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dogon

︎Culture, Spirituality, Symbolism, Article  
︎ Ventral Is Golden


Beneath the ocean a stream of consciousness,
above the Earth a cloud of thoughts.



The Dogon are one of the oldest-known living tribes whose mythological and cosmological lore has not only remained unchanged for thousands of years but also exhibits an understanding of complex quantum processes relating to the development of consciousness and the formation of matter.



For as long as humans have walked the Earth, they have looked up with curiosity, fear and reverence towards the night sky, imagining the contents of their psyche unfurl through heavenly spheres, held together by unfathomable worlds that lie beyond our ordinary perception. From this point, the conscious process of cognising humanity’s position and role within the universe began, mingling the contents of the psyche with the light from the most distant stars to inform the actions of all societies on Earth.
Later to be contained within the hermetic maxim of ‘as above, so below’, the idea of consciouness as a total field of awareness combined folk sciences with agriculture and a complex astrolgocial lore that gave rise to a celestial measure of time.

It is safe to assume that humanity had already developed sophisitcated methods of dividing space and time by 3000BC, when the first written texts of the Sumerian Sky-Watchers appeared and the initial seven planets of classical astronomy were observed in relation to deities and the influences they had upon the universe. Within Mesopotamia, the later Babylonians, flourishing from 1800BC, were considered the first great astronomers, although they were using knowledge transmitted via the earlier Sumerians.
The minutes and seconds of modern astronomical measurement derive from the Babylonian number system, and it was during this era that they introduced the useful concept of dividing the sky into twelve equal segments, defined by constellations through which the sun, moon and five fixed planets of classical astrology passed.
It was the Zodiac (’zodiakos kyklos’, meaning ‘animal circle’ in ancient Greek) that gave time its particular seasonal attributes in relation to observing both the earthly and wider cosmic envionments, often times with animal classes being the intermediaries between both realms.

In a modern context, the way of thinking about space and time is inherited through more moralistic and reductionist traditions that severed the earth’s connection to the cosmos through systematic desctruction of astrological texts. Subsequently there is a tendancy to project psyche outwards and to forget to look directly under our own feet, into the Mundus Subterraneus – the Inner Earth, both as the counterpoint to the material world, and as a possible dynamical influence that binds and affects the fluid dynamics of nature with consciousness.


︎ Dogon sculpture.
.
︎ Dogon house.

If we think of the evolution of human consciousness as being a result of two overlapping spheres of influence acting upon each other, one from inside the Earth and the other from outer space, then the previously mentioned alchemical maxim ‘as above, so below’ starts to take on a geometric form. This form is considered fundamental in the geometry of sacred geometry, as seen in all ancient cultures.
Known as the Vesica Piscis (fish bladder), Mandorla (Almond) or as a ‘Bridge of Transcendence’, this shape – which consists of two equal circles passing through each other’s centre – represents the womb of consciousness as it emerges from the non-material realm and into the material realm, enabling the capacity of creation and self reflection.

Not only is this geometry found in cell division (and known in esoteric circles as the seed of life), its shape is a good visual aid to help us understand how consciousness could develop from two opposing forces that make up the particle and wave-like dynamics of quantum reality. In a mythological narrative, it can be found in the world-wide concept of the divine twins, and in less-mythical terms, it can simply be understood as the combined effects of electricity and magnetism.


︎ Cell division & the seed, flower, fruit of life geometry.




︎ Edmond Halley‘s diagram of Inner Earth (1692).
Vesica Piscis geometry from Glastonbury, UK.



An indigenous group in western Africa, known as the Dogon, is said to have preserved this sacred knowledge of geometry in its most original form by embodying it in their cultural practices. The Dogon, who have resisted various attempts to assimilate their culture into Islam, are one of the oldest-known living tribes whose cosmological and astrological knowledge have remained unchanged for thousands of years.

Through the extensive work of author Laird Scranton, it is now being understood that the Dogon’s cosmology is a collection of scientific concepts that exist throughout numerous cultures in a fragmented form. These fragments, as viewed within the Dogon culture, demonstrate sequential understanding of how matter forms from a quantum level up to a macrocosmic level, with the Vesica Piscis and duality being central concepts in their philosophy of the forces at play within the natural world.





︎ Dogon symbolism alongside modern diagrams of electro-magnetism.



︎ Dogon tribesmen wearing the Kanaga mask, symbolising the connection between the seen and unseen aspects of the universe.


A central concept to Dogon cosmological lore is the idea of the twin and the resurrection, which is echoed in all later traditions from the Indus Valley through to Mexico. This concept illustrates that the nature of reality is fundamentally dualistic and negentropic, in the same sense that a photon (the smallest unit of light) can exhibit properties of both waves and particles, and that the solar system tends towards a state of order from a state of disorder. To explain this, the Dogon speak of the divine twins called Nommo, who were born of Amma and Ogo.

Amma is the principal deity or force of creation. A hermaphroditic god (hermaphrodite being a combination of Hermes and Aphrodite – a messenger of love and knowledge), who’s name shares the same root as the Egyptian and Semitic word ‘Amen’ said at the end of a prayer, meaning ‘to make firm, to establish, to fortify.’
Both Amma and Ogo are known to have existed inside a cosmic egg, which the Dogon refer to as an ‘accelerated ball’. This egg, also known as ‘The Womb of All World Signs’, contained all the seeds and symbols necessary to generate existence. The force of Amma is conceptualised as a voice or vibration that spoke seven words into a seed called a ‘Po’, which represents an atom as well as a black hole.

These seven words created a spiral of seven revolutions that broke the membrane of the cosmic egg on the eighth turn and scattered primordial matter across the universe, eventually forming the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy, known to the Dogon as the ‘Clavicles of Amma’. These signify the shape of the human collarbone, the first bones to form in the human body. The navel, birthplace or ‘omphalos’ of the galaxy, is called ‘Amma’s Navel’ (Amma Bolo Boy Tolo), and can be recognised in modern astrology as the spiral nebula of Orion – the birthplace of stars.




