This first post is an introduction both to me and to some of the things I’d like to talk about while blogging for the Take. I’m a composer, but in a slightly looser sense of the word than you might expect. I write string quartets, but I also perform onstage as a live visualist and musician, make feature-length cinematic work, public art installations, interactive Web sites, and design performance works for ensembles of people with laptop computers.
In all of these domains except music, I am self-taught. I didn’t go to art school; no one ever gave me an MFA in film, and I have no specific competence in design or engineering. When I do make something that most people would agree was “music,” I use algorithmic methodologies to create notes, generating material using everything from physics equations to mathematical models of other composer’s musical style to the casualty stream of the Iraq war. In short, I use computers.
But like many fine artists who work with computers to make their art these days, I’m not particularly interested in the technology per se. I’ve had a computer since I was 9 years old, and a Web site since I was 19. Computer programming to me isn’t particularly easy (again, I never took a class), but it’s incredibly normal: just as normal, in fact, as publishing your video artwork online.
In my posts for this blog, I’ll be working off of the assumption that YouTube is the perfectly natural end-result of the democratization of filmmaking that began with the Super-8 and the Portapak and continues today with camera-equipped smart-phones and video blogging. In these next few posts, I’ll be musing on what exactly that might mean, but for starters lets consider this: 100 years from now, the idea of video art as a self-taught, self-producing medium will be the norm. With any luck, this “Biennial of Creative Video” will look less like an attempt to expand curatorial practice to keep pace with online video publishing and more like a recognition of something quite non-controversial, which is this:
If you can write, film, edit, and publish a piece of video art to an audience of millions, all for the cost of a cheap digital camera, a laptop computer and a coffee in an Internet-equipped café, then you have a model for media authorship not only for the 21st century, but for the foreseeable future.
So we should get used to it.