Now Playing: Light and Echoes from a Dark Room

Now Playing: Light and Echoes from a Dark Room

By Dana Jerman

Back in college I took a film class. This wasn’t about how to make movies, but how to appreciate them as an art form and as visual literature. It was a dope course. We watched Clerks.

This academic pursuit, like most, required writing papers. Fortunately, it was only one.

Herr Professor needed to know you understood what concepts had been conveyed. So you could choose to apply these critical reasonings to either: a scene from a film of your choosing watched out of class or a music video.

I immediately chose a film scene. Gawd, the erratic/sporadic/epileptic nature of a music video seemed like too dense a black hole of meaning and possible extensions of meanings to tackle adequately inside of 7-10 pages.

I didn’t keep the paper, but I know the scene I chose was from the original Lolita. Clare Quilty at the piano…

Generally, now as then, I watch a lot of weird stuff. Dark. Ominous. Frightening. Documentaries about serial killers and deviance and undesirable elements of society. I get on a real tear for it, like I get in the mood for a good horror film. (Don’t you ever just want to listen to a bunch of metal at top volume and make faces? Try it sometime, it’s a great release.)

I know I’m definitely not alone here, but lot of sane folks stay away from this nightmare-inducing pap. Maybe I take on the perverse duty of watching gory true-crime shit because it makes dealing with the minor horrors of life diminish in comparison. And cast into stark relief is that fine line where people, when pushed into certain stressful situations and no matter who they are, end up doing some pretty despicable things.

Probably I just dig the adrenaline.

My earliest experiences here involve the 'rents spooking me a bunch by letting me watch the TV series V when I was much too young for that shit, and consequently later on were very careful about what I was allowed to watch.

When it came to movies, they took that rating system seriously. No Rated R stuff until I was 18. I sure fought them on this when Pulp Fiction came out.

Of course I remember with glee my first ‘R’ in the theatre: Interview With A Vampire. I watched it with a group of friends when I was 16. Mom knew about it. It was my then BFF’s birthday, after all.

Recently I received a compliment. A friend had watched something weird on the tube and wanted to share it with me because she said she knew I dig the strange.

A flattering remark this, because it is within my power to make a concerted effort to keep working toward undoing the blockages in my own mind that only permit the possibility of so many things, and actions, and reasons.

If I can fight censorship within myself and out in the world, then I can stop my own fascist ego in its tracks. I can reduce the damage done by the impulse that says “I know everything, and I am the most important thing.”

These arguments, which have no doubt seen their fair share of a PhD thesis in more than one school of study, is beyond the choice to pursue the occult over the mainstream. Here, they all work in tandem. 

It nearly goes without saying—in a visually oversaturated culture, one’s relationship to the media one consumes is tantamount to how their personality, and most certainly their value systems, are built.

I’d like to think this says one key thing about me, which is: I very much appreciate the adaptability of humanity to situations far beyond what those involved initially thought physically and mentally possible of themselves.

Sometimes this epiphany ends in utter disaster. Out of sheer eventuality, death comes for us all.

I love full-length film the most. Ninety or more minutes. Dogtooth. American Beauty. Morvern Callar. Sling Blade. Anything featuring Willem Dafoe.

Also, shorts! Short films, especially animated shorts, run a close second on my private tastemaking list. They are great fun to experience collected inside a film festival format.

Too, I seem to revisit that music video format more and more. Not being myself immune from the dwindling of collective attention spans—which only seem to serve to increase the rate of consumption within the last vestiges of stumble-upon culture still in existence—I find I’ve cultivated enough of a delightfully semi-pretentiously trashy YouTube-junk habit to be proud of such a thing.

Cultural diamonds spun out of chaos are always found in the vast and churning rough.

One example amid many (including everything from TEDx show-and-talks to anything on to Adult Swim late-night mindrips) I consider myself to be a super-fan of content (straight outta LA) produced by SuperDeluxe.

At nearly 900,000 subscribers, about a hundred posts over the course of a year and change, user/creator Vic Berger is my new favorite poet. Except he probably wouldn’t call himself one. More so a remix artist. On this platform, he uses words and images from news sources and additional corporate media to create intriguing social critiques that, with a run time clocking between a minute to 20 minutes plus, almost feel like extended music videos curated with the delicate hand of a horror film director.

Vic Berger

Vic Berger

Herein he explores curious themes bearing repetition. Exaggerations of color, distortions of perspective and unnerving instrumentals. Soundtrack-like swelling musical clips combined with foley effects.

Extreme close-ups you can’t unsee and slow-motion exaggerations of one expression after another after another.

Unexpected shifts-loops-echoes, and the oft used debate AIRHORN! calling out potty humor, vacant gesturing and all manner of ridiculousness and non-sequitur.

All these and a few more subliminal tricks are utilized to create don’t-blink humor and illustrate a perversion of the message and the narrative over which not even our dear and desperate leader DJT (to say the least) has as much control as he would like.

In any case, each video stands perfectly among its own anti-story as an incomplete investigation of the sinister within the absurd and the absurd within the sinister.

Endings/wrap-ups/lead-ins to the next video often include a woman’s voice suggestively cooing “Wow... Wow, I love that.”

And I keep my gaze high to look beyond net neutrality disputes and threatened free speech anxieties to the spastic and incredible future of all this art piled upon art and rejoice!

I mean, don’t you want to live in that crazy world where Memory Hole becomes a news channel?

I Believe... [Uniting Against a Common Enemy]

I Believe... [Uniting Against a Common Enemy]

You Are Not What You Wear But We Think You Are...

You Are Not What You Wear But We Think You Are...