Drawing on the inspiration of the German animators, but taking the approach of the cut up re-appropriation of the American underground, I chose to combine found video footage with an audio recording of Algebra Suicide’s “Please Respect Our Decadence”. Lydia Tomkiw’s work has had a huge influence on me, so choosing this song is very much a tribute to her writing and art. The clips have been chosen carefully, with a particular focus on commodity culture, but aren’t meant to tell a strictly linear story.
After some serious frustration, I scrapped my original idea and decided to do something a little different. I drew a lot of inspiration from Hans Richter and Lydia Tomkiw while planning, and decided to draw on the idea of experimental film as an expressive extension of music. I plotted some themes and ideas I wanted to express, and then brainstormed the most effective ways to put them across. After asking myself “WWND?” (what would Negativland do), I decided to re-appropriate video.
I had to learn Final Cut since I never used it before. It was actually pretty intuitive!
I went through the archive.org film stuff they have. It took a bit longer than 2 hours but it was worth it since I found way more usable stuff than I could fit in this project. My name is now permanently attached to the google search “fetal pig dissection” though, which is kind of weird.
Final Cut time. Snipping the clips, doing a few tiny color corrections and messing with them a bit (not too much though, I chose the clips very specifically for their aesthetic qualities). Transitions were what took the most time. Growing up I watched a lot of skateboarding videos, and I always liked the fact that they were edited really carefully to the music in the background. I really tried to do that in the same way that folks like Fischinger kept the tempo and mood of Liszt, except I used appropriated video instead of animation, and post-punk rather than Liszt.
Yasunao Tone is an improvisational artist working in sound art. He is incredibly influential on sound art, musique concrete, and noise. He has worked with computers, compact discs, and a variety of other materials, and was a part of the Fluxus movement.
I’m a huge fan of Tone, and originally got into his stuff because of his collaboration with Russell Haswell on Editions Mego (one of the best labels in the world, I swear like half of my record collection is on Mego or one of their sub-labels, the GRM reissues are seriously worth their weight in gold).
Here is a performance by the Ensemble for Experimental Music and Theater of his 1963 Clapping Piece. I always forget that he did stuff outside of traditional sound art even as synthesis and musique concrete were becoming popular, but this video is a really great performance and a super fun piece.
Here is a video of him playing on the same bill as Tony Conrad. It’s a great live performance from both, and I’m just throwing this one in because Four Violins changed my life in high school so seeing Conrad share a bill with Tone is, in my mind, one of the coolest lineups of all time.
Obviously since I love Tone’s work, I’m definitely in the minority in this class, and since I know that everyone lurks each other’s blogs, I’ll say this. Artistic value should never be linked strictly to aesthetic pleasure. Tone’s work is textured, complex, and always rewarding. It should definitely be evaluated in the context that Tone is placing his work in. There is a deep and rich history concerning live electronics, tape manipulation, and sound art, and Tone is one of the most important people in this art form.
Sabine Gruffat is a digital artist who is currently teaching at UNC at Chapel Hill. Some of her work focuses on interaction, while other pieces utilize animation, performance, photography etc.
Control Panel was one of my absolute favorite pieces that Gruffat created. It uses two Arduinos to create a video/sound synthesizer. This open source mentality is super cool, and reminds me a lot of folks like Cory Arcangel, but with a totally different approach and style. Also, it’s installed a children’s museum. More art needs to be in children’s museums.
A Return to The Return to Reason is another incredible piece. While its basis relies upon the Man Ray film that it references, it approaches the film scratching process using a laser cutter. When I started this class, I said that I wanted to see the interaction between digital and physical, and this is exactly what I was talking about.
Time Machine is a collaborative piece with Bill Brown. It combines narrative, synthesis, animation, and sound. I am all about this combination of approaches and would love to see this piece performed.
Marco Brambilla is an artist based out of New York City. He works with found images and large scale video works. He’s received many awards and has work featured in the collections at the Guggenheim and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Wall of Death does great work with sound and repetition. The nauseous, disorienting feeling is really effective in this piece.
Flashback (POV) provides a similar disorienting feeling, but the sampled video works really well in context with each clip’s transitions. Visually this is an undeniably impressive work, and the emotional weight is effective as well.
Cathedral is even more overwhelming, presenting a shopping mall in a kaleidoscope-styled, lysergic video. Apparently when this is shown in the gallery it’s presented in a mirrored box to create an overwhelming 3d space, which sounds incredible.
Jodie Mack is an animator and filmmaker who attended SAIC and teaches at Dartmouth currently. Her work tells stories, particularly of domestic spaces, and works frequently in 16 mm.
I was immediately drawn to Harlequin as it reminded me of Ettore Sottsass trying to make a structural film. The patterns and repetition form a really logical, cohesive theme, which is really great.
Two-Hundred Feet is another really excellent piece, and one that I have seen before. I remember really loving the painted beginning of the film when I first saw it, probably because I was getting really into Brakhage at the time. I still really enjoy this piece.
Persian Pickles is another fantastic piece. I love the use of paisley patterns as the basis and the variety and speed of transitions really works for me. It’s abstract but has a clear concept and narrative.
In general, I really loved all of these pieces, and spent a ton of time looking around the website. While I was familiar with some of her work previously, seeing more of it has cemented Jodie Mack as one of my favorites.
Oliver Laric is an Austrian-born artist whose work grapples with the notions of ownership, variation, and popular culture. He works in a variety of disciplines, creating videos, physical works, and websites.
His 2008 piece, The Lottery in Babylon is a website based work, found at http://www.thelotteryinbabylon.com/
When the viewer enters the website, they are faced with a large image made up of thousands of tiny grains of color. The title is a nod to a story by Jorge Luis Borges. There isn’t much about the piece online, but it appears to be almost randomly generated, which would explain the literary allusion.
Songs Translated to Buildings utilizes lyrics from songs (about houses) for building plans sent to an Indian architectural firm. This is the conceptualization for the house from Crosby, Nash, Stills & Young’s “Our House”. This is one of my favorites of his pieces.
Laric’s Lincoln 3D Scans are a series which the artist created in order to make The Usher Gallery’s collection of archaeologically discovered artworks accessible to all. This is a scan of Joseph Nollekens’ Venus Chiding Cupid. The nearly open-source mentality of art for the people is one of my favorite things about this project.
Pipilotti Rist is a filmmaker, video artist, and projection artist. She attended art school in Vienna, and in Basel, and has taught at UCLA. Her work is filled with feminist themes, human sexuality, and a careful (and sometime playful) use of color.
Ever is Over All from 1997 is one of her most famous pieces. I saw it in a gallery at one point and quite enjoyed the sound (particularly of the glass), and the overall quirkiness of the piece. The playfulness of it is really interesting, particularly viewed in a gallery amongst other, more “serious” pieces. In some ways it almost makes the piece more approachable while still dealing with heavy themes.
This piece, Tyngdkraft, var min van, (Gravity Be My Friend) from 2007 is much more abstract, but appears absolutely beautiful. Looking at the photos, I can tell this is the sort of artwork that must be seen in person to be fully appreciated.
All or Nothing (alles oder nichts) from 2010 uses similar abstract visuals, but places them amongst commonplace things. This use of readymade objects to surround and normalize the abstract work is wonderful, and very aesthetically pleasing. This is another one I’d like to have the opportunity to see in person.