Monday, June 24, 2019

Spring Nature Photography

I have been working full-time for a print & sign company for a few months now... between my job, still working on freelance projects on the side for Paul Micarelli Design, and leading an active life with wife, I feel a real time crunch. As motivated and efficient as I am, it's very difficult to fit everything I want to do into my schedule.

On my free time, the one thing I always take time to do is to enjoy nature, especially now that the weather is nice. This past Spring, I took photos outdoors of plants, landscapes, and various creatures I came across.

I added them to my album of nature pics and included some below:

by Paul Micarelli








Sunday, June 09, 2019

CNjCS Promotional Video


I recently finished a video for CNjCS, (Connected Nj Consulting Services), a non-profit dedicated to providing health & wellness services (Yoga, Meditation, Sound Healing therapy, and more) for those with developmental challenges.


I've come to know Debra Flagg, one of the founders of CNjCS, who was inspired by the difficulties she faced trying to find beneficial programs for her son. I created the logo for the non-profit (above). Debra is an awesome, deeply spiritual woman with a vision to help those who need people like her, to advocate for them and provide effective services.

So she asked me (through Paul Micarelli Design) to help her produce this video to help promote her cause. I filmed her intro and ending, and edited it together with her photos according to her direction. I'm sharing it to help bring attention to her organization and the meaningful work she is doing:

 YouTube:



Sunday, June 02, 2019

Book Review: "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy" by Mircea Eliade


After months of intermittent reading, I finally finished the 500+ page comparative study of shamanic practices that was originally published in 1951.

by Mircea Eliade

I first became aware of this work from listening to talks by the late, great Terence McKenna- who would reference Mircea Eliade when discussing the use of altered states of consciousness in shamanic cultures.

So, after receiving the book as a Christmas gift, I began the literary journey exploring the details of shamans and medicine men throughout history. Although I found most of the book fairly dry and mostly occupied with listing characteristics of belief systems and practices, there were parts of it especially near the end that were thought-provoking and helped open the veil of mystery behind the shamanic experience.

A shaman is a unique personality of a tribe or village, who has the unique ability to enter "ecstasy" through trance or altered mind states to contact the spirit world. This could be a hidden dimension of reality, a realm of light beings or souls, or maybe just a deep aspect of the mind. Regardless of the actual nature of the "place" to which the shaman is traveling, he or she uses this ability to transfer their presence elsewhere for the good of the community. Often, the goal is to contact or retrieve the dead, or to find information used for healing.

Many of the differences between shamans of various cultures were documented- but, to me, the similarities were much more interesting.

Often, shamans are initiated due to lineage, or because of some grave childhood illness or trauma that they emerge from recognized as having the shamanic gift. One common theme among shamans of all cultures is the idea of dying and/or being dismembered, then being reconstituted and reborn.

This shamanic process of traveling down to the serpentine labyrinths of the genetic molecules, having the self-identity annihilated, and returning with healing powers was vividly depicted by one of my favorite artists, Alex Grey, in his series below:





There are many other characteristics that are shared across cultures and locales - the idea of passing over a narrow bridge to get to the other side that can only be traversed by the worthy, the ability to fly or become a "skywalker" (hence the name of the mystically-inclined Star Wars family), conversely the journey to the underworld or land of the dead, the experience of transforming into animals, and becoming impervious to pain or discomfort.

The shaman obtains these abilities through entering a trance or altered state by various means, including; drumming, dancing to the point of exhaustion, the use of psychedelic plants, sleep deprivation, and the use of secret language and chants.

After reading the book, I felt like one of the most important social functions the shaman performs is the de-mystification of death for the community. Death is the ultimate mystery, the state of being from which few, if any, have truly returned. The fear that faces each human being when contemplating their own mortality can be terrifying precisely because there are no answers. By claiming to travel to the spirit world or the realm of the dead, and bringing back information about it, it makes this eventual destination we all must pass through much less scary. It at least seems quantifiable and knowable in some sense, therefore lessening the fear of the unknown associated with it.

