Valley of Fire
Written by MJZ Wanderlust
All Photos by Jacab Avanzato
Friday, April 29, 2016
As Angelie crosses the three-mile trek towards Further Future’s campsite, the sandstone plateau, baked golden from the Nevada sun, swallows her like Oculus Rift. The rich blue sky greets the dusk as the wind glides over the horizon. Out in the distance, she sees white tents sprawled out, inconspicuous, as if this is some sort of top secret experiment, hidden in the middle of the Moapa Indian reservation–perhaps it is.
This weekend, 4,500 other progressive attendees will be traversing the same journey into the Valley of Fire–entrepreneurs, burners, music geeks, tech scholars, millennials and festival nomads alike.
A New Dawn
Photo by Jacab Avanzato
They are in sacred Indian Territory—Home to the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The ground upon which they dance upon once held the freshwater creatures that had once occupied Lake Mead. Today, Jurassic-Age sandstones stand witness to the evolution of a different type of creature–the progressive, transhumanist New Agers.
Upon closer inspection, Further Future could be the playground for the United Nation’s “The New Universal Agenda” given the type of speakers who are presenting this year. She takes out the papers she had preprinted from her journalist bag—this year’s speaker lineup comprised of the world’s most progressive thinkers, movers and shakers, influencers of our time:
Executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. and former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt on the future of the web, CEO of iHeartmedia, inc.’s Bob Pittman on the future of Media, CTO of NeoSensory, Inc.’s Scott Novice on wearable technology streaming real-time information into our preexisting senses, Founder & CEO of 6sense’s Amanda Kahlow discussing the future of data and AI, Head of Product Messaging at Facebook’s Stan Chudnovsky on the future of messaging, PHD quantum theory scientist Riccardo Sabatini on the future of life, Senior VP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development SiriusXM Radio’s Rachna Bhasin on the future of experiences, THINK Global School’s Founder Joann McPike on the future of education and many more helicoptered in for a few hours to speak. The people listed were just part of the Visionary speaker series, one in five speaker series in this three-day festival.
photo by Jacob Avanzato
The WOW Talks covered the WHYs of life, focusing on passion and purpose. Each talk contains 5 key elements: Uniqueness, Inspiration, Challenge, Dream/Vision, and Question. Hosted by Gal Stieglitz, social entrepreneur and founder of Wow Talks & IDISCOVER, the Wow Talks featured an international speaker lineup including New York native serial social entrepreneur Radha Agrawal, co-Founder of DAYBREAKER, a global dance movement and MISCHIEF, a millennial-focused creative and community agency focusing on iconic branding and architecture; Ruben Lenten, Netherlands Kiteboarding pro-athlete; Yasha Young, director and curator of Berlin’s URBAN NATION, Museum for Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin, and Matt Brimer, Co-Founder of General Assembly, a community supporting entrepreneurs and startups.
Vision of Light and Sound Talks
In the How We’ll Listen Speaker series, presented by founder of Further Future, Jason Swamy, and moderated by Cortney Harding, the talk series focuses on film and video artists and their ability to capture ideas, tell stories, and flood your visual cortex with captivating visions of the future. This year’s speakers include Scott Hansen a.k.a. Tycho, Gigwell’s CEO Jeremie Habib, Sean Horton a.k.a. Nordic Soul on VR, AI, and the future of music. In the Visions of Light and Sound, curated and organized by Light Harvest Sound (lightart.tv) and hosted by Ryan Uzilevsky, creative director of Light Harvest Studio, they hosted a diverse panel of media influencers, including Technology Director of Further Future’s Keisuke Shingu, TouchDesigner’s Jarrett Smith, Moment Factor’s Sakchin Bessette, Specular Theory’s Ryan Pulliam, rockstar lighting designer Sooner Routhier, and Noah and Black Swan’s Director Darren Aronofsky.
