The world is not always what it seems to be.
At least that’s what my recent fascination with physics tells me. Just because something doesn’t manifest in the three-dimensional world, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The observable world that surrounds us is governed by classical or Newtonian physics, which involve a set of laws confirming our physical experience. On the other hand, quantum mechanics focuses on the subatomic world that is supported by theory and mathematics rather than through physical interaction.
Quantum mechanics depicts the probablilities of phenomena which defy conceptualization and are impossible to visualize.
– Gary Zukav from The Dancing Wu Li Masters
According to the theories, everything we see is actually not really there. Existence is merely the probability of the actualization of various potential states. The world of protons, electrons and other mystical entities requires the belief in less tangible theories and explanations. Our physical world is built upon a three-dimensional experience within the confines of length, width, and depth. It is our main reference point, and anything fighting that observable and known reality is subject to repercussion. From a philosophical perspective, one could argue that our reality is a mere construct of what we observe combined with our historical experiences. The famed physicist Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy presents a different view that is a “strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality”.
Isn’t that where every idea lives?
In the space between the possible and the real?
Ideas are like subatomic particles with potential or a tendency to exist. Potential is a concept that falls into the realm of quantum mechanics, where things are not this OR that, they are this AND that with the potential to manifest as either one. New ideas are multi-dimensional possibilities that get reduced to our three-dimensional reality. They are mere illusions unless they are shared. You can’t connect dots without other dots, and there are no through lines without independent, seemingly unrelated things wrangled together to share initial moments of confusion. Many of us struggle to live in this state because of our three-dimensional disposition. Often, the things that we cannot see, feel or touch are categorized as nonsense. New ideas are often greeted by an unsupporting world of old guard skepticism and dimensional disconnection.
Are we limiting the potential of our own experiences by viewing the world through a Newtonian lens rather than a Quantum lens?
The potential of an idea can only scale within the confines of its creator, which is why the cultivation of ideas requires connecting and colliding with other ideas, perspectives, and seemingly unrelated concepts. Perspective supports potential by presenting various lenses for an idea to travel. Like subatomic particles, these ideas need opportunities to collide and interact in order to develop. The results aren’t immediately observable, but as protons form atoms, atoms form molecules, and groups of molecules build cells, these beautiful collections of smaller things can grow into something altogether brilliant. It only requires our belief in their potential to prove their existence.
I have an idea.
An experience is an internal perception of an external reality. Our individual experiences shape our thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and actions. Collectively, those individual experiences manifest as our culture, which frames art and the creative process.
Is creativity enabled by the connection of experiences?
Technology is constantly changing the possibilities and potential of the human experience. Through artificial intelligence and virtual reality, we can have conversations with relatives and heroes that are long deceased. We can experience music with senses beyond our hearing, and we can touch visual apparitions through developments in haptics. With all of these things, the commonality that emerges from the human experience is a connection. The link between the observer and the observed, animal and food source, plant and ecosystem, idea and means of execution, question and answer, data and information, breath and life, presence and happiness, and music and emotional response … it is still all a connection.
Music is the connection of external rhythms to internal vibrations. Sounds are waves just as electrical signals in our brains and hearts are waves, each one with the potential to transform an experience. Is there a more visceral connection in the world than humans to music? Today, most musical experiences involve a source and a destination. The source can be a voice, a guitar or an MP3 streaming from the Internet. The destination is the body, ears and neural pathways of an individual. This experience can be amplified by turning the volume up or deepened by attending a live performance. Either way, unless you are a performer, the majority of human interaction with music occurs through a simplex, broadcast message from a source to its destination.
The primary function of music is collective and communal.
– Dr. Oliver Sacks
On connections …
Anthropologist Victor Turner was among those credited with developing the concepts of liminality and communitas. According to Turner, liminality describes an in-between phase of existence during a rite of passage or a ritual. The dictionary defines communitas as “the sense of sharing and intimacy that develops among persons who experience liminality as a group”.
One popular example of liminality and communitas is Burning Man.
Photo credit: Duncan Rawlinson
Anthropologist Karan Gill on Burning Man …
“There are no markers or symbols to identify a person’s class or status. There is a leveling of sorts where anyone can commune with anyone else. Burners often report a sense of breaking down social boundaries at the event.”
