Emergent Media MFA Faculty Al Larsen presents at SLINGSHOT festival (Athens, GA) March 21st & 22nd, 2014.
Now in its second year, the SLINGSHOT festival of art, music and technology in Athens, Georgia, “spotlights international, national, and local acts on stage, boundary pushing artworks throughout the urban environment, and a tech conference with leading innovators.”
Drawing on remix culture, pop music and the tradition of “net.art,” Al Larsen’s video installation Meta Refresh Playlist (Words & Music), is a series of web streaming “pop songs,” each comprised of two embedded YouTube clips playing simultaneously. Videos instructing in proper English language pronunciation supply the words while fan re-workings of of Ke$ha, Britney, etc. supply the music.
Embedded in an HTML web page, all the clips are set to loop and, because the clips are of different lengths, the words and music sit against each other in different ways each time. After a set amount of time the entire page refreshes, advancing to the next “song” in the playlist. While the pronunciation videos have been produced to lack affect – the focus is on pronunciation, not emotional content – the fan culture re-workings of pop songs (reprogrammed instrumental versions and tracks filtered to leave only isolated vocals or other musical elements) point to the overcharged, hyper-stylized world of pop feelings. Taken together, and streaming live from their homes on YouTube, the elements suggest a type of pop music soundtrack for the endlessly refreshing feeds of social media, one that combines an alienated disconnect with the attraction to pop surfaces.
Al Larsen is a media artist working in performance, sound and physical computing. His work engages ideas of public space, community and the populist use of media and has been presented at festivals in Brazil, Poland, Italy, Argentina, the UK and the United States. His writing on art, popular culture and youth subculture has appeared in Careless Talk Costs Lives, Journal of Punk & Post Punk, Plan B and The Squealer. He is Assistant Professor of Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College where he coordinates the BFA program in Creative Media and teaches in the MFA program in Emergent Media.