Eno & the Art of Surrender

Went to Brian Eno's "Illustrated Talk" last night. In an old, supposedly renovated theater, but we suspect they bought the seats from junked Air Canada planes.

The first half of the talk was generally a discussion about how (Western) humans' perception of the world and the universe has changed (and also how language has not always kept up with these changing concepts and perceptions), and this tied into a discussion on organizational models for systems and groups, i.e. traditional top-down structures, with linear flows of interaction vs complex/"organic" structures described by people like Stafford Beer.

In the second half he discussed how some of these concepts inspired and affected his interest in art; how our language still insufficiently distinguishes between music as performed (i.e. live) and music as created in the studio (he used the example as theater and cinema as two related but distinct forms); and how he really came to music as a painter. He made the point that many art school students from the '60s onward ended up getting into music, and that this was because music - as created in a studio, using the various tools & technologies that were coming available - had become a form of painting. (This reminded me of his "Harold Budd is a great abstract painter trapped in the body of a musician" quote.)

He spoke at some length about his interest in light and the paintings/installations he's created. This would have been more engaging if he had some visuals as accompaniment. He ended by talking about the concept of surrender, as he's seen people surrender to his installations - to just being in the space. He talked about surrender as the opposite of control, and generally a word/concept we view in a negative sense, as a sign of weakness; but that really control and surrender are two ends of a continuum, and that being able to truly experience life requires being able to constantly find/adjust to the point on this continuum best suited to the situation.

In 1990 we had the opportunity to visit (several times) his exhibition The Quiet Room, in Montreal. Eno's 77 Million Paintings is (are?) currently on exhibition at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, until March. It's an uncommon opportunity to attend one of his exhibitions, especially in Canada, so if you're able to go, do; and go with the idea of just sitting down for a while and being there, and see what happens.