23 Entryways Into My Mind: Portal 7

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23 Entryways Into My Mind is a series of installations begun on September 7, 2000. Each installation offers others an opportunity to step out of their own minds and into mine. The series is, like many of the works comprising it, a project expected to last my lifetime.

23 Entryways Into My Mind is an exploration of how human beings understand identity, their own and others. In what ways we can define who a human being is. In this case The MVM will spend my life exploring ways in which others might be able to try and understand what might constitute my identity.

Portal 1 was performed in Los Angeles, anonymously and without documentation.

Portal 2 posits that human actions and inactions make up a substantial portion of identity. If we are who others perceive us to be, then a recreation of our actions would be a rebirth of our person. If others carry out our actions after our death, then perhaps we have achieved one form of immortality.

Portal 3 offered a more passive approach to the question of identity, providing 1000's of hours of audio and hundreds of hours of video from one year in my life, reconfigured in numerous ways. If even for a moment other humans relived my life, then their memories were altered. And since identity is primarily memory, each person exposed to my life took on a piece of it; they merged a piece of me into themselves and carried that on into their lives and relationships. Viral memories are these little pieces of others we carry within us and propagate. Human interaction is the carrier of identity altering viral information.

Portal 4 sets out to create immortality, the first and foremost desire of all life be it scientific or spiritual, in more concrete ways. Time capsules are buried regularly around the world containing different sets of instructions for my re-creation. Some of these are books of actions from Portal 2. Others are simple genetic material. Once a year every bit of inforamtion stored on my digital media are backed up and buried, with the belief that this material if uploaded into a blank AI mind would recreate a closer approximation of my identity than a clone from my DNA. The largest capsule to date contains all of the raw material from Portal 3, and instructions on how to recreate it.

Portal 5 provides a real time feed from all of my active computers. I have long said that my home is wherever my computer is. And I've backed this up by couch-surfing for a frightening portion of my life. Access to Portal 5 provides owners (edition of 5) with a window into who I am at any moment. This work is a collaboration with the provocateur and enfant terrible Jonathan Grindstaff.

Portal 6 is a documentary and a database about the creation of a single work of contemporary art. In many ways the most oblique of the portals, and yet in others the most accessible. Portal 6 contains a documentary following me and many collaborators as we struggle over the course of a year to plan a large-scale installation at a gallery. It also contains a database of every second of footage shot, a profound catalogue of the ideas that drive me, the ways I interact with people, and the ways they alter and influence who I am. It is a snapshot of the community I choose to be a part of. All of this footage is available to the world, online under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States licence, so that anyone so interested may share their own vision of how this work came about. Ongoing is a wiki attempting to catalogue all of the influences that went into Portal 6 and what they mean to those of us who created the work.

Portal 7 hasn't been blurbed, yet. However, a full week of tarot readings were performed in April, 2009, and composition and materials acquisition have begun.

Portal 8 began coterminously with Portal 7. The idea that our machines are becoming the reflections of our identity (as explored in Portal 4) resurfaces here. Portal 8 is a Firefox add-on that tracks the web surfing habits of users. It caches every page they visit and uses parameters such as number of visits and time spent per page to craft explorable worlds out of the data on those pages - oceans made of email, clouds of viral videos, forests of sound, mountains of flickr'ed photos, streams of diggs, pastures of searches, blossoming fields of wikipedia entires may make up one world, for instance.

Portal 7 (tentatively entitled A Mild Informality) began on September 7, 2008. It is scheduled to be completed on September 7, 2015.

It is a collaboration with the artist and collector Daniel Miller. Daniel, it should be noted, is my (and The MVM's) longest standing patron. He first began collecting my work in 1991. He has consistently supported The MVM with purchases, investments and, most importantly, enthusiasm and critique.

Besides being a supporter of Fine Art, Daniel is a student of the Tarot. He is an accomplished Tarot reader, and has been using the Tarot to provide insight into the work of The MVM for many years.
For our part, as you might suspect from our beliefs (as laid out in part here), The MVM is fascinated with the Tarot and numerology for the same reason we love the supernatural, science, and Fine Art - these are all belief systems through which we interpret the information our senses gather. They are all lenses through which we can peak into what human identity is, the odd mix of consciousness and nonconsciousness. We suggest that the conscious mind evolved to make cogent immediate threat, enhancing selective perception. And beleif systems arose to manage the contradiction of consciousness - that we are primarily an observer of a feedback loop within which we reside.
In that sense, The MVM uses methods of chance and divination to remove our conscious selves from a work, acknowledging that prediction is actually imperative; and acknowledging our debt to John Cage and Robert Anton Wilson, simultaneously.

Portal 7 takes place over 7 years. The first year consists of planning and composing, using Tarot readings by Daniel to define the parameters of the project, and by so doing, the paramters of my life for one year. Below you will find the intial conversation:

Daniel,

For Portal 7 here are some of the first variables I came up with:

1. The pieces should take place between the dates September 7, 2009 and September 7, 2010.

2. I would like for the Portal to consist of a series of audio compositions written (predicted or dictated by the tarot within the boundaries you and I set out, unless said boundaries are specifically denied by the tarot) between 2009.09.07 and 2010.09.07. There should also be some video aspects and textual aspects included. For instance a diary or dream diary may play a role, as they have in earlier works.

