MJ: Welcome to Arkiving Synchronicity, the Synchronicity Arkive podcast. This your host, Arkiver, webmaster of the Synchronicity Arkive. Joining me today is another long-time member of the synching community, Baker B. (round of applause from the audience). Baker, thanks for being here.
B: Thanks very much for interviewing me, Mike. I really have enjoyed reading and listening to the interviews so far. Exciting to be a part of the project, and looking forward to what others say as well.
MJ: So, Baker… how did you discover the synching community and what was your first synching experience?
B: Dark Side of the Rainbow. This was in early June, 1997, when the synchronicity first became known to a wider audience through an announcement by a Boston DJ on his popular radio show. Actually, according to the wikipedia article on Dark Side of the Rainbow, this was supposedly a second wave of interest, but I didn’t catch the first, which was started, according to the article, through a newspaper report of the phenomenon in a Ft. Wayne, Indiana paper. I believe the second wave was larger, though. It was something of a craze, I guess you could call it, comparable in ways to the hysterics generated by the Paul is Dead rumors in 1969 — another phenomenon started by a radio show, actually.
Finding the Dark Side of the Rainbow synchronicity essentially happened simultaneous with my discovery and first use of the World Wide Web in general. Being interested in the concept of synchronicity coming into this, one of my first searches on one of the Internet engines of the time — Altavista, if I remember correctly — was with the keyword “synchronicity”. It may even have been my first WWW search. I was very surprised when a number of hits mentioning Pink Floyd, The Wizard of Oz, and this thing called “Dark Side of the Rainbow” or “Dark Side of Oz” came up near the top. So I checked it out, and was soon, if not immediately, led to your site, the Synchronicity Arkive. The very day after I first read about how to set the synchronicity up, I went over to the local record store and bought a Dark Side of the Moon CD. I owned no Pink Floyd music at the time; hard to believe now. I also attempted to rent The Wizard of Oz VHS tape — this was before the days of DVDs mind you — but remember having to go to several stores before I could find a copy. Apparently a number of people in town were also trying out the synchronicity at the same time.
It was very exciting days, I remember. The Syncboard, the discussion board on your Synchronicity Arkive, was very busy. Everyone seemed to have a theory about how Pink Floyd created Dark Side of the Rainbow, or how they couldn’t have created the synchronicity. I also remember a lot of discussion about Dark Side of the Rainbow variations, for example, using other CDs to follow up the first play of Dark Side of the Moon instead of just setting it on repeat, or starting Dark Side of the Moon itself at different points in The Wizard of Oz movie.
The only other synchronicites I remember being widely mentioned at the time were 2001-Echoes and also the Alice-Wall combination. I enjoyed 2001-Echoes as well, but have never really gotten the Alice-Wall combo to work well for me, despite trying a number of cues recommended by others down through the years. But 2001-Echoes is good. I would agree with you that they are the Big 2, but with Dark Side of the Rainbow being the primary synchronicity, in my opinion. To me, they create a relationship, at the beginning of audiovisual synchronicity, like a smaller and larger planet orbiting a common center of gravity. One goes with the other. And then all others follow from them.
The exact *moment* I became totally hooked on audiovisual synchronicity came about 4 minutes into Dark Side of the Rainbow, when I first watched it. I remember looking over at my wife when Dorothy fell off the pigpen fence right as the 1st track of Dark Side of the Moon, Speak To Me/Breathe, made a dramatic transition to the second track, On the Run. I remember saying something to the effect that “There’s really something to this.” And that’s how it all started.
MJ: As far as the community that had started to form at that point, on the discussion board… what was it that drew you in? I’m trying to recall now some of those early discussions, they tend to get a bit blurry now. Is there anything that stands out about those “early days” and the topics that were being thrown around?
B: The Synchronicity Arkive was the place to go for discussion about Dark Side of the Rainbow and Dark Side of the Rainbow interested me greatly. I didn’t look at it just once or twice or three times. The first month after finding out about it and how to set it up, I probably looked at it at least once every day. These days I rarely look at Dark Side of the Rainbow, but back then it was a huge influence in my life. I’d never seen anything quite like it. I understood that it wasn’t an actual soundtrack to the film, but that made me more interested. And, as I said before but didn’t go into any detail, I was already involved in synchronicity in an artistic way, one could say, so the appeal of two unrelated things colliding to form something inexplicably new in such a powerful way was very great. Dark Side of the Rainbow was the bee’s knees for me. It’s still the most consistent one cue audiovisual synchronicity I’ve seen, after trying out quite a number. For its length. You can get similar stretches of cool synchronicity for shorter spurts in other synchronicities, but not for almost the length of an entire album. Others would disagree with me, but that’s been my observation.
So I kept being involved in your discussion board to keep up on the buzz about Dark Side of the Rainbow… the conspiracy vs. anti-conspiracy conversations, and the variations in play. And anything else that could come along.
MJ: What was it that kept you drawn into the new synching community?
