Each week, we will highlight the participants in Digital Graffiti 2017. Join us and learn about these incredible artists from all over the world and what informs their artwork. This week, we’ve got Q&As with James Pricer from Austin, TX, and Mark Regester (St. Louis, MO) and Dave Madden (Salt Lake City, UT) of Nowhere Mountain.

Artist: James Pricer
Location: Austin, TX
Project title: “Inherit”
Website: jepricer.com

How much technology is required to create your work? If you didn’t have it, how would you produce it?
My artwork uses computers and data to augment my own aesthetic. I use Microsoft Excel, Oracle MySQL, Processing, Garageband, Motion (like After Effects), and Final Cut Pro. This does not include the source of the data, tracking bracelets, DNA labs, etc. I could not produce my work without this technology.

What else can you tell us about your work, for example your use of color (or lack of), rhythm or visual texture?
The data that I collect are the drivers of my colors, shapes, shape screen locations, and camera perspectives. I pass data through algorithms that I write, so I can tweak this, but I try to let the data talk as much as possible. The rhythm of my videos is about patterns, then outliers, then new patterns incorporating the outliers. I also use a great deal of order and chaos. The visual texture of my videos is accomplished with layering. The amount of layering depends on the subject matter of the data, for whom the artwork is being created, and an iterative process that adds and removes layers based on what it looks like and what I am trying to convey. Like a director, I do program graphical shapes and animation, but ultimately the work is performed by the data of human life.

What do you find most remarkable about projected art?
I like that with projected art, there are multiple realities and multiple levels of reality happening at the same time. This fits in nicely with my work because the viewers are seeing and hearing their own patterns as they watch and listen to the patterns I present, and these multiple realities merge and clash in interesting ways, forming new patterns, new realities.

How do you see expanding your use of projection for your art?
I would like to find a VJ at this event who would be interested in working with me to submit a response to a yearly RFP by CERN, the Large Hadron Collider folks. I have done many videos and prints from the data output of the LHC, and I would love to extend this work by adding video projection mapping and by spending time working with the scientists at CERN, which is possible with this RFP.

Just as working in print medium affected by approach to video making and content, I expect projecting my artwork will open new creative possibilities.


Artists: Mark Regester and Dave Madden of Nowhere Mountain
Location: St. Louis, MO (Regester), and Salt Lake City, UT (Madden)
Project title: “FLAG”
Website: facebook.com/Nowhere-Mountain-1468679976756538

How much technology is required to create your work? If you didn’t have it, how would you produce it?
Mark: As far as the visuals, it’s pretty basic, relatively lo-fi, a DSLR and a laptop with the video editing software that came with the laptop. If I didn’t have those things, I’d probably find a way to use thrift store equipment to make our weird little video pieces.

Dave: From a musical standpoint, everything I do goes through a laptop for manipulation. However, the inputs can range from a desk full of synthesizers, contact microphones attached to an acoustic guitar, amplified flower vases, or wind-up toys walking across a bass drum. I am a guerilla recording artist who makes soundscapes from minidisc recordings at a bar.

What else can you tell us about your work, for example your use of color (or lack of), rhythm or visual texture?
Mark: For this particular video, I incorporated databending techniques into the production, which consists of going into the code of the digital video file and altering it in various ways, which leads to the glitches and the colorful paint-like smears that appear and disappear. Texture is something I think about a lot while making videos, usually my way of achieving it is by filming something playing on my laptop or television screen which creates a layer of digital texture, then often times, I will play the footage back and film that, building upon the original distortions. As far as visual rhythm, cut and paste and repetition helps create that in much of our work.

Dave: Mark and I usually collaborate a tiny bit on an idea. When I know the subject matter, I start improvising for hours on whatever instrument or toy I’m excited about that week. Mark will create the entire visual output, send it over, and I watch, over and over. And then I edit.

Nowhere Mountain has discussed at length the idea of “Mickey Mousing.” Not to be pedantic, that’s a film term where the composer syncs every jump, or punch, or emotional moment, or kiss, or car crash to a musical punctuation. Years ago, I got kind of tired of this technique. Do you know the theory that Dark Side of the Moon will sync up to The Wizard of Oz? Some university friends and I used to spend Saturday nights experimenting with this idea. We swore Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lined up with The Doors’ Strange Days and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. The point is that, sooner or later, the polyrhythmic independence of film and music merges from time to time throughout the movie—without trying to make it happen. It’s a really cool phenomenon that makes the watcher/listener engaged and jump up and get chills when unexpected synergy occurs.

I adopted this notion early on when working with Mark’s visuals. I will grab a big slab of sound, slap it put it on a music software canvas, play it against Mark’s work, and watch. As I said above, little artistic bonds happen, and then let go into amorphous clouds. The key is to capture the mood, regardless of sonic approach. All else falls into place.

That is a very long answer for “rhythm is all I think about to the point that it keeps me up at night.” John Cage works challenged my idea of Western rhythm and time, and I’m still trying to make sense of it all.

What do you find most remarkable about projected art?
Mark: I adore projected art and all its potential. It catches your eye instantly. It transforms any surface it touches, the slightest motion brings it to life in an infinite number of ways.

How do you see expanding your use of projection for your art?

Mark: What I would love Nowhere Mountain to be able to do is take a selection of our work on the road. A projector, some decent speakers and hit the road. Travel all over projecting our work onto non-traditional surfaces: in a cave, on a forest’s tree line, an oceanside cliff, canyon walls, abandoned buildings, etc.