Art as a CeremonyConversation with Alon Hammer - REM Visualart
We first met Alon Hammer through an incredible #NFT
he created a couple months ago. We loved the piece so much that we needed him to know how much his art impacted us. From that brief connection, a beautiful friendship developed and Alon joined Plato's Academy.
Alon is an incredible visual artist, who works with a vast array of technologies. In this interview we share with you Alon's experience as a visual artist and creator, some of the work we did together in Plato's, and the innovative projects Alon has been spearheading in the art world, such as Liquid Earth
, launching today, March 21st. Tyler & Frida:
So Alon, tell us a little bit about yourself. Alon:
I'm a visual artist. I'm really proud and happy to say that I've been calling myself an artist for many years. And you know, there was that moment of realization that that's what I wanted to call myself.
In the past handful of years, I've gone a lot more into the tech art world where I combine my geekdom and my art. I'm really thankful and grateful to be able to express myself with these technologies in a really meaningful way. I also DJ, so I make content and visuals for festivals, concerts, and shows. Festivals were kind of the origin of who I am today, just in terms of how I relate to things. Coming full circle into where I am today with virtual production.
I really love life, and I really love being alive in it. I'm very grateful and thankful to be able to support myself for so long with my art. You know, I can't really draw. I can, but not anything meaningful.
I could always visualize and I could always write. When I was around 14-15, I started writing a lot and I loved movies so I said: OK, I'm going to be a screenwriter. And around the same time, I was very heavily into computers and software. I got really into video editing and motion graphics as well.
My idea was that somehow somebody would hire me to work in their editing studio. I got hired to do promotional videos for nonprofit organizations. Very small time production house. But I learned so much from them and it gave me this very natural progression of, OK, I can actually do what I want to do, and it never felt forced. It was always a very natural progression. "I always felt inside of myself that I wanted to be able to call myself an artist and that was the start of it."
A lot of what you're saying is really beautiful and it highlights the essence of an artist, right? A lot of peopleI associate being an artist with some type of highly developed technical skill and skill set like drawing or painting. Obviously, you are very talented from a technical perspective. But I remember talking with one of the leaders of the Bay Bridge Lights
about the projects that he was working on. He said it takes a tremendous amount of artistry and creativity to be able to make an art piece without actually having a technical skill set. When you have that creative energy of being an artist, you find the way and you communicate the energy, the feeling, the thing you're trying to communicate. To me that speaks to the essence of artistry and creativity. Alon:
I feel like a big part of me wanting to express myself was because I wanted to be different from most people around me who were doing sports, or getting deep into religion and I just didn't. And as you're saying about artistry- everybody is an artist, we are all artists. Any conversation you have with somebody that inspires you. That person is an artist. Any smile that someone gives you. That's art.
I don't think I realized that as a kid, I think as a kid, I was like, "oh, I want to be a famous artist or I want to be a prolific artist". Really, what I was trying to do was find a way to express myself. The idea of telling stories was alluring as well. Being able to tell a story and make people feel something. But I think my real passion was playing around with technology and understanding how deeper systems work. It's almost like you're creating spaces, digital spaces, for people to have a new experience, to receive a story, or be inspired to look at things in a new way. "I think my real passion was playing around with technology and understanding how deeper systems work. "
I feel like you're creating worlds. How does that relate to your artist name? REM visuals. I would love to hear more about the creative worlds you create and the exploring of dream states. Alon:
It's interesting you say that because there's many layers to this. My artist name is REM, which is a rapid eye movement- what happens when you're in a deep sleep phase. Where the stories are being told and weaved.
Before experimenting with psychedelics, really, my experimentation with the other world was through religion and through dreaming. Up to my early teens, I didn't want to be part of religion anymore, so my spirituality was brought out in the dream space. That always resonated with me and the idea of creating worlds.
Another important component and influencer was the underground scene in Israel. It is a very old one, from the early 90s and continues today. The idea is to find a spot in nature, bring speakers, DJs, have a party, experiment and create. As I got deeper into it I felt that a dance floor is like a temple. Maybe my religious upbringing connected the dots, but for me, a dance floor was a sacred space. And for me, a party was a ceremony, and for me, the stage was an altar.
Then I met this man called Rich McKenzie and his partner, Bjorn, who designed these beautiful stages, through the Extra Dimensional Space Agency
. They designed one of the stages at the MoDem Festival
, in Croatia. That was one of the first places that I saw projection mapping that was like, OK, I want to do this.
Rich opened up this space in my head talking about creating worlds. His whole approach to building a stage was like building a port. A stargate that is connected with crystal grids, sacred geometry, light magic, and all these kinds of things.
