the substances once they were also visible (which was not usually easy to do). Small Group Discussions Then after a short break we reconvened for small group discussions based on topics formed by combining and simplifying the questions raised yesterday morning, which the planners had written on large sheets of drawing paper and posted at several “conversation stations” around the Basilica. Small groups formed at each station and discussed the questions and related issues posted at that station. This task was described by Seth as being based on “open space technology” and following four rules (or attitudes): 1. It begins when it begins. 2. It ends when it ends. 3. Whoever show up are the right people. 4. Whatever happens is meant to happen. 5. the rule of 2 feet = you can leave a group at any time, you can join a group at any time Afterward, we all came together in a large circle and heard reports by one or more of the participants from each conversation group. In the way the central installation(s) and even the workshops functioned during the conference, the typical boundaries between artist and audience tended to dissolve. Perhaps this unfamiliar situation is the reason why so many of the discussion groups felt the need to grapple with finding a new or deeper understanding of this changing artist-audience relationship. The first group to report considered a number of questions concerning the relationships of artist and audience and possibilities for being each other’s audience. What are helpful practices of looking at and engaging with art and its mysteries? How can we practice dealing with very new impressions? What influences does art have on the artist and the audience on the artist? They cited the mutual influences of artists in the Abstract Expressionist group from the 1940s and 1950s. There is a long process to this and then it finally comes easily, even effortlessly at the end. The second group considered the expression of the spiritual world through art and audience. What is speaking through art? Is it primarily the forms of the surrounding world? How does it affect us? We have to consider what is speaking both consciously and unconsciously through the artist. We need to keep in mind what qualities we are looking to cultivate in humanity in the future ¬– for example, empathy, compassion, true understanding of each other. Just what is the role of art in furthering such qualities? For example, they contrasted the experience of growing up in houses with beautiful lazured walls in a Camphill Village with the experience of then going to college and living in sterile, white-walled dormitories and how that works on one’s inner life. Art is a form of expression that everyone can appreciate. If you have experienced, say, going through a public school education or another place where you were not encouraged to be creative and experience artistically, and then are given an opportunity for this, you find that you still possess these forces of creative expression. If more people were given the opportunity to be artistic, the crime rate would go down. Almost any kind of work or organization can be transformed into a more creative, playful endeavor. The question was then raised as to whether the spiritual world is the artist’s true audience. Since in every human being the spirit is alive, do we (or can we) perhaps act spiritually as each other’s audience? A third very small group reported contemplating the future through a kind of social art, of observed social processes. They asked: What does the future of art look like? One aspect is becoming more and more able to trust ourselves and the world, and not just do our own thing in isolation. A fourth group reported discussing the nature of art as object and as process, what is similar and different about each, and how this affects the relationship between the observer and the artwork. What qualities do modern observers bring? Yet the observer can never be in the artist’s own process, in what preceded the work. An observer’s conditioning and previous experiences of art can too much influence what his or her experience of an artwork is like. For example, people can feel different qualities in connection with specific colors. But does everyone experience yellow as “happy”? Are such perceptions innate (nature) or nurtured? The first, direct experience of a work of art is important, but in itself it is not enough to make a proper, deeper engagement with the work. In our time both the artist and the observer have additional responsibilities. The artist needs to help supply to the audience a certain orientation, understanding, and context. The audience has to move beyond first sensory impressions by both practicing extended observation and contemplation of the work and by acquiring more knowledge about the artist and the work (for example, through reading, biographical study, scholarly research, viewing other artworks, etc.). A fifth group began by focusing on the question of what was “the anthroposophical difference” in art: What are the characteristics of “anthroposophical art”? What effects on our artistic practice does work with Rudolf Steiner’s meditative exercises have? The conclusion was more or less reached that the questions one deals with become different because of work with anthroposophy. The group tried to expand their understanding of “artistic practice” to incorporate almost any field of human endeavor, as suggested by Beuys. They considered a number of specific examples of how everything can be approached artistically, working creatively in the moment. Not only “professional artists” create art, although this can also be a distinct career. Yet, they wondered, if everything is made into an art, is anything left for a professional artistic practice? More from Manfred’s Tone Workshop Sunday afternoon was the last meeting of the workshops. Manfred’s group began with a brief review of how the first day they dealt with examining sounds and tones, the second day with examining the question of silence, and how on the third