B: From 1997 through 2000, again, Dark Side of the Rainbow. Now as we’ve probably discussed in other places, I would call this — to use the wave analogy again — the first wave of audiovisual synchers. Strange thing: I don’t recall any one person sticking out in the many conversations on the Synchronicity Arkive at the time, except yourself, the owner. Perhaps its just because of a faulty memory… getting older, you know. Later on, around 1999 I believe, I did enter into some extended discussions with Stegokitty, the owner of The Definitive List, which has probably been the second most popular site re Dark Side of the Rainbow down through the years. It’s very different from your Synchronicity Arkive in my mind, though: it focuses on the archiving of *internal* synchronicities or matches to the overall Dark Side of the Rainbow synchronicity. Your site — correct me if I’m wrong — focused on extending Dark Side of the Rainbow into other synchronicities, beginning especially with 2001-Echoes, as you highlight in your own interview here. So yours was an archive of synchronicities themselves instead of internal matches of any one synchronicity.
Getting back to your discussion board, what I would call the second wave of synchers started to really kick in during the Winter/Spring of 2000, as I recall. This involved a totally different set of people, with me (and you) being the only carryovers from the older wave that I recall. Stegokitty did not take part in many discussions at the time, so I would count him as separate from all this, even though he became a syncher himself around the same time.
That the second wave happened at all was of great interest to me. I guess even Karl missed this period, since he came on the scene in — what was it — late 2001 or so. From this second wave came, basically, the game of synching that exists today. The difference between first and second waves I speak of here, then, would be that the second wavers tended to create their own synchronicities, often quite separate from any influence of Dark Side of the Rainbow. They may not have even been fans of Pink Floyd, unlike most of the older synchers, which would include you and myself and also Stegokitty. One of the most prominent of the second wavers, Dave Bytor is a huge fan of the rock group Rush, and that adoration led to a number of influential sites that describe his synchronicities using this music.
I should also add that before the second wave kick in around the first of 2000, talk at the discussion board here at the Synchroncity Arkive had dwindled way down from the heyday of 1997, when Dark Side of the Rainbow was still a craze. As I recall, the decline started after about a half year, and continued until late 1999/early 2000 when, all of a sudden, new blood entered the picture. I was always checking in on the Arkive discussion board all through this period, though. Even though the volume of talk waxed and waned, I was still there checking in periodically. So I was also right there when the second wave started… right in the thick of it.
In 1999, with the help of some feedback from Stegokitty, I began to create my own audiovisual synchronicity site that I called The Ultimate Pink Floyd Synchronicities. At almost the same time, Dave Bytor’s Rush oriented a/v synching sites began to pop up, one after another. And then, shortly after this, a number of other sites describing personally found synchronicities were created and published to the web. Before this time, we basically only had the Synchronicity Arkive, The Definitive List, and several somewhat copycat versions of these sites created by other people, as I recall.
One especially influential site was set up by Michael Allen, who claimed to find close to 100 synchronicities in the same vein as Dark Side of the Rainbow at the time, if I remember correctly. Certainly this site, along with others claiming smaller numbers of new discoveries, helped break open the lid for synch finding, leading to the modern version of the synchronicity database with its myriad of claimed finds. Although the second wavers were of smaller number than the first wavers, they were more influential, and most had web sites and were certainly more involved with discovering synchronicities totally apart from Dark Side of the Rainbow and even Pink Floyd, to a degree. Older participants on your board, or the period of around 1997-1999, were more involved with simple discussions of Dark Side of the Rainbow — intent vs. non-intent and so on — and also promoting variations of Dark Side of the Rainbow itself. So until about the second half of 1999 there were still only a handful of advertised synchronicities. Today it is much different, and it is hard to imagine this situation now for newbie synchers who only know the present version of the synching community. But I am here to tell you, along with yourself of course, that it was so. Audiovisual synching, in the old days, was basically Dark Side of the Rainbow and Dark Side of the Rainbow alone, throw in a 2001-Echoes and an Alice-Wall discussion now and then. There were a couple of others around, mostly involving Pink Floyd music, but these were the three that stuck out in any way, with DSotR way out above the rest, and probably 2001-Echoes a distant second. This, again, as I recall it looking back through the years now.
MJ: You mentioned back a little bit that synchronicity, as a concept, had been something you were involved in artistically, even before discovering Dark Side of the Rainbow. What did you mean by that?
B: When I original went to college during the years most people attend college, I majored in studio art, but I was more involved with the creation of music, both in a classical and rock style. Then after I dropped out of college during my junior year, I became more involved with writing fiction. I thought I could start producing novels, and that could be my role in life. At a certain point after this grandiose plan fizzled out as well, I decided it was time to sit down and write about all of these interests/involvements at once, in an attempt to find a way out of my inability to focus on one thing; all I really knew at that point was that I wanted to be a “creator”. So for a couple of months, I wrote about my creativity and collected the notes in ring binders. I originally called this work the Black Notebook, and then when one ring binder became two I changed the name to the Black and White Notebooks, because that was the color of the binders I used. I realized, through this study, that the area for the most potential for growth was a small corner of the overall picture that I had rather briefly explored several years before, only to move on to other things. This was the study of coincidences in maps. I also thought that here was a place that I could create something quite new and different, potentially. Not derivative of other art forms, necessarily. If the other creative involvements and interests were like neighboring blobs of colored light — red, green, blue — then this renewed and revitalized interest in synchronicity turned into a kind of of white light manifesting from their forced overlap. The Black and White Notebooks had served their primary function, seemingly.
