Let’s have a conversation!
For those of you who are following the journey of The Tape, the above was Andrew’s summation of what this “conversation” has been. For those who have followed my analyses of the past entries, you know that for the most part I’ve been seeing them as a way of visualizing the internet itself. Well, that is until “Missing“. With Missing we started a new conversation, marked both by the overwhelming honesty of it and how deeply personal the film was to Andrew. This was also marked because the old tape, the one with “I Got the Poops” to “Powerful Magics” on it that was inscribed with wacky magical runes and everything was destroyed.
This new conversation took me by surprise. I had planned for a lot of thing in between Powerful Magics and Missing, but I hadn’t planned on that. I hadn’t planned on something personal. How would I respond? Clearly a lot of the more wacky ideas I had come up with wouldn’t work, clearly I couldn’t just mirror and refract like I did before. So then how? By making something personal.
Before you watch the video below, I must warn you that it’s deeply personal and explicit. For those of you who wish to watch my films and be interested in my genre explorations and digital experimentation that’s perfect and wonderful, but this is not a video for you. This is a video for anyone who wants to truly know more about me as a human. You may continue at your own choosing and your own risk.
I don’t like talking about myself, and the very idea that you’ve just watched half an hour that’s all about me is something that a part of me finds disgusting. However to respond any other way but personally would be to disregard Missing, and it would be to disregard Andrew. That was something I didn’t want. But IDTAM:TM is more than a simple need to reply to a video that one person will see. This correspondence, though presumably just between Andrew and I, has always been open and these videos are always available for anyone to see. So why make a video that I find deeply uncomfortable and whose subject matter deeply bothers me if I know it will be seen? 1) I’m not 100% sure this will be seen; and 2) Because I need to say this. I needed to make this video. Now that it’s released I’m not going to lie and say that I’m Okay, but I feel like I can start moving forward.
So now, let’s move into looking at what this film is. And it’s a bit of a mess. I have hours and hours of footage related to this project on my computer, enough to probably make an entirely different movie about an entirely different subject matter. Going into the reply I knew that I’d answer Andrew’s plea for “The Truth”, but for me there’s a reason I don’t like telling the whole truth: It’s painful. It’s painful because the Truth, so much as it exists (and one of the things I’ve been coming to realize is that truth is something very ill-defined), is that as difficult as these past years have been for Andrew they’ve also been difficult for me. Going back to CSF, graduating, working several minimum-wage jobs, getting shouted at and demeaned by 12 year-olds — things haven’t been going my way. I don’t know if this is “true” or “false”, or rather I’m not sure how much of this is out of my control and how much of this is my own attitude towards events that have happened. So life is messy. Life is complicated. Life is sad, Life is something I haven’t really ever been prepared for.
So naturally I’ve been thinking about ending life. This was the truth. This was what I would look at. This would be my Self-Portrait.
So why the mess? Part of this is the problem presented in the film itself: I’m tasked with replying to a film, so if I throw out everything about the previous entries and the means of communication that we’ve set up then I wouldn’t be replying to it. But If I were to just copy the structure of Missing then I wouldn’t be staying true and I would lose the point. It was a damned if I do, Damned if I don’t scenario, and as always when I come the clearing with two paths I decided to take the road never traveled and make my own. I decided to do both. After all, this is a Self-Portrait, and one of the things I can tell you about me, the true me, is that I’m a self-contradictory mess. There are plenty of nods to “Missing” in this piece, from the very opening mirror (I had a better sync up where my face was exactly half of Andrew’s, but I think it came at the wrong part of the song? Maybe the camera ran out of batteries?), to the shot of Andrew walking around alone with headphones in, to the cinematic montage of exploration, to the very idea of having personal log entries scattered throughout. This was a reply to Missing. It’s also a companion piece to Powerful Magics. Look at it this way: If Powerful Magics is the Great and Powerful Oz, then IDTAM:TM is the Man Behind the Curtain. Powerful Magics was about, among other things, putting on a show and showing off expertise and- perhaps one of the main things- magic. IDTAM:TM Mirrors a lot of the segmented nature and jumping around that Powerful Magics did, hell it even has a musical breakdown in the middle of it and an experimental deconstruction. You can even go all the way back to the first pair of videos in this correspondence for references in IDTAM:TM with the reintroduction of Pokemon and Disney films into the discussion. There are plenty of cosmetic and structural references to the prior pieces all over IDTAM:TM, to the point where it can very well be argued that I did nothing but remix and regurgitate everything that came before. Gimmicks abound in this piece.
