I’ve you’ve been within six feet of an american art school in the past twenty years, you’ve likely heard the term “palimpsest”. If not, here’s the definition currently provided by my computer:
“a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.”
And while we’re on the subject of my computer’s dictionary, I used it to check how to spell “karaoke” last night, and I noticed what the dictionary had listed as the word’s origin:
“1970s: from Japanese, literally ‘empty orchestra’”
In 2015 (while at an american art school) I started making 3d virtual models of flyer poles with the sadly discontinued 123dCatch. The application would make strange renderings of the objects, you were able to rotate them around and to see the algorithm’s imagining of the pole’s interior. They weren’t perfect realistic models, which I considered a good thing. I wanted the computer to make mistakes, as analog life is still, for me, far more interesting and rewarding.
Some of these models are on Sketchfab if you’re curious to have a look, including one from this time last year in San Francisco, my user name there is “_all_decay,” and they should be in a collection called “flyer poles.” Some of these models were also used in a music video, search “The Crying Pill,” if curious.
I wonder what the actual digital equivalent of these layered flyer poles would be?
Anyway, for this weeks project, I thought I’d start by sampling bands from Richmond, Virginia, where I had been living up until last October, as a way to highlight all the great musicians there. Richmond was also where I began to make the virtual models. Additionally, I started listening through various recordings I had made while working as a stage hand at various concert venues in town, and considering using them as well. Though, of course, I veered in a different direction by considering the specific pole that was in front of the bar I worked at in Richmond, a pole that I had documented several times. The bar’s most crowded night was a karaoke night.
Alas, time now for another minor digression: my boss at the stage handling gig would often lament how he thought karaoke had “killed” live music.
Irregardless of the fact if there is any truth to my old boss’s lament, this particular karaoke night certainly had it’s downsides. Like how one night a forty something spit in my face because I kicked him out of the bar for aggressively calling a patron a f****t. Or the time this past September someone lit off a series of fireworks in the crowded bar, and I thought it was a gun (this thought being entirely reasonable, this being Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A.).
So, yeah, karaoke night kinda stunk. Though admittedly it was a mostly sweet crowd having fun and communing together. I ultimately couldn’t fault them (that and the fact that most of my coworkers were exceptional human beings). Still, I found karaoke night difficult to deal with, and one of the ways I dealt with it was by making recordings of the night by taking a line out from the karaoke M.C.’s mixer. I thought that I would eventually use the disembodied singing voices in a project, though I actually hadn’t listened to the recordings till late last night. I was pleasantly surprised to hear voices from this past summer, some of which belonged to people that I care a great deal about.
Oh yeah, the day after the firework incident at the bar, I finally made the decision to quit the job and leave the country.
I hope everyone is well. Take care of one another. Reach out to me if you want/need someone to chat with, or have an idea for a collaboration. I am well and currently self distancing, though I have been for some months now since I don’t know anyone in this new city, so it’s really not that much different. I’m feeling optimistic that this experience we are all going through might inspire us to create positive change in the world, and realize how much we really do love and need each other.
A final apology: I neglected to use any samples of my own voice doing karaoke to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me” on my last night working at the bar.