Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interview with LJ Frezza, the creator of 'Nuke'em, Duke'

Critical Writing / Interview

Appropriation Alliance: Thanks for joining us LJ!

LJ Frezza: No problem!

AA: Your remix was very popular during the festival, particularly by those who enjoyed your ‘Lo-Fi’ aesthetic. Could you share with us a little bit about your process and what you were aiming for with ‘Nuke'em Duke’?

LJ: Well, it was something I'd been working on for a while I had read about the movie 'The Conqueror' last year about how John Wayne and a bunch of crew members supposedly got cancer from the shoot since the location was downwind of a nuclear testing site and watching the movie and thinking about Wayne's other roles in war movies I started thinking of ways to position The Conqueror as a sort of metaphor for the U.S. Military's recent actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. So I used a lot of footage from that film and another John Wayne film called 'Back to Bataan' and footage shot by soldiers on camcorders that I ripped from YouTube. I iked the aesthetic of the low resolution of the stuff I got from YouTube and decided to work with that compressing the videos over and over again. I really liked the compression artifacts and saw them as a kind of metaphor for the instances in our lives when we can see that certain aspects of our culture are flawed. I also did some ‘datamoshing’, which I learned how to do from YouTube, actually.
DATA MOSHING TUTORIAL That process basically involves removing certain intermediate frames in post production. Oh, I guess I should also mention that I've been doing found footage work for a few years now.

AA: Your use of ‘data moshing’ was very interesting. Somehow, you were able to keep your cuts in rhythm with the music and the effect is transfixing. How hard was that to accomplish?

LJ: In my work I focus heavily on editing. I've had a lot of practice, so it wasn't really hard. I do it more through feeling than anything else. I just sort of get a feeling for how the music is progressing and edit accordingly and everything seems to work out in the end. Thanks for the compliment, by the way.

AA: You certainly display a complete command of the technique in ‘Nuke’em Duke’ as well as ‘Best of Captain Kirk Fight Scenes’, also known as ‘Boldly Going’, which is also interesting because you subtly make reference to the original roots of remix in the early ‘Fannish Vidding’ of Star Trek, as articulated in Francesca Coppa’s brilliant essay, ‘Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding’.

LJ: well, just to clarify, the actual name of that video is ‘Boldly Going’. The name on YouTube was a bit of an experiment in branding and an exploration of the way in which YouTube videos are watched versus those on Vimeo. The Kirk thing was similar in that it was also supposed to be a metaphor for militarism, but I did it in a very obtuse sort of way.

I did sort of want to explore the fan compilation aspect in the Kirk video. I went through the whole series and pulled clips of him doing those weird combat rolls or punching people. I'm actually working on another video now using James Bond footage. I guess with these three pieces, I wanted to examine an older generation's masculine idols, a generation that's still very much running the United States. And through the glitches, I wanted to show how these outdated idols break down in contemporary society even when what they represent still persists to some degree.

AA: Changing topics, how did you hear about the Critical Remix Festival, and why did you submit your video?

LJ: well, I heard about it through Frameworks, this listserv for experimental film. One of my professors told me about it in college. I really liked the theme of the festival. I always tried to use found footage/remix to critical ends, a lot like the concept of detournement that guy Debord and the Situationist International wrote of and that seemed to be exactly what the festival was promoting.

AA: Indeed it was, and ‘Nuke'em Duke’ certainly contributed toward that aim! Finally, LJ, is there anything on the horizon that you would like to share with us or direct us to?

LJ: Well, I'm working on this site specific project right now where I'm projecting the above-ground scenery onto the ceiling of a subway car while the car is below that location. I'll be projecting it on the red line of the T in Boston. People can visit my website for updates about it, including specific times I'll be projecting. So, if anyone's in Boston, they can see that in the next months.

I got the idea because people in the subway don't really know where they are while they're traveling. It just kind of spits them out, and I wanted to do something with video that could help them locate themselves, geographically. And also, I wanted to provide something for people to look at besides advertisements. People usually just try to ignore each other in the train while riding and displace themselves from their physical surroundings, but if there was something to see, they could all see it together. So in a sense, it was a way of criticizing the loss of our sense of physical presence in modern society. I don't dislike the subway at all, mind you. I just wanted to make it a little better for people and less of a chore. I start to feel a little pretentious explaining the theory behind things I do, but I hope that all makes sense.

AA: Not at all, it makes perfect sense!

