An Infinite Path is a podcast focused around personal growth, balance, and creativity. Hosted by Niles Heckman, it can be found at www.aninfinitepath.com.
Essay: A Street Photographer Appreciates A Street Artist
17:18Graffiti is writing or drawings made on a wall or other surface, usually without permission and within public view. It dates back to the Roman Empire, older to ancient Greece, and more advanced ancient Egypt. It’s like hunting since it's an act that can land anywhere on the spectrum of honorable to deplorable. With game trophy hunting of endangered species being vandalism while sustenance hunting which honors the animal being natural, graffiti that’s not art is contractive, such as gang signs that make the surface it’s made on worse, while graffiti that’s art can make the surface it’s made on better.Outside of commercial graffiti, where artists are hired to paint a billboard on the side of a high rise per se, the majority of this action outside of those rare occurrences, involves the graffitist self creating a canvas in public view without permission. So most graffitists through time have chosen to protect their identities through anonymity and/or to avoid prosecution from the state.Ask anyone on a street about graffiti, especially the artistic type, and they will surely mention one nom de plum - Banksy. A nearly household name who’s a pseudonymous England-based street artist who’s become one of the world's most notorious known for his political art. Anonymity, which has been the superhero trait for many authentic occultists through time, has also worked to Banksy’s personal advantage. For both reasons he planned and didn’t plan for. As he said in the 2010 documentary film focused around him, Exit Through The Gift Shop, “What I do is in sort of a legal grey area”, thus he takes his privacy very seriously. It also of course gives him more of a safety blanket. And allure. While not making his works so much about his ego, but more the art works themselves. At least in theory. With Banksy in the past saying “fame is a grotesque sole destroying vulgarity for the egomaniacal, narcissists who are, of course, staggeringly insecure”. Having no desire for fame is a very soul mature and sophisticated trait. Yet every once in a blue moon, those who feel that way still acquire it. Or perhaps it acquires them.To highlight how incredibly talented Banksy is, The film Exit Through The Gift Shop started out being made in the early 2000’s by a Los Angeles-based French shopkeeper Thierry Guetta, whose obsession with street art leads him to attempt to make a documentary about the subject. Notice how I said attempt because the halls of the akashic records are full of struggling filmmakers who want to or try to make a documentary and never finish one. This is because Guetta is what we call a shooter. Which is just a dude with a camera who shoots stuff, without really any editing skill and even less narrative writing skill. He actually connected up with Banksy and gets exclusive access to film him, but turns out to be such a crap filmmaker that Banksy actually ends up taking over the project and steering the creative with the many thousands of hours and years of footage Guetta had shot. The film, after being assembled into something with a narrative story by Banksy, shows how Thierry Guetta has become Mr. Brainwash, now one of the most provocative and famous figures in the contemporary world of street art, and also contains exclusive interviews and footage of Banksy, Invader, Shepard Fairey, and many other graffiti artists. So for never having taken on this moving medium, and perhaps being the one and only time he does so in feature length. He did a quite good job putting it together into an enjoyable to watch doc. Which is not an easy task.Banksy’s primary focus, street art, has typically contained common motifs of monkeys, apes, rats, children, elderly, police, and soldiers with recurrent critiques of societal operating problems such as hypocrisy, despair, absurdity, poverty, greed, alienation, and off balance profiteering - of which there’s certainly no shortage of in the world. His work could be said to be anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-authoritarian, anti-fascist, and even critical of capitalism while also being somewhat anarchistic and nihilistic. All with twists of humor and relevance. Because he is not only a brilliant graffitist, multi medium artist, activist, not to mention adding filmmaker to that resume - Unlike many lukewarm artists, Banksy’s work stands out from the hoards because it actually has real things to say and we very much personally resonate with him and his creative outputs.Since our personal main form of documentary still image work is street photography, we’ll highlight here that the vast majority of those who have ever seen a piece of Banksy art have done it through the photographs taken of it, rather than the physical work itself. Banksy’s stencil spray work, an artform which allows one who prefers to sneak around in the shadows, and usually under cover of night, to get in and out very quickly, has a quite distinct (individualized, hint, hint) visual