︎ The Cosmic Egg or Accellerated Ball, depicting the seven-spiralled descent of energy into matter.

︎ Egg of Amma (The Womb of All World Signs) Drawn by a Dogon high priest and presented by Marcel Griaule & Germaine Dieterlen.
A: Sirius
B: Po Tolo
C: Emma Ya
D: The Nommo
E: Mythical Male
F: Star of Woman
G: Sign of Woman
H: Uterus





Just over eight light years from Earth, the solar system of Sirius (Sigi Tolo & Po Tolo) is where Ogo, a creation of Amma, broke free from the cosmic egg before he was fully formed. Ogo represents the trickster archetype of Jungian psychoanalysis, and is considered a chaotic force of light that disrupted the harmonic plan of Amma.
Ogo represents a volatile aspect of the early universe that relates in some way to the theory of relativity (space-time), photons and plasma as the universe cooled to form hydrogen and ultimately, water.

As in many myths, the chaotic aspect of the early universe is often presented as a snake that is eventually sacrificed to release water. In Greek mythology, the name Hydra is a reflection of the process of generating hydrogen, a fundamental element of water, thought to be the first atom the universe produced. Ogo is also sometimes described as a reptile, although Amma and Ogo are also seen as a pair of the first Nommo, considered the ancestors of all modern humans. In their true physical sense, the Nommo are described as part-fish, part-reptile and part human, although they also have a non-physical form.

Because of Ogo’s transgressive behaviour, he left the solar system of Sirius and descended to Earth, where he is said to have created our Sun, but because Ogo only represented half of creation (the masculine aspect), the solar system he created was unbalanced. And so he returned to Sirius in search of his female counterpart, but Amma refused, hiding her inside the third imperceptible star of Emma Ya Tolo (also named the Mother Guardian of the Feminine Essence), and instead made another perfected Nommo in her place, who was then immediately sacrificed.
The body of this divine Nommo spread across the universe, extending from Sirius to Earth via the Milky Way. This represented a sacred covenant between spirit and matter, the seen and unseen worlds that linked the forces of electricity and magnetism between our solar system and the system of Sirius.
Ogo was sent back to Earth and transformed into a pale fox, destined to roam the material realm, whilst from the body of the perfected Nommo, four pairs of new Nommo became the ancestor avatars of humanity.

The name ‘Nommo’ means ‘to make one drink’, but other terms translate it as ‘The Teachers’, ‘The Watchers’ and ’The Masters of Water’. Their mythology has survived in several cultures (namley as Oannes) from Sumeria, Greece, Egypt and Mexico. Their equivalent name in ancient Greek can be linked to the ‘pneuma’ (breath, spirit) and in ancient Egyptian evolved into the phrase ‘Nu Ma’ (primordial water / measure), which in modern English translates as ‘the perception of waves’.

︎ Various cultural references of the mythologyical fish and its geometric counterpart.


Dogon cosmology is also particularly mysterious in that it presents knowledge of the Sirius star system and the spiral nebula of the Orion constellation, both unseen to the naked eye and unknown in the West until after the invention of the telescope, with Sirius B not being photographed until the 1970s. The Dogon also claim that the star system of Sirius is not binary as is currently understood, but actually has three stars – the third, named Emma Ya Tolo, is yet to be discovered by modern technology.
With no written language or access to telescopes, the Dogon theoretically shouldn’t know any of this information.

As there is often a tendency to project present-day scientific knowledge into the past, the well known astrologer Carl Sagan once remarked that the Dogon must have obtained their knowledge from a Western source. It should be made clear, however, that through the work of Scranton, supported by a 30-year anthropological study by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, he states the Dogon always convey their knowledge using their own definitions, originally given in a form of ancient Egyptian that went out of use before 700BC, ruling out any possibility that this knowledge came to them via a modern source.


The analogy between seen and unseen realms contained within the Dogon creation myth can be easilty visualised as two streams of energy that flow between a seen and unseen world, and the same wave dynamics can be measured on a physical plane when two pressure differentials overlap in our atmosphere. This effect is known as the weather, and it produces a wide array of effects from tidal movements to thunderclouds and plasma discharges in the Earth’s magnetosphere.
This process of energy transfer describes the geometry of the Vesica Piscis and also the proposed orbits of all the bodies relative to each other in the Sirius star system as viewed by the Dogon. It is around the third, as-yet-undiscovered star of Emma Ya Tolo, where the smaller satellite of Nylan Tolo (the Star of the Woman) can be found. It is from this satellite the Dogon believe the Nommo came to take up residency in the Earth’s ocean.

In scientific terms, the dual energy of the Nommo twins is an example of harmonic resonance, which at some point in the early stages of the universe became disrupted and somehow altered physical reality. At the quantum level, this dual energy spins around a centre to generate mass from an electromagnetic field, which can also be understood as resonance. This phenomena can be scaled to the size of a galaxy, and despite the changes in definition over the centuries that define terms in isolation to eachother, is still something that, as physical beings consisting mostly of water, we are intimately connected to.




︎ Dogon names for ‘seed’ and ‘star’.
Kanaga symbol alognside modern diagrams of electron orbitals and theoretical plasma discharge pattern.


Many examples of the Nommo echo throughout ancient cultures and are thought to be the seed of traditions that extend into Sumerian mythology, which tells of the Apkallu – the eight, part fish and part human sages who transferred knowledge to humankind before a great flood.

The role of the Apkallu was to tell the creation story – the Enuma Elišh. This creation story mentions a goddess, a female prime mover who established Heaven and Earth, and gave birth to the first-generation of Mesopotamian gods. Her name is Nammu.

After mixing herself with a male principle called Apsu, who is seen as an underground sea of life-giving properties, Apsu then merges with the saltwater ocean called Tiamat, or ‘The Shining One’. Tiamat, who is also considered a chaotic serpentine principle of creation, was then sacrificed, and her body was scattered through the cosmos to create our solar system, in much the same way as the perfected Nommo of the Dogon was sacrificed. Through a sacred ‘mixing of the waters’ of Tiamat (the outer ocean) and Apsu (the inner ocean), their son Mummu, who represents speech and the word of creation, was formed.

