Opening July 24th, 2018, is experimental-artist-philosopher Jonathon Keats' "Intergalactic Omniphonics" at San Franciso's Modernism Gallery. With the goal to facilitate universal connection across political, geographic, and planetary spheres, "Intergalactic Omniphonics" reimagines music (and the instruments that create it) to be suited to all species, known and unknown.
"Digestion and disintegration, that's what all life has in common," asserts Mr. Keats. "By conveying those entropic processes through cycles of musical order and disorderliness – performed on instruments for all sensory systems – the universal anthem expresses what we all share, regardless of nationality or planet. At least to me, that seems like a giant leap beyond the Star Spangled Banner."
In collaboration with music professors William Bares and Wayne Kirby of the University of North Carolina-Asheville, Keats has created a visual score, and instruments that are "accessible to all, regardless of culture or biology. They're ideal conduits for shared experience between beings who might otherwise think they have little in common."
TOWARD A UNIVERSAL ANTHEM
by Jonathon Keats
In 1971, UN Secretary-General U Thant commissioned a Hymn to the United Nations as an alternative to bellicose national anthems. While his ambition to wage peace through music was admirable, the hymn's classical structure and English lyrics were hardly all-embracing. What if national anthems were replaced with a work of music that spoke to everyone: an anthem meaningful throughout the cosmos because it spoke to the universal condition of all life throughout the universe?
The Universal Anthem takes as its premise the Second Law of Thermodynamics – which all life must follow – expressing the cycle of life in terms of entropy. Life runs entropy in reverse, at least briefly before succumbing to death. (In other words, we become highly ordered forms of matter, and then we decompose.) Every organism has that in common. Entropy is universally inclusive.
Moreover, the Universal Anthem is meant to be universally accessible – scored for performance in all parts of the sound spectrum, and for non-traditional instruments that actuate electromagnetic and gravitational waves – so that it can be perceived by any and all beings. The world premiere, performed by the Copernican Orchestra at the University of North Carolina–Asheville in April 2018, included a light harp, gamma ray bells, and a gravitational cello.
The Universal Anthem endeavors to overcome cultural boundaries on Earth and xenophobia throughout the cosmos by providing a meaningful experience that everyone can share. Through this music, we may find common ground for building amicable relationships – and discover that we're all in it together because we're all equally alien.