Phusis Talk Series
The Phusis talk series covers consciousness, the natural laws and health, kicking off with Dr. Katharina Sophia Volz discussing the future of collaborative scientific discovery, Ravi Mantha on the Elephant Diet, Mark Chasan on Regenerative Communities and Economies, Joscha Bach on the nature of our cognitive mind, Jeffrey Mishlove on Consciousness and Parapsychology, Jeffery Martin on non-symbolic consciousness, David Less on World Peace from Inner Peace, and Jim Clark on Nondual Poetry.
Techne Talk Series
The Techne Talk Series focuses on today’s more advanced technologies that are in existence right now. Dr. David Hanson’s bringing Robots to Light and AI, Brinkley Warren on transforming science fiction into science fact through genomics, AI, and Robotics, and Riva-Melissa Tez on hacking systems with machine intelligence, Ben Goertzel’s Artificial General Intelligence, and Dr. Mike North, host of Discovery show’s “Prototype This!” discusses radical paradigm shifts, and many more.
Lightning and Thunder
Far off in the distance, she sees white tents, RVs, Airstream trailers, custom luxury domes that are 200 square feet and nine feet tall, silver metallic 9’x9’ fest pods, and long rows of cars in various colors, shapes, and brands all gather close to the camping area.
By the time she finished setting up her camp, the sky had turned from deep rich blue to a purple lotus. The wind was mild tempered as was the air tepid. It felt just right—a little too perfect—she felt as if something had to go wrong to offset such a perfect welcome.
Angelie enters the festival grounds with her electronic Further Future bracelet–tracking her ins and outs as well as her purchases throughout this cashless festival. It also gives her access to wifi on the festival grounds.
She notices the ambient lights glowing from a distance–Four Tet is playing at the Mothership stage and Rampau at Robert Hearts stage. The black tourmaline sky suddenly turns sharp white–nature’s strobe light flashes before her eyes. They are in the middle of a lightning storm. She is both calm and terrified at the awe from each consecutive strike.
Thunder roars and shakes the ground in confirmation. When she crosses the entrance, She is stepping back to the further (yet not too far) future-the conversations, demonstrations, and machinations, either invented or on the cusp of a breakthrough, will manifest in the next 10 years will be demonstrated here.
Smart-phones and social media will be a thing of the past as wearable tech like contact camera lenses, biofeedback devices, and Internet of Things will dominate a new civilization. She’s entering into a world of transhumanism, where every part of the human condition can be tracked, engineered, and integrated through an artificial intelligence system, providing life extensions and a virtual reality upon life reality–a New reality for the New Age.
She passes by two sculptures—outlines of stick figurines seven feet tall, shaped into what looks like two humans who are back to back. They pay no mind to each other and each are fixated at a bright screen each is holding. It is the smart machine–camera, phone, tablet, and tracking device. An omen or a symbol for what already is? She feels unsettled.
“Hey, let’s go check out Four Tet,” a voice broke her train of thought. It was Dustin, filmmaker of the Festival Guys—they were all excited to go towards the green glow projecting from the gigantic Mothership screen—Riddler’s green, Oz’s green, Green Lantern’s green. Here we go. One thought kept seducing her with every drop of the bass:
Let go of your fears and just fucking dance already.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
The Creators Lounge gave Angelie the opportunity to step into VR demos and converse with the world’s most realistic robotic human face, named Sophie by Hanson Robotics. It was eerie, but fascinating to feel her touch—it was smooth but the texture was weightier, and it felt as natural and unnatural as ear buds. Nearby, 3D sound space Envelop Satellite supplied an immersive arena for both musical guests and guided meditation.
Around 2pm, a shower storm hit the grounds, but it didn’t come as a surprise because Angelie and her camp mates could see the dark ominous clouds looming from afar–miles and miles away.
“Do you think it’ll head our direction?” one asked.
“I think it’s deliberately heading our direction,” the person with the weather app on his phone answered.