It is interesting that Geophysicists are recently discovering the possibility, that 400 miles beneath the Earth’s surface is a Transition Zone, and here lies an ocean of water locked inside a rare mineral called Ringwoodite, thought to be only found in meteorites. Could this suggest that detailed knowledge of the geological formation of Earth was known to ancient cultures, and that the foci of their myths centred on preserving the memory of inter-dimensional entities who described the nature of the conscious universe to them in terms of the mixing of two oceans?

Just above the region of the Transition Zone, at around 150 miles below the Earth’s surface, are the deepest sections of tectonic plates. Thought to be inverted mountains called cratons, these may contain up to a quadrillion tonnes of crystal, which act as roots that anchor ancient land towards the Earth’s magnetic centre. Understanding their resonant properties will give more insight into the dynamics of Earth’s electro-magnetic field. As geophysicists are currently interpreting Earth’s inner core as behaving more like plasma than a solid or liquid, and its outer core to act like a dynamo that conducts electricity through an enormous forest of iron crystals, the drive of fluid dynamics through the magnetic field will change our perception of the Earth itself into a gigantic structure of resonance.


As incredibly accurate as the Dogon knowledge of geology, astrology and quantum physics seems to be, they amazingly don’t claim it as their own, but rather say that it was given to them by the Nommo, in a series of initiations on subjects relating to the civilising skills of architecture, astronomical alignment, art, dance, agriculture and written language.


︎ The Cave of Swimmers’, Wadi Sura, Sahara.
Dated to 9,000 years old, the cave paintings show humans interacting with half human half fish people, suggesting to some that this region of the Sahara once had an abundant water source.







Mark

mayan flints

︎Culture, Philosophy, Sculpture, Article  
︎ Ventral Is Golden


“The Nature of Infinity is this: That everything has its own vortex; thus is the earth one infinite plane, and not as apparent to the traveller confined beneath his moon-lit shade, that this is the heaven of a vortex already passed.” - William Blake.


Eccentric Mayan Flints are ornamental carvings with divine attributes of nature locked inside their fractal forms. In more ways than one they are pieces that fuse the divide between the inner mind and the outer realms beyond the physical world, in one continuous poetic vision of ancient fantasy.

Eccentric Mayan flints (known as ‘Tok’ in the Kʼicheʼ maya language) are generally found in Maya areas of southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador.
The Maya perfected the art of chipping flint to create thin, flat blades for sacrificial and ceremonial use. A reductive process (called knapping) used to produce the flints did not allow for any error, and Maya archaeologist and scholar David Freidel has described this process as requiring the concentration of a chess master. The complex shapes of these objects, which are too fragile for use as cutting tools, have earned them the designation "eccentric flints." They have been found archaeologically in elite tombs, in underground caches as offerings, associated with dedication and termination rituals for architectural projects, and underneath stone monuments such as stelae that mark important dates within mayan societies.



As a material, flint was valued by the Maya and other peoples of Mesoamerica for its ability to strike fire. Often produced from Chert (a type of flint) this material is composed of fine microcrystalline structures and has similar properties to quartz, but breaks more like glass prodcuing very fine, sharpened edges.
In terms of imagery, the most characteristic subject carved from eccentric flint is a human-like head shown in profile. These multiple heads often have an element that projects from the forehead that symbolises the torch or axe that identifies the energy of K'awiil (a later Aztec god derrived from the earlier Mayan rain god, Chaac). The word K'awiil can also mean ‘image’ or ‘idol’, as well as the supernatural spirit that can occupy a material object. Maya glyphic texts include mention of preists "conjuring K'awiil" or calling forth the spirit in order to empower their ceremonies. Such symbolically charged objects may also have functioned as talismans and their symbolism is more than a subjective fantasy but embedded within the material itself. As the Maya associated flint with lightning, the most powerful attribute of both Chaac and K’awiil (always depicted in the form of serpentine energy) the flint, when used in the correct way could release this energy as fire. It was a mayan belief that flint was created wherever lightening struck the earth, making it an extension of the body of the rain gods. During the anceint rainfall ceremony of Cha’a Chaac, the altar, in much the same way, is an extension of the forest and participatory animal noises (usually mimicking frogs) are an extension of the underworld rising up through the body, making a resonant connection with the object of intention, namely the altar and the desired rainfall.





Throughout the ancient world, on every continent, there was a commonly held belief that the universe was animistic, that the spirit dwelled within matter and that the realm of gods and goddess were personified aspects of nature. This was a way of not only recording the observations made by people of anceint societies, but also to give a detailed account of their natural sciences in poetic form - a mythos, that situated humanity within the sphere of nature and acted as a centralising (maybe even moralising) technology (or interface) between human consciousness and the earth.

There is a tendency of the detached, analytical mind of the modern, literate person to project the characteristics of his framework over all of time itself, and thus over all that time contains. In the evolution of consciousness, the bicameral mind is a term used in fields of neuroscience (originally popularised by psychologist Julian Jaynes) to describe a time in human development where the cognitive processes of the brain were divided within the two separate hemispheres. Its breakdown is often used to describe the development of consciousness just after the technologies of language and writing began to produce introspection within humans via fusing these hemispheres together, thus creating a shift from a reality formed by audible hallucinations, towards a reality built from externalised bits of metaphorical language. Jaynes asserts that consciousness did not arise so far back in human evolution, but is in fact a learned process.

In the place of the internal dialogue that bicameral people experienced, where auditory hallucinations directed their actions, a new language of metaphor externalised the world and separated the viewer from the view. This is not to say that Jayne’s theory suggests that consciousness didn’t exist prior to the fusing of the hemispheres, but rather that it was a very different type of consciousness with very different faculties of reasoning. As Marshal McLuhan once wrote, we exchanged an ear world for an eye world.

I think what McLuhan meant by this statement was that to live infinitely and mythically, as in a pre-literate society, which is to say in a society without the alphabet but with a writing system much more like hieroglyphics, is to live in an all-inclusive, emotional world of the ear. The sense of linearity within time and space as experienced in the modern worldview of the eye, is exchanged for the swirling mass of nature being carried into consciousness through the voices of spirits. It is an unseen world.
The post-literate kind of consciousness that governs the modern mind tends to be unaware of these unseen worlds. Inside the functioning of synapses are hidden effects mediated by technology. With the dawning of every innovation there is a bifurcation - an aperture into a previously unseen world where to enter must be preceded by the sacrifice of an older world that is in turn defined as obselete.
This is embedded in our idea of evolution, a process that marches on unchanged throughout time in an ever upward trend from simple to complex forms. This view tends to consume multiple perspectives of most processes and spills over into falsely rationalising historical and social evolutionary processes in the same way. Consciousness is regarded as the mark of a rational being, yet there is nothing lineal or sequential about a total field of awareness. Awareness is not a verbal process which is why we don’t always recognise that these changes are even happening.



“Consciousness is regarded as the mark of a rational being, yet there is nothing lineal or sequential about a total field of awareness.”


In his book, ‘The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’, Jaynes' conclusion was that, until roughly 3,000 years ago, humans were not conscious in the modern sense, but modern consciousness emerged as a cultural invention in Mesopotamia and Greece alongside systems of written language. To oversimplify this theory, it was written language that became the linear ‘eye-world’ that McLuhan spoke of. Writing with the alphabet was a new software that the hardware of the mind looked at the new world through, defining out of the sight the ancient, immersive worlds of the ear.
But now there is the additional dimension of electricity to consider in relation to the effects of writing and the alphabet. By eliminating sequences and causality that the alphabetic mind relies upon, electricity, in its current technological form, has created a rebirth of the quasi-animistic dimension, propelling us back into an immersive world through the force of lightning - a metaphor of instant communication. Now, once again, all voices happen at once.


Not only do the eccentric flints extend the reach of humanity in terms of technology in the form of fire, but some also resonate with important social and astrological events that helped define the character of time during certain phases of civilisation on earth. For example, the flint Crocodile Canoe (above), according to Mayan Scholar Dr. Linda Schele, defined the emergence of the Fourth Sun in an astrological event involving the alignment of Orion and the Milky Way.
Symbolic flowers such as lilies and lotuses decorate the underside of the crocodile canoe as it sinks down into the waters of the spirit world. Inside are the soul of the First Father, accompanied by two attendants, perhaps his sons, the Hero Twins, Hunapu and Ixbalanque, who are credited with restoring humanity in their fourth sequence of creation through the introduction of corn.
Because this particular flint represents a cosmological event, this blade was probably an especially powerful talisman of a preist or noble person, who became the reincarnation of the First Father as he held the blade.

The Fourth Creation of the world is thought to have occurred when the Mayan Sun Stone Calendar began, on August 13, 3114 BCE (4 Ajaw 8 Kumk’u) and ended on December 21, 2012 after a cycle of 13 Baktuns, ushering us into a transitional phase of the Fifth Sun (the fifth iteration of civilisation). Interestingly, this date almost corresponds with the start of the Egyptian calendar and the Hindu age of descending Kali Yuga, in a similar time-frame to the dating of the Burkle Crater impact in the Indian ocean, that some say was the cause of the Biblical flood myths.

For the Mayan, the crocodile also symbolises the world tree (the Ceiba - Axis Mundi) that connected the material plane to the spirit world (known as the Place of Reeds in many cultures - as both a terrestrial and an extraterrestrial location, sometimes associated with the Milky Way itself as it extended beyond the horizon, creating a pathway between the sky and earth). 
It could be argued that the symbolical relevance of the eccentric flints, with their relation to Chaac, K’awiil, the serpent, lightning, electricity, fire and time, all played an important role in enabling ancient cultures to share their anamistic worldview, whilst the congitive worldview of the alphabet was still being crystalised.
The transitional affect of wirrten language upon the bicameral mind could have aided the spread of philosophical and scientific insight about the previously unseen world of the gods, rippling through the emergence of a rational mind as it began to fuse with matter. The after-effect of this process was the simulacrum of the world that we inherited many centuries later.



“the previously unseen world of the gods, rippling through the emergence of a rational mind as it began to fuse with matter.“


In light of this space-time fluctuation it becomes easier to notice where our sense-ratios change in relation to dominant modes of expression in relation to the time they correspond with. How this shapes our interaction with the objects we create and consume informs the kind of time we live in.
With the advent of electric communication embedded within our current trajectory, the rebirth of the mythic dimension of zero-point-history has occured simultaneously with the feeling that time is quickening. It is a relative illusion caused by the rate of a single technological mindset - the ‘single vision of Newton’s sleep’ that Blake fortold. Our definitions of time and space dictate this process and just like the churches that were built from the rubble of the mayan temples, our own atmosphere of technological wisdom is built directly on top ancient history. Maybe we have such a hard time seeing how immersive the knowledge of the past really is because we forgot how to listen to it. No culture really ends, only the experience of time is re-defined.









Mark

extreme records

︎Music, Philosophy, Article  
︎ Ventral Is Golden


"In passing from history to nature, the myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of an essence, it organises a world wide open and wallowing in the evident, it establishes a blissful clarity where things appear to mean something by themselves.” - Roland Barthes




Founded by Ülex Xane in Australia in January 1985, Extreme Records began exclusively as a cassette label, releasing music that often defied genres but pulled inspiration from an eclectic mixture of gnostic, esoteric philosophy and the worlds of politics, bio-technology and Dadaism, with titles and tracks ranging from Soma, Stygian Vistas, Merzbow, Antedeluvian, Jiji Muge, Amphibious Premonitions Bureau and Risen from Agartha.

