ISOLATED EXPERIMENTS-Preston Spurlock
During this period of global public health-sanctioned isolation, Millennium Film Workshop, like many other organizations has sadly had to postpone many of our planned events for the Spring season. We’ve decided to continue to showcase in the meantime, great work from great artists here on our own website, in a new weekly series we’re calling “Isolated Experiments,” accompanied by comments from the artists themselves. Sign up for our mailing list via our contact page to get email updates about new films as we post them weekly.
This week, we are featuring “CD101.9“ a seven minute found footage VHS remix made by artist Preston Spurlock
MFW: You produce a lot of work from remixing found footage–can you talk a little bit about using video musically in that way?
PS: The key word here is “musically” because I like to work with video samples the same way a DJ would work with sampled beats. Finding loops that are tight and that repeat back on themselves naturally without sounding jarring. That’s fun. And incidental music in found stuff can often be great and ripe for repurposing since it’s so canned and generic mostly. It’s like a primed canvas, you can project your own styles and ideas onto it. The other fun trick is finding accidental musicality in human speech. Like when people inadvertently say something sing-song-ily, or rhyme without meaning to. There was an audio archivist named Tony Schwartz that I admire very much and kind of got that inspiration from. The Books do this a lot, too.
MFW: On he subject of canned and generic, you even rewrite Kenny G in this video—where is this source footage from anyway?
PS: I can’t completely remember. I have a project called Special Interest with a collaborator named Sean Berman, and we explore the whole video-sampling-as-music concept alluded to before. And we source from VHS a lot of the time. This VHS promo for a smooth jazz radio station was, I think, acquired from a tape haul we got a junk store in Cypress Hill. we considered using it for Special Interest, but for whatever reason decided not to. So I went to work on it on my own.
MFW: You’ve got so many projects! Being so prolific, do you see individual works as having a lot of importance, or do you feel it’s more about the total mass, the continuum?
PS: Ooh, that’s a great question! Kind of both, but these days, at this age, I tend towards the latter, looking at the whole scope as one cohesive body of work, with different aspects. This understanding was actually something of an epiphany for me. Before I’d get caught up in projects to a degree where I’d have a hard time finishing them. Now I juggle multiple projects at a time and switch gears to another when I hit a wall with one. This works for me. And I no longer feel the need to compartmentalize and disregard smaller works, lesser works, or works that aren’t necessarily representative of the main style, if there is one. Now dissimilar works can exist under the same umbrella and make sense together. It’s like collaging, but with aesthetics. And it frees me up artistically to experiment and explore other ventures. I actually tend to embrace the stylistic cacophony now. I like when people see something of mine and have no idea that I made stuff like that or what have you. Again, it’s all just collaging to me. And there’s always a way to juxtapose different things in a way that makes sense.
MFW: Given the current conditions, you probably have a lot fewer opportunities to do video and music work in a live setting. Are you filling that time with something else, and are you experiencing anything new as a result?
PS: Yeah, it’s sad. I love doing live visuals at [music] shows so much. Without shows, I’ve really lost one of the primary ways I
disseminate my video work. So as a result, I’ve started live-streaming work on twitch.tv. It’s cool, and my fondness for it is growing, but I’m still fostering a following, and that can be dispiriting at times. At a show, people are forced to look at the visuals, becase of course they’re right behind the band! With live-streaming over the internet, people obviously have the choice to look (and listen) or not. The upside of broadcasting over the internet is that I can show complete, edited pieces with the audio in tact. But the isolation is weird and it certainly doesn’t fulfill the social need that going to a live show provides.
MFW: Do you have your next stream scheduled?
PS: I’ll be doing a live improvised AV jam starting Thursday night (May 21) around 9:00 PM EST.
Preston Spurlock is a South Florida-born multimedia artist currently living in Brooklyn, NY.