day we would give some consideration to time without sound, time as movement. Anything that is growing and developing needs time, said Manfred, but first we need to know what will be created in sound. As we stood around them, Manfred pointed to the circle of the thirteen while bowls of different substances from Lailah’s workshop in the middle of the large circle in the great hall, each with a different potential sound. He then drew our attention to the four “strings” stretched between rafters and floor in the same area. We discussed what are the highest and lowest frequencies of vibration that the human being can hear. For example, if one of the hanging strings is struck so it moves between 3 and 5 vibrations a second, we cannot hear such a low tone and slow vibration. The swinging rod with attached chalk hanging in the midst of the 4 strings strikes the strings, but we cannot hear the tones. It is like an invisible composer writing music. We then moved over to where Manfred had set up one of his large wooden xylophones, and he had a number of us strike a wooden xylophone bar with one of the wooden striker sticks, asking us to be aware of the sounds made and the variations in time between the tones (intervals). Then several participants each played short melodic phrases on the xylophone (3-7 notes) with another participant immediately trying to imitate what was played. Manfred described this as an example of pure time with no inflections. He suggested we listen to the rhythm of words in Matt’s spoken rap and compare the differing temporal forces of speech and music. Speaking brings something out front, while music works “from behind.” In the creation story of the Old Indian civilization it was said that in the beginning was sound (not the Word), and that everything was woven in sound. Then light and color developed, and, eventually, matter, until everything was created through substance. Music arises out of matter and color and light, beating to a certain rhythm, which is the element of form. Can we imagine that music stays in silence? He referred to an Old Japanese image of how over tens of thousands of years the same tone is sounded over and over again, very gradually speeding up, and then gradually slowing back down. Even with very long intervals between tones, we remain “in between,” not going out of the progression. It is an exercise to try to hold the tone in our awareness during the long silence between distantly sounded tones. We then played an exercise on the xylophone of speeding up, then slowing down, and again speeding up the sounding of a tone. Manfred asked us to listen for how “something” is running through this progression. This relates to our powers of mind, which are the opposite of matter and don’t concern a physical space (the space between tones). If we repeatedly pound a brick with a hammer, until it breaks up and grows smaller and smaller into powder; or if we burn wood until it becomes charcoal, we find the structure of chaos in matter, how matter and chaos can mix. He invited us to compare how we feel in a moment of chaos to how we feel when striking the tone bar the slowest, with the widest interval between tones. Manfred suggested we try to feel the sounds in the spatial periphery, to feel that the silences or intervals are expanding slowly out to distances of the periphery. He recommended we work with the polarities of sound and silence, matter and space. There is a moving, always changing quality with different tones. He then gave us the image of the four animals from the Grimm’s fairy tale, “The Brementown Musicians”: donkey, dog, cat, and rooster. He further suggested that these four represent four different levels (or members) of human consciousness: the physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego. Several individuals tried an exercise on the xylophone where they played the movement pattern of one of the animals and the rest of us had to guess which animal it was. Then we tried the rhythms of two different animals meeting (with two different players). Stating that there were four levels of sound in “The Brementown Musicians,” Manfred then had groups of four of us come to the xylophone, and each person played the rhythm of a different animal, starting with one (the slow donkey) and then gradually adding the other three until all four were sounding together. Then in reverse order each rhythm stopped playing one at a time until all was quiet. This required a lot of concentrated listening! Finally, we moved over to the part of Manfred’s installation where there were a number of bricks on the floor (near where the four chairs originally were placed) and were directed to take a brick and scrape it on the concrete floor in various forms and rhythms. First, we scraped the brick in the shape of a square with four straight scraping movements, one to each corner of the square (as in 4:4 meter). Then we scraped the brick in the shape of a circle, in one continuous movement (or 1:1 meter). Then we scraped the brick in a lemniscate pattern, making two circular movements with a brief pause in the center (as in 2:4 meter). We scraped the brick in the form of a triangle, with three linear movements (as in 3:4 meter). We experimented with one person acting as a conductor, indicating with bodily gestures which form we were to scrape next. Some of us further experimented with standing on two bricks, scraping the bricks along the concrete floor by shuffling along to different rhythms (forward and backward), a bit like ice skating – or even, as demonstrated by a few brave souls, doing this as a kind of dance while holding hands with someone! Manfred confided (at least to me) that these four forms were other ways of representing the four elements of the human constitution: square for physical body, circle for etheric body, lemniscate for astral body, and triangle for the ego. Suddenly a different picture came to me of the possible meaning of the four chairs in Manfred’s installation (and the four Tao tones), as well as his story of the