The basic core of this map synchronicity study can be illustrated as follows. First we must identify some kind of map archetype that is able to penetrate different two-dimensional fields representing different segments of maps. This is something like using a keyword in, say, a Google engine search. Just as such a search usually generates a certain number of hits for web pages, so a correctly worded or shaped map archetype will generate a number of hits for map segments, different types of pages if you will. Another analogy could have the map archetype (keyword) as a pencil, and the map segments as paper that we can poke the pencil through to create a certain number of layers. The pencil stays the same throughout all the layers, and can also act as a central pivot for the various layers, but it will manifest in different positions through its three-dimensional nature when intersecting the two-dimensional planes of the paper. The archetype here, then, is a representation of a wholeness from a higher dimension penetrating a series of immediate lower dimensions, causing it to appear itself as a series instead of as a whole.
What we are trying to determine here is synchronistic resonance between the penetrated fields. One point of commonality, the pencil, does not represent synchronicity by itself. Like with the standard Jungian synchronicity where you have to have two unrelated events to form a synchronicity, so the same applies here: there has to be the appearance of at least one other higher dimensional penetration through at least two of these layers to set up such a resonating pair.
I know this is abstract, but I also believe that the study of map coincidence or map synchronicity, in this way, aided me a great deal when studying and exploring the realm of audiovisual synchronicity that came later on. We can make some direct comparisons. The pencil that represents the map archetype, which can be any name that generates at least two “hits,” is much like a cue “penetrating” two otherwise unrelated regions of audio and video. Just as you create Dark Side of the Rainbow by cuing together The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon in a certain way, so you can also cue together different slices of maps. This is what I sometimes call the one degree of manipulation needed to create an audiovisual synchronicity. But the cue, by itself, does not necessarily create an audiovisual synchronicity. Likewise a map cue does not create map synchronicity by itself. You have to have other things that synchronize within the cued fields or layers besides the original cues. Since such resonances lie outside the one degree of manipulation, or the one degree of control imposed by the syncher himself/herself, then it, by definition at least within the map studies, must be synchronicity.
By synchronicity here, I do not mean, necessarily, that something of an occult or psychic nature is going on. This would actually apply both to map synchronicities and audiovisual synchronicities. Most such additional matches could easily be explained as chance, tricks of perception, environmental seriality, or even intent. But I do differ from probably most audiovisual synchers in that I think at least a handful of audiovisual synchronicities contain certain added dimensions that cannot be easily explained using non-psychic means. This would include Dark Side of the Rainbow.
I’ll leave it at that for now.
MJ: As I recall now, looking back at the various iterations of the “SynchBoard”, I remember my first perl-script-based discussion board crashing and being replaced with a free message board service. When that service shut down then, I remember you stepping up with the Film/Album Synchronicity board. But all that was going down when, as I told Karl, my interest in synching had taken a huge drop following the media frenzy and trying to keep up. I’m curious, how do you remember that period, and is it any different than my recollection?
B: Essentially I believe you have it right, at least by my own recollection. There’s one error I spotted right off, though. The Film/Album Synchronicity Board began about 9 months before the shut down of the free message board service you refer to here. I used the same service to create The Film/Album Synchronicity Board, in June 2000. When the service went down, affecting both our boards, then I offered to set up a new board so that you could allow your Syncboard discussion group to remain closed until you had more time to put into it. So for a period of about a year and a half, The Film/Album Synchronicity Board represented the only place that synchers had to gather to discuss ideas. The only true watering hole. But even before this, this second wave of synchers I spoke about before, which I would number myself among — collectively, we sensed the need for another board in case the Synchboard went down again, as it did for a couple of months the year before. So when The Film/Album Synchronicity Board was formed in 2000 it essentially became the primary place for discussion on audiovisual synchronicity because this second wave gravitated toward it, following my lead. In Fall 2002, when I decided to shut down this board, the situation was reversed, and I directed this same core of synchers, with a variety of newcomers added, to return to the Synchronicity Arkive. It was also at this time that you decided to revamp your Synchronicity Arkive, I believe, adding a synchronicity database shortly afterward.
The timing was good in both directions. I was reluctant to take the role of administrator for the new board, but also felt its creation was necessary at the time. I even asked one of the other “second wavers” to be a co-administrator, but he declined. The site, although using the same free board service that you had at the time, was also set up a little different. I viewed it more as a co-op of various synchronicity web site authors, with the basic idea being that if they provide a link to the Film/Album Synchronicity Board from their site, then I would, in turn, provide a link to their site in the header of the board. They would become “members” of the board in this way. The idea was to promote the creation of web sites, and to get people writing and thinking and creating in general, keeping the second wave rolling.
I was also, admittedly, relieved to give up administrative duties of this board, although it was still very popular when I decided to pull the plug. Again I believe I offered administrative duties to others to keep the board going, with no takers. My primary reason for ending the board was due to a death in my immediate family. My heart wasn’t in it any longer.
I would consider the project known as Shared Fantasia briefly touched upon by both you and Karl in your interviews to be the crowning achievement of the members of The Film/Album Synchronicity Board. To me, everything began to become a little unhinged after Shared Fantasia, even before the board’s demise. I felt we, collectively, had reached a line that couldn’t be crossed.
MJ: Thanks for the clarification on when the F/A board started. Like I said, my participation in the synching community had dropped rather preciptiously at that point. I think the earlier crash you mentioned was the perl-script crash from my question. At that point, I’d over-run my ISP space by about double with the size of the board.
As someone else who has run a “community watering hole”, what did you see as the challenges of that role? Did you ever have to play the “benevolent dictator”? You mentioned you weren’t entirely comfortable with the admin role but felt it was necessary. What drove you to step into that role, since it seems no one else really wanted it either?
B: Regarding that last question, I believe the immediate reason for the creation of the board was that your board was having some technical difficulties, and we were having trouble getting hold of you. Perhaps I was the only one who remembered the crash from the year before… that prompted me to create what was at first only a safety net. I think those were my exact words for it at the time. I felt the momentum being generated, creatively, was just too interesting to risk a chance of losing. But from the get go people seemed to gravitate over to The Film/Album Synchronicity Board. As I said, I think it was just a timing issue, and I also believe they knew I’d be around to answer questions and give suggestions to and, yes, complaint to if necessary. We’d gotten to know each other a bit. We were all pretty involved with the board — this small core of new synchers.
Looking back, it was probably some sort of fate that I was delegated this administrative role for our little group, even though I didn’t desire it initially, or at least I wanted it shared between two people or perhaps more. And I don’t want to give the impression it wasn’t a fun job, because it was, especially when ideas were running hot, like during the time of Shared Fantasia. It just got tiring at the end. I was aware of tensions, sure, because I was there day to day, and we had some strong egos around. But it was, overall, a pretty tight knit group. We respected each other, I believe, even as we fought and bickered sometimes.
And I’ve used lessons learned from this experience in other parts of life, and even created other synchronicity related boards since then, although of a shorter duration and not strictly about audiovisual synchronicity. And also not as busy. It did teach me quite a lot about leadership, even though I don’t see myself as a natural leader. And I’ve had to take that role at my job as well.
I’d also be interested to hear other people talk about their involvement with The Film/Album Synchronicity Board. I think we accomplished some good things there. The great majority of memories I have are fond ones.
MJ: Stepping back for a minute, way into the early SyncBoard, I wonder if you’d talk a little about Booker T. I have some recollections of that interaction myself, but again, they tend to get a bit blurry. I definitely recall your Booker T archives on your site… so I thought I’d ask…
B: Yeah, I’d like to talk about Booker T., but I don’t really know where to start except to say that he’s a cousin and very creative, a professor of art at the college in my hometown, and that, presently, we are collaborating again on a new web site. Are there any specific questions you’d like to ask about the Booker T. Archive or Booker in general?
MJ: Well, let’s see… like I said my recollections about back then have started to get blurry, but I think I recall that Booker T slightly pre-dated you on the SyncBoard? Although it’s not a great direct comparison, I seem to recall that some people found his postings a bit “O-ish” at first, probably because they were very long (although not as frequent, and he didn’t monopolize the floor). I even vaguely recall that some thought that the two of you were the same person. I guess mostly I was just curious… on the relationship between baker and Booker, and also whatever happened to Booker T? He did seem to drop out of the Arkive’s community anyway…
B: Booker T. was never really a part of the community He was not very web savvy, so I posted all of what I too thought was his rather crazy stuff at the time. And I added some posts of my own to the Arkive later one, along with another guy who wanted to be known as Darwin. But these came toward the end.
At first I was hesitant to post Booker’s stuff, understandably, but the information related directly to Dark Side of the Rainbow and Booker actually believed most of what was in these posts, I believe. He was also basing a lot of his information on my own research regarding Dark Side of the Rainbow, which was going on at the same time throughout this 1997-2000 period. So it was a way we could collaborate at the time — bond as family, if you will — and also, admittedly, a sneaky way that I could leak some information about my research in symbolic form.
I don’t remember anyone really complaining about these posts. I remember you, the owner, stating they were entertaining and harmless — bizarre but harmless — at the time. Booker and I both viewed these comments as a sign to “keep it coming if you wish.” “O”-like? Not really. Booker was not attacking anyone in these posts.
MJ: I didn’t really mean “O-ish” in the sense of bashing people… but in the sense that there were some who felt that the Booker posts were long and a bit hard to follow perhaps. And I know I did find them entertaining myself. But I always recall that as one of the 1st instances were some on the board called on me to moderate things and I chose to keep things open at the time. I guess it’s a tiny bit of illustration on what the difference would seem to be on the Booker posts vs. O’s posts. Like I told Karl, I guess I’m still struggling with that “benevolent dictator” role.
On the F/A board, what are some of the early discussions that stand out in your memory as the most interesting? What do you think it was that made the “second wave” synchers so much more cohesive than the “first wavers”?
B: What made them a cohesive group was that they were all creators of synchs apart from “mere” Dark Side of the Rainbow variations — often many synchs — and that about all of them had web sites on the subject. I saw it as a confederation of synchers.
As far as individual threads of conversation, none really stick out way above the rest except for those concerning Shared Fantasia. There was a lot of creative interactions, though, and a number of really good writers here. Bunch of intelligent and also caring guys… against the grain of what the public would envision, perhaps (synchers as drug addicts and so on). A number of older dudes as well. We never did have many women in our group as a whole, though, and the only two I remember well were both named Rachel. We called them Rachel #1 and Rachel #2, in the order they began to post to synchronicity boards. Queer, perhaps.
[ MJ removed the private question here — ]
MJ: What do you think of the community nowadays? Using your wave model, it almost at times seems to me like we’re in a much smaller fourth wave, of a few new people along with some long-time people, but the discussions have calmed down a lot. I think part of that is some of the erratic changes the Arkive itself went thru, changes of direction, that kind of thing.
B: Well, I’m not sure. Frankly, I must admit that after the self-imposed demise of The Film/Album Synchronicity Board, I never felt totally at home at the SyncBoard, like I did prior to its creation. No fault of your own… you were trying very hard to create something that could fulfill the technical promise of a discussion board and also web site in a way I frankly couldn’t do. Like the creation of the synchronicity database, an idea bantered around on on TF/ASB as well but not materialized.
Everything in its own time, like I said before.
It’s a hard thing to describe — the alienated feeling. I guess the frustrations I encountered more at the end of that board carried over into the Syncboard. The atmosphere also was charged in a way, ionized. For me.
I can’t really say that I’m fully back either, then, although I’ve posted more in the last several months than in quite a while. I could list out all the smaller, more short-lived synchronicity related boards I have called a home-away-from-home from 2002 onward, some owned by myself and some not, but that would be another story in itself. The wanderings in the wilderness of baker b. These would all pertain to what could be loosely called synchronicity art or else Jungian synchronicity, but not necessarily audiovisual synchronicity. Making this move away from pure audiovisual synchronicity — and it didn’t happen instantaneously but over the period of a half year or so — was also a kind of returning to my roots, but in a different way. As I’ve explained, probably rather badly, I was a syncher quite a long time before I was an audiovisual syncher. I’ve also been more involved in creating “traditional” art lately — collages, to be specific — but that also relates to synchronicity in a broader way.
My limited, continued involvement in audiovisual synchronicity in a public discussion group is based mainly, as it always has been to a certain degree, on Dark Side of the Rainbow, and, extending from this, the mythologies of both Pink Floyd and Oz. The syncher who calls himself baker b. would also like to be known, in subtext, as a syncher of Floyd and also a syncher of Oz. Together in one.
As I briefly stated before, Booker and I are cooking up a web site presently that could shed some additional light on my involvement with synching on a personal level. Hopefully it will also be entertaining. I’d like to say I’ve been able to reel in some of my learned cousin’s more far out thoughts but I’m not sure that’s turning out to be true.
I admittedly don’t try other people’s recipes any more… not that I didn’t at one time. And participation like this is crucial to a full return to the field, perhaps.
I will say that one of these boards I talk of above — part of my post-a/v synching wanderings — was devoted mainly to audiovisual synchronicity. One and one alone, but in a private setting. It was pretty busy, and many of the older folks from our boards, Mike, participated. I see it as one last attempt by this group to develop the art side. But it has been dormant/dead for several years now as well. It had potential, but there were too many obstacles to get around, even in a private way.
As I said, after Shared Fantasia we’d probably collectively, in retrospect, reached a kind of impasse, although it wasn’t obvious at the time, at least to me. The art part of audiovisual synchronicity had gone as far as it could, the part that starts at participation using non-fixed products and probably naturally, as the art develops, leads to a fixed artistic form. Shared Fantasia must essentially be fixed to be viewed, in terms of an artistic form. There’s no legal way we could do this. And anyone creating a similarly complex work faced and still faces the same problem. This is one important fact that I get out of your study of the copyright issue, which I’d like to examine more. But for audiovisual synchronicity its pretty clear cut, it seems.
Audiovisual synchronicity without the development of the art in this manner becomes somewhat circular, it seems, always repeating what has gone on before over and over. I look at the posts of the board now and essentially see echoes of what has already been.
I personally don’t know what can be done about it. I believe, now, that the energy of The Film/Album Synchronicity Board will most likely never be duplicated, and also that its life span had to be limited. Once we reached something like Shared Fantasia, and it was bound to happen, then the wall was hit — the impasse.
But perhaps I’m wrong and there’s another wave forming that will be as successful or perhaps more successful than the ones that have passed. If so, one of the values of these interviews is that relative newbies can view and absorb the lessons of those that have come before them and traveled down identical or similar paths.
At any rate, I’ll keep in touch with the folks on the Syncboard now and then to see what arises. More power to you guys.
That’s from my viewpoint, but I’m open to other opinions.
MJ: Yeah, certainly copyright and legality has a certain chilling effect on what one can really do to push the synching art form forward, at least publicly. It’s certainly become my hot-button issue, personally… it’s probably overtaken my interest in synching itself. I’m always curious to know how folks have responded to my little obsessive postings and bits on that issue in the synching community. Were you already aware of the copyright issue yourself? Has my focus on that topic been helpful at all?
B: Yeah, certainly! I knew about the issues a bit but your focus on that aspect of synching has been very helpful for clarifcation. I wish the picture wasn’t so bleak for audiovisual synching. I am making it a point to go back and read all the sources re this topic you’ve pointed to as influential in your own philosophy very soon.
MJ: What other philosophical issues do you find interesting about synchronicity, as a concept and as an art form?
B: This is a tough one to answer, because synchronicity, personal philosophy, and art, for me, all go hand in hand now. This intertwining basically parallels my 21 year relationship with my wife. She’s always, within this relationship, known me as a “syncher.” One can trace all this back to those Black and White Notebooks again, which were started the same year we began to date.
Like Karl’s wife, she tolerates my eccentricities. Barely. Just kidding.
I believe this may related to the concept of tiling, but I’m not sure. I know you mention my tiling concepts in reference to audiovisual synchronicity in Karl’s interview. Would that be sufficient to talk about here if we also broaden the palette a bit to include non-a/v synching stuff?
MJ: Certainly!! I always found the tiling concept extremely interesting. In a very general way, it reminds me, to a certain extent, of the concept of the Glass Bead Game from Herman Hesse. I guess for those who don’t know, how would you describe tiling? What other aspects of non-a/v synchronicity fit into that concept and what maybe makes up that “larger philosophical framework” you’d use to describe it?
B: I should start here by saying that I consider my two most important personal audiovisual synchronicities to be, probably, ones called “Walt SIDney’s Fantasia 2000” and “SID’s 1st Oz”. Their creations straddle the end of The Film/Album Synchronicity Board in September, 2002, with WSF2K found several months before this and SID’s 1st Oz several months afterwards. In summary form, they represent the culmination but also end of my own direct involvement with creating such things. Several months after SID’s 1st Oz, I was out of the synching game in that way for good, basically.
Tiling is what I call the method I used in both of these works to, in essence, completely cover a movie front to back with “cued regions,” which is a particularly framed or defined area of audio-video overlap created by a single cue. This is the single degree of manipulation I mentioned before, or what I’ve elsewhere called the atom of our art. These cued regions are then laid side by side in this method, like the tiles of Scrabble are laid side by side in succession to form whole words during the play of that game.
My Fantasia 2000 synchronicity contains 10 such tiles, roughly corresponding with the 8 segments of animation in the base movie. This would be closer to the number of tiles one would need to form a single word of a Scrabble game. SID’s 1st Oz is more complicated, because you would need 26 such tiles, again laid side by side, as it were, to re-create the whole synchronicity. By coincidence, this happens to be the same number of letters in the English alphabet. Continuing our Scrabble analogy, we would need one of each of the individual Scrabble tiles, minus redundant tiles — one for each letter of the alphabet — to equal the number of tiles in SID’s 1st Oz.
Shared Fantasia can probably be considered another complete tiling of a movie with audio through a succession of cues and corresponding cued regions. There are a number of a/v synchs that represent what I call entirely tiled movies, the first being, to my knowledge, Dave Bytor’s Rush Wonka Project from 1999.
Tiling as tied into a personal philosophy stems mainly from its use in SID’s 1st Oz, which appears to have some unique qualities attached to it that I may have time to get into here. Or else I’ll have to save any talk about that for the web site Booker and I are designing regarding this synchronicity.
Let’s start back with Dark Side of the Rainbow again to go deeper into the process. DSotR is the combining of two media, the movie The Wizard of Oz and the album Dark Side of the Moon, to create what to me, and apparently to a considerable number of others, is a completely new kind of art form we call an audiovisual synchronicity. Complementing it, at this beginning point, is the shorter 2001-Echoes. These are the Big 2, as you put it, standing at the start of a/v synching as a whole.
Each, in their traditional form, is an example of one tile or one whole cued region. The tile is the same as the a/v synch here.
All audiovisual synchronicities have to filter out aspects of the involved media to create this new wholeness. Obviously if you only use one play of Dark Side of the Moon to create Dark Side of the Rainbow, as I do and most people of the synching community do — at least according to a poll I ran through The Film/Album Synchronicity Board at one time — then much of The Wizard of Oz will be filtered simply because you are only watching the first 2/5ths of the movie, or the difference between the length of the movie and the length of the album. Also the soundtrack of the movie isn’t used in the synchronicity, but substituted by the music from the DSotM album. Because the album appears as a whole in this synchronicity and the movie does not, then we can say that this is an album dominated or at least an album oriented synchronicity.
This is what can be called a classically structured audiovisual synchronicity of which Dark Side of the Rainbow is the classic example. These are still the most common types of synchronicities.
I believe that the art of audiovisual synching developed partly as a natural desire to balance the two needed media better, movies and albums. Beyond just our classically structured synch, then. There was a natural tendency to fill a movie with music from the beginning: we see it in Dark Side of the Rainbow, in a very elementary fashion to me, in the attempt to fill The Wizard of Oz movie by simply setting Dark Side of the Moon on repeat. I’ve never been a fan of this particular way of running the synchronicity, although it is still the best known version of DSotR outside our little community here.
