P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2001
July 3, 2002
DJ Spooky Reveals Work-in-Progress at MASS MoCA
(North Adams, Mass.) When The Birth of a Nation was released in 1915 it was a milestone in new cinematic story-telling techniques: a score mixing classical and folk music, expressive close-ups, long shots, irises and superimpositions, and the fragmented editing and jump-cuts we now consider a basic structure of any film or media. It was also a landmark in racism glorifying and largely revitalizing the Ku Klux Klan. In his work-in-progress showing of Rebirth of a Nation at MASS MoCA on Saturday, August 3, at 8:30 P.M., DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid (AKA Paul D. Miller) "re-mixes" the film in a multimedia performance piece, using the latest digital technology to look at how it has profoundly influenced American media and social culture for almost 100 years . "I want to go back to D.W. Griffith to help trace the source of our contemporary vision," says Miller, "In one fell swoop his ideas configured both the content and the context of how people viewed race and ethnicity and helped create the foundations for contemporary film and all that followed."
"We're very pleased to welcome DJ Spooky to MASS MoCA for a first work-in-progress showing of this project," commented Jonathan Secor, director of performing arts at MASS MoCA. "We're planning on having him return sometime in the spring of 2003 to give our audience the first look at the finished product which will include not just the film and his music, but a live theatrical and dance performance as well."
On Esquire's list of the "100 Best People in the World", Paul D. Miller is probably best known as his "constructed persona" DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, the name he uses for much of his music. He was one of the first New York City DJs to pull together elements of hip-hop, jungle, dub, space rock, ambient, and experimental sounds. He influenced New York's East Village with a sense of renewal. "His records offer a sort of French-literary-theory-meets-Grandmaster Flash take on after-hours audio theory," says Rolling Stone, going on to describe his album Sythetic Fury as "as much about the music as about the intellectual maze that gets us there." Spin magazine said, "Feinting and morphing, writhing with perpetual microbial motion, Spooky's music dramatizes the struggle to escape the straitjacket of having a single voice or definitive style... fluid, intuitive, and unexpectedly expressive."
Miller is a New York-based musician, conceptual artist, and writer. He was the first editor-at-large of Artbyte: The Magazine of Digital Arts. His articles have appeared in The Village Voice, Artforum, Rap Pages, Paper Magazine, and The Source, among others. His artwork uses a wide variety of collaged and digitally created music, as well as multi-media, to create a form of post-modern sculpture in the tradition of John Cage and Afrika Bambaata. His work has been exhibited around the world, including at the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennial for Architecture, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, Kunsthall, Vienna, and The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. He has served as a panelist at MIT Media Lab and as a guest lecturer at Harvard and Columbia Universities.
"I am fascinated by the evolution of the media and by how our world view, the perspective that we naturally take for granted, developed into what it is today." Miller continues, "After a full century of the cinemative image, after the evolution of Hollywood style and technique, after Andy Warhol (the banal as repetition) and Nam Jun Paik (hyper-editing collage/cut-up), we've reached the point when we now face the option of channel-surfing as a basic way of seeing things. If the scene on TV gets boring, we change the channel. If the news gets boring, we change the channel. If the advertising gets a little too redundant, we change the channel. Personal taste selects the stream you move into. That's the way people have looked at the silver screen or heard the radio for most of the last century, and it has been a factor in almost every way of experiencing 'mediated' spectacle."
The Birth of a Nation follows two families through the aftermath of the Civil War, the Stonemans from the North and the Camerons from the South. Distressed that his beloved South is under the rule of blacks and carpetbaggers, Ben Cameron organizes like-minded Southerners into a secret vigilante group, the Ku Klux Klan. When his younger sister, Flora, leaps to her death rather than surrender to lustful advances of a renegade slave, Cameron and his Klan wage war against the Northern-influenced government to restore "order". The most technically and artistically advanced and the most financially successful film of its time, The Birth of a Nation was also the most controversial. The NAACP campaigned against the film, demanding that director D.W. Griffith make cuts. It was banned in several states for its racism. Riots broke out in Boston after its premier. As recently as 1995, Turner Classic Movies cancelled a showing in the wake of O.J. Simpson trial verdict racial tensions. Yet, the film helped to legitimize movies as "respectable" entertainment. President Woodrow Wilson used it to inaugurate the brand new White House screening room, referring to its innovative editing techniques as "writing history with lightning."
The showing is part of MASS MoCA's MASS Manufacturing series. In its role as a laboratory for contemporary art, MASS MoCA established MASS Manufacturing artist residencies to provide performing artists, theatrical innovators, dancers, visual artists, and musicians the opportunity to develop and explore new works. Each MASS Manufacturing residency culminates in a public work-in-progress showing. The artists use the showings to try out new ideas and gauge audience reaction to the work and have often welcomed questions and feedback after their performance. Artists who have participated in MASS Manufacturing residencies include Laurie Anderson, Shirin Neshat, David Dorfman, Lee Breuer and Basil Twist with Mabou Mines, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women.
Tickets to the work-in-progress showing of Rebirth of a Nation are $12 and are available by calling the MASS MoCA Box Office at 413.662.2111 or by visiting www.massmoca.org. Tickets may also be purchased in person from 10-6 every day at MASS MoCA off Marshall St. in North Adams, Mass.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on a 13- acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of visual and performing artists charting new territory.
For Immediate Release