Jacob Marshall honored as Spirit of Windrider Award recipient 2019
CHASING THE MARSHALL
Article by John Priddy
“The Spirit of Windrider Award is given to those who chart the future for all of us to journey beyond. Jacob Marshall has charted the unseen stars of far seas that integrate music, art, curation, production, performance and philosophical rigor. His life and his art exemplify what it means to create the future of humanity, a new species of content makers that dares to bring beauty through our fragmented, increasingly AI dominated, culture.”
– MAKOTO FUJIMURA,
ARTIST, AUTHOR, CATALYST
I first crossed paths with Jacob Marshall in 2015, when he joined us for the Windrider Forum at the Sundance Film Festival. Little did I know at that moment, that Jacob would become not only a close friend, but a person who would deeply shape my perspective of humanity, my understanding of culture and the need to pursue beauty, truth, and goodness.
To understand who our 2019 Spirit of Windrider Award recipient is, I will appropriate a line from the famous film that gave this Festival its origin and name, “Who are those guys?” Rather than chasing Butch, Sundance and the Hole in The Wall Gang through the West, our Windrider crack posse must chase Jacob Marshall into the future. In true Windrider fashion, we must ride like the wind in order to catch him.
It all started when 18-year-old Marshall was a nationally ranked gymnast, heading to Annapolis to attend the U.S Naval Academy and prepare to chase the gold. But a rumbling in his spirit changed his course dramatically. Instead, he was off to Old Dominion University, where he designed his own degree program in Interdisciplinary Studies, and where he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Aesthetic Theory — a clue for the posse no doubt.
He wanted to explore the science behind how and why humans experience beauty. He wanted to know how beauty spoke to us through our different senses and how an artist could combine those sensory languages to create an immersive experience of multisensory beauty. Imagine being able to see, touch, smell, feel, and taste your favorite music.
“Jacob is a person of both uncommon talent and uncommon kindness. His visionary perspective charts a course our culture follows, but his gracious heart keeps the path open for all. I love him dearly.”
– Mike McHargue,
Author of Finding God in the Waves, Host of Ask Science Mike, Co-founder of The Liturgists
His search moved from the classroom to the open road when he joined creative forces with some of his best friends, Dave Elkins, Rob Sweitzer, Zach Gehring, and Mark Padgett, creating the band MAE (Multisensory Aesthetic Experience). The band, inspired by his funded research, has sold over 500,000 records worldwide and performed over 1600 concerts on 5 continents. Along the way, he helped launch the Global Citizen Festival which brought 60,000 music fans to New York’s Central Park in 2012. The festival leveraged $1.3 billion in new commitments to the world’s poor and became the largest charity concert broadcast in history with a confirmed number of impressions surpassing 2 billion. In 2013, 2014, and 2015 he served as a Producer of the Global Citizen Festival and built a broad variety of strategic partnerships. He serves as a member of the advisory board for Future of Story Telling (FoST) where he launched and leads the social impact initiative “FoST for Good” in partnership with HP and Facebook. He also served for five years as the Cultural Curator for the Wedgwood Circle Institute, as an artist mentor at the New Museum’s Art + Tech incubator NEWINC.
After more than 10 years of traveling around the world, bashing sound and light into the dark corners of large cities and quiet towns, MAE has performed over 1600 concerts on four continents and released seven recordings. But the journey into the mysteries of the Multisensory Aesthetic Experience are far from over…
In a hint towards the future, you will see Jacob leading a squad of global connectors – including artists, storytellers, technologists, musicians, engineers, neuroscientists, animators and even astronauts (yes, astronauts). His humility, generosity and collaborative spirit, may take you off the trail; so, you have to pay attention, as some of the sign posts initially boggle the mind.
For example, there is “LIGHT.” Created by Jacob, featuring music from his band MAE, world renowned violinist Tim Fain, VR animation by David Lobser and Haptics by Neuroscientist David Eagleman & Neosensory. This fusion of light, sound, and touch has been the inspiration behind many great leaps in the arts, from primeval fireside songs, to Kandinsky, to Fantasia, to the iTunes visualizer. Humankind is innately enthralled by the mysterious dance between music, color, and vibration. Science has now caught up to this instinctive fascination, making this fusion possible. “LIGHT” is a collaboration between top-tier talent from multiple disciplines—including the fields of virtual reality, music, engineering, neuroscience, haptics, and animation—to create a first-of-its-kind live-synced VR experience of art for the whole body.
After having this experience, participants are then asked to write a short reflection in response to the piece. Over time these collective responses reveal the underlying fabric of our shared humanity. This year’s Windrider attendees will have the opportunity to be fully present and participate in this experience each day at the Forum.
The trail stays hot, as, Jacob conceived, produced and performed with MAE & Tim Fain, the world’s first large scale collective virtual reality concert experience from inside Jerusalem’s 3000-year-old Tower of David to close the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit. This first ever live scale musical performance, synced to virtual reality, exemplifies where the future, aligned with the past, creates a fully present musical moment, making Coexistence a “Virtual Reality”.
If you continue to follow the trail to where Jacob and LIGHT were featured at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly Sustainable Development (SDG) Goals Exhibition. The U.N spokesperson said this about LIGHT and the collective responses of participants, “These collective responses reveal the underlying fabric of our shared humanity and invite a posture of humility in the face of the radical collaboration required by all of us to accomplish the SDGs.”
As a creator and connector whose embodied multisensory aesthetic experiences, interdisciplinary constellations, and the future of culture, Jacob is looking for new perspectives and better questions at the intersection of sensation, perception, emotion, and meaning. His focus is on transcendent immersive artistic experiences in the tradition of Wassily Kandinsky, Alexander Scriabin, Thomas Wilfred, and Oscar Fischinger. (Ok, who are THOSE guys?)
Recently Jacob’s tracks have been focused on helping to build Constellation, the first coalition of international astronauts to address global humanitarian and environmental challenges from the perspective of the Overview Effect (see, I told you there were astronauts).
Currently he is helping to build the Lab of Misfits with perceptual neuroscientist, Dr. Beau Lotto. Lab of Misfits is a neurodesign studio that combines art and science to yield unique insight into the human experiences of awe, wonder, openness, and beauty.
“Jacob is one of those people who marries innovation and creativity with depth of tradition and breadth of understanding. I’ve found great inspiration in his innovative use of music, virtual reality, and community building to reposition the arts as they truly ought to be seen: as the convergence and nexus at the heart of humanity, where our deepest desires and needs are met with empathy, understanding, and a window through which not only we see others, but ourselves.”
– SJ Murray, PhD
Filmmaker & Associate Professor, Baylor University
But where does this trail lead our Windrider posse? Back to where the Sundance Kid offered his namesake, to the Windrider Forum at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where we honor Jacob Marshall as the 2019 Spirit of Windrider Award Recipient. So, friends, let’s “Ride the Wind,” and live in that timeless trail where Jacob has led us…where “co-existence, reconciliation and transcendence are messages best initially delivered in the language of inspiration, art and beauty.” Or, in the words of our WINDY posse…
RUACH!!! Congratulations Jacob Marshall!!!
Many thanks to Dale Brown and the Moriah Group for their generous sponsorship of the Spirit of Windrider 2019 Award