Many of the releases were originally by Australian artists, but later releases saw early experimental electronic artists from around the world grow Extreme into a catalogue of aural tapestries numbering over 60 titles, all notable for their innovative, cross-cultural sensibilities.

Some of the most successful artists to have worked with Extreme include Japanese noise artist Merzbow, the late Manchester based Muslimgauze (who’s release ‘Intifaxa’ marked the beginning of Extreme Records’ iconic ‘obi strip’ design), Australian based Paul Schütz and Soma, with their interests in ethnomusicology and ambient tribal, to Mo Boma’s electric tribalism and multi-layered future jazz.


Over the course of 1987, Ülex transfered the label to Roger Richards, who continues to run it to this day but as CD release only.




︎Soma - The Inner Cinema, 1996.


︎Soma - Stygian Vistas, 1997.



By the early 90's, the distinctive cover layout of the releases had brought the aesthetic of the label into focus, allowing for some very iconic and understated cover art. Around the same time, inventions by engineers such as Ray Kurzweil revolutionised the process of making music and digitising artwork with the invention of the Flatbed Scanner. The availability of transferring music onto Compact Disc made for conditions where pirate radio stations and independent labels could transmit their own audio landscapes. On the surface, this phenomena of democratisation in the digital world had lasting impacts on the way we approach and consume music (and information on a larger scale) as a means of cultural story telling.

Mo Boma (Comprised of Carsten Tiedemann, a native of Germany, and Skuli Sverrisson of Iceland) was a notable example of how ’electric tribalism' seemed to be embedded within the possibilities of story-telling in subcultural art movements of the late 1980’s to mid 90's. Mo Boma's imagery (produced by graphic designer, Silke) complemented their ethereal soundscapes, often confronting western scientism with concepts of biology and eastern spirituality.

In the early to mid 1990's, prior to the widespread, domestic availability of the internet, but within the democratisation of the CD era, saw the ambient tribal trilogy release of 'Myths of The Near Future' from Mo Boma.
With their title inspired by a collection of science fiction stories of the same name, written by J.G Ballard in the 1980’s, alongside their track titles such as ‘Food of the Gods’, ‘Dreaming Weavers’, ’The Kindness of Women’, ‘Garden of Time’, ‘Day of Forever’ and ‘Memories of the Space Age’, their aural trilogy was an extension of the archaic revival, a concept elucidated at the time by philosophers and social scientists like Terence McKenna, Rianne Eisler and Doreen Massey, who were concerned that the utopian image that new technologies offered came at a cost, namely in relation to the inequalities already unconsciously established within industrial societies.




In the introduction to his book, ‘Myths of the Near Future’ Ballard comments, "I can remember when people throughout the world were intensely interested in the future, and convinced that it would change their lives for the better. In the years after the Second World War, the future was the air that everyone breathed. Looking back, we can see that the blueprint of the world we inhabit today was then being drawn - television and the consumer society, computers, jet travel and the newest wonder drugs transformed our lives and gave us a powerful sense of what the 20th century could do for us once we freed ourselves from war and economic depression. In many ways, we all became Americans."

Ballard had observed that the approach to writing science-fiction itself had gone through changes that were brought about by the limitations of a fractured mythos being fused together under the auspices of a globalised industrial aesthetic, produced in a modern day, media saturated north America mentality. In this new myth of the near future, there was a disconnection from the anceint worlds but at the same time to a desire to leak into them, as a way for the pre-literate hunting psyche to fullfil the needs of a new technological supressor.



︎Mo Boma - Slolooblade : The Drowned World, 1994.




︎Mo Boma - Loony Toon, 1995.

It's not too difficult to imagine a scenario in the early 1990's, where a blank CD and the internet would have filled an artist with a sense of optimism about the possibilities of a new technological future that was not only affordable but also forced dominant narratives into a specturm of previously unheard voices.
For musicians such as Mo Boma, and the late Muslimgauze (more notably for his music's middle-eastern influence and political commentary), we can begin to see how early experimental musicians were utilising these new avenues of communication to root their cosmic infuences back into an earthly domain.
Oftentimes the complexity of human acts are reduced to 'simple essences’ of mythology for the sake of the dominant channels of mainstream media to use them as convenient symbols to reassure political stability - a new vision of aquiring a singular, teritorial mass for the massless media map to wrap itself around. In our own time, technology has produced an excess of clarity and something of a recapitulation of these old ideals.
They are simultaneously experienced through object fetishism of culture, identity and consumer technology that essentially throws humanity outside of time itself.



︎Mo Boma - Dreaming Weavers, 1996.

Social Scientist Doreen Massey put it that "because our world is "speeding up" and "spreading out", time-space compression is more prevalent than ever as internationalisation takes place. Cultures and communities are merged during time-space compression due to rapid growth and change, as "layers upon layers" of histories fuse together to shift our ideas of what the identity of a 'place' should be."

What Massey could have been alluding to are the following questions:
How can we maintain identity if there are no boundaries, no fixity, no difference?
How can we hold onto the rootedness of ‘place’ without being defensive and reactionary in the midst of a reactionary and defensive society?

Collective consciousness of the media indoctrinated classes has become something of a drained swimming pool, haunted by the presence of it's own echo - a place Ballard would have called 'psychic-zero'. His metaphor of the swimming pool to explore psychic space is both modern in its image and stagnant in its actuality. It calls up neological expressions like ‘surfing the web’, once used to broaden personal understanding through consuming bits of info-flotsam, which has since eroded over time into a kind of relic of linguistics. Perhaps the more appropriate analogy could be ‘streaming’, leading to a more ecologically oriented ‘cleansing of the ocean of cyber space’, the inevitable place where all streams lead.

In his Mythologies book, Roland Barthes said “there is only one means to exorcise the possessive nature of the man on a ship; it is to eliminate the man and to leave the ship on its own. The ship then is no longer a box, a habitat, an object that is owned; it becomes a travelling eye, which comes close to the infinite; constantly breeding departures.