It was really mind blowing for me because I was performing on these stages, coloring them, or making them come alive. And all of a sudden it was all real. This is a real ceremony. Once we turned everything on, it was like a spaceship that actually worked.
Being part of that was very powerful because it really allowed me to have meaning in my art and have a really strong Intention. That intention adds so much to your creation. Creating worlds is a lot of responsibility, of course. People are so powerful that they can create such powerful energy. It's so beautiful, it really heals the Earth, you know, people enjoying themselves and feeling good about themselves and being inspired. "As I got deeper into it I felt that a dance floor is like a temple. Maybe my religious upbringing connected the dots, but for me, a dance floor was a sacred space. And for me, a party was a ceremony, and for me, the stage was an altar."
The job of the artist is to reveal mystic truths and your art is doing this. This container involves movement, music, light, digital aspects, and sacred rhythms. And you know, in today's technological world, it's really like the hyper amplification of the old drum dance around the fire and the drum beat with music and song around the fire. There are ancient origins to it. What happens with the drum beat? And the flickering of the fire or the lights? It's a collective synchronization.
We've done a lot of work with biofeedback and group biofeedback. What happens when you feel this deep connection with someone is that your brainwaves, your heartbeat, and your breath become the same. There is this deeper connection and flow of information and unification that happens. And I feel like your art at festivals really supports that. It brings this sense of awe.
I've done a lot of Afro-Cuban and Afro Brazilian dance. There's something called the cipher, which has a geometry to it based on different cultures. There's the Congo cosmic ground, where certain parts of the circle highlight the Sun or the Moon or the water, or the peak of physical powers or of spiritual powers. Which is why it feels so good to dance in a circle like that. There are these ancient origins that I feel people are rediscovering in these different gatherings.
"The job of the artist is to reveal mystic truths"
Hundred percent. You know, we are going back to source. Frida:
Another beautiful thing is that art is a platform where we can pass on knowledge. Native communities around the world pass their knowledge through dance, through paintings, songs, symbols.
A very interesting experience now is seeing technology take art in new directions. Also, recognizing that we met you through a beautiful NFT you created. I remember having the experience of looking at your NFT and saying: "This is the type of art I want to see in the world".How do you stay focused on the purpose of your art with all the new technology available? Alon:
It's a beautiful question. I don't know if I have a direct answer or if there is an answer for that. When it comes to technology it's such an unknown. I feel like it's so new that there's no there's no one person or one group that has a grasp of control over it. And for me, that's exciting.
I feel like a lot of the old technologies were always controlled by a very small handful of people. I feel like this is one of the first times in modern civilization where the technology is from the people. That for me is new, and enticing. I feel a big responsibility to the next generation of artists and humanity.
This metaverse thing, this virtual reality idea, it's been around for a while and it's not going anywhere. There is so much potential to create a beautiful multiverse, and love, light, respect- full and authenticity filled multiverse. Tyler:
Your art is so immersed in technology and technology is advancing at such a massive rate. One of my teachers said to me- "technology is just teaching us things that we already know how to do". Professor Edward O. Wilson has a quote that is very powerful: "we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology".
I feel there's a lot of awakening for people happening right now, and it's important to have the spaces for healing. Like you coming into Plato's Academy. You have this tremendous skill set and talent and there is maybe a part of oneself that is looking for healing and to awaken and step into the next level of self, so you create new worlds with these new resources gained from your healing. Frida:
Another big component and teaching we share in Plato's is moving from a place of authenticity. This also refers to moving from a place of inspiration that I feel art teaches us. Art is a big ally to help us look at our life from a place of inspiration and take action from that place. Asking ourselves how to move from an inspired place, a loving place, that supports the creation of beautiful expression through any art medium, or really any field we participate in. The moments when we move from inspiration tend to be very important ones. Alon:
You nailed it. Inspiring others feels authentic to me. It's a quantum thing.
I create authentically that will inspire others, that will then give me the ability to create authentically and inspire me. That's really the essence, I think, of creation. Sharing the love. Tyler:
It activates your choice. And it really allows you to be intentional with your attention. And where you want to put it in and seek inspiration is a wonderful place to put your attention into.
Speaking about inspiration, you are doing a digital event today March 21st. Can you tell us about it? Alon:
Yes, the event is Liquid Earth
and it's on a platform called Expo, which is actually my mom's company. So it's also really nice to be able to collaborate with her on that. It's a really cool platform. They made an interactive multi user experience for this event and we have an amazing line up with great artists and tons of art on display. You can check all the details via this link: https://liquid-earth.io and join our launch event today!