The Luxury and Legitimacy of Further Future

The Mothership is at Further Future. It is there practically, as a stage and supporting structures forming a polygonal dance area. The sound infrastructure we can see. The speaker coils compress the air we’re breathing and the musicians we see we can hear. The place exists visibly, audibly, tangibly, locally. It also exists metaphorically. The Mothership is a shared space, musical and collaborative, from whence we embark and to which we return.

I can't think of a better way to describe what goes on at Further Future than "extravagant living." I've tried.

The stage and the festival are both aptly named. This being only the second iteration, “FF002” as the organizers call it, there’s a surprising permanence to it: that sense you get when you hear an instant classic for the first time. An artist in the process of creating a work that will evoke this may call their creative state "inspired," that sense of channeling, when the work flows through rather than from them. Founders Robert Scott and Jason Swamy said during an interview with Billboard in April that their goal is to build a community based on inspiration, but I suspect the process of building FF002 was more grounded than that.

Fastidious curation and relentless attention to detail created this festival, and it shows. My favorite example is the stunningly suburb sound. I expected nothing less from Robot Heart's famed one million dollar system, but was surprised that at every single stage the sound was equally excellent. Standing 3 feet from the speaker at the Mothership or the Void, I can feel the vibrations rattling my jaw, yet can talk in a normal speaking voice to the person next to me. It's incredible.

The quality of the experience speaks to a community comfortable with itself. The organizers and attendees, both defiantly beaming, blithely resist the most-times mutating, and often-times mutilating perch on the lap of luxury. Make no mistake, Further Future is a luxurious festival, a fact that has generated no shortage of criticism.

The word luxury came to Middle English from the Old French word for lechery, and before that from the Latin "luxus," meaning "excess." To recognize solely these negative connotations resonating through the centuries, dusty admonishments from stern-faced marble moralists of ages past, is to miss the nuance of our current usage.

Luxury is today defined as, "the state of great comfort and extravagant living," and alternatively as, "an inessential, desirable item that is expensive or difficult to obtain." 

Tchochkes on Parade III by Jay Joslin

Tchochkes on Parade III by Jay Joslin

Whether or not extravagance in living is "inessential" is a debate best left for other venues, but as long as it is, for some segment, "desirable," Further Future and its inevitable imitators have a place in the festival community.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs posits that only after one has successfully satisfied every other need in the hierarchy can one achieve self-actualization. It is an achievement that is inherently "expensive," and "difficult to obtain." Further Future founders Robert Scott and Jason Swamy became music industry legends when they built the Robot Heart collective at Burning Man.

At that event, people expend huge quantities of themselves in creating an environment that facilitates the discovery of what organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein called the "master motive." Previously, that giving primarily came in the form of production through the application of one's time. Over the past decade, the growing portion of attendees who choose to give through purchasing to provide has produced much grumbling among both old guard participants and idealist pontificators alike.

The debate as to whether time is money, or something more valuable, is another best left merely mentioned here. At this point it is still an open question, with inputs as far reaching as the modern economy, and an answer with consequences equally expansive and significant.

Until we've settled the question, the debate has no bearing on Further Future's legitimacy in the scene, and the fact that Further Furture's presence sparks so much activity in this area of thought should be all that is needed to justify its existence for all of us.

By Derek Ruhland