My “Walt SIDney’s Fantasia 2000” represents a considerably more successful and artistically creative approach, in my opinion, to the same problem. So does the similar “Shared Fantasia.” SID’s 1st Oz would represent small but significant step up once again. This is the unique aspect, seemingly, of SID’s 1st Oz, but there have been a number of such complete movie synchronicities that use some version of what I call tiling.
SID’s 1st Oz and similar works, then, stand in a twilight area, from my viewpoint, between legal synchronicities re-creatable using recipes in a home setting, and those that must be fixed in order to be viewed. Despite its complicated surface appearance, the saving grace for SID here appears to be the relative ease of re-creatability.
Let me catch my breath here, Mike, and see if you have anything to ask at this point, or if this is what you envisioned me as talking about.
MJ: Yeah, I think you’ve laid out the concept of tiling pretty well. It *definitely* reminds of the Glass Bead Game a lot, like I said. When Karl and I referred to your “mathematical and spatial reasoning”, I think that’s kind of what we had in mind. Do you find that tiling is mostly handy as a conceptual framework, or are there any defined, specific criteria that you’d use to define a legitimate cue? Or is that mostly a matter for subjectivity, art, and personal taste? I guess what I’m going for here is mostly is tiling something that might lead us to a bit more of an analytical framework around the art of synching. One of the major similarities to the GBG that I’d see is the implication that there are standards behind it, but the real problem of defining what those are. I mean, we all know a good synch when we see it… but isn’t that just another way of saying the whole thing is incredibly subjective.
B: Thanks for these questions. I’m still not sure how mathematics fits in here except to say that the tilings I have used to cover whole movies have resulted in very precise fits, to me. I certainly don’t consider myself a mathematician in the ordinary sense. And I want to reinforce that others have used this tiling method as well in the same general way, although they may not call it by that name. So it is definitely a practical technique.
For me, cues using this method just seem to naturally pop out as the correct ones once you get the ball roll’n… could be a scene change, a door opening, a character appearing, or something equally as obvious. And, yeah, I believe you could certainly create an analytic framework for the study of such cues, if that’s what you’re asking.
I find that if you suspend belief and pretend that the synchronicity is created intentionally — even though you know it can’t be at the same time — then the work goes faster. The material by Dave Bytor was especially handy in demonstrating this to me… a big influence. And, for me, synchronicities, even quite complex ones, form very quickly; it almost seems as if the intense focus on a particular synchronicity actually molds it during the creative process. A strange kind of illusion for sure.
One could also compare the art of finding successive cues in tiling to the art of lining up dominoes in various ways so that whole sets will fall at the push of one domino. Once you find an opening cue — and it does not have to be at the beginning of a work at all — then quickly finding whole groups of what we can call directly aligned cues often follow from its lead.
Now I dig the glass bead game idea that you’re talking about here, and there is definitely a relationship. I guess the main difference is that most glass bead games that I’ve heard about are quite open ended, allowing for a lot of intersections from many different directions. Single instances of tiling, for me, result in quite closed and compact systems in contrast, locking in an audio-video match for a particular movie from front to back in some cases. Once this lock occurs, I do not generally go back and tinker with the results. Once it is locked in, then that’s the finished product. It’s like completing a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces in their proper places to make a whole, understandable picture. You’ve re-created the puzzle picture on the lid of the box, in other words.
And the reciprocal advantage of using “natural cues” is that they’re more easily re-created by others. If you find cues in a quick and natural way in a tiling, then others can do the same and more easily re-create what you found. You can reconstruct quite complex synchronicities in “real time,” in this manner. That’s a big advantage. Keep in mind that *I’m* mainly keeping in mind just one synchronicity of my own as I’m explaining all this.
OK, I’ll end here and see if you have additional questions, or stuff I can clarify from above — or see if you want to move on to another topic. I agree with you that it is a very interesting subject, though.
MJ: Probably mathematical/spatial was a bad description really. I think both Karl and I meant more that you, more than many in the synching community, have a more well-defined philosophy around the hobby. I’m going to have to re-read Glass Bead Game now, since my recollection of that has gotten fuzzy too. But I do find that it’s an interesting concept, and ties into the whole remix/mash-up culture that’s being created on the net.
OK, so knowing you’ve got a pretty close personal link to Wizard of Oz, and to Pink Floyd, I’m curious… what other media out there would you say influence you?
B: Traditionally I’ve been drawn to science fiction and fantasy in both movies and books. My favorite author is Philip Dick, a sci fi writer but also a philosopher of sorts. Among other writers of this kind that I grok, I’d list out people like Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, C.S. Lewis (Space Trilogy), Clifford Simak, R.A. Lafferty, um, H.P. Lovecraft. Among more traditional writers you can throw in Faulkner, Hawthorne, Poe, Twain a bit, Kafka — love “The Castle.” I’m also drawn to parapsychology, and chief among these influences is probably the writings of Jane Roberts. But I own a lot of books from this genre as well. I’ve dabbled in reading the collected works of C.G. Jung, but I’d recommend anyone who’s interested in checking him out in depth to start with “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” his autobiography. But you can see a lot of influence on my present philosophy coming from Jung, and also Roberts.