Overall, it would be hard for me to recommend this book to anyone other than those with a hardcore interest in shamanism or anthropological studies. Because of the length of the book, the amount of information present, and the specialized niche it represents, it would be daunting for the casual reader. However, I can see why it is regarded as such an important work in this area and has informed subsequent studies and research over the years.

http://monkeybuddha.blogspot.com/2017/12/shamans-mask-by-paul-micarelli.html

by Paul Micarelli 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Maple Seed Macro Photo

I added a macro photo of a maple seed pod (the 'helicopter' type of seed, that spins as it falls) to my album of nature pics:




I love taking macro photography, because I can capture detail that is too detailed for the human eye to see clearly- and there is SO much detail in every aspect of the world beyond our level of perception.

Here is the zoomed-out image of the seed pod:


Monday, May 06, 2019

The Palace of Depression


Last weekend, I visited a local historical landmark that I knew little about, but ended up learning a great deal about it during my visit.

For my photo booth business, Fantasy Photos, I have been hired again this year to provide entertainment for "Founder's Day" in Vineland, NJ. This year, the event will be held at The Palace of Depression, so I was invited to take a tour of the site and take photos to use as backdrops for my photo booth. I ended up taking a lot of pictures and I've uploaded them into this album:

Google Photos:

This unique site was originally built by George Daynor, an Alaskan gold miner who lost his fortune in the Wall St. Crash of 1929. After traveling across the country, Daynor ended up in Vineland, NJ with only $4. He used the last of his money to buy a plot of land without even seeing the property. It turned out to be a junkyard in the middle of a swamp, much to his dismay.

Defeated and broke, Daynor climbed into an old truck body and fell asleep. That night he had a dream in which angels appeared to him and instructed him to build a "Fantastic Castle," which was the original name of the site. He worked day in & day out for years, gradually draining the swamp, dragging out the trash, and building the eclectic structure made of random masonry and junk. Eventually, he turned it into a tourist attraction and gained nationwide fame. It even appeared in a short reel before movies, in which the narrator referred to it as "The Depression Palace". Daynor began to use this name instead, probably due to the level of publicity associated with it.


Unfortunately, Dayor perpetrated a hoax in which he claimed he had information on a couple that was being sought out by the FBI for kidnapping. After the hoax was revealed, George Daynor spent about a year in prison, during which the property was ransacked and fell into a dilapidated state. When he got out, he was too old and mentally feeble to restore the "Palace". The good thing that came out of this situation is the numerous photographs and aerial surveys that the FBI recorded as part of their investigation. These would prove invaluable to the later reconstruction efforts.

After the death of George Daynor in 1964, the site eventually fell into total disuse, and was torn down by the city of Vineland in 1969. The man who I met with on Saturday, and received a personal tour from, is Kevin J. Kirchner. He is the President of The Palace of Depression Restoration Association, and is responsible for rebuilding this local landmark to it's former glory. Kevin told me about visiting the original site as a child and being frightened by the larger-than-life George Daynor.

This has become a personal mission for him, and I was truly impressed and amazed at the effort he and other volunteers have put into restoring the structure and the grounds. They had nothing to go on except photos and excavations to uncover the original foundations of the building. It really is a fascinating place with an extraordinary story.

There are so many cool details that one can only appreciate by visiting the place and seeing in person with a guided tour.

The album I uploaded has a lot of photos that I took of the many interesting features of the site:


This is the only remaining part of the original structure, the ticket booth:

The Wishing Well, with the location of the actual original well boarded up for safety reasons:

I had to take a pic of the "See/Speak/Hear No Evil" monkeys

Detail of the random masonry elements

A throne-like chair in the room where Daynor would read to those gathered around him.

A view of the outside of The Palace of Depression, 
which is still under reconstruction:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Chimp Using a Smartphone

 
One aspect of the animal kingdom that I've discussed many times on this blog is the idea that animals who share our sensory organs & inputs would likely experience reality in basically the same way that we humans do.

Our use of language & existence of an inner dialogue obviously sets us apart, but when it comes to experiencing the world, I don't think there is much difference between us and other creatures, especially other mammals & primates.

I think this video of a chimpanzee scrolling through social media on a smartphone, looking at and closing photos, shows just how alike we really are...


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Calvaria Gallery "The Resurrection" 4-19-2019

After my recent solo show at the Grand Theatre gallery, Paul Micarelli "Mindscapes" I was referred to another gallery in Millville that is ran by artist Tania Pomales:


The theme of the show is "The Resurrection" and Tania accepted a couple pieces of my digital artwork in to the show, which will be up for two months. To see more of my graphic design & fine art, visit my website: www.PaulMicarelliDesign.com

Here is the photo gallery from the show's opening reception:



Me & Tania, the owner of Calvaria Gallery

"Silicone DNA"
by Paul Micarelli

by Paul Micarelli

The gallery was filled with amazing work and I am honored to have my art on display with other talented artists.