The avenues of information that were available in the early nineties, and the psychological processes that had to be used in order to breakdown that information and assimilate it into everyday life would have been slightly different to our own electric habitudes since technology’s rapid accelerationism.
Our subject matter, like our natures, are altered by the means through which we approach them, and when the internet hovered above the horizon like a benevolent spaceship that promised to resuscitate the drowned world, these ideas may have seemed more like the re-dawning of a Golden Age. Maybe the resuscitation already happened, maybe it didn’t, but what I think digital culture and rare electronic music has given us in one sense, is the seed of an eternal optimism nested inside the concept of an eternal return that is embedded within cyber space, and a constant reminder to never mistake that space for absolute reality.





︎The Fire This Time - Oka, 1998.


︎Muslimgause - Fakir, 1992.





Mark

interview: carlos rivero

︎Video, Story Telling, Photography, Graphic Design  
︎ Ventral Is Golden


“Music, states of happiness, mythology, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon.“ - Jorge Luis Borges.

Carlos Rivero is a visual storyteller, art director, film maker and photographer, exploring the ethereal states of visual language as it seeps into dream sequences sculpted by his passion for people and nature.


︎Self Portrait, 2020.

What was the impulse that first led you into the realm of visual storytelling?
I think since a very young age I was watching to a lot of music videos and music documentaries and felt that there were direct stories told through the music and indirect stories hidden underneath the images. They had some subjective or cultural meanings attached to them. I realised that there were many ways to tell a story; about a person, a situation, a problem, a solution.
Every time I was listening to music, in my head I was feeling the ways in which I could visualise and retell the story. So I think this was the original impulse, to reveal this kind of visual aspect of the story that’s sometimes hidden alongside the music.


Can you tell us a little about where you’re from, and how your environment shaped your understanding of the world around you.
I’m from Valenca, Venezuela, a city very close to the Caribbean sea. I lived there until I was nineteen years old and then jumped to Atlanta in the US and lived there for one year before moving to Barcelona. Being born in Venezuela, with the tropical climate, being close to the sea, I think these gave me a sense of freedom, and from this early age I knew I always wanted to live close to the ocean. It’s my element in a way. The horizon plays a big role in how I want to compose my works, and the idea of endless possibilities always gives me a sense of being able to grow through my work and evolve through different projects and mediums.

Living in Venezuela can be quite tough at times, there’s lots of political and social problems, but now I’ve been in Europe for seven years already, and still shaping my understanding of the rest of the world. In the end every country has its own rhythm and sense of time in relation to its identity.






The natural world plays an influential part in your artistic process. Can you describe how a particular story or theme might form in your mind?
Yeah, obviously I think we have to live in total harmony with our environment, not only the human constructed environment, but more generally with the wider ecology. So this inspires me, and in my own way I’m trying to show this message to the public as a reminder, as a reflection, to hopefully create empathy. Right now the world needs our attention and art is a good method of activism to do this. Its for this that nature is so present in my works.


Aside to your many personal projects, you’ve also worked with a variety of clients that have taken you across the globe. Do you have a particular project that has been your favourite?
Probably my favourite project at the moment is the one I filmed in Bangladesh, in what’s the largest refugee camp in the world actually. Its a documentary series that we’re still preparing and editing, so I hope this year we can show something about this situation.

This project was a revealing experience for me. As I said before, the world needs our help and the humans who live on this planet also need our help, not only our empathy. We have to help each other.


Music is obviously another element that helps sculpt your story telling process. You’ve worked with the likes of Nicola Cruz and Fidel Eljuri, as well as Argentinian record label ZZK. for who you produced a mini documentary on the ethno-music research of UJI, entitled Ser-Tiempo.

Can you tell us a little about how this project materialised and the meaning of the title?

Yeah, I saw Uji for the first time playing a rave in Berlin. I didn’t know anything about him but I was really impressed with his music. After the show I searched the internet for some of his projects and contacted him, we connected through our ideas and visions and then in 2018, ZZK Records made a showcase in Paris of their artists and I went there to film this project. In this moment we spoke more, I was very curious about his vision and his story. He told me about his time in the jungle of Colombia, filming with documentary film-maker Vincent Moon for around three months, making music with the indigenous communities. There was a lot of material to selected to tell the story of this film. After a lot of long nights selecting and directing I came to the idea of retelling a visual journey through sound.

It was something that Uji and I worked on together, with Uji creating the sound design for the film, and in this way it gave me a lot of freedom to play with the visuals.

The world Uji is a Japanese Buddhist concept meaning ‘being-time’. For Uji himself, he sees music as the art of time, it is a way to capture it. The name of the film, ’Ser-Tiempo’ is the same concept translated into Spanish.



“The documentary traces Uji's in-depth research between 2009 and 2013 in different indigenous communities in Latin America. A kind of "artistic manifesto" directed by Carlos Rivero, which takes the viewer into the world of this artist who, on the one hand, investigates the altered states and ritualism of these indigenous dynasties and cultures; and on the other, in the complexities of electronic music.” - Mixmag









Have there been many past photographers or film-makers that have inspired your work, either aesthetically or in the way you compose your stories?
Sure, some filmmakers that resonate with me are; Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi) and Ron Fricke (Samsara) for example. They made very immersive stories in the early nineties that gave me a different perspective of the world - without the use of speech, just image and sound to convey their message. Also Taylor Steele, who makes surf films about surf culture and Vincent Moon, to collaborate with him was very cool and inspiring for me.

Musicians; Tycho , Thom Yorke (my guru I think), Bonobo (all his audio/visual projects have always inspired me), Moby (his animal rights activism), Massive Attack - both these artists are involved in using their art for activism, very political and social, it feels complete as a method for me.
Also the artists of ZZK for example, this genre of Folklorica, the blend of traditional with electronic music is very visual inspiring.

