The Current Sea - Artist Interview Series - Electric Objects

The Current Sea

Los Angeles, CA

“For MaceFelters, the L.A. duo wanted to create a set of videos that visualize Intersectionality: the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities.”

— Alex, Electric Objects
Can we see a picture of your workspace and/or desktop?
A1

Sarah


A2

Brian

What do you watch/listen to while working?

Sarah: It depends. If I need to concentrate, I prefer music without lyrics. The Twin Peaks Soundtrack sets a great mood, or I’ll go for something like Oneohtrix Point Never, Darkside, 1920s Jazz or just straight up Classical if I’m writing. I’m also obsessed with the Ronna & Beverly podcast, which I listen to when I’m doing something less immersive.

Brian: Sometimes I will work in silence, it can be especially quiet mid-day and mid-week. I’m also a musician and I can easily get sidetracked/distracted by music if I’m restless. However, when I do listen to music, I’ll listen to something that I’ve been working on (as Electric Sound Bath or Greyghost), or browse Weedtemple for some good, new stuff. I’ve been listening to Heroin in Tahiti, DSR LInes, Fourhexagons, Robert A.A. Lowe, Psychic Ills or Wooden Shjips.

What have you been working on lately?

Sarah: We’ve spent the past year accumulating analog equipment to build our dream Video Art station. We’re curious cats, and it’s been great to expand our practice to incorporate new techniques of image-making. We have a number of music videos on the horizon that will showcase our new visions.

I’m also a screenwriter, and I have a number of projects in the pipeline. I’m working on a series of comedy shorts set in a slightly warped universe with the hilarious Patrick Rogers. It’s really exciting to play with people who make you giggle.

Brian: Acquiring analog gear has definitely been a minor obsession this year! Adding the textures from VHS or even just Digital to Analog Conversion yields some very satisfying results. We’ve also been learning a few new programs to incorporate into our work, in particular a program called Lumen, which we are Beta Testing. We’ve had several music videos come up for us this year and being able to use our unique approach and style for longer pieces has been fun!

As I mentioned, I’m also a musician and I have a couple projects I’ve been working on. Electric Sound Bath, an Experimental New Age/Drone project with Ang Wilson, is my main musical focus right now. We have a new release coming out soon and have been playing out pretty frequently at meditation classes as well as on local radio.

What work of yours are you most proud of?

Sarah: I’m really proud of Prism Pipe, the monthly visual music series we’ve been putting on at pehrspace in Los Angeles for the last two years. We’ve been really flexible yet consistent with it, and it’s grown to include so many artists and musicians I admire. We’re revamping the whole concept in 2016 to be a visual music label with quarterly live events. It’s so satisfying to see a project take hold the way this has.

I’m also really proud of our ⌘Altars series of Digital Worship Sites for Modern Goddesses. We’ve created three pieces of the planned ten part cycle thus far (You are the Prism (Through Which the Universe Shines), You are the Crystal (Aperture of Time), and You Are the Chime (of Liminal Spaces)), and we’re allowing the experimental work-in-process to expand organically.

Brian: Definitely very proud of our ⌘Altars series— it satisfies the colorful, musical and nerdy aspects of our work. We directed and produced a music video for Jon DeRosa, local musician-cum-shaman, and it turned out quite fantastic. Prism Pipe, also, is a shining star in our work and has led to many friendships and good times!

What tools do you use in your work?

We have a bevy of Analog tools that we rig together, including: Focus Enhancements MX-4 Video mixer, Sony Video Titler, Sony Hi8 Camera, Two VCRs, a BPMC Premium Cable, and an HDMI to Component converter and EasyCap USB dongle to take things from Digital to Analog and back again.

We’ve been super fortunate to beta test the new Lumen Video Synth, and we can tell you it’s a gamechanger: Analog video synths are awesome, but cost-prohibitive for a lot of creators. Lumen emulates the analog experience on Mac OSX with an intuitive interface and seemingly endless capabilities...we’ve yet to get bored playing with it.

