Let’s be motionless. We’ll take turns blinking, making certain that not one millisecond is spent in darkness.
Earlier to today Stadiums & Shrines premiered what you see above—The Birth of Medusa—my inaugural attempt at combining my love of sound, motion, and poetry. It also marks the first (non-live) collaboration with audio researcher and sonic wav manipulator, RxRy as well as, the first film I’ve produced using my own footage. I hope the outcome is as much an experience for you as it was for me during its creation.
Human eyes are the great window into a world surrounding us, but what a universe we would see if they were capable of 100x magnification. If witnessing a brachionus rotundiformis’ meal pass through its translucent body or seeing a water fleas’ heart beat were a daily occurrence, what an astounding awareness we would have. Realizing the vast scale of nature and how vital each element is to our chain of existence, both up and down the evolutionary web is a powerful thing.
Every 10 seconds, everyday for a year, an image was captured of the sky above San Francisco. Collected and chronicled, each day passes in perfect synchronicity, displayed next to its neighbor as if comparing themselves against one another. They all watch as the winter solstice sacrifices its hue before the rest and takes its precious time waking from night. They watch each others cloud cover slowly disappear in noon’s heat and wonder what distant ocean current is shifting their winds this day. But somewhere over the course of a year they stop watching, comparing, thinking and simply exist. Day becomes days, year becomes years.
Pandit is Lance Smith, a songwriter/musician/producer hailing from Lumberton, Texas, where, alone in his room, he experiments with pop music. What he’s discovered is a sound that weaves in and out of various realms of the soul, scoring the soundtrack for an introspective journey within, navigating an unknown landscape.
I’ve always been interested in what types of visual art musicians were surrounding themselves with, which artists may have inadvertently influenced a sound. Lance has been gracious enough to help me form this new series, Musical Eyes, where we’ll begin exploring the favorite art/artists of musicians and perhaps gain a little more insight into the vision behind the sound.
I invite you to listen to as you take in the images and read his responses to a few questions I had on his interest in vast landscapes.
Why do you think you are drawn to landscape photography?
My father introduced me to Ansel Adams when I was very young. He had bought a book consisting of various famous photos while he was stationed in San Diego in the late 60′s, waiting to head for Vietnam. My father was able to hold on to that book to this day, and I tend to pick it up quite often.
I’ve always been so interested in the Old West, especially 1800′s Texas history. I look at these photos that were taken nearly 70 years ago, and picture myself in another time period. A period in American history where there were millions of acres for the taking. I’ve consistently had those types of dreams since I was in my early teen years where I would be riding across country looking for a place to settle. This Ansel Adams photo in particular is one of those places where I could have seen myself establishing myself.
Do you feel your song writing is ever influenced by these vast open spaces, consciously or otherwise?
Most definitely. I spend a large amount of my free time out in the woods where I fish and explore. There are a ton of creek beds and wide spread fields, lots that just so happen to influence how I write a lot of my music. The words themselves in my songs don’t necessarily depict any of that, but I believe the music itself does. The elements of isolation and nature itself tend to come out a lot in what I might be playing. Whether its a guitar being played or a synth section, it relates quite accurately to where I’ve been and what I’ve seen in a lot of landscape photography.
Your music always conveys a distinct mood, do you ever have a specific vision of what the final sound might look like?
Never cohesively, no. A lot of what I write is based on letting go of really trying to write anything in particular. I never actually go into something thinking “Ok, this is what I intend on making.” It always turns out to be unexpected and even a surprise to myself. I really enjoy the process of never knowing what I’m going to end up with. There’s this intense adrenaline rush that sets sail through me when that takes place. If I write a song on an acoustic guitar, I can pretty much tell how its going to end up on record. But allowing myself to be free with what I’m doing and never setting any direction or goal, it always pleases and stimulates me much much more. There’s just something about it that makes me happier and in awe than anything that could have been written beforehand. Something you make that you cannot explain afterwords is the beauty of how far advanced the human brain and soul is. We will never understand it. That’s what makes me so passionate about continually making art. To never know what I’m going to end up with.
Being a musician, do you feel you see art differently from say, an oceanographer?
Everyone sees and interprets art in a different manner. I don’t think anyone ever really sees the same thing. If that is the case, then it just isn’t that interesting. Where I might look at a photograph of underwater life being somewhat of a nightmare or a phobia in a sense, an oceanographer might see it as a world of hope and light. I believe everyone takes what they see or create and interprets it completely different than what anyone else might relate it to. That to me is very special. Its yours. If no one else has that same interpretation, its your own belief. You control it.
Are there any visual artists (past or present) that you wish you could meet? What would you talk about with them?
I’ve always found Andy Warhol to be extremely interesting. I have a ton of old footage from some early Velvet Underground shows in the 60′s where he did all the visual work. A lot of the visual stuff done or thought of from that time period might be associated with the hippie movement. A ton of chemical colors flattened on a projector. Andy’s work was very very moving with real footage that he would tamper with. I read where he would cut certain parts of film and connect them with paintings he would do. He would leave the film outside in the heat for a matter of hours and allow the film itself to burn. When played it was this hellish interpretation of what everyone seemed to be going through back then like the draft and the overabundance of assassinations in those days.
If I could talk to Andy, I would try to figure out where he got a lot of his ideas from. The man was a total innovator of how art is perceived to be today. In a ton of Hollywood films that depict Warhol, he’s shown as this tripped out dope head. But from what I’ve read and have been told by people who knew him, he was the complete opposite. He was there mentally and would talk for hours about the meaning of life and what kind of times that they were living in. The man was a true artist.
Images, from top to bottom:
- (Title image) garmonique – untitled
- Kim Holtermand – Icelands
- Tim Navis – Sandia Peak, NM
- Ansel Adams – Mt. Moran, Teton National Park
- Ashley Oostdyck – Forever
- Janice and Nolan Braud - Field of Texas Bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, and Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa, near Whitehall, Texas.
- Tim Navis - Death Valley, CA
Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2011