So when it finally came, it spared no one. Angelie tucked in with Ellen and Dillon’s Canopy. They were both software engineers, a couple from San Francisco. To her left was Kenny, a filmmaker from Los Angeles and his friend Spade, a music manager and an A&R assistant at a British record label also in Los Angeles. As they were beginnig to huddle closer because of the icy cold wind, a country rock artist, Walter, who looked like KFC’s Colonel but with a grey beard, whiskers, and lava pants with Eskimo boots, along with his manager and wifey came running towards us to seek shelter inside the canopy. While the wind pushed the rain against their backs, they came together even tighter like March of the Penguins, ensuring their community newborn splif, that the software engineer and the filmmaker were attempting to make, would be warm and dry.
Thunder crashes as it began to hail a bit. This was their cue to make a run for the teepee, as the waterfall kept hitting them harder and harder. It was the perfect time to get into an altered state of conscious. Nature is angry. It’s time they disconnect to reconnect. People are now passing the joint, looking at each other’s outfits that could pass for the YMCA band. Angelie couldn’t help but wonder–are these the essential ingredients to the bonding of strangers? Storm, spliffs, and spandex? Perhaps so.
As soon as the rain let up, people started coming out of their hidings. Because the rain poured unrelenting, it created a lake between the camp grounds and the festival.The phenomenon of spontaneous leadership and teamwork arises organically in these festival communities. Almost immediately, one person starts throwing crates in a more shallow area of the pool of water. Before you know it, people were folding disposable tables and passing them dinner party style towards the man made bridge area. Within 10 minutes, there was a makeshift bridge that allowed people cross from camp ground to festival, and allowed people like Angelie to catch the Visionary speaker series.
Across the sprawling reservation, the Mothership stage stood as a beacon of diverse talent, treating fans to classic hip-hop from The Pharcyde, indie shoegaze courtesy of Still Corners, exhilarating live electronica from 2016 Grammy Award nominee Caribou, a haunting amalgam of Chilean and gospel soundscapes from the exceptional Nicolas Jaar, an impromptu conga line led by turntablist extraordinaire Kid Koala, the first stateside performance from pioneering UK act Leftfield since 2011, and a vocal-driven performance from HVOB to close out the stage on Sunday night.
Other immersive stages included Void Village, boasting both music and a wide selection of vendors, and Booba Cosmica, home to both intimate performances and speaker panels. Each environment was surrounded by ample seating built from colorful pillows, stacks of mattresses, and vibrant daybeds, all primed for optimal lounging and relaxation. Standout performances at Booba Cosmica included a mesmerizing, jazz-infused sunrise set from harp aficionado and multi-instrumentalist Low Leaf, along with blissful morning DJ sets from Pedro Aguiar and Stèv. At Void Village, Jane Fitz flawlessly executed an all-vinyl set while Joeski paid tribute to Prince with a rendition of “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”
Sunday, April 31
Angelie woke up to a beautiful morning–it is the morning after the storm–which is a beauty in and of itself. This was her time to really soak in the sun, stretch her body out, and let today’s back to back wellness lineup stretch her limits. She attended Charlie Knoles and Millano Snow’s morning meditation, followed by AY Fit with Travis Brewer and Modern Tarzan, that emphasizes utilizing another person’s body to strengthen our own.
There were talks on Adventure Travel with Dr. Nikki Noce, Fabian Piorkowski, Leon Logothetis, Bear Walker, and James Maskell on ibogaine and ayahuasca, along with yoga and deep meditation retreats.
Yesterday’s Micro-activation series at the Wellness Tent included topics like modern day internal alchemy with Rose Goodman, how to amplify innovative methodologies for entrepreneurs with Heather Rees and Fern Olivia, cognitive optimizations and age defiance with Max Lugavere, and how the medicine wheel works along and bio-tracking with Bear Walker, each 30 minutes, all encompassing the ideas of efficient self care and maintenance.
Today’s Micro-activation series covered the initiation course that covers how to activate the start of your day with the right food ingredients with Nikki Noche, MD, the importance of mushrooms, including Mushroom Coffee with Tero Isokauppila, optimizing functional medicine through the mind with Robin Berzin, and diving deep with ayahuasca with Fabian Piorkowski.
Leaving the Future
chapter: Leaving FF002