3. The compositions should be drawn from my previous body of sound works:
A. Dream compostions, where I wake up and immediately record my dreams as sound
B. Extended recordings (24 hours, 168 hours, 1 month recordings) compressed to an hour
C. Incremental recordings, where moments from a longer period are combined to create the composition, for instance 13 seconds every day for one year or 12:00 to 12:01 every day for a month
D. Expanded recordings, where one second or one minute is expanded to an hour
E. Living composition, where specific sounds, tempos and rhythms are dictated throughout a day or week or year, only to be recognized as part of conventional rhythm or melody once a piece is compressed
F. Portraits of artworks made by recording them in their environments - museum, gallery, plaza, etc
G. Portraits of individuals made by recording their life and manipulating those sounds
H. Soundtracks created by my Max/MSP Soundtrack Generator
I. Soothing sounds for infants
J. Office motivational soundtracks
K. A series of compositions that represent the tarot, a sound version of the tarot
L. I, Audi Tour

So far this is all pretty loose, which is appropriate for a start. You and I can spend the next few weeks/months, establishing firmer boundaries, and between now and 09.09.07 compose my life for one year.
During this period I can travel as much or little as the tarot dictates. I'd like for the year to belong entirely to the project.
To that end, we will need to try and map the year out in detail, to truly compose it like a piece of music. If we use extensive living compositions, this may mean composing my life down to what sounds I make when and for how long and how often.
Given that this may have dire consequences on my life, I would like to have as much of the year composed by the end of 2008 as possible. I'd like to kick off 2009 with the necessary preparations.

____________________

Lee,

You'll be happy to know that I pulled a card to represent the project overall, a general indicator, and the Ace of Pentacles came up, which indicates great fruitfulness, solid foundations, success in general material terms and in the embodied aspect of life. Of course you are aiming for annihilation, and your previous project was called Disembody, but Ace of Pentacles is basically a very good thing. It is about the basic principle of the element Earth, and the blossoming embodiedness. My theory is that successful self-annihilation actually clears the way for perfect fruitfulness and presence in embodiedness. Perfect attention to the body literally, equates to no-self. Basic Buddhism and Advaita, but MUCH easier said than done. Success in such an endeavor is the Pearl of Great Price.

So let me get this straight: the project itself, with you undertaking all the things/pieces dictated by the Taroistic template, will not begin until Sept 7, 2009.
So basically there will be a full year of planning/composing, starting with general parameters and getting progressively more concrete, approaching the goal of a total map/guideline of Sept 2009-Sept 2010.

________________________

Daniel,

The Ace of Pentacles is indeed fortuitous, methinks. Your read on self-annhilation is pretty right on. My practice is heavily influenced by Buddhist monk practice. I see most of these works as akin to butter sculpture and sand mandalas, to metaphysical and spiritual actions that help teach us to let go of Self and Achievement and Time, and open our minds to what it means to exist, to act, to desire, to dream.

As well, you've got the timeline and such correct. We are looking at just over a year to compose and plan the work. Though I suspect i won't make it North until October, so less than a year at that point.
I reckon between now and then we can mull over the initial material I sent you, and think about how to create a conceptually rigorous project.
I wrote a short puke of ideas the other day about how art and mysticism are related. I need to flesh it out eventually. But in a nutshell, I think Art is a belief system. As are religions. The information our senses take in has to be translated into conscious meaning, which is to say, justifications for actions taken and not taken (vetoed), and to make this translation we use belief systems, be they Art, Christianity, Neo-conservatism, Pure Reason, etc. Or, more likely, we use combinations of belief systems, as they are not mutually exclusive systems. I'm positing Fine Art as a belief system. Currently it is the only way I have found to make rational sense of Art. I need to think much more on this, and how this might (or might not) work. But, by placing Art in the category of belief system, Artspeak and the Power of Art and the beliefs artists and patrons have in Art, these things start to make sense. It is a paradigm that allows Art to be the many things artists believe it is, the many things non-artists believe it is, and the commercial market we all know it is. As a belief system it can satisfy its many contradictory natures and meanings.

I'm thinking that line of reasoning will elucidate the whole 23 Entryways Into My Mind project, and its use of numerology and tarot and science and mysticism and self-help and other belief systems.

__________________________

Portal 7 also continues my exploration of the idea that patrons, collectors and curators are all, by Fine Art's nature, collaborators in the production of art.

The current schedule for Portal 7 calls for one year of preparation and composition, one year of recording, and five years of data processing and manipulation. The final set of audio and video works will be installed in a variety of audio and video pedestals powered by solar cells. Ideally these will be permanently housed in a structure somewhere in the deserts of Southwestern America.

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