Check out the gallery to see more pics:


Monday, April 15, 2019

Star Wars: Episode 9 Teaser


The first teaser trailer and title of the final installment of the main Star Wars saga was finally released:



As I've talked about on this blog many times over the years, Star Wars is by far my favorite movie series and is a story that I have enjoyed since I was a kid.

It's amazing that this legendary work of fiction has endured over the years and evolved while still staying (mostly) coherent. Although I have many criticisms of the details in the movies, and most recently explained my problems with Episode 8: The Last Jedi, it remains an epic fictional world that has enthralled millions of people. Star Wars has sparked the imaginations of countless children and adults, and has been a continual influence on pop culture.

Being the final episode in the trilogy of trilogies, with a vast fictional landscape full of memorable characters, the burden to wrap up this series in a satisfying way is an immense one. Especially after the divided reactions and fan criticisms of The Last Jedi, the pressure to end the Skywalker saga effectively is the tallest order in movie history.

The immediate speculation after the teaser trailer was released included questions about the title. Who is the "Skywalker" that is being referred to? Is is Luke (whose voice is heard in the trailer) coming back as a Force ghost? Will a redeemed (or divided) apparition of Anakin be making an appearance? Is Rey going to be revealed as a Skywalker, or adopted by Leia?

I'd like to think that the term possibly refers to a new lineage of Force users who take on the legendary name of the Skywalker family. Maybe this new breed of Force sensitive individuals finds the balance that eluded previous orders & groups. The 3rd movie of the first two series ended with "Jedi" and "Sith", so maybe this new title resolves the conflict between the two ideologies.

When George Lucas created this world, he used the term "Skywalker" intentionally because of it's connotations in the shamanic tradition. The skywalker is the shaman who bridges the physical world & the spirit world, sometimes flying through the sky to retrieve the souls of those who are sick or possessed.

The heroine Rey seems to be the one who is carrying on Luke's final teachings about finding balance in the Force and resolving the dichotomy of the Light and Dark. Although I think there's been a lot in the sequels that have been executed very badly, I also think there's a lot that has been really profound.

In one of the trailers for the previous movies, and in the beginnings of Luke's lessons to Rey, he gets into the same fundamentals as real life- "Breathe, just.... breathe..." The breath is the focus of all meditative traditions, and the trailers for the sequels have opened with the focus on the characters' breath.

In this one, we hear Rey's heavy breathing as it's revealed she's standing in the desert as a T.I.E., presumably being piloted by Kylo Ren, approaches.


As it is about to overtake her, she flips with lightsaber ignited before the scene is cut. Is it a real encounter or is it a dream or vision of some sort?


There is a lot of speculation that Rey & Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) will finally join together to create the new order of Skywalker. However, by the way that the Supreme Leader is smashing people with his lightsaber surrounded by stormtroopers, it is far from apparent from the teaser.



His helmet is being repaired and held together by hairy hands (Ughnauts?) with a material that is glowing a Sith red. I have seen people symbolizing this as trying to put the narrative pieces back together after the deconstruction & "subverted expectations" of Episode 8.


Appearances by Leia and Lando bridge the history of the saga to the new era, and the non-human characters Chewbacca and C-3PO are seen right in the midst of the new band of heroes, Rey, Poe Dameron, Finn, as they look out onto a rough sea. In this body of water is revealed the ruins of one of the Death Stars.



As the screen fades to black, we hear the unmistakable cackle of the greatest villain in cinema history- Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord known as Darth Sidious. This is the detail that threw everyone on the Internet though a loop. Although referencing Palpatine bridges the previous trilogies, how exactly is his character going to be utilized? One theory I saw that I like is that his spirit is bound to the 2nd Death Star where he was killed. When the heroes go to its ruins for some yet unrevealed purpose, the apparition of The Emperor haunts or antagonizes them in a way that is almost a horror movie. I think that would be a cool thematic feel that is different than anything that has been in Star Wars, but it might scare the crap out of little kids. Another possibility is that Palpatine appears through a Sith holocron or a recording.