At their core, experiences like Burning Man transform the individual into a collective for a shared experience that far exceeds that of the individual. What if we could make the experience of music even more communal by using technology to amplifying the potential of communitas?
I find myself smirking a bit since technology can actually be a massive impediment to communitas (IE. text, email, social media), but stay with me for a minute.
Artistic expression is actualized by a performance flow generated by the performer and transferred to the audience. Two performers, whether together on a large stage or in separate geographies, present the need for a preferred temporal environment to collaborate in real time. Delay compensation can be an effective strategy, but knowing the appropriate amount of compensation to apply can vary from performer to performer as well as between the performance disciplines. Latency, or the delay of the sound from source to destination, can lead to disorientation, anxiety, stress and focus on the limitations of the medium rather than the artistic message. What if you could create the appropriate temporal environment to connect multiple artistic performances?
On collaboration …
Creative collaboration often occurs as a discrete experience, whether it is artist to artist or artist to audience. These interactions are usually limited by geography or physical proximity to one another. In addition, frequency comes into play as collaborators become more productive when their interaction is more frequent, which is why the fifth band rehearsal usually sounds better than the first. Proximity and frequency together can compound as limiting factors to this kind of shared experience. What if there was a way to tighten up proximity and increase frequency without spending valuable creative time on airplanes, in logistical meetings and other inconvenient distractions that silence or impede the muse? It would be similar to Killer Mike walking over to Chris Stapleton’s stage at Bonnaroo for a ground-breaking improvisational performance, only this levels out the serendipity of having to be in the same place at the same time.
Could there be exponential effects of connecting multiple performers and audiences? Is there a way that technology could make these chance moments more convenient and even more likely? How could we make sure the technology doesn’t get in the way of the art? Could creators productively clash with other artists producing the previously unthinkable? Could the audience increase their level of communitas by connecting with other audiences? What if we could expand the possibilities of human connection through a musical experience?
Imagine going to a concert to see one of your favorite artists.
The lights dim, anticipation builds as chatter transforms into caged energetic swells until the band finally crushes that first chord driving in unison to start the show. The notion of you as an individual recedes as your mind and body fall in line with the rest of the audience. Together, the larger entity begins to enjoy a collective flow state that favors alpha and even theta brainwaves over the beta waves. Electrical impulses, sound waves and chemical reactions collide to deliver liminality and communitas.
Now, imagine another person is doing the same thing 500 miles away.
In another venue capturing the unique culture of its own geography, this individual stands among hundreds of others waiting for the show to start. An artist and his band from a completely different genre lay into the first chord of a mind-bending performance. The audience settles in and transforms from individual to a collective flow state. These individuals and their experience follow the same biological and physiological patterns of the ego fading and folding into a more ethereal experience.
What happens if we connect these two experiences?
Instead of the first chords being selfishly limited to one band and one audience, both bands launch into a collaborative performance experienced by both audiences in real-time. Just as superposition is the potential or possibility of something being two independent states, a super-experience is a creative collaboration where two or more groups and their audiences participate equally and actively in real time. While listening always comes first, there is always a point, much like the patient bass player who frames the pocket for a melody to shine, to find a free window to speak up and add a flavor to the experience. The two bands feed off of their band members and their audience while tapping into the experience at the other venue. Instead of one to one or one to many, it would look like many to many.
Could we benefit from connected creative super-experiences?
How would it affect live performance for the venue, artist, and audience?
Would it have an influence on songwriting and composition?
My team at Tunewelders has been developing this concept for the last four years. I thought I’d put the idea out there for some colliding.
For more on our tests and research, check the links section below.
Ideas are not classically physical.
They are inherently quantum.
Creating something from nothing is a phenomenon that occurs every second in the subatomic world. These interactions, collisions, and connections are not tangible or even visible, but without them, our three-dimensional world would likely not exist.
Embrace the uncertain and unexplainable.
Believe in their tendency to exist.
What ideas are stirring around in your subatomic world?
It’s time to put them out there and give them a chance.
If you cannot – in the long run – tell everyone what you’ve been doing, your doing has been worthless.
– Erwin Schrodinger
Feature image credit: Cedar
Some of my favorite physics books:
More on Oliver Sacks:
More on Burning Man:
More info on Tunewelders creative collaboration: