Every sunbeam, every strain of music, every sapling and starfish is ultimately the regeneration of a previous something, a collection of somethings, taking on new shape. At the most indivisible level we can comprehend, all life is nothing more than atoms and molecules dancing their way through various forms. And if everything comes from something, it stands to reason that everything must go to something as well.Read More
By Meenakshi Thirukode, Issue 27, Regeneration: Revolving Growth
Regeneration is nothing but the ability to keep moving forward with the knowledge that you will stop. And you will be tired. And you will want to break away, escape, explore, find yourself, because renewal is nothing but the constant process of losing yourself and your way. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a survival instinct. Our very existence rests on the knowledge that we’ve always been evolving, never remaining the same. That we grow not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well, as intelligent compassionate beings with a sense of purpose. We think that purpose is an end, but slowly, painfully, through the years, we realize that purpose itself is ambiguous. Its ambiguity allows for us to meander through this life telling ourselves that if not for the losing and finding and growing around purpose, how uninteresting our lives would be. To regenerate is to be in a cycle of removing and re-attaching yourself to the consequences and circumstances that produced all the trappings of who and what you are. You need to detach at certain points, be able to connect to some other vector, grow again, in the hopes of doing things better, more worthy, more concentrated, and honest. Here are a few traces of it all, which function as the point from which your own thoughts can find context and purpose around the artist’s work and, like a story building exercise, (re)generate a tale that is your own.
I'm heavily involved in the arts. I don't know how it happened. But it's nothing new. Musically, I just found a weird electronic music career as a strange live performance called Loud Objects. It's quite good when it's good, and it should be taken more seriously, and making music and presenting it are some of my favorite times alive, but we're all so busy. Loud Objects mostly makes music and performances of sincerely intense concept sound, but sometimes we work on sculptural pieces too. It's collaboration between Tristan Perich, Katie Shima and myself. It's been everywhere! I go on tour once a year. I can't wait to spend time consumed more substantially by this project.
I've also started this Babycastles project, which is a huge kind of punk games thing. I don't mean that lightly, it's just the best word for me to describe the sort of communal, ethical, face-to-face, celebrational, underground art culture that exists around performance mediums in the New York generational history. We as Babycastles have just done the little gesture of introducing a medium to it and it to a medium. It's thick stuff and it needed to happen. Games in New York wouldn't really make sense any other way; if they were going to make it, they would have to be part of our phenomenal, world-changing art movement culture. And hence we just took a bunch of obvious steps to combine the punk art traditions I grew up learning about and benefiting from, and the video games artists that are just prevalent as f*** around New York City, and some specific people that sort of get it, and we've become this immense little voice. It was just a little thing that needed to happen.
Silent Barn is just man I can go forever and this is taking a while. But Silent Barn is a special beast that just needs to be sort of sat in for a while to be really understood. And it will exist for 10 years. That's a while. Lots of really great things will grow out of it. My job is just to keep it alive. I joined Silent Barn in 2009 when I needed a place to host my Babycastles project that would give it a serious chance. And it's out of gratitude and that perspective of gratitude that I realized Silent Barn is a serious thing. Bigger than all other things, if you take art seriously. Which I'm beginning to do after learning so much from all aspects of my immersion in it. Anyway, I joined Silent Barn specifically because 'DIY Brooklyn' reminded me of 'normal India', so I felt comfortable. But I'm still here because I realize I'd applied for grants for something like Silent Barn as early as 2003, and I'd even run a similar space in 2005 or so in Providence, it just seemed part of my bloodstream whether I thought about it or not, so I'm tuned to it, I'm in it, I'm here. I think that's everything I do these days. Also, these days I read Gandhi's essays in the bathroom. There's a lot so it takes some time. And I make sludge.
I've seen a little bit that lineage matters. It's an especially weird thing to say because people come from all sorts of families, and I come from nothing to do the with the arts, I think my grandpa sold vegetables until he got shock-therapied to mostly death, and my dad was a programmer, and my mom is a nutritionist, and my grandma I can't really describe. But it's a nice existential way to look at it. You're just a bunch of mostly pre-defined stuff. What kind of stuff? Where did it come from? What can you do with it? What are your limits? What are the strange familial things, however distant, you connect to? It's always kind of bothered me. Because it's a good way to measure against any ideas or ambition you have – you're like – keep questioning your genetic makeup, and really tune into it and understand it.
Honestly, that's probably the base case where everything comes from. It's not even me. I don't really exist much more than the stuff I was already positioned to do. If you're going to ask where it starts, it's really not an interesting question, because the start is well before you got to even thinking about it. It's just the individual characteristics of circumstance, era, culture, positioning, wealth, freedom, other people, bloodline, upbringing, that's where it starts, over and over again. The more fun question is, "Shit am I goddamn lucky with the dice rolls, it really doesn't get any better than the start I got, so ok what do I do with that?"
I'm a little Amy Goodman fan boy. I listen to Democracy Now every single morning except for circumstantially introspective Mondays (she only broadcasts 5x a week and I run 6x) as I go running from 8am - 9am. This is like a little bit of tuning. Then I stretch a lot. This is a little bit of tuning. What comes out of that every day is a really strong sense of grounding, abstraction, and duty to the current times. If you feel like you got a really incredible ‘start’, and you have an intuition of the immense, rare value of the combination of things that make up who you are, not in a particularly subjective way, because you can draw the line at simply being a human, but just a checklist of different aspects of power and luck you are graced with, you feel a sense of duty, above all, to really explore strengthening these factors, finding out how to apply them, an obligation to learning and expansion, you treat every day you're alive as sort of a big deal.
It's kind of tough because you mix with this just all the human being desires. Got to keep figuring out which are beautiful and which are in the way, but currently they're all beautiful. So you're laughing, in awe, enchanted, giving, listening, all these human things, and sometimes you just spend yourself on crafting a piece of the world that evokes those feelings in you the strongest. It all seems kind of like experimenting, practicing. Practicing and learning. What else is there?
I love smells. I made a whole book of the smells of the Maldives for a person that was once really dear to me. There were so many, they are hers now, I can't remember. But I do believe I grew up as a musician, I grew up in the 90s when music was a big deal for all the brainwashed children, but that's cool, because then I followed it, studied it, listened all the time, it's just always music. Music is always conversation. It's the wind. Everything is the wind, and music just blows through, and I'm grateful.
It's a nice sinking feeling where the very activity you're currently engaged in is the entirety of the universe, and the entire past, future, surroundings, other beings, they're 'white', they're wind, they just pass through, and come and go, but the only stationary thing is the thing you're focused on and the things/people that are part of it. This feels glaringly lonely but also very exciting, it's a sense of power, more tuning, more understanding of what it means to be conscious and have this interesting will, and basically, more understanding of what is the extent of the most powerful actions you can offer the world. Often humbling and limiting. But that's why there are so many of us.
Nothing happens standing still. It's when you become the wind too, the wind is how you listen, movement is how you listen, listening to everything, you can call everything wind, but it's the crux of human and all other existence, passing through, constantly making vibrations, sound, and listening is one thing, but walking and engaging in movement is huge. It's just, I mean, if you spend all your time focusing, and not listening to the wind, in a still world, there's simply no point. All inspiration comes from listening, understanding, joining the wind.
Meenakshi Thirukode, a.k.a Em Tee, is a writer, cultural producer and recently appointed head of the New Media Department at Bushwick Film Festival. She and her three alter egos live in New York.
Kunal Gupta is 1/3rd of Loud Objects, an experimental music and performance group, and the founder of the indie game collective Babycastles.