style. So much to the point where you know it when you see it. But the only real way to absolutely confirm a work is genuinely his, is when Banksy shares a street photo or video on the internet. As confirmation a work is his, you if you will. Some of the most compelling street shots have a focal point of someone or something interacting or in a scene, (in situ), with a sign, or storefront, or work of art. We’ve personally taken photos inside art galleries that entail a painting and people’s reaction to the painting, or in frame in front of the painting, which then became a meta expression of the artwork, being another artwork created with an artwork contained within. Some of the most amazing street art becomes even more amplified when photographed and that photograph has someone or something accentuating or interacting with the artwork. For example, a Banksy painting on a wall of rats in a beach chair was intentionally done on a concrete wall against a sandy beach. So the floor of sand was intended to be part of the artwork. Or a small memorial of the World Trade Center is placed right at a location with a crack in the wall running vertically down one of the towers so that a flower can be placed inside of it. Banksy does oftentimes include a secondary focus to a piece which may be a life sized person who is then looking at the focal point of the art. But oftentimes these real life 3D additions make what would otherwise be a 2D piece of art into more of a full volume, which when then captured photographically, becomes the largest expression of what the piece of art could hope to be. So the art becomes as much about the photography of it than the piece itself.It’s known that Banksy is for sure a male, originally from Bristol, England, and there are debates about his real identity. At the time of this writing, there’s actually significant proof of his birth corporate fiction name but we'll touch on that another time. There’s also proof that he may operate as himself with another person or multiple other people. Radiating out from Bristol, down to London, his work has been thrown up across parts of Europe, the United States, and more specifically in locations such as Chiapas Mexico - an area known fort the indigenous Zapatista Army of National Liberation, and also in Palestine, hitting the Palistinean side of the aprprtide states of Israel's controversial and ironically enough, holocaust style West Bank barrier.Banksy's art is a prime example of the classic controversy of vandalism vs. art. Or another way to frame it is brandalism vs vandalism - brandalism being the sanctioning of corporate culture plastering their message and sigeles (another form of vandalism) everywhere in public space. No different than graffiti, only sanctioned because they’ve paid for it. The book Seven Years With Banksy says “By prescient I mean that what you see on a wall boldly painted by someone often projects into the future; it’s powerful and effective – and the status quo doesn’t like it. They never have and they never will, because they can’t control it. But if you can pay through the nose for a billboard, you can say virtually anything you like. And as citizens we all have to swallow the messages of envy and greed from our ‘friendly’ corporations because they have created laws saying that kind of indoctrination is OK. It’s been paid for. And every graffiti artist, understands that. Adverts are as far from the truth as it is possible to get. They represent the utopia that you must pay for as you slope through your trashy end of town without a penny to scratch your arse with. But to go out there in the dead of night when even the dogs are asleep and to put up on a wall a picture of the way you, as a free citizen, see this whole setup is to have the courage of your convictions so the general public can witness how you see it, for free. And we all know graffiti can be exquisitely poignant and beautiful, more than any advertiser can co-opt or come up with. As long as there are advertising billboards there will be graffiti and there is no contest as to which is the more creative and true.”Supporters of public art very much endorse Banksy’s work distributed in urban areas as pieces of art over vandalism and some government councils, such as Bristol, have officially protected them, while officials of other areas have deemed his work to be solely vandalism so it’s been removed by the state or by other taggers. This is very common behavior for graffitists, who constantly paint over one another's works. Jocking for the top stop position of being seen and not covered up.For we must also never forget, the matrix is a cultural overlay on top of nature, which only allows and encourages lukewarm creativity to a certain point. And anything beyond that is strictly prohibited for being too truthful. For truly free expression and speech are the cornerstones of any real authentic democracy. Not pho, somewhat pretending to be democracies that are really, corporatocracy, plutocracies, or kleptocracies. So forms of real journalism and art are always swimming upstream from these systems. And one who works inside this system only can become an exception when they become so well known - Even though they may still highlight the subversive inversion to the powers of the corportized state. Now that Banksy’s works are considered so valuable, he’s almost become somewhat protected by that system. For Capitalism even finds a place for its enemies when they make it money. And the larger and more well known Banksy’s art gets, the more he trolls the art world, the more both are exploited. For now everything he touches somewhat becomes gold monetarily. With literally entire sections of walls he tags removed soon after they go up. Knowing this, he often keeps his work to more publicly owned buildings or walls and only hits easily removable surfaces if he intentionally intends to use a work of his as a donation to the place. Such as leaving a stencil on an exterior door of a youth club that’s struggling financially so they gain the revenue from selling the work. Or donating an artwork honoring health care workers who’ve been redlind during the covid pandemic.But as a whole, he hates the commodification and commercialization of art - Often trolling it. Being quoted as saying “The art world (meaning combining art with money) is the biggest joke,” “It’s a rest home of the over privileged, the pretentious, and the weak. Knowing it doesn’t care as much about the aesthetics let alone the messages of what the art is saying, which was proved in the case of an occurrence of Banksy having an old timer set up a fold up table in New York city for one day of his artwork. Which is perceived as fake with canvases selling for only $60 when they’re worth in excess of $200,000, very few people bought them on the day. For the business art world cares exclusively about an artist’s work’s perceived high value and the standing of the artist themselves. Not the quality of the work. This was something we once personally experienced when showing our street photography to a Leica gallery manager. They wanted to know all about us and our status and standing in the photographer world, rather than the quality of the photography itself. Banksy himself has said Graffiti art has a hard enough time as it is, without hedge fund managers wanting to hang it on their walls.Another example of this sliminess was a blockchain company, (and there a lot of good things about blockchain) bought a $95,000 Banksy artwork, burned it and broadcast it live on the anti socials — all part of a process of turning the work into a virtual asset called a non-fungible token, or NFT - of which there are some good things, and some bad things as well. The company behind the stunt acquired the print in a New York gallery, then destroyed it. Moments later, they uploaded the digital representation of the art using blockchain technology on a NFT selling site. Hopefully they didn't really destroy it but instead a copy and it was just a marketing stunt for the NFT. But, whether real or staged, their mindset was that they were transferring the physical value of art by removing the physical piece from existence. So they bought the physical art piece just to destroy it. The problem here is they obviously don’t give a shit about the artwork itself, they set fire to it.Prior to this, Banksy did probably the most known “high class negging” stunt against the art selling world in the now famous occurrence of his “Girl with Balloon” painting which was designed to self district after being remote triggered the moment after being sold at auction for $1.4 million dollars. With a built in shredder inside the frame being activated, with initial tests of the self shredding frame having ripped up the work successfully in trial runs, but on the actual day, only functioning to about half way, leaving the piece mostly intact. Sure it’s a bit questionable to not think that Sotheby’s, the world's largest art broker who caters to the ultra rich, couldn’t have somehow been aware of the stunt prior to it occurring. Not taking the time to do a thorough inspection on the very unusually thick frame the artwork was in. But, who knows.Anything truly novel art will be a bid disconcerting and unsettling to the more conservative minded. It will rise up and break through multiple glass ceilings and the more it punches through, the more it will be discouraged. Yet, real leading edge creativity will be fiercely individualistic, challenge the status quo, not to mention be paradigm destroying. For every institution Banksy criticizes for suffering from extreme pretentious un-creative disease loves his artwork even more - because it’s valuable to them monetarily. Which is the only language they know. And after the occurrence used it to their commercial advantage. The stunt gained not only massive attraction online but then also followed up by a press release from them, stating that Banksy was actually the first artist to create a final work of art live at auction. Not to mention the fact that the stunt made the painting more famous and thus valuable.Banksy's take on the semi successful stunt was that the urge to destroy is also creative. Which is also a Picasso quote. This has been seen many times with performance art or public stunt art, much of which also