The Role of Art In A Spiritual Life (Dave Von Bieker, interview preview)

This happens so often to us as creative professionals – we attempt to tackle issues far greater then ourselves in the hope that we contribute something meaningful in the world around us. Which is why I personally believe that whether you hold a secular world-view, are a monotheist, or believe in many different gods, holding onto that time for reflection, contemplation, studying, devotion and ritual can inform your artistic practice and vice versa.

Now, I realize that the word spirituality actually means a great many different things to different people. So consider this for a moment.

I often like to think of spirituality as the process of getting to know yourself so that you can begin to know what is greater then yourself through commitment to an ideal. And so, that act of creation is very much tied into reflection. As we spend time with our work, contemplating the purpose of it, studying ways to make it better, devoting copious amounts of time to the act of making, and creating routines or rituals to enable good habits in ourselves.

Dave Von Bieker also believe this. He specifically told me that being an artist is about paying attention, and as a consequence we can’t but help acknowledge the sublime, being in a state of wonder. Having spent so much time in churches, art galleries, concerts, and reflections, he sees similarities in practising art versus practising spirituality. Further to that point, he recognizes that for him, God is far greater then a specific set of views and elements of life.

And I find that fascinating.

Which is why I think you’ll get some value out of spending some time with this preview of our interview on spiritual alignment. Dave Von Bieker is a musician, singer, songwriter, and arts chaplain who runs an art gallery in central Edmonton (Bleeding Heart Space). His stage name is Von Bieker, and his music defies genre, so he prefers to call it bow-tie rock to haunt your heart, for thematic purposes.

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But what did you think? Can art, science and spirituality work together in tandem in our lives? What artistic practices can you think of that would satisfy two or even all three of those models of thinking?

I hope you got something out of this initial discussion on the role of art in a spiritual life, and if you did, please like and share the video, and leave me some comments on future topics you’d like to see. I’ll drum up some theories we can rock out to!

With that all said, I thought it would be appropriate to follow up this post with an album review by Mary Gauthier, Rifles & Rosary Beads, so please check back in tomorrow evening for more theories! You won’t be disappointed.

Tim!

Time To Collect (Harvest Season)

When I originally decided to write about the topic of “harvest,” which was a super generic move on my part, I thought by the time this Thursday rolled around I would have an answer to this question and the words would just flow like a well churned butter.

Alas, I am sitting at my computer at 10:33PM MST, listening to Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, taking in the after-glow of my third experience with Captain America: Civil War, and it occurs to me that I could go one of two ways with this post. I could either A) write about harvest time as I understand it, and recount memories of harvest related art or I could B) come up with a metaphor of harvest and where my head is currently at.

So what do you think I should do, dear readers? What makes the most sense based on what you know about me and the overall purpose of timotheories.com?

Well, I’m definitely gonna deliberate and stall for time while you come up with a valid response.

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After all, quite literally, harvesting is a process of gathering the summer’s crop from the fields and if you don’t have an automated process like a large farm does, it’s the most labour-intensive period of the growing season. It usually includes reaping, handling, cleaning, sorting, and packaging. In many cultures and religions it signifies the end of the year, much like how spring signifies the beginning of the year – People hold festivals to celebrate this cycle of life.

But here’s the thing – it’s technically still September, thus harvest time isn’t quite there yet for us Canadians, and Americans have an even longer wait than I do, my friends. Which I guess that means I’ve already decided which direction to take this post.

It’s gonna be a primer for another theory I have about the importance of reaping the rewards of your creative efforts and then looking forward into the next challenge. And if I want to bring it back into the realm of timeliness I guess I’ve been putting off making my own art because of efforts to grow this website. Which means that I now that the structure is there I should start reaping the rewards and begin preparing for the next growing season.

With that said, I fully expect to move forward creative cuties, I wouldn’t be a very good expert if I couldn’t follow my own example, now would I? I’m out of theories for now, so look ahead, keep me accountable, and I’ll see you on Sunday with a new Cross Talk episode.

Tim!

The Creep Show (The VVitch review)

 

It can be difficult to watch a horror movie even in the daytime. Horror movies are designed to use your natural fears (and sometimes create fears) to get a negative emotional response.

If you feel bad while watching a horror movie, it’s doing its job. This week’s review did that and more. I watched last Tuesday and I am still creeped out.

 

 

 

The VVitch (2015)

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw
Director: Robert Eggers
released on blu-ray May 17, 2016
********** 10/10

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IMDB: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Audience Score 55%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Robert Eggers is an American film director and screenwriter, best known for his 2015 film The Witch, originally titled The VVitch: A New-England Folktale.

 

Did you know that The Witch is Eggers own script? It’s an old concept, that of a ghost story. But we are used to seeing modern tellings of these myths and legends. Eggers decided to direct a story about the beginnings of western culture. Set in New England The Witch is a tale of evil in the woods, plain and simple.

The story is rather chilling too.