Aside from music and nature, people are also at the heart of your work. Could you tell us more about your time documenting the refugees from Bangladesh and how important it is to narrate their stories?
Yeah, the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Cox Bazars, Bangladesh. As I mentioned before, its the largest refugee camp in the world, with more than one million people right now.
This is the Rohingyas Community (below) that have been displaced from Myanmar. Its a really long and complex story, but its very important to highlight their stories because they’re a kind of forgotten community. Simplifying a little bit their story, I can say that the government of Myanmar tried to erase their identity and it was important to document this and to question ourselves, our habits, our governments, our media in the process. To question them truthfully, in a very clear and direct way that gets to the heart of the story, because the heart is where the true empathy can be found in these situations. Like I said, its a huge, complex problem, but its important to show connections to nurture seeds of understanding to inspire correct action within our own lives.



In a polarising project, you were also involved in the production and filming of VICE documentary ‘Extinction Update’, that gives an interspersed view of the ways in which unconscious human habits are destroying natural environments.

How do you approach the visualisation of these stories in contrast to your personal work?
In all my works, I try to give an artistic and emotional response, a kind of intimate touch. In this case with VICE, well they have a kind of definite format, more for a traditional television viewer, we could say, but I also like to work on these types of projects because, although it has limits at a creative level for me, I’m still helping to show a problem that affects the world on a larger scale. Definitely the information I learn on these projects inform my own personal projects, so they go hand in hand. Although stylistically they’re different, they inform each other.

I think with this particular VICE project, the visual material was just a lot more raw and direct. It needed this kind of impact both for their format as well as the content. My own style is to tell a story in a slightly different way to what we’re used to watching through the television.
Are you optimistic about the future? What quote or piece of advice that you’ve learned from your work could you share with us?
To tell you the truth, I try to be optimistic, but it can be hard when you see so many problems around you. The world is a little messed up right now, but optimism is the only way to situate yourself in a position to act, to help and to rise up to long term challenges.

We all have to help in some way, even if its on a small level, planting a seed, growing something or telling a story that will bare fruit for another generation. This is the long term benefit of activism and art and storytelling. Whatever your skill is, you should use it to cause some kind of positive social impact.


What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m definitely focussing more in ‘artivism’ (where art meets activism). I have a lot of projects upcoming but I need to be patient before they’re ready for their audiences.







Mark

ep: simili gum - pacifyer
︎Music, Album, E-Pop, Electronic   
︎ Melt





The first time we heard the new Simili Gum EP Pacifyer we were taken back by how similtaniously it feels soothing but chaotic. Like stepping into a very insular and fluid world full of poetic lanscapes.

A beautiful and hantingly personal debut EP, Pacifyer draws you in with its otherworldly sounds.  





Further Listening ︎
https://whitegardenn.bandcamp.com

︎[Art: Camille Soulat]
The first time we heard the new Simili Gum EP Pacifyer we were taken back by how similtaniously it felt soothing but chaotic. Like stepping into a very insular and fluid world full of poetic lanscapes. 

After several years producing music in its most varied aspects, Simili Gum will deliver his first project realized and executed as a work in its own right. As a result of a long journey between experimental electronic music, rap and french variety, Pacifyer concentrated his influences into 7 personal and intimate tracks.

His writing, made up of an intermingling of poetic narratives and surrealist lyrics, draws on the contours of an atypical and marginal character, navigating in this rational world. His alien sounds, organic and electronic, are confronted with deeply human discourse and feelings.



Tracklist
  1. d’un coup 26
  2. Mur
  3. Voix off
  4. Cupola
  5. Un peu de gris
  6. Rendezvous pitch maneuver
  7. Stardust





There seems to be a very open and fluid scene that has developed in France in both music and art. Which feels uniquely French but also reflects changes on a global level. How do you see modern culture in France and how does your music sit within this sphere?
I don’t think that I have much perspective on the French scene. I am interested into artists from a lot of different countries.However, the way I experience what we can call a « French scene » is through my personal network. A lot of my friends are really talented artists and this is very stimulating !The scene becomes more and more open-minded and I can feel that forms are enriching each others.What is very exciting with modern culture is that there is so much possibilities that everyone can feel represented.I love when artists create their own sub-genre, I try my best to do mine.


The artwork for the EP was done by artist Camille Soulat, can you tell us a bit about working with her and how the artwork connects the music and the Simili Gum world?
Camille and me have been very close for years now and she’s probably the person who understand me the most.It’s always very easy to work with her because I don’t have any instructions to give to her.I have entire confidence in her vision as I know she totally gets my point.We worked together since the very beginning and so we can totally say that she is at the origin of my visual universe.Even when I collab with someone else -I recently called on the very talented video artist Lilian Hardouineau to work on my latest music video for example-,I’m showing her every steps, she gives advices and even help concretely !She is deeply involved in my project, and I really hope we will even go further in collaboration.


Can you tell us about the name Simili Gum and what it embodies, and also the EP title Pacifyer?
When I choose Simili Gum as a name I wanted to embody something like an idea, an imaginary substance, a new material.I’m very interested by notions like elasticity, flexibility, softness or distortion. I want them to be noticeable in each aspects of my work — from music to visuals passing by name and titles.Title of the EP ‘Pacifyer’ was given me by Camille. One day she literally texted me « Pacifyer : title of your project » after she listened to it for the first time. I immediately felt consonant with this title because one of my main aim is to bring a form of appeasement to people that feel weird or even rejected. I always struggle with titles and so I really appreciate when they are not only « mine ».




Can you tell us a bit about the evolution of Simili Gum and the process creating your new EP Pacifyer?
Well, for me it has been a pretty long process as I had multiple types of music projects since I'm 14 y.o.I started making music by rapping, I created multiple groups with my best friend for years,but then one day I felt like the music I was making no longer had much to do with my personal aspirations.I wanted to discover and understand myself I guess, so I experienced different sort of mediums (drawing, video, etc.) which led me to the fine arts academy.I was in my 3rd grade when I started producing. It was a really recreational practice for me.I did some sort of lo-fi ambient, later it gets more and more shapeless and experimental.But still, I was unsatisfied by the result as if something was missing. I felt the need to write and express myself in a more personnal way.When i started recording my voice over my productions (2 years ago) it made much more sense for me.Like if it was the ideal format to completely express myself while mixing my diverse influences.Since then I’ve been quite active on Soundcloud and Youtube, this allowed me to travel and perform in some venues.During last autumn, I decided to put all my energy into making this new EP ‘Pacifyer’ that I thought of as a real introduction to my universe.Process is still the same basically : I was in my room, I spent winter working on these songs in a very introspective mood.