happens on the street and harkens back to the monks destroying their sand mandalas to highlight the ephemeral nature of life and reincarnations.After another work from Banksy, the ‘Devolved Parliament’ painting, was sold, Banksy posted a quote from art critic Robert Hughes: “Art should make us feel more clearly and more intelligently. It should give us coherent sensations that we otherwise would not have had. But the price of a work of art is now part of its function, its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive. “Instead of being the common property of humankind the way many books are, art becomes the particular property of somebody who can afford it. Suppose that every worthwhile book in the world cost $1 million – imagine what a catastrophic effect on culture that would have.”We admire Banksy so much. Not just for his messaging, but consistency with his values over the years. Making folks think. Engaging them in discussion. Speaking through his art. High art, or art movements, with purpose and thus impact, are often started and created on the street - where everyone, not just those who can buy it, have access. No matter how known Banksy is, his work will have major elements that continue right where they started, perhaps on your soggy neighborhood street corner. He’s not full of fake subversion and rebellion, and although he does a stunt or two, his main medium shows no sign of degrading. Since popularity does not equate to value, it's encouraging to see over the years, and he has been active for many years now, it’s encouraging to see that although money and some ego of his name, sure now do apply, his free expression and continued creativity are leading edge. Culture jamming is a protest used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, especially including advertising. It constantly works towards "exposing the methods of domination" of mass society. And Banksy has long shown that he is a master of it.———An Infinite Path podcast official URL http://www.aninfinitepath.comSpotify | iTunes | Overcast FM | Stitcher | Player FMElevate yourself with a membership to nilesheckman.com, purchasing our current extended episode archive or essay volumes, or sharing a proactive review on iTunes. Niles’ work can be found elsewhere on YouTube, Vimeo, and Substack.Here’s our affiliate link for Jambo Superfoods as well.
Essay: The Spoken Word
8:15If you consume media not just to be entertained but more to better yourself that's wonderful and you deserve a cookie. If you read books MORE than you watch screens, that’s super amazing and you deserve a big fat brownie with gold flakes on top. Either that or full of pot. And / or our respect. Or all of the above.We’ve previously touched on the unfortunate truism that few read anything anymore. A night show in 2020 (during global Covid lockdowns when people were more home based than otherwise usually would be anyway) interviewed people cold on the street asking the question “what was the last book you read?” and it was followed by almost exclusively un-articulate answers, with a few clear and concise responses being those that quickly admitted to reading nothing. One of our colleagues who’s created a variety of output has written several books, only one of which got to successful publishing, and has been by far, their least selling product. Even though it appears on the surface that there are many New York Times bestselling authors out there, the reality is that it’s rare for a book to sell more than 300 copies in its entire lifetime. That’s why the selections at almost all bookstores, larger chains or even smaller locales are very narrow and the publishing industry has as many stinking backwaters as any other. One of our societal problems is a lack of philosophers. To actually become a lover of, and embodier of, and communicator of wisdom (Trivium) we must read extensively, over our whole lifetime. This lack of reading is mainly in regards to traditional books, but a wonderful now seachange that technology does deserve credit for is the spoken word - as podcasts for example are now more ubiquitous and prevalent than live broadcast television. Hallelujah!Outside of personal experience, and internal communication, the spoken word from one inquiring mind to another, has been how knowledge is transmitted. Through time this was done around campfires, mystery schools, other philosophical institutions of higher learning, and books. Modern versions of those things still do exist, but there’s also this modern advent of archives now existing through podcasts and audiobooks. So the spoken word, which has always been of predominant importance through time, only continues to amplify with technological advancement. The sense of listening has such a primary importance because listening is how humans input information most of the time while also having the ability to do something else. Because life is short and the internet has allowed for a deluge of great content in the form of audiobooks, lectures, podcasts, as well as other spoken word yummy audible knowledge, there is more than you can ever listen to in a lifetime and there are only so many hours in