In the 17th century a puritan family is banished from their larger plantation community because of the fathers accused pride (Ralph Ineson). We then watch husband and pregnant wife move to a large forest and build a farm there with their four children. Some time passes and Katherine (Kate Dickie) gives birth to their fifth child.

The story slowly unfolds as newborn Samuel goes missing while the oldest girl Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is babysitting him near the woods. It reminds me very heavily of listening to a camp-fire story except we have the added bonus/cruelty of witnessing the story for ourselves.

As a movie, The Witch functions as something of a slow-burn, carefully building towards the climax but not revealing the source of the kidnapping until the final scenes. This is intentional and helps to cement The Witch as a unique piece of horror cinema.

Playing off elements of both ambiguity and very clear scenes, the fear and paranoia is what sets up the tension but the final scene and the lingering thoughts and feelings after the curtain call are what make this one so haunting.

 

Pros: Horror has great potential to make you see things you didn’t want to see, when done right. This movie is one of those diamonds which is both scary and intelligent at the same time.

ConsOddly enough, it does such a good job of accomplishing what it sets out to do, that I have a hard time recommending it to others to watch because they may either miss the point or be too heavily affected by it.

Runtime1 hour 32 minutes

Points of InterestEggers based his film on research of New England witch hysteria, several decades before the Salem Witch Trials. Stephen King admitted that he is terrified of this film, also The Satanic Temple has endorsed this film, if that means anything.

While I am not certain if this is a film focused solely on female empowerment, a classic and well-executed horror story, commentary on Christian themes or possibly a combination of the three, The Witch is like nothing I’ve seen in some time.

The Witch has given me some bad dreams, I don’t think I’ll sleep well for a few weeks. Regardless of the terrors presented, this movie manages to walk a fine line between scary and conceptual, and while I wouldn’t recommend it to the impressionable or those with strong religious convictions, it is something to consider and think upon.

Hopefully it doesn’t give you nightmares.

Just Hymning Along (Bloc Party, Hymns review)

There is this really lame scene from 2007’s Spider-man 3 where Peter Parker gets upset with Eddie Brock, pushes him against a wall, and decides to expose him as a fake photographer. Which is then topped off by the one-liner – You want forgiveness, get religion.

Fans of the Spider-man comic books can appreciate both the cheesiness of this line, and the attempt at foreshadowing the pending birth of Venom in the film.

This might be relevant to today’s Melodic Monday entry in more ways than one.

 

 

 

Bloc Party – Hymns
released January 29, 2016
****** 6/10

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Bloc Party are an English indie rock band, which also use elements of electronica and house in their music. Though they have seen some lineup changes over the past few years, the current band is composed of Kele Okereke (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sampler), Russell Lissack (lead guitar, keyboards), Justin Harris (bass guitar, keyboards, saxophones, backing vocals) and Louise Bartle (drums).

This is their fifth studio album, which comes after a 4 year hiatus. After 2012’s Four was released, Matt Tong left the band in 2013 and Gordon Moakes left the band in 2015. This is where Justin Harri and Louise Bartle came in.

Hymns is an interesting effort. \s I already mentioned, it is the first album Bloc Party has made in four years, but it is also the first album the new lineup has recorded together. And somehow it manages to both work as a wall of sound album, with religious undertones, and simultaneously alienate fans of their older work. In other words, it’s not really like the smash first album Silent Alarm and their dancier third album, Intimacy.

But what’s the problem?

Why it doesn’t work is because it never quite reaches the levels of spiritual praise that it claims to be striving for. It’s an album half baked. But when it does work it’s because they stop pretending to be making dance music with religious redemption and just talk about the issues they care about. This is where Okereke’s vocals have always been strongest and where the heart of Bloc Party lies.

Instead with Hymns we get to see Okereke in control of the show, existing in a space between soul and gospel, but he does still love his electronica. Stand out tracks include Into The Earth, So Real, and Living Lux, but overall the rest of the songs are just okay. It’s so strange because this was one of the 21st centuries golden children, they were pioneering in 2005 what has now become the norm in modern rock. But their exploration of music and lryics as a slow and forced movement into a more mature sound just doesn’t quite work yet. This truly is Bloc Party 2.0, but I’m not entirely convinced that the upgrade has been worth it.

It may be because half of the original band has left, and the party has left with them, but Different Drugs best demonstrates the future of the band, and incidentally may be a code for the reason why the band started to break up in the first place. If reinvention is supposed to be cool, I think it just got cold in this house.

 

 

 

Now I don’t necessarily think that Bloc Party “got religion” in the wake of the band experiencing inner turmoil, but it is interesting that self-reflection usually breeds this kind of behavior. And I’m willing to bet we haven’t seen the last of Bloc Party, that an awesome team-up style fight is in the not-too-distant future, but I’ve been burnt before.

So should you buy this album? Well I don’t think it’s amazing, but still, it’s a decent listen. Fortunately enough, I just might have a redemption movie in store for tomorrow. What do you think? Is Hymns marred with too much self-worship? Are my theories on the mark?

Tim!