Friday, January 11, 2008

As the VJ Spins

In a new interview with the live A/V artists over at VJ Theory, we discuss emerging forms of performance in remix culture and how a distributed network of practitioners who come from a variety of backgrounds including creative writing, programming, design, film, and net art, are contributing to a vibrant live A/V scene, especially in Europe. One of the main hubs of all of this emerging live A/V interaction is Cimatics where, it ends up, both VJ Theory and I are part of the ongoing series of masterclasses happening the first part of 2008 in Brussels.

Here is an excerpt from the dialogue:

Artist's theory is relevant to both theory and practice developing together because, obviously, artists do think as they make and what they make is informed by ideas (in different degrees, depending on who and which work we are talking about). On the other hand the way some practitioners articulate their thoughts may not fit in to the most rigorous academic structure of thought, it is rather a reflection of their own creativity. This creativity of the written word that comes from the mixture of theory and practice is fascinating. Your book META/DATA is a fantastic example of this. In the book you combine personal experiences, described as if you were telling us a story, with theory, yours and other practices and the lives of others you find on your way, like a reflective journey through life as art practice, changing from one area to another, experiencing different approaches.

Seems like narrative is what puts all your work together, historically, as an invisible wire conductor. It's actually through your texts on narrative that I first came across your work by the way, together with your net art work GRAMMATRON.


That's partly why I refer to Kaprow's "Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life" and Miles Davis' investigation of style. Remixing those two together, I come up with Life Style Practice (LSP). What is LSP? It’s like making up your story as you go along but then layering it with input from your primary social network so that it grows into something bigger than you and is not necessarily uni-directional but more interactive and open to manipulation. In Hawaii, we call that talkstory. I think part of my approach to living my life as an artist has been assisted by developing skills that allow me to blur narrative and rhetoric. If you think about it, storytelling is a great way to make an argument and a lot of that depends on the formal innovation of the language, the syntax, as well as the creative defamiliarization of what is common in discourse while maintaining your optimum narrative momentum.

That’s why my VJ sets are more like storytelling than eye-candy. Mainstream VJing is different; almost the exact opposite. In most VJ work, you start off with The Total Disconnect. It's just seemingly random images being remixed for "coolness factor" or adding just the right touch of pretty wallpaper to the evening event which, more times than not, features a DJ. That's OK, but I prefer to tell stories, even if they are anti-narrative stories like the ones I write for my novels. I try to make this happen not via technology per se but by customizing various filters that I have used in my novels, films, hypertexts, etc. It's a great challenge but that's what I like about it.
Not that randomness is left out of my performance equation. As I sketched it out today in one of my behind-the-scenes riffs for the forthcoming book on Remixology and postproduction art (PP art):
Becoming a postproduction medium
that randomly evolves as it samples
from the initial conditions of its
given compositional environment
(Source Material Everywhere)
initializes the process of concrescence
starting with an array of random feelings
which then leads to subsequent phases
of more complex feelings that integrate
the earlier (more immature) feelings
(the sediment or residue of experience
coating the datum every step of the way
until the randomness of what emerges
feels as though it is itself calculated
into the always-live performance equation)
I'll elaborate on how this randomness plays itself out in the calculated risks of artists "making do" in the practice of everyday life in our next edition of ... "As the VJ Spins"

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

As the Page Turns III

The reigning forces of avant-lit who published my new novel 29 Inches: A Long Narrative Poem this past Fall have now posted a new mp3 podcast as part of their Interviews from the Edge series. The program features a long discussion with me about 29 Inches and its thematic resolve to remix a continuous deluge of spam emails into a contemporary love story, albeit one mediated by distancing technologies and the crass commercial developers who hope to commodify all forms of emotional expression. The novel samples from a summer's worth of incoming spam email as part of an ongoing remixology that converts this "language waste" into a renewable energy source that can fuel the book's "On the Road" satire ridiculing America's subprime consumer culture and its ill-advised tendency to turn all of life itself into more canned spam. Sound familiar, holiday shoppers?

Perhaps just as interesting as the interview itself if not more so, is the fact that the dialogue took place live via Skype and was projected as a sound piece in the social networking space designated as an art exhibition inside the SF Camerawork gallery in San Francisco as part of the "There is Always a Machine Between Us" exhibition. I also had a video in the show as part of the upload process curated by the enthusiastic team inside the gallery.

The mp3 interview is the documentation of that live exhibition.

(The Skype format makes for an on-the-fly manipulation of my so-called voice; the "grain" of voice is barely perceptible but the "gram" of writing spontaneously speaks for itself, at times machinic, yet not quite robotic ... maybe veering toward the post-human?)

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