Friday, August 24, 2007

Afternoon into Evening

Film is escapism. Both making them and viewing them.

Ten years ago I saw my first Warhol film, Chelsea Girls, at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. Ducking out of a rare Siberian freeze that had blasted through the south of Italy, I watched the entire double-screen projection of Chelsea Girls and realized that Warhol's contribution to the underground film scene was probably more important than any of the pop art stuff he was gaining notoriety for. "Eavesdropping on eventlessness" was the way someone once described some of Warhol's films. Now, with webcam performance art and Youtube voyeurism being so de rigeur, it's no wonder Warhol's film work is experiencing a huge critical-art boom, as is especially evidenced by the most complete retrospective of his film work ever coordinated in one location (BFI Southbank in London).

(Ten years before viewing Chelsea Girls, I was in Mexico City, hiding out from the dust and pollution that was compounded by a big earthquake that tumbled and fragmented many buildings throughout the city. That time, the arthouse theater was in the Zona Rosa and the film that kept playing over and over again was In the Realm of the Senses. With my own senses awash in allergic reaction to the thick city dust, I stayed inside the movie house and saw Oshima's film loop three times straight.)

Yesterday, almost ten years after having viewed Chelsea Girls in Sicily, and running away from the miserable London weather full of classic dreary grey skies and endless pissing from the sky, I ducked back into BFI and saw Warhol's Afternoon, which supposedly consists of the footage that was cut from Chelsea Girls at Edie Sedgwick's request. The movie embodies what Susan Sontag wrtote about in her investigation of "camp" (Warhol was friends with Sontag who was the subject of one of his Screen Tests and he even made a movie entitled Camp). Now with the recent movie about Edie and all of the Youtube wannabe superstars, not to mention the endless travails of Paris Hilton, America really is becoming an Edienation. I mean, who wouldn't want to become a "girl on fire"? And don't you know Edie would have loved all of the attention, especially from the art world?

Warhol, with his meticuluous diaries having a blog-like flavor to them (minus the links), anticipates Web 2.0 like no other artist before him. He was flickring his in-crowd party animals and promoting the phoniness of his myspace "friends" faster than he could accumulate them all in his Factory inbox. Except now the Edie-styled IT girl is lost in the past and the lonelygirl15 takes her place as scripted farce. Apparently, this is the price one must pay for wanting to "make it"...

No one said that being successful would be easy and if you can't really be a poor little rich girl like Edie truly was, then you may as well role-play one on Youtopian TV.

Who knows -- maybe one day you will be discovered.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

VJam Theory

This summer's initial location shoots throughout Cornwall have produced a wealth of potential source material for various remixological projects that are now in postproduction. The Amerika/iRES connection started last summer when I met up with the entity known as VJ Theory who have just launched another D-I-Y project called VJam.

In an ongoing dialogue we are having and that will soon be published, this exchange takes place:
Ana: The Small Projects we organize on, aim at creating collaborative theoretical works reflecting on VJing and realtime interactive practices. We are creating structures for people to come and write ‘artist theory’ as you describe it. Theory that is as creative as these practices. It is since we started to make these Small Projects that the entity has been changing. We are sometimes two (as D&G say in the introduction to A 1000 Plateaus) but sometimes we are a lot more. This identity changes in number. The time I (Ana) strongly felt this was at the Intercontinental chat organized by TEAS in Vancouver. We were doing a video chat with people there onsite and another one online with people from Europe, LA and Australia. The conversation was on the subject of ways to make possible collaborative writing and suddenly I felt we were all actually thinking as a single entity, proposing possibilities, as VJ Theory.

Something that I find common in our interests is the subject of the persona. Entities, collective individualities and the expansion of individuals into several personas (either with the use of pseudonyms or as something a lot more complex), all these are to my views constructions of fictional selves, which are a lot more real that a ‘linear’ self (if that exists at all). This blend of ‘digital flux personas’, as you call it, can be seen in every aspect of these practices; VJs come from many areas of knowledge (programming, design, philosophy, illustration, sound, writing, engineering, science, …) to meet and merge at a performative point. This is possibly what will increasingly drive current and future theoretical works.

What are your ideas on the future of the VJ as performer and persona? Will she, he or they be a theorist/reflective thinker as much as a practitioner? And are we closer to a point of convergence of philosophy and art?

Mark: Yes, as I suggest in META/DATA, the artist is the medium is the message. And yet this entity (as you call it), this persona, the artist-medium, is in flux and capable of multiple becomings. I was investigating the way artist-mediums conduct random acts of "multiple persona simultaneity" in my early novels too and then, after experimenting with new media technologies and ramping up my spontaneous artist theories, started bringing these ideas into VJ performance as well.

When writing the new section of the book, Spontaneous Theories, I found that the figure of the VJ was perfect for my philosophical investigations. In this way, the VJ I am compositing in my narrative, is not an eye-candy salesman at doof-doof club events. I do acknowledge these other kinds of VJs and like to go to clubs as much as anyone looking for a good time out in the social network, but the VJ I propose is more of a nomadic net artist who hyperimprovisationally taps into their readiness potential by triggering the neural mechanism that leads to unconscious creative activity. In this way, the VJ is more of a remixologist, someone who affectively mixes their memories, personal narratives, fantasies, and just-in-time autohallucinations into one string of events. This VJ I am conjuring up is part philosopher too, and is capable of rendering into vision a new kind of life style practice (LSP) that inmixes the Real with the Unreal and turns their live sets into a kind of performative dreambook composed of spontaneous situations made out of on-the-fly manipulated imagery. The performative aspect of the gig is to try and sync your in-flux persona(s) with the multiple and hybridized layers of meaning that you are capable of generating at a given stretch of time. You do this by quite literally becoming the rhythms your persona(s) embed in muscle memory.

It's like Miles Davis once said: "Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."

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