I first heard about the Long Now Foundation a couple years ago from friend and former bandmate Daniel Magazin. I remember visiting their web site and thinking that San Francisco was the perfect place for such an entity. “The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking,” the web site declares. “We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.”
Such a perspective seems custom-made to partner with the minimalist and conceptual streams of contemporary music. UK-based artist, musician, and composer Jem Finer thought so too. He first discovered Long Now through reading about the Foundation in Brian Eno’s book, A Year With Swollen Appendices, and thereafter became a close friend and artistic collaborator.
Finer began conceiving of his 1,000-year composition, Longplayer, in the mid 1990’s when he was “struck by a general lack of long-term vision” as the turn of the century loomed. “Longplayer grew out of a conceptual concern with problems of representing and understanding the fluidity and expansiveness of time,” he says. “While it found form as a musical composition, it can also be understood as a living, 1,000-year-long process – an artificial life form programmed to seek its own survival strategies.”
Longplayer has indeed survived. Since it began performance at midday on December 31st, 1999, in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, East London, it has been going on continuously at several global locations and, of course, online.
This Saturday, October 16th, Long Now organizers will offer a live segment of Longplayer to accompany the Foundation’s seminar, Long Conversation. Live musicians, equipped with 365 Tibetan singing bowls, will perform the 1,000-minute excerpt from 7:00 a.m. to 11:40 p.m. in the Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The six-hour Long Conversation, featuring nineteen thinkers from many disciplines, runs from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the nearby Contemporary Jewish Museum.
One ticket, priced at $28.00, secures admission to the concert and the seminar. For more information, contact Danielle Engleman at the Long Now Foundation.