the day with that short life. Yet just like with all mediums, any form of spoken word can deliver quality or hot garbage. Radio, which has now been around for the better part of a century, is a perfect example. But if you’re constantly listening to yummy, informative, and expansive spoken word content, whatever the medium, you deserve an affogato. Podcasts typically are interviews. Or sometimes individual, off the cuff, or else written content delivered to an audience similar to traditional lectures, sermons, stand up comedy routines, or speeches. But non fiction books, for thousands of years, have been a deeper, longer form medium for the voice to be transmitted. So we would actually place books as having the capability of being superior in depth to almost any other medium. Some of the world’s most bold and profound content comes from pros which require multiple reads over numerous years. That takes a significant amount of time and life, to some extent, is short. And since we have this reading barrier problem which causes a large drop in audience, there remains a problem that many books, especially more rare ones, don’t have audiobook equivalents. If you’re a bibliophile or any form of book lover, you’ve probably come to realize that in the 21st century most digital versions of these books can be found or converted to audiobooks. This was all discussed in one of our previous essays entitled “reading through your ears” but there’s also now technology to easily turn any text that is copy/pastable into a now not horribly robotic but actually listenable synthetic voice audiobook. We personally share books we’ve found valuable, who’s authors have passed on, with patrons of our work and that entails sharing the PDf version (not under copyright - to honor creators income streams) as well as audiobook versions which if not already available, we will make our own audiobook versions of and share those audio files as well. Touch is some folk’s prefered sense and some are able to just straight up soak up information more via conventional reading. So there will also continue to be purests for not only traditional reading but also via physical paper. In the interest of resource depletion, cell phones and e-readers certainly do require mineral extraction but less cutting down of trees. As digital devices have proven they are the forefront for the majority, analoge copies will always have their place - not to mention in case of electromagnetic pulse attack or grid collapse, but are now secondary to reading off any sort of screen. All though that is a joke, here's a legitimate criticism of traditional analogue reading which is not. It’s a bit like running because it’s very healthy but over long periods of time, can cause physical strain. Audiobooks have a great advantage over traditional books in the sense that you can be listening to an audiobook while doing other things. Going to the gym, gardening, driving etc… So they allow for multitasking and thus increased productivity.Another unique advantage of listening to any spoken word source is it also allows for soaking up the audio at faster speed. Seeking out media playing tools that allow you to change the speed of a source in increments. As you try this, you get more productive at it and can get through many more sources in the day. It really depends on the density of the material and how quickly the speaker is delivering the information, but we can listen easily to 5/10 podcast episodes in one day for example because we’ve worked up the skill set to ear canal input most sources at double speed if not 2.5x speed or rarely but occasionally even 3x speed. Anyone truly serious about their spiritual development will know study is a key component of that. Which, outside of direct communication, arrives through the eye or the ears, or if you're blind, through the fingers, from braille books. So having the tool of speed adjustment can be beneficial for having to do multiple passes over a pros over the years.If we ever go back and listen to ourselves in one of these essays, for example, we never do it at regular speed. It's a bit painful to listen at normal speed actually. So we praise any service, such as a video or spoken word app, which allows for speed changes as a valuable life-saving tool. Or at very least a three-hour podcast now turning into an hour and a half long podcast instantly. Every minute you save, is another minute you can have to yourself. Or another minute for study. So narrowing the spectrum of the inner juju juicy material you input, combined with a faster delivery of it to save time and increase efficiency has the potential to send you much further along the way to being philosophically astute.———An Infinite Path podcast official URL http://www.aninfinitepath.comSpotify | iTunes | Overcast FM | Stitcher | Player FMElevate yourself with a membership to nilesheckman.com, purchasing our current extended episode archive or essay volumes, or sharing a proactive review on iTunes. Niles’ work can be found elsewhere on YouTube, Vimeo, and Substack.Here’s our affiliate link for Jambo Superfoods as well.
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