LJ: I'm building a portable projector pack for it and I'm shooting everything on a cell phone.

AA: Sounds like a really cool guerilla/DIY project! Make sure to send us some pictures! Thanks again for joining us LJ, we can't wait to see what you do next!

LJ: I really appreciate it, thank you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

NEWS UPDATE: Views of Gallery 25 and Project 12

Diran Lyons has announced his latest remix project collaboration with Stephen Mears titled "Project 12". Here is an interview he created to introduce us to this exciting new project that also gives us a nice look at what Gallery 25 looks like at the moment:

Monday, January 3, 2011

NEWS UPDATE: Critical Remix Festival Info & Goodies

Gallery 25 will host screenings on each of the following weekends until January 28, 2011.

Gallery 25
660 Van Ness Avenue
Fresno, CA 93721
(559) 264-4092

Byron Russell discussing the Critical Remix Festival:

KFCF Art Attack!

Critical Remix Festival Introduction

Welcome to the Critical Remix Festival: Oil and War, presented by the Appropriation Alliance. I am Byron Russell, its founder and your host for this event.

We are pleased to present twelve finalists from across the United States and Canada, each vying for the $1000 grand prize. All of these short online videos address the theme of Oil and War using some or all recycled video from other sources, such as network news or movies. This type of video is known as remix. Remixers make something new out of something old, in the process discovering new ways to communicate. Through remix, we can explore deadly themes without taking life and do it on a shoestring. Websites like YouTube make an inexpensive, worldwide forum for people to share their work.

Reusing media is an idea as old as cinema itself, but these recent developments in technology have made it conceivable for anyone to access, edit and post video. Becoming producers as well as consumers marks a profound change in how we relate to media. We are witnessing the democratization of media and a new dawn of media literacy is approaching.

But for the moment, many people still believe that videos which reuse media are more piracy than art. The Appropriation Alliance could not disagree more, especially since artists working in other media have fought and won this battle many times in the last hundred years. Remix deserves an audience, for people to speak up for this art and its value in our culture. We believe people will embrace remix when they have a chance to see for themselves how fascinating and creative it can be. That is why remix artists Diran Lyons, Desiree D’Alessandro and I founded the Appropriation Alliance.

This festival was created in that spirit to show off some of the fascinating dimensions and possibilities that exist in remix. War and Oil is a theme that many remixers feel strongly about and have worked with during the development of remix as a form. War is probably the most common theme in news and art, so there is plenty of source material available. However, the ubiquity of War and Oil in our culture presents the remixer an interesting challenge to create something that feels fresh or to embrace the intrinsic familiarity of this subject. This tension between innovation and cliché can be seen in our finalists, which each in their own way grapple with formula and stereotype. While this challenge may be exaggerated by our chosen theme, all remix relies on existing material for content, and thus investigates to some extent that spectrum.

The Appropriation Alliance felt our first event should reflect some of the strengths of our community, but by no means are political statements the only possibility for remix. To the contrary, there are limitless subjects, themes and technical approaches that remix has yet to address. The Appropriation Alliance will be a part of fostering that exploration.

Looking forward, we are excited about assembling a collaborative book project so that more people can learn about the different genres and methods of remix and be inspired to create their own.

Finally, we want to say a very big thank you to our sponsors, Peace Fresno, The Fresno chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, whose cooperation allows all of your donations to be tax deductible. We couldn’t do it without you! Please join us in supporting remix by making a donation through our website so that we can continue to cultivate innovative remix.

We have only one prize to offer, but the prize and festival are dedicated to all of the filmmakers who submitted videos for the festival, to all of you out there who make remixes, or will someday. This festival is an expression of our passion for remix and the desire that we all recognize and appreciate the power, creativity and freedom that remix represents. We love this work and hope you will too…

[click on the image above to view larger]

For your convenience, below are direct URLs to view each participant's remix:

Complete Playlist - http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=525CC028929E7381

Robert Dohrmann - Me America
Martin Leduc - Chevron - We Agree
Artur Augustynowicz - War and Oil
Edward Pelkey - We Have the Technology
Erik Nelson - Bad Romance
Josh Gorfine - The Light at the Tip of the Candle
Lili White - Stuff of Our Dreams
Chloe Hamilton - SOS
Elisa Kreisinger - You Can't Vote in Change
Tactical Stencil Lab - Recruiting Young, Poor and Minority Soldiers
LJ Frezza - Nuke'Em Duke
Aaron Valdez - There Will Be Oil