Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The Theory of Art Entrainment (and the emergence of the 4th dimension) by Steven J. Myers

Entrainmentism is my conception of a new art form, which produces unique pieces of visual music, musical paintings, and spontaneous performances encompassing any, and all aspects of life and art.

Artists were already searching for a hidden force behind visible phenomena, inspired by music, and a spiritual essence, in the 19th century; but in 1905 everything changed with the publishing of Einstein's "Special Theory of Relativity". Time was defined scientifically as the fourth dimension.

As never before, art was recognized as a spiritual pursuit, in that it involves the inner world of an individual, or group of individuals. Kandinsky put that idea into writing when he developed his form of abstract painting, which was inspired by music. His synesthetic experience of music, color, and form, brought him to realize the idea that art is created by an inner need of the artist. It does not depend on representation of the external world.

We can site many examples of artists who independently devised temporal art, or kinetic painting, almost simultaneously. Goethe and Beethoven were known to have produced a table of equivalence between musical key and color. Wagner's far-reaching "Gesamtkunstwerk", or total work of art, Baudelaire's theory of "correspondances", Delaunay's "Simultaneity", and Apollinaire's "Orphism", which influenced the German artists of "Der Blaue Reiter", Schoenberg, and the American "Synchromists"; the Czech artist Kupka, the musicality of Matisse, Cubism, Futurism, the Bauhaus, and on, and on, et al.

Most of us are familiar with the question: does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? My answer is: "yes, both are true".

The nature of life, as we now understand it, is in a constant state of flux, which maintains an equilibrium through the emergence of new forms (evolution). At critical points of instability, order is "created"; it emerges out of the chaos. On a sub-atomic level, there is no difference between me, the floor I am standing on, and the desk in front of me. We are all composed, mainly, of energy. Everything is interconnected, the rocks, the trees, the birds, the fish, the humans. We are all brothers and sisters, and we are all evolving together, like it or not.

Consider the chemistry of sugar. The elements combine to form a new molecule. But, it is not inherently sweet; the sweetness is a sensory experience: somebody has to taste it.

An artist brings elements together to create art. These elements can be found objects, or brush strokes of paint, or spoken words, or gestures of dance, etc. At what point do these combinations of elements become art? It is the experience of the "audience" which transforms the elements, and makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Art is an experiential phenomenon, shared by all.

The various art forms, painting, sculpture, music, dance, theater, etc, are already connected. The creative urge, as it were, comes essentially from the same place, in all art forms. Science too, can be included in this sphere, being that it's essence is also creative. Art and Science are different disciplines, but have evolved together in a parallel fashion.

Science provides many models of entrainment, which illustrate the phenomenon quite well. For example, if one puts a series of pendulums in a room, moving at different intervals, they will eventually become entrained to one rhythm. Particles in the air, or in water, can be entrained to a current. If there is music playing while you eat, you may begin to chew to the rhythm.

In terms of music, a group of drummers, for example, become entrained to a dominant rhythm. Various aspects, or parts, combine to form a whole, which we call a work of art. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

When different art forms are combined, an interesting phenomenon occurs: they become entrained with one another. We are familiar with certain combinations, such as music and poetry; but really, any combination is not only possible, but valid. The more chaotic, or intrinsically different the combination, the more interesting, or unique the resulting order that will emerge.

Entrainment is critical to the evolution of art and life. We can say it is the expression of life itself. The particles of atoms and molecules are always interacting with their surroundings, in a constant state of decay and regeneration. Order emerges out of chaos. Perfectly imperfect balance occurs. Dialog, image, light, and sound become theater when they interact with our eyes and ears, stimulating complex activity in our brains, and creating a transformative moment - the experience of art.

Time - the 4th dimension

As defined by myself, Entrainmentism is: the phenomenon of elements becoming synchronized in an artistic environment. Art is essentially an illusion, created to allow the viewers to transcend their ordinary experience. The purest art is a finesse of mystery, to provide only the most essential elements, which allows the viewer to “fill in the blanks”. Entrainment is the glue which holds the elements together, as gravity holds us on the planet earth, with everything else.

My exploration has involved to combination of music with poetry, painting, video, and dance. The main artistic challenge is the difference between "plastic" art, and "performance" art: the first being fixed in time, the latter requiring time to exist. The combination of the two arts over the past century (plus) can be roughly described as an increasing temporalization of painting, accompanied by an increasing spatialization of music.