three friends who agreed to hold hands as their fourth friend sat in the electric chair. This also calls to us to reunite in a conscious way the four members of our human constitution during a time when their previously unconscious unity is dissolving – and perhaps in specific ways for those of us living on the American continent. I may have also missed a threefold human reference in Manfred’s installation, which is suggested by some of his preparatory drawings (e.g., figure ). The Gift Economy The conference participants then gathered together at 4:15 for a final session, which began with short talks by Seth and Matt concerning new ways of thinking about gifting and support of the arts (including this conference, whose “cost” was based on a suggested range of donations and needed additional gifted funds to cover expenses). Seth began by raising the question of what happens energetically in the exchange that takes place when one person gives money to someone else. Does fixing prices and commodifying art make sense with the creative act? He referred to a book by Lewis Hyde entitled “The Gift,” which illustrates the need for art (as a gift from the spiritual world to the artist) to be freely given, and for the recipient to gift in return. This is a basic picture of something he hopes we are moving toward. Once something like this goes into effect, then everything begins to change. Seth then cited the example of the local Free Columbia artwork lending library. An arrangement like this begins to make you ask questions: If this work of art is not a commodity or a possession, then why do I have it in my possession? What is my relationship to art? He also mentioned the Concord Free Press, which gives a person a book for free and then asks the person to give money to someone and tell them why. So far this has generated $300-400,000 in “profits” for other people. It changes your relationship to money when you work creatively in this way. Matt then spoke about how it is essential that we become able to feel free to give away. It is difficult because this doesn’t fit very well with our usual conception of the economic system, and artists can be afraid to just give away their work, worrying how they will be supported. A truer feeling for the artist is: “The artwork comes through me in order to be given away. I am not really free if I have to work under the constraint of not giving away my creative fruits.” This works likewise if I am a spectator of artwork. Otherwise we are actually suppressing our deepest human impulse to give away our work. In what Matt called the “Gift Economy” there is a mutual invitation to each other to practice being in the freedom to give. The economy depends upon human relationships. Normal sales transactions have a fixed end with nothing further. This cuts off the relationship when the transaction is finished. An alternative attitude would be: I invite you not to buy something but to be a creative participant in the productive process, which is really a collaboration. Then the relationship remains open and can progress into all kinds of mutual support. How can we become that community that feels free enough to support each other in this way, where we support the artist as a resource needed by the world? This kind of relationship brings a feeling of lightness, excitement, and collaboration to economic life; it is “fun-raising” rather than merely “fund-raising.” Workshop Reports After this, each of the three workshops shared something from their work. Manfred summarized the themes of each of the three days’ work as a kind of meditation on the nature of sound or tone: Day 1 was concerned with observing where in you sound is felt. Day 2 focused on silence, and Day 3 on time and movement. As one demonstration of the workshop activities, Manfred had the two circles of participants form at either end of the large hall and engage in a “sound dialog” where one group struck together the wooden tone bars they held and the second group responded to that, usually by imitating that way they were struck (as described previously). It was a way of actively contemplating sounds and the time of silence between them. Next Laura shared something of the work from her “Translation from Text to Other Mediums” workshop, which was mostly concerned with painting. 51 small paintings produced by the workshop were spread out on the floor of the large hall to be contemplated (see photographs), while Laura explained some of the exercises out of which the paintings were generated. Usually they started with a text, such as a poem or simply an adjective. Most of the paintings were the result of a group process where more than one person worked on each one. Laura read her story titled let go the shore, from which six words were extracted that came from different phases of the story and related to the process of finding freedom: face yourself, fear, work, wait, love, change. Each workshop participant tried to capture the quality of one word in an image, exploring translations from textual to visual meaning. Then they exchanged the paintings, mixed up their order, and observed the sequence when it was made up of work by different people. A variety of painting and drawing media were available to be used on any one image (watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, ink, tissue paper, etc.). The attempt was to explore the “inner gesture” of words and feelings rather than imitating what something looks like outwardly. Then we moved to the adjoining theater for a presentation from Nathaniel’s workshop on “kinetic painting and puppetry” using the same equipment and set-up as “The Book of Thel” performances. Nathaniel explained that they worked primarily with “live (or kinetic) painting” that has movement in it and arises in the moment like inspiration or improvised music (rather than thought or intuition). Artistically playing on the overhead projectors, they made some simple color and form transitions, and then added some improvised singing from Faye and Nathaniel. A few basic