Entrainment is the term coined by William Condon for the process that occurs when two or more people become engaged in each other's rhythms. ....music is a highly specialized releaser of rhythms already in the individual....Music can also be viewed as a rather remarkable extension of the rhythms generated in human beings.... The definition of the self is deeply embedded in the rhythmic synchronic process. This is because rhythm is inherent in organization, and therefore has a basic design function in the organization of the personality. Rhythm cannot be separated from process and structure; in fact one can question whether there is such a thing as an eventless rhythm. Rhythmic patterns may turn out to be one of the most important basic personality traits that differentiate one human being from the next. All human rhythms begin in the center of the self, that is, with self-synchrony. Even brain rhythms are reliable indicators associated with practically everything that people do....
- Edward T. Hall
A state of motion’s identity announces itself as rhythm. In its looping of attention, rhythm thus cools the entropic linearity of technical time. And the Cartesian grids employed for such measurements are merely regulatory click tracks, simply one more superimposed beat, however square that beat may be, amid an ocean of much more subtle and variegated beat relations. And besides, there isn’t really any arhythmic zero-state vacuum into which a rhythm later enters as incidental ornament. Every rhythm is a cross rhythm in relation with some other rhythm that's already in motion. This is because rhythms themselves are actively constituting and constructing what’s going on. No rhythm, no life, no-body, no consciousness, no action. Rhythm spins the coherence of motion.
When I hit the stone, it causes a vibration. And then in that vibration, molecules begin to move in other parts of the stone; and with the molecules, the more that they move, the softer the stone gets, the more it allows me to be able to carve it. And so I think that rhythm in a way affects the way that these molecules resonate.
- M. Scott Johnson
Beats are relatives. Rhythm is relational -- neither visible (for the most part) nor a subset of music. Beats call rhythm down. Beats (and in alternate personae as marks, gestures or resemblances) expose a rhythm's vertices, but globally, the rhythm is singing in the relationships among the beats. Rhythm is adaptive motion code, able to actualize in innumerably disparate contexts, material and media, saturating an omnipresence that corresponds with many applications of the word “spirit”.
William S. Condon spent a year and a half, 4 to 5 hours a day, in the 1950s studying 4½ seconds of film shot by Gregory Bateson of a family eating dinner together. In this process, he was able to quantifiably demonstrate that human beings synchronize rhythmically at very high velocities (often in sync with the tempos of alpha, beta and gamma brain wave frequencies) via microgestures: immensely subtle, practically indiscernible, facial and body gestures that are also inseparable from any speech act. He calls this interactional synchrony.
Subatomic particles light years apart match each other’s moves. Spiral DNA claves multiply their rhythmic resemblances. Rhythms are communicable memes. The self is a repeatedly reconstructed. A repeatedly reconstructed biological state. The self is repeatedly reconstructed. A rhythmic construction. The self rhythmically flashes film frames so as to project a stable image. In Afrological musics, polyrhythymic repetition curves the image of time from the one to the three dimensional, opening up to human scale experience insights into the interlocked cosmologically scaled multidimensional repetition that conjures the hologram we experience as space.
Each beat, like a person, has insides. Those insides allow for multiple conditions of being. Those conditions are simultaneous events.
- David Pleasant
It’s been more common for Western artists, and for Western visual artists in particular, to gravitate toward the metaphor of the stable object than to rhythm knowledge. Giotto rendered tactilely persuasive illusions of objects in his storytelling, while the majority of Dutch painters catalogued inventories of the tangible property of the well off in their portraits and still lifes; and the exaggerated literalness of the art object has also been a central tenet of much minimalist art. This is a tactilely valid organizational field of reference, but only one of multiple alternatives.
Rhythm information, however, in being a pattern of relationship rather than an element literally embedded in a particular object, requires therefore different techniques, techniques that are no less astute or discerning than those focused around point to point correspondence. In rhythmic thought, the pattern of corresponding supercedes the literal points at hand, transposable dance codes that filter through internal body state imagery as feel, residing as repository attitudes that may liquefy alternately in a turn of phrase, perhaps in a sculpture, possibly in a quilt, a hat's angle, a carved spoon or a mambo.
There's nothing like being around 13 or 14 sculptors and hearing the rhythm of the hammer 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. That sound opens up doors of consciousness.