“When I make music it’s one of the only moments where I completely let go.“


The first time I heard the tracks I was taken back by how different and unusual they feel.At the same time feeling soothing but chaotic. They appear quite personal, like I was stepping into a very insular world...How would you describe the style of music you make and how does it reflect yourself and the way the world feels at the moment?
When I make music it’s one of the only moments where I completely let go. While singing or producing I feel like I’m alone, even if someone is nearby - I let myself be taken by emotions of all kind. This is a place of deep intimacy while paradoxically a lot of my ideas comes from outside.My writing is usually a combination of notes I take when I walk around.I love to hang out alone searching for situations that appeals to me in anyway. Originally I am quite lost in thought, always wondering where is my place in this world. Writing, producing and singing was first of all a huge necessity for me. The right answer to those questions I was constantly asking myself and the form that it takes obviously reflects my vision of the world.



Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and where you live now, and if this had any influence on your music?
I grew up in Lyon, I’m not sure in which way it influenced me, but I would not be the same person if I wasn’t born there, so…Anyway there’s a huge and very interesting variety of scenes in Lyon, I experienced some of it. I met a lot of very good friends there.But strangely I started assuming to do it my own way when I stopped trying to be part of a scene.It coincided with the exact moment I left Lyon for Marseille where I’ve been living for almost two years now.It has been very beneficial for both mind and creativity to leave my hometown.Marseille is always moving and inspiring, people here are a lot more expressive than anywhere else in France !But I can’t sit still and I’m so excited to move in near Paris with my very good friend and collaborator dYmanche in the next few months.





Mark

mat maitland

︎Art, Digital, Collage   
︎ Mat Maitland


"Over time my collage images have evolved into something less ‘cut and paste’ and more redfined but essentially still use the same ethos of unplanned accidents."

As I have spent the last 2 weeks sharing some of my visual inspirations I thought I would end my residency with some of my own work as an image maker. This strand of my career began as a hobby really and a creative outlet away from art directing and designing music projects, one of which was the catalyst for following this visual path - Goldfrapp’s 'Black Cherry’ album. Over time my collage images have evolved into something less 'cut and paste' and more refined but essentially still use the same ethos of unplanned accidents using a desperate source of found library imagery - apart from when a specific element is needed which would be shot. The images and films most often combine my love of surrealism and pop and have allowed me to work with more fashion orientated clients. I hope you enjoyed my posts, Mat.




Further Reading ︎
http://matmaitland.com/




Mark

john kacere

︎Painting   
︎ Mat Maitland


"The images are sensual, sexual, beautiful and exude a intimate narrative"

Kacere made a career out painting the mid-section of women dressed in lingerie, creating an iconic body (excuse the pun) of work. His work takes on an almost classical aesthetic, which could be attributed to the luxurious materials and skin on display. The images are sensual, sexual, beautiful and exude a intimate narrative because you are forced to think outside of the frame he is showing us. I have a bit of an addiction to photorealism and always admired the specificity of his subject matter which was so individual against the more well trodden paths of say buildings, cars and fruit.


Kacere was a direct reference for the opening scene of Sofia Coppola’s 'Lost In Translation’ which shows an almost still life study of Scarlett Johansson’s behind in sheer pale pink underwear.






Mark

people of kau – leni riefenstahl

︎Photography   
︎ Mat Maitland


"I’m attracted to the idea of projected characters and personas - a way of twisting reality"

I have always been fascinated by masks and the facade of fantasy, it's something that often (unintentionally) flows through my work and even on my Instagram through some of the visual references I post.

I’m attracted to the idea of projected characters and personas - a way of twisting reality - because even in the smallest way we all use props to express our individuality to present something of ourselves outwardly but in the creative arts it is especially powerful when elevated beyond the every day and into the realm of theatre.






“in the creative arts it is especially powerful when elevated beyond the every day and into the realm of theatre.”
It’s partly what attracted me to this body of work by German photographer Riefenstahl - aside from the fact that the photographs themselves are truly striking. The images below are from the book People of Kau, published in 1976 and featuring a portfolio of stunning images depicting the tribal face painted designs of the Kau tribe. It has to be said that Riefenstahl was something of a controversial figure which I won’t go into here as you can read more online if you choose to.








Mark

james rosenquist

︎Painting   
︎ Mat Maitland


"The immense scale of the pieces felt like you were viewing them in IMAX format"

Rosenquist died in March and it brought back into focus my first intoxicating experience seeing his work. It was a show about 15 years ago in a disused warehouse behind the Truman Brewery in East London. The immense scale of the pieces felt like you were viewing them in IMAX format, it was astounding. Being a collage artist myself, albeit a digital one, I was mesmerised by the collage technique he used in many of his paintings, surely not lost on Jeff Koons who surely tipped his hat to Rosenquist when making his Easy Fun series in the mid nighties.



He began his working life as a billboard painter in America and like many Pop artists of the era adapted advertising and recontextualized it into fine art helping to define the Pop Art movement of the 60’s. However, my favourite work is from the 80s and 90s.




Mark

salvador dali - art in jewels

︎Photography, Surreal   
︎ Mat Maitland



I love the internet, it’s a great place to discover new things but really books are still the best source for uncovering forgotten visual marvels. Such is the case with this one which contains a series of fine jewels based on Salvador Dalí drawing and paintings. The pieces were created by Alemany & Company of New York in close collaboration with the artist. If that wasn’t enough, the photography and design of the images are incredible too. One of my top 5 books.






Mark