My conception does not seek to continue along that avenue, but to find new forks in the road. My "Gesamtkunstwerk" creates what I can only call 4 dimensional art. I have painted with my guitar, while playing music; "painted" with a video camera, while pointing it at the monitor; performed with live video, recited poetry while painting, painted on myself, etc. The visual, aural, literary, gestural, and theatrical (lighting, costume, expression, staging, etc.) aspects will always produce something new with each performance. One feeds off the other, in a spontaneous storm of sub-atomic activity made visible. It also involves the interaction of different people, who must find an equilibrium amongst themselves. I call it "Entrainmentism". It can be achieved individually, but becomes more complex, or interesting, in the interaction of groups of people; and especially with things of different disciplines, artistic, scientific, etc., being combined (multi-media).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November blur

November went by as a blur, and not just because my birthday is in that month. I took a trip downstate in my newly repaired van. Originally, I planned to go to NYC, but didn't get past Kingston, NY; and the Catskills. My friend Philip Lekki is working in a gallery there called "Seven 21 Gallery" (from the address, of course). It's relatively new, but filled with incredibly talented, capable people. I definitely want to stay in touch with them. I feel a tug, as when that internal voice drones, the one that's always correct. I think it will be a good network. I made some strong connections.

I came back to Buffalo, played a gig, and woke up sick the next day. It lasted 2 weeks, but I managed to build a couple walls in the front gallery. Not the kind that separates, but the kind which distills, as the knife of a good editor. It made a medium sized space smaller, but more intimate and cozy, in a way. Also, it's much cleaner visually, which is important in the art of presenting art. The added bonus? I also have a big room to use as a studio, and it's perfect for winter heating. I made three walls in all, one of which is movable.

Philip is an old friend, you might say a mentor. We are separated by almost 15 years, but have never felt a difference in age. I have learned a lot from him, and vice versa; about art, but also about life in general. When we speak, we often have epiphanies. Sometimes they're pretty absurd. Sometimes they seem absurd because they're so obvious, like great comedy. Some people have insights in the bathroom. For me, it's usually while laughing, or walking, or both.

That got me into trouble as a child. I was often being chastised for being humorous at inappropriate times. You know, desk out in the hall, detention, things like that But, that's what kids do, that's how they figure out what's appropriate (hopefully). To me, life was always funny, in an absurd way. Then I discovered tragedy. I read "Bury My heart at Wounded Knee". I was clearly too young. For a while, life wasn't funny anymore. Then a funny thing happened. Life became even more funny, because I understood why absurd things were absurd. Funny.

I hosted an exhibition for the "Jay/Jon Charity Show", in which the artists, Jonathan Rogers and Jay Carrier, gave away some signed, numbered prints of paintings they had collaborated on. It was a fun opening. In addition to new work, Jonathan brought his "Racing Death" series, and Jay brought a number of huge originals. We got a nice mention in Gusto, from Mary Kunz Goldman, in a story about what to do on Friday the 13th. She and her husband were here for the Jackie Jocko show (more about that later). Good people.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


First of all, there will be no appearances of deities, or end of the world speeches here. The title simply means I want to offer words of personal insight. Whether or not it is insightful is another matter. I picked up something years ago from Patti Smith, one of my favorite writers, who likes to use religious references. Only, I like to separate the pious connotations, and use the literal meanings of the words, thereby liberating them from their chains.

I was born an artist, and I will always be an artist, regardless of everything else. Music is in my soul, and is my most primal, direct expression, save personal intimacy. I began playing in the school orchestra in 4th grade, on trumpet. I played that until high school, then quit lessons, and bought an electric guitar. A really bad one. Many of my friends were in bands, in Kenmore, in the 70's. It was my first love, music. Well, that and...

But, I grew up with art. It has been in my family for generations. I always loved to draw, even as a child. I began painting at Buffalo Arts Studio in 1992, or 93; and have always had an idea of sound and vision together: music and video, music and painting, music and words, painting and words. I painted with my guitar, showed videos in a gallery, painted on stage during performances, read poetry, and made strange recordings and tape loops with cassettes, VHS, and reel-to-reel. To this day, I am searching for new avenues of discovery in art, but also in life.

I am a spiritual person, who grew up Catholic, but who is not religious. My other favorite writer of this particular persuasion is Jim Carroll. I have nothing against the bible itself, an incredible collaborative work. But, there are so many others, as well, such as the Tao, for example. Life is too short to limit myself to one biased view, when there are so many other biases to discover.

I am primarily an artist of different genres, or disciplines; but ironically, the more I immerse myself in making art my life, the less time I have for actual art making. I'm hoping that it will all make sense one day. In any case, my motto is that life is profound, tragic, and beautiful, but that we need humor to keep perspective. So, sometimes we have to leave our ego at the door. For future reference, the following...

"Apocalypse" means:

-revelation; discovery; disclosure. (according to my grandfather's 1959 American College Dictionary - sorry, Dictionary.com missed it completely). What it really means is that your world is changed, or is destroyed, whenever you have a new discovery. Creation is also destruction. Destruction is also creation. C'est la vie. If you want to attach a god to it, so be it. At least it's poetic. But, don't blame the messenger...

An epiphany is:

2. an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity.
3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

1. "Epiphany" (capital "E") is a Christian festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi. (for what it's worth) January 6.