However they use him, I think the more they can connect the overarching story of the 9 movies, the better. Thankfully, this sounds like what they are trying to do. 

The one character who cannot be overlooked is Anakin Skywalker. They have to bring Anakin into this movie somehow. We already know that he is a Force ghost, so why he hasn't been incorporated somehow already into the last 2 movies is a mystery. We only get his grandson pleading for him to appear again in "The Force Awakens", but we have no way of knowing if it was really Anakin who he was communing with.

The saga was really about Anakin's redemption, and I think this and the prophecy surrounding him has to be resolved in this series. I think the perfect way to do it would be to make the new teaching of The Force be carried on by those who honor the "Skywalker" name. This way, Anakin's story is still relevant, while leaving open the possibility of future tales and evolution of the Star Wars universe.

My fantasy ending would be a cut to R2-D2 and C-3PO telling & showing the Skywalker story to future generations of Force users, or something showing that the whole saga was taken from the Journal of the Whills.

We will just have to wait & see if Disney and the team making this movie live up to the impossibly high expectations that are awaiting the conclusion of this 40+ years-in-the-making storyline. It is one I have waited all my life to see play out, and it is awesome to witness it happening.


Saturday, April 06, 2019

The Silver Surfer by John Gallagher

I've posted before about one of my favorite fictional characters, The Silver Surfer.

I came across these awesome illustrations of the wielder of the Power Cosmic by artist John Gallagher. This image really gives a sense of this power that gives him the ability to travel throughout the Universe at faster-than-light speeds. 


 These images are from his DeviantArt page. I'm telling you, look through his whole gallery- it is absolutely amazing:

DeviantArt:

Here is the link to his website:


This illustration shows The Silver Surfer with the even more powerful, nearly immortal being who created him, The Devourer of Worlds, Galactus.




Friday, March 29, 2019

"Mindscapes" by Paul Micarelli - Artist Reception

 
This past week, I had the honor of hosting an artist reception for my very first solo exhibit, at the Williamstown Grand Theatre gallery.

"Mindscapes" Art Exhibit by Paul Micarelli


I put together a collection of digital art, traditional media, sculpture, photography, and made a version of the board game I created, "Da Vinci's Challenge," just for the show.

The reception was great and I was humbled to be able to experience it. My family and friends came out to see my work, support me, and enjoy food & drinks.


It was awesome to seem my name in lights on the theater marquee, and it was very fulfilling to have both my parents be able to share it with me, as well as my siblings and other people I care about.



My wife Loretta is my biggest supporter, and I've some of the wonderful people who were there I've met through her. She has brought so much into my life, and I feel like we push each other to new heights all the time. Every day I meditate and give thanks for her and all the blessings in my life, as well as the strength & wisdom to overcome the challenges that inevitably arise.


Here is a photo gallery from the event:


I've uploaded a lot of my art to my website, under "Fine Art", with a link to buy prints: www.PaulMicarelliDesign.comwww.paulmicarellidesign.com

The wall of my framed art prints in the gallery.

 Family & friends enjoying the reception.

 "BioTechGnosis" by Paul Micarelli
Everyone was intrigued by this mixed-media sculpture & it became known as "Techno Monkey"

The copy of the "Da Vinci's Challenge" game I made for the show.

Click the link for more photos:

Monday, March 25, 2019

Chimp Experiencing Virtual Reality



This video shows a chimpanzee popping balloons in virtual reality. It's obvious that a primate, with sensory organs and a nervous system so similar to ours, could become immersed in VR as easily as humans.

Virtual reality devices are basically just ways to trick our brain using visual & audio stimuli. As long as a living creature has similar senses, there's no reason why it wouldn't affect them, too.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

"Mindscapes" Art Exhibit by Paul Micarelli


 I am excited to announce my first solo art exhibit, on display now at The Grand Theater in Williamstown, NJ, until April 13, 2019.

Here is the Facebook event page for the artist reception, on Wed. March 27, 2019 from 7-10pm:


Although my profession is a graphic artist, through Paul Micarelli Design, I also create fine art that I have frequently shared on this blog.

The exhibit features prints of my digital artwork, fractal designs, photography, mixed media sculpture, traditional fine art, and a custom-made Da Vinci's Challenge board game that I created.

If you live in the area, I would be happy to see you at the reception. Below are some examples of the art that will be in the show: