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.
A couple months back, I was packaging up the collage materials sent to me by Monster Rally for the Color Sky video (below) when I realized how amazing the pile of unorganized cutouts looked. I sat staring at them for a moment, then quickly gathered up a handful, randomly placed them face down on the scanner and covered them with a sheet of recycled paper. I repeated the process three times with three different groupings, creating the collages above. I’m not sure why/how I haven’t explored this technique before, Dada artists have been using chance as a process since the 1910s. Hans Arp would tear up paper, drop the pieces onto larger sheets and glue them where ever they may have landed. What Arp didn’t have, however, was a scanner at his disposal. To my knowledge, he never repeated, documented or compared the results of his chance experiments, which is where I think things get interesting, being able to see how identical fragments can create vastly different wholes.
Yes, these are simply unorganized collages, but they mimic life as accurately as I know. We’re all given a number of elements to work with and we can make of them what we choose. Some of the same pieces emerge time and time again and similar story lines may unfold. No two are ever alike and all are fascinating.
In preparation for our mini tour of California together I put together a motion collage for Mutual Benefit’s track Desert Island Feeling off of “Spider Heaven.” The video is created almost entirely out of clippings from a June 1973 National Geographic which I scanned, digitally assembled and brought to life. This song has been making the rounds for a while now so my hope is that this brings you a new way of feeling it. I’ll be performing it live alongside Mutual Benefit on the aforementioned tour so if you really want to experience it come out to the show and relive it anew. Hope it brings you a few minutes of joy.
Recently I’ve spent a lot of time chopping up old National Geographic magazines to use as material for my latest endeavor, creating motion collages for the Holy Spirits ep “The Afternoon’s Blood.” In order to keep my sanity and balance out all the hours in front of the computer I’ve started reading a little more than usual. Partly because Michael of Holy Spirits has turned me on to books I never would have known existed otherwise and partly because reading makes me day dream, a lot. I’ve always had a hard time focusing on a book for longer than a few pages, I would constantly find passages or even single words that would spark a train of thought that I couldn’t resist following. Next thing I know, 15 minutes go by and I’m still staring at the same page. Over the years I’ve come to accept that I can’t finish a book the way others can, so I now approach reading differently. Its more of a creative/meditative exploration and I don’t fight what I once considered ADD. Now, after 15 minutes of staring at page, is the point where I typically grab my sketchbook.
A few months back I did a couple writing experiments but nothing really became of it.. until I couldn’t find a bookmark. I tossed one of these in Emerson’s “Nature” and spent the next hour moving it around the page finding different word associations and new meanings within the text, it was a new book. I had just turned reading into an entirely new activity for myself. I found I wasn’t reading the book at all but making my own story with the pieces that shown through the cuts. It opened up a new realm of day dream inducing possibilities.
Having cut out countless pages of old Nat Geos for my collages, I have an apartment full of clippings that have nothing better to do than be turned into more of these. I’ve started hand laminating a few so they withstand normal bookmark handling and will likely be selling the first run at the Space Space event Dec. 4th in Queens. They’re completely handmade and one of a kind, I couldn’t duplicate one exactly if tried. This is just the beginning of these and I think I’ll eventually set up a shop to start getting these in the hands/books of fellow day dreamers.
If you’d like one of these sooner or have any requests you can email me (thinkorsmile at gmail) and we can talk. Looking forward to hearing what you think about these!
When I started this blog 9 months ago I never expected to be where I’m at this very moment. Exhausted from late night after late night of learning new video software, chopping up clips of video I actually made, prepping for a live performance with artists I greatly admire. As much as I want to sleep for a month straight, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Delicious Scopitone and the thriving community they were so deeply apart of played a rather large part in all of this and for that I thank them. DS brought to the world such a consistent, carefully curated array of new music and video that I found myself lost in post after post admiring the talent they shared with all of us. It was these many months of watching and listening that started me thinking… I wonder if I can do that?
Since then, with the aid of 7,000 cups of tea and piles of old magazines, I’ve had the pleasure working with some really amazing people on projects that I’m genuinely proud to be apart of, among them this thank you/tribute to DS. You can read more about it here as well as download the 8 track mixtape with songs from Ghost Animal, Steffaloo, Maize, Mutual Benefit, Memoryhouse, Mount Pleasant, Porcelain Rain, and Coma Cinema.
Thank you also to Eloise and Krista for putting this project together and Mutual Benefit for allowing me to put my vision to Stargazer. I feel very honored to be apart of this with all of you. Much much love.
Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2010