demonstrations showed live painting on the screen; experiments with twirling a soft, irregular, translucent form (unidentifiable to the viewer); and a few other spontaneous manipulations that generated moving effects of light and color. The Closing Event During the closing event after this in the large hall the whole-group circle formed again around the central space, and Laura invited each person to speak a single characteristic word that had arisen in them during the conference. Some of these that I can recall were inspiration, hope, courage, percolating, process, chairs, and support. It is interesting that almost none of these words were the same as the words first inscribed in chalk into the circle on the opening night on Thursday, suggesting how the participants had been changed by the events of the conference. Then, as three of us (Manfred, Karen Dare, and I) filled the space with the resonant tones of swinging Bleffert gongs tuned to the four tones of the Tao (see figure X), Immanuel made a surprise reappearance, wielding a large mop and bucket and beginning the task of cleaning up the Basilica floor and clearing out the space (see photographs). Everyone gradually joined in, and the three musicians then changed to more rousing and “earthy” improvised music on the large Bleffert wooden xylophone until the hall was cleared in a remarkably short time, and people began slowly dispersing and saying their farewells. The mysterious Tao tones that sounded at the end of our activities pointed toward the future human potentials we had begun to explore. The reappearance of Immanuel for the closing wrapped up the conference as a kind of journey from Ilandea to Tao – two imaginations of human higher potential and creativity that marked the conference. Afterward a small group met to discuss the future of this art conference impulse but decided it was too soon to plan anything and time for digestion was needed first. Three Concluding Thoughts and Afterthoughts 1. One thing I have noticed about much of Manfred Bleffert’s music is that it has a strong spatial element, relating both to various sounding substances and to the movement and placement of tones in space (something Rudolf Steiner predicted should be the case with music of the future). Manfred’s sprawling, multi-functional installation, which initially was concerned with his continuing quest to understand the nature of America and Americans, dealt in multiple ways with the exhibition theme of “Spacing Time.” First, it demarked with winding parallel chalk lines and rope on the concrete floor of the Basilica a path to be followed, featuring various “stations” along the way and a kind of metaphysical culmination at the end in an adjoining room. Second, Manfred was constantly changing the installation itself, sometimes overnight or during the conference break times, sometimes with a bit of performance art or explanation as part of the conference with everyone watching or even participating. Third, as Manfred’s installation gradually merged with the Nelson Mandala that it partly surrounded, other individuals (including me) took the initiative to add their own tweaks and additions to the mobile installation (as they had also been doing more freely with the chalk markings of the Nelson Mandala piece and its surroundings ever since it was first inscribed in the center circle of the Basilica’s concrete floor on Thursday evening. Thus, the “central installation/art space,” as I came to think of it, became like a new kind of mobile “visual-social art,” a gathering space that was continually metamorphosing, both to add new content and forms and also to absorb and reflect the ongoing activities, moods, and themes of the conference – something like a kind of artistic “Akashic Record” of the conference activity. It also became a locus for musical and performance/workshop activities, especially during Manfred’s workshop on tone, where he continued to explore the kinds of musical tone and artistic meaning he can generate from particular substances within an environment. Manfred’s complex, multi-layered, and multi-leveled Beuysian approach to both visual art and musical art involves animating and ensouling matter, or rather specific substances in different ways according to their physical, etheric, and astral qualities and their potential symbolic meanings in connection with other ideas, events, artworks, substances, and even social issues. He and his co-workers are thus involved in transforming – even redeeming – physical substances (which are all just forms of condensed light, Steiner tells us12) by raising them up into the realm of human consciousness and culture. In his workshop he created forms for the activities in which we participated, the significance of which we maybe only later figured out, if at all. Yet we participated more or less consciously as co-researchers in the textures of meanings he was working with, and we continue to have the potential to work further with these ideas and imaginations, also in our own ways. Although somewhat influenced by these structures, we were yet left free as well. Like Beuys, Manfred works with how the pure forces of the being of Christ now dwelling within the lifebody of the earth can, with human cooperation and creative action, slowly transform and lift the substances of the earth to their musically sounding, higher/invisible/spiritual nature and significance – an urgent task for our future development. He is telling us that this is a particularly important work for Americans. Can we who are living in North America hear this call that Manfred artistically echoes? Not only most of the rest of planet earth but whole worlds are hoping and waiting to find out. 2. When you remove or downplay the finished physical art object from the visual arts, what is left? The creative process, with its rhythms, stages, polarities, signposts, different styles of development, work on refinement of sense activity, etc. Although certainly some artists will find this removal of the object as goal or product to