We both have a photography background, and we shoot a Nimslo 35mm for stereoscopic GIF-making. We use our trusty Canon 7D to capture high-def video, but our iPhones often play a role in our process, whether it’s capturing footage or using Apps for editing. Our arsenal is rounded out with an SJcam (Chinese Go Pro knockoff), and a Digital Harinezumi for a distinct lossy look (and Macro shooting).

Can you tell us about your process?

Sarah: I love the GIF format because its limitations encourage experimentation. It’s silly to be overly precious with something when you know the outcome will be 256 colors or less and (ideally) under 2mb. I’d say our tumblr is like the engine room of the work we do together: Brian and I are always cooking new things up, and we post regularly as a means of keeping our collaboration going. It’s not unusual for us to post something that’s the beginning of a concept and then reuse and remix that element multiple times in future GIFs.

In the almost four years we’ve been working together, we’ve developed a sort of mind-meld when it comes to visual style, and to me, this only becomes more compelling over time. But we also bring unique individual skill-sets to the table. Brian is an out-of-this-world musician and composer, and he imbues our work with sonic landscapes that transcend screen media. With my background in writing/directing, I can apply a narrative lens to our pieces, and see if we can build a forest from our many trees.

Brian: I love experimenting and playing with things, so my work will often spur from a desire to make something, often I don’t have a clear purpose when starting off. It’s a way of forcing serendipity and meditative in nature: by staying open to anything and flowing with what happens, I’ll often land somewhere interesting. It’s A LOT like browsing the internet.

My musical background also helps specifically for the GIF format because out of all the visual mediums, GIF is most like music: it has a rhythm and a flow. In my music, I am fascinated by textures and sound clouds, so GIF resonates strongly, with its lossy compression artifacts. Sarah and I’s creative partnership works out well, as I can often lose sight of the tangible, in a cloud of colorscapes.

Any last advice for the folks just starting out?

Sarah: Persistence and Consistency are huge, and Talent is not necessarily preordained nor inflexible in definition. I understand this more and more with each passing year, as I see my life choices pay off myriad consequences, both good and bad.

I heard this great interview with Carole Bayer Sager on KCRW a few years back that’s really stuck with me. She wrote her first hit song as a teenager, and is now a successful painter, so they asked her about the key to her career longevity. To paraphrase, she basically said she kept writing songs because that’s simply what she does, even if she had to get other jobs to support herself. Meanwhile, she saw peers who she considered to be more talented than herself drop off the scene because they got fed up with the difficulty of the lifestyle or they wanted to start families.

I’d say this is how I feel about what I do: I do it because it’s what I do, and it’s what I’ve always done. And there’s no shame in getting work to support yourself if it means you can keep doing the thing you love to do. Conversely, I think it’s important to note that we have intersectional identities, and I don’t think it’s wrong to honor a different part of yourself if you’re no longer enjoying the mantel of “artist.” If you’re not enjoying it, take a break. Don’t put your inner child in a sweatshop.

Brian: Persistence & Consistency are definitely big factors and you shouldn’t forget their counterparts: Patience and Discipline. You must develop patience in order to persist through those long stretches of nothing, likewise, you must be disciplined about your practice so you consistently produce work. While that sounds harsh and serious in writing, in practice it’s as fun as you make it.

You can never learn too much, but too much at one time can cloud your judgement. I’ll often find that if I’m bored of a particular process or mode of creation, learning new tools will reinvigorate me. Stay flexible with the vision of yourself, but always true to your inner joy.

What are your favorite galleries, museums, exhibits, etc.?
Top Five Most Influential Visuals

Sarah:

R1

Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden By Otto Dix (1926)


R2

Scene from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain”


R3

Ren & Stimpy


Brain:

R4

MTV


R5

Perplex (2014) By Matthieu Bourel


R6

Vintage National Geographic

Favorite file format?

GIF!!!

R7R8R9R11R12R13R14R15R16R17
What are the best places to see your work?
What sites do you visit for inspiration?
Whose work do you follow?

Thanks for the interview,
Sarah and Brian