Every moving-image format has its own way of imparting itself onto the film it used to display. For instance, film has an evident grain, digital video can have compression artifacts. Due to the way magnetic tape displays video, it doesn't naturally freeze to a single image, like pausing a DVD or freezing onto a single film frame. Rather, it shows a blurry, interlaced moment (of course, if you want to be pedantic, it is possible to have a high-quality VCR that can freeze individual frames, but this isn't the general experience of watching a video tape.) Andy Denzler paints these moments.
Couple Sharing Bed
There's an intimacy to these paintings that otherwise wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the distortion of the video tape. These aren't moments from a film, but private ones, from private tapes, never meant to be seen by others not due to the content, but because they wouldn't be of any use to an outsider. They're like a brief window into someone else's life: a peek through the window into someone else's moments.
In to the Blackwoods II
Also, there is an air of purpose around them all. Why were these moments recorded? The fact that they were, in the fiction of the painting, implies a narrative. The framing of them as moments from a VHS tape means they are part of a larger span of time, a number of moments of which -- I am not 100% on how video tape works, despite reading up on it -- are seen here in a single painting.
I've always wondered how something like this could work, and thankfully the internet, or, more specifically, a video artist named Anthony Discenza, has provided. You're watching three Charlton Heston films -- Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and Omega Man (recently remade as I Am Legend) -- alternated every tenth of a second, while the soundtracks are layered on top of one another. While I'd have to read an artist's statement to figure out the actual meaning of the piece, I enjoy it alone as a cacophonous video tech exercise.
My longtime friend Robyn Hasty (a.k.a. street artist Imminent Disaster) currently has a Kickstarter going for her upcoming project Homeland. Listen/watch her explain it in the video below, and consider contributing a few bucks if you'd like to help make it possible:
I'm pretty sure this is exactly what things look like if you have access to the Speed Force.
...or it's some awesome high-speed camera effects from Graeme Taylor. No CGI here, folks, just framerate manipulation.
The phrase “outsider art” is thrown around a whole lot these days. Well, it may be, honestly I'm just cribbing a half-forgotten Simpsons quote here. In the old days an outsider had to be formally “discovered” (or, if you're Sterling Smith, one of the numerous magazines and radio stations you plied with your music had to give you notice) and displayed by members of the in-crowd. Thanks to the egalitarian and almost populist nature of Internet – as far as weird people and their weird output is concerned – the rise and fame of an outsider artist can happen anywhere, anytime.
Last night I was introduced to Australian hobbyist video artist/bakery assistant/gardener and cat lover Wendy and the quality and subject matter of her videos just lit up every one of those wonderful “outsider artist material” areas of my brain. It's self-taught art for the sake of making something beautiful and yet having this flavor of utter derangement that is impossible to replicate on purpose. Honest-to-god, I live for this stuff.
34 ½ St. Mark's Pl., 2005
Once in a while, I randomly encounter the artistic products of the East Village, the Manhattan neighborhood that just so happened to be my teenage stomping grounds and early-20s area of employment. The avant garde-ness had long died down by the time I got there; outside of roving bands of streetpunks, there wasn't much left to connect the turn-of-the-millenium Village to its glorious fin de siècle in the 1980s. The art scene was completing its migration into Brooklyn, where it still resides today. The old punk rock shops were being replaced, one-by-one, by Japanese restaurants and the drag queens gave way to NYU undergrads looking for something to wear to 80s night at the long-since-tamed Pyramid Club. Sure, you could always find traces of the old Village if you looked hard enough – hell I punched the clock at one of the last independent punk rock boutiques – but everyone knew that whatever it was the East Village ever was, whether personally or by hand-me-down memories, was in its death throes. And that's why it is always nice to see evidence that it was once more far-out that I could ever imagine. Like when I came across these videos by artist Tom Rubnitz. Camp, LSD and yesteryear's consumer culture all combine into … well … just have a look:
jandrewedits is a collaborative project between Jan Van Den Hemel and Andrew Hussie (who is also responsible for MS Paint Adventures.) Decontextualizing and melding clips from film and television – all rotating around Star Trek: The Next Generation – they create brand-new absurdities that are a pleasure to watch, especially if you are a Star Trek fan. It's amazing to think what editing just a few facial expressions and glances can do, and a few seconds of credits may serve as a punchline. Here are a few of my favorites:
Having knocked out a pair of papers last night, we join our hero ignoring the pile of work in front of him to dick around in the computer lab. Here is ten minutes of bullets hitting things in very, very slow motion.
Due to the gastro-fatwa my body has declared upon itself as a sort of digestif to the flu, I have been keeping myself from ingesting any caffeine or smoking any cigarettes until I can walk upright without feeling like I've been shivved every three steps. Unfortunately, I am not exactly a “social” coffee drinker or smoker; rather, I depend on the two substances as much as water or sunshine. The last 48 hours or so have taken a toll and left me feeling a little like Dr. Magnus.
As a special treat, I'd like to introduce you to my own little particle wave ray. Madame Chao is a video-art/glitch/noise project which used to air on BCAT (Brooklyn public access) and on the TV in my old clothing shop, Freaks (I found some of their old VHS tapes in the store VCR.) The videos are a melting pot of cult film, wuxia, and Simpsons references, all infused with a delightful ADHD sensibility and a necessity to shock the hell out of the senses. This is pretty much how the inside of my skull feels right now. Unfortunately, the conversion to YouTube has nearly destroyed the rapid-fire element. If you like what you see, you can visit the website and watch the videos in glorious full quality.
Finally, don't watch this at work. Or if you're epileptic. Definitely not if you're epileptic.
(Image from 52 v. 1 #49)
Today is the 71st anniversary of Dr. Albert Hoffman's accidental synthesis of LSD-25. This day marks more the conception of the substance rather than the day mankind truly peeled back the flesh over its collective third eye. As we have a few more months until that anniversary – Bicycle Day, as it is referred to in the psychonauts' argot – I'll save the more involved post for then (I've noted it on my calendar and everything!) Let us now, however, celebrate this glorious accident with another one.
On June 12th, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis scored a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. The kicker? Legend and interviews have it that he had spent his time on the mound tripping the light fantastic. If you aren't aware of the inner workings of LSD, baseball, or both, the closest analogy I can come up with is that the man sleepwalked into the Olympic 100 meter dash and won. Or, as No Mas put it:
Of the 263 no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, we can only guess how many were aided by steroids, but we can say without question that only one was ever thrown on acid.
I'm not going to recount the entire story because WFMU has done a better and more thorough job than I ever could, but here's something new: an animation by No Mas and James Blagden, who is also responsible for the painting above, with audio from an NPR interview with Ellis wherein he discusses the game. Enjoy!