be disorienting, as if the ground were being pulled out from under them, this points to new requirements for the artist to become secure in processes of movement and transformation. Now my question is: How can we deepen this process approach? One way could involve meditative work. I wonder if it may next be necessary to find ways to take this process or “pure experience” approach up to and across the threshold between the visible and invisible worlds – or at least to explore ways to acquire the capacities to master consciously and function successfully in this mobile, flowing process at the threshold. In America we live especially strongly in both the positive and negative potentials of the will, the soul faculty we are most exercising as we plunge into experience. To rediscover and re-establish the lost cosmic connections of the human will with the World Will, we need to undertake inner meditative work to rejoin thinking and willing in a more intense way , to allow the will to recognize how it is in fact permeated by the higher, spiritual Self – a secret of resurrection that lies sleeping in the abundant life forces of our will nature. 3. I think it was appropriate that more than half of the attendees were (apparently) in their twenties, since it has to be mostly young people to carry the new kinds of artistic-social impulses that manifested at this conference. They have the necessary openness to new forms and media as well as the connection to commonly carried prebirth experience. Yet their age also limits the depth and relational knowledge they can bring to the task (something we also seem to observe in the Occupy movement). There is a need for at least some more experienced, knowledgeable, and mature elder participants who can also bring the necessary openness and creativity to help guide and conceptualize the efforts. During the last “youth movement” of my generation from the 1960s/70s we experienced that what an older generation was primarily able to contribute was, on the one hand, leftist, or even communist, social philosophy along with skills of union and political organizing activity, or, on the other hand, already established eastern religious paths. A few brought hints of a new holistic, ecological or spiritual perspective (e.g., Buckminster Fuller, Murray Bookchin, Stewart Brand, Ian McHarg, Gary Snyder, Norman O. Brown, Gregory Bateson, etc.), but this was not enough for that generation to break through to very many lasting new community forms or a fully renewed social art. Some of us are hoping it will be different this time. Endnotes 1 A taste for this can be had from short clips in the little “Free Culture” film on youtube by Sampsa at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NShY2jAZryY or else at the full, filmed version of the second “Book of Thel” performance at the conference at http://vimeo.com/47686569 (using “password” as the password). 2 See Rudolf Steiner, Geographic Medicine and the Mystery of the Double, November 15, 1917; GA 178 (Spring Valley, NY: Mercury Press, 1979), pp. 9-15, 18; and Carl Stegmann, The Other America: The Western World in the Light of Spiritual Science (Oakland, California: privately published in two volumes, n.d.), vol. 1. 3 Rudolf Steiner. The Structure of the Lord’s Prayer, February 4, 2007; GA 97 (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), pp. 23-24. 4 For more information, see David Adams, “The Rampao Salamander and Esoteric America,” The Golden Blade 54 (2002): 89-100; or, without the footnotes: “The Ramapo Salamander and Esoteric America,” in The Riddle of America, ed. John Wulsin (Fair Oaks, CA: AWSNA Publications, 2001), pp. 9-20; Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Mary and Hugo; or the Lost Angel (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1857, reprinted 2010; Jane McDill Anderson, Rocklandia: A Collection of Facts and Fancies, Legends and Ghost Stories of Rockland County Life (Nyack, NY: privately published, n.d.); and the version in Charles M. Skinner, Myths and Legends of Our Own Land, Volume 1 (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1896). 5 For historical examples and discussion, see Jakob Streit, trans. Hugh Latham, Sun and Cross (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1977). 6 Rudolf Steiner, The Etherisation of the Blood, 4th ed., October 1,1911; GA 130 (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), pp. 29, 41-42. 7 Rudolf Steiner, The Karma of Vocation, 2nd ed., Nov. 26-27, 1916; GA 172 (Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 187-188. 8 Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). 9 Rudolf Steiner, Eurythmy as Visible Music, February 23, 1924; GA 278 (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977), pp. 81-82. 10 Rudolf Steiner, “Die welträtsel und die anthroposophie,” November 16, 1905; GA 54, as quoted in Werner Barford, IAO and the Eurythmy Meditations (Chestnut Ridge, NY: Mercury Press, 2001), p. 40. 11 This chart is partly based on the ideas from Rudolf Steiner in The Temple Legend (especially the final lecture of January 2, 1906; GA 93, titled “The Royal Art in a New Form” (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985) and in notes of an instructional lesson from August 31, 1906; GA 265, from the old “Cognitive-Ritual Section” of the Esoteric School of the Theosophical Society (which can be found on pages 415-416 of ‘Freemasonry’ and Ritual Work: The Misraim Service by Steiner (Great Barrington: SteinerBooks, 2007). 12 See Rudolf Steiner, Manifestations of Karma 5th ed., May 27, 1910: GA120 (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 187-188. When I Met My Muse by William Stafford (1914-1993) I glanced at her and took my glasses off – they were still singing. They buzzed like a locust on the coffee table and then ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and knew that nails up there took a new grip on whatever they touched. “I am your own way of looking at things,” she said. “When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.