Good sci fi movies are harder to come by. Outside of “A Scanner Darkly” I’ve been disappointed in the adaptations of Dick’s books, for example. I’d agree with you that 2001 is a great movie, one of the best sci fi movies out there. I also like any movie produced by Merchant Ivory, coming from another direction. And weird stuff like Eraserhead, Pi, Memento, Donnie Darko.
I also like fantasy movies, but not the sword and sorcery type particularly. I’d favor Yellow Submarine and The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter (kind of) over the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although I still like the latter. My favorite directors are probably Lynch and Hitchcock. My favorite filmmaker is probably Larry Jordan, who is an animator of collage work, primarily. He’s been an influence in my work in synchronicities as well.
Probably my favorite artists would be Jordan again, and also Max Ernst and the surrealists in general. I think Dali, the best known of ’em all, is overrated… check out stuff by Tanguy, Matta, di Chirico, Masson, Ernst, Magritte, and also Klee for a better idea of what surrealism truly is all about. Early Dali is good… he just seemed to sell himself out after a bit of fame. I’ve learned to respect Joseph Cornell, whose work is a big influence on Jordan.
Musically, I dig classical stuff above all else. Started with Beethoven in jr. high, then switched over to moderns like Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartok, and Ives — even Stockhausen — in college, then to a compromise position of sorts after college with the late romantics, or stuff from around 1900-1920 or so. Here, I use to like Mahler above all else, but later switched over to his contemporary Sibelius. Then I also like Erik Satie, who was way ahead of his time. If I had a choice to take one CD or CD set to a deserted island with me, I’d think long and hard about Satie’s complete piano works.
Olivier Messiaen is also a favorite composer, and this interest has spawned a couple of audiovisual synchronicities in his honor. Oddly, both use science fiction movies.
Among rock music, I’ve always loved progressive or art rock — Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes, and, lately, Gentle Giant. And The Beatles have to rate up near the top as well, but in a different way. On the other hand, not very drawn to blues, folk music, jazz or country, although I still respect these genres as well.
MJ: I *love* Philip K. Dick. And hands down, agree with you about A Scanner Darkly. Even Blade Runner, although still a great film, doesn’t really capture the depth and breadth of Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. What do you think about the new “discovery” of PKD’s work? I’ve been hearing more and more mention of him, and before he seemed to be much less well-known. Do you have any particular favorites in PKD’s “canon”?
B: I remember that even in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was in the thick of tracking down all of Philip Dick’s books, that they were hard to come by. Dick has long been called one of the best science fiction writers by those in the know… I remember he was called one of the Big Three by Brian Aldiss in his definitive history of the genre, Trillion Years Spree, along with Britons H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon. Mention of him in that book made me first try him out. I checked out one of his 4 books available fom the college library, “Now Wait For Last Year”. I thought it was fantastic, and I started tracking down the rest of his books. Found out that “Now Wait For Last Year” isn’t even considered one of his major works. Just recently, coincidentally, read about a guy online who entered Dick’s work through this same novel, who was also surprised when he found out it wasn’t a major player in his overall canon.
Any book by Dick from the period 1961-1964 or so is top rate, and this would include “Now Wait…” but also the better known “Man in the High Castle”, “Dr. Bloodmoney”, “Martian Time-Slip”, and, of course, the incredible, psychedelic masterpiece “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.” The novels from the late 60s are more uneven in quality, but I number “Ubik” from this period among my favorites… perhaps it is even my favorite of his books. And, of course, the VALIS trilogy is a must read for any Dickhead, the three books that he wrote to complete his body of work just prior to his untimely death in 1982.
“A Scanner Darkly” doesn’t have as much appeal for me as some of the others. Same would go for “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.”
The concept of the Exegesis is also fascincating to me. In it, I think you could also relate Dick’s attempts to see his various works as pieces of one giant, cosmic puzzle to a glass bead game for certain.
MJ: Certainly he’s an interesting author, and he has always seemed to me to have a certain synchronistic quality.
Well, Baker, thanks again for taking the time to do this little interview. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the synching community?
B: Well, I feel like I’ve yacked enough and hopefully given people a little more insight, especially, into the earlier years of synching. The only thing synch related that I have on the docket right now is the development of the SID’s 1st Oz site, but in the last month and a half I’ve set aside notes on that again for other projects. Then down the road, again for me, is something much more substantial on Dark Side of the Rainbow itself than I’ve put on the web yet. Dark Side remains the pivot around which our hobby revolves. I don’t see that really changing. On the other side, it’s a real shame that the art side can’t be developed in a wider way. But I’m personally going to go along here with the saying that when you’re handed lemons you make lemonade. There’s still much more that remains to be developed even limiting oneself to Dark Side of the Rainbow, in my opinion.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what others say about their experience with synchronicity in interviews to come, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the interviews I’ve read and also listened to so far. I had a lot of fun with this Mike, and it made me refine my ideas about the subject as well… made me think. Thanks for coming up with the idea, and also thanks for all your hard work down through the years now. I think this is going to end up being a fantastic group project.