- M. Scott Johnson.
That rhythm has been an area neglected into a secondary, even decorative, status (and an often pejoratively racialized one at that) in Western art practices, quite often as no more than a means of measuring and proportioning "things", shows in the relative paucity of serious rhythmic thought to be encountered in much Western visual art -- a lack of cultivation that is, among other sources, a likely heritage of the combined monotheistic and rationalistic distrust of incarnation. Upon entering a typical, well schooled, contemporary artist studio, one is still more likely to hear Johann Bach or Phillip Glass than Ornette Coleman or Dou Dou Njaye Rose; and this value system as regards rhythmic engagement and awareness, more often than not, shows in the art being done. It would make sense then that music, the most sensitive purveyor of rhythmic memes, would be an almost more important resource for M. Scott Johnson than much of the visual work of his contemporaries
"We find it creolized but acceptable." Congolese musician Sam Mangwana replied with regal self assurance to a question posed during an audience discussion as part of a concert at the Museum for African Art about the Congolese embrace of Cuban rumba. And further south, after sculptors in colonial Rhodesia had already been reasserting a Shona worldview in the plastic arts for over a decade, Thomas Mapfumo, a musician who, like many other continental Africans, had been assimilating diaspora sounds (in his case, North American R&B and rock), began to evolve a synthesis of electric guitars and trap kit with traditional Shona mbira music that, with Shona lyrics, became in the 1970s the revolutionary sound of Chimurenga (Shona for "struggle") music. A serious traverse of the cascading loops, curves and angles of concurrent four with three polyrhytyms in either traditional Shona or Chimurenga music and dance help to map out some of the conceptual universe, postural attitudes and worldview and out of which Zimbabwean sculpture has also evolved, where these extensive formative rhythmic dispositions had also stamped themselves on the sculptors' eyes.
Ten years later, across the Black Atlantic, near intersecting vectors 23 and 96 in the orbital regions of Detroit, the Belleville Three -- Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May -- were listening. As May put it, in a classic expression of high Detroit aesthetics: “We perceived the music differently than you would if you encountered it in dance clubs. We'd sit back with the lights off and listen to records by Bootsy and Yellow Magic Orchestra. We never took it as just entertainment. We took it as a serious philosophy.”
Parallel with earlier jazz and community initiatives such as the Detroit Artists Workshop, the Strata Concert Gallery and the Ibo Cultural Center from almost two decades before, Detroit Techno nurtured itself in its own house: The Music Institute, outside the loop of liquor licenses, selling no alcohol and thus enforcing no age barriers, was a space for more than passive consumption. It fostered communal creativity. Djembes were available at the door. Dance was part of the deal. M. Scott Johnson was a regular, and well ahead of his seminal encounter with Lamidi Fakaye, music fostered Johnson’s first serious instruction in sculpture.
Anthony Shakir initiated Johnson into the structural anatomy of musical processes, literally deconstructing Derrick May's Strings of Life for him, razor blade to tape, component cell by component cell. Every night at the Music Institute and elsewhere Johnson could hear the organization of musical thought processes spontaneously forming themselves layer by layer. He could listen to and observe the hearing that was discovering the relationships being revealed. Johnson learned how deep spatial structures of multi-voiced musical gesture could be mapped onto the peeled, layering subtractions of carving. He learned how treble and bass punctuated comprehensions of mass, space, fluid and solid.
As the hammer and chisel are driving through the rock itself, oftentimes I am able to understand and dialogue based on the tones that the hammer and chisel make: different densities in the stone. I'm able to migrate or travel throughout the rock because I'm listening to how it responds to the steel. When I'm listening, I've got my headphones on. I'm listening to a wonderful track. Oftentimes, I'm playing along with the musician. I just find out where my instrument fits in the whole composition.
- M. Scott Johnson
Anthony Shakir, Larry Heard, Derrick May, Ron Hardy, Jeff Mills. Alton Miller, Brett Dancer, Jay Denim, Fanon Flowers, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, Blake Baxter, Tony Humpfries, Kenny Dixon Jr., Kenny Larkin, Eddie Fowlkes, Chez Damier, Theo Parrish, Frankie Knuckles, Ken Collier.