It’s also one of the most outwardly honest and open pieces I’ve made and probably ever will make. It’s a half-hour straight of a straightforward discussion of my insecurities as a filmmaker and a person and how those insecurities came to be. It’s a discussion of the idea of friendship and connection and how it has been a topic of pain for me, especially in these past few years. This film is where we finally confront the 800 pound gorilla that has always been looming around this discussion (at least for me), which is the closing of CSF and how exactly that effected me, in the short and long term. The Closing of CSF is something I’m still working through, and it’s not because of the loss of the school. It’s the loss of friendship I experienced as a side-effect of it. It’s the painful reality that we all have to face sooner or later: People move on; and for me it seems like people move on a lot more often. The point of this film is also to explore why this betrayal hit me so hard: because I’ve never felt like I belong in this world, even though by all accounts I should. To tell the story of my isolation, the school closing, it’s reverberations to this day I had to skip over a few decades worth of explanations as to my actions. But again, this is meant to be a portrait, not a biography. But in terms of leading to the climax: my thoughts of suicide and finally going on mood stabilizing medication, the story is very linear and paced out rather well.
But this is also a self-portrait, shaped by individual style and how I see the world. It’s a world of chaos. A world where dominoes are carefully set up then stomped on and destroyed, falling in ever more complex patterns. Mine is a world where I am the video game villain, the mastermind who has little motivation for wanting to ruin everything except for “Thing just didn’t work out”. Mine is a world where reality can be ripped apart, and throughout the piece the moments of data bending, of sync errors, of dead pixels and duplicating images, they all come together in these moments of stylistic flourish. They’re also all very deliberate. True, the sync errors were a constant problem I ran into when exporting this project, but it was something that I could and did fix if needed. But the dissonance between sound and picture and the removal experienced by the blinks to grey are there to communicate the delicate chaos of our world: One error and we blink to grey. One blip of code and suddenly what you see as life and what you experience (hear) as life are out of sync, and you do what you can to fix it. Every moment of pixellation and of bending also serve this point: peeling away layers and exposing these images for the conglomeration of RGB that they are.
Finally, we come to the Jellyfish. This was come of the most beautiful footage I ever shot, and there’s always an otherworldly elegance to the Jellyfish. Elegance, danger, and mystery all combine in the nature of the jellyfish in their movement, their sting, and their biology. They are an ancient creature which has survived through millennia lacking the one organ that I feel defines life: The brain. So do the jellyfish here represent stupidity, mystery, timelessness, beauty, reaction, survival, or danger? It’s all that and more depending on where the footage is used and how it’s used, and yes this openness is very much planned.So with all this conflicting structure and conflicting ideas it’s no wonder that the final piece is a mess, and that’s okay. It’s okay because I think in the end it accomplished all I wanted it to, mainly showing what these six years or so have been like for me in between Powerful Magics and IDTAM:TM. Because these past few years have been messy. But I’m starting to be okay with that, and putting this together was a big part in getting here.
So that’s that. Look forward to a bit of a write-up on how exactly I went about crafting a package for this piece, and I promise that will be a bit closer to my usual analysis of form and how to incorporate references to prior packages and pieces in a meaningful way. I may also do one final write-up on the state of The Journey of the Tape up until this point.
If you’re interested in Andrew’s thoughts on this piece, I will link to it HERE when it goes live.
As a closing remark, though, I can’t help but feel Andrew got his summation of our conversation wrong. He’s been ignoring context and a lot of space around the pieces. Here’s how it’s felt to me:
Are You Okay? (I Got the Poops)
Yeah, Sure! (In Fridge)
Well, Good. Things looked a bit bleak there. (Happy Birthday, Murderer!)
Of Course I’m Okay. Maybe you’re not Okay! (Powerful Magics)
You’re right. I don’t think I am. (Missing)
Well neither am I. Sorry. (I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical)