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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Antarctic Mash

Air Date: Week of August 29, 2008

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Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky in 2007.

Performance artist Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, brings his new performance project “Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite” to Denver. The multimedia piece includes geographic and scientific visual material, along with audio samples from his recent visit to Antarctica mixed with electronic beats. DJ Spooky tells Living on Earth the project is his response to the rapidly changing planet.

Transcript

CURWOOD: OK, so with the Democratic Convention going so green, it only makes sense that the hip-hop culture wouldn’t be too far behind. And in fact, hip-hop artist DJ Spooky brought his new multimedia performance project from D.C. to the Mile-High city stage.

Some would say this dude is more of a trip hop artist, and you can hear why in his work called “Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite.” It’s made up of field recordings DJ Spooky made in Antarctica. Back home he manipulated samples and beats, to capture what he calls a “rapidly changing” and “vanishing environment under duress.”

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

SPOOKY: Antarctica to me is a place that’s at the edge of the map. It’s something that’s kind of almost like an invisible point that very few people, you know, literally, living will ever go to.

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

SPOOKY: When I was thinking about the project I wanted to think about DJ culture, contemporary art and sampling. How do you look at the environment itself as a kind of an archive. And what happens when the archive becomes part of collective consciousness, which is to me the world we live in. So, um, you know it’s an art project and its something that is hopefully going to get people to think about different ways of approaching environmental change and managing the human relationship to nature.

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

Throughout the last couple centuries artists have gone to Antarctica but the funny thing is film didn’t work up until recently because the temperatures were so extreme. Then, cameras also didn’t work until basically earlier this century when they were able to figure out some chemical solutions that would work in the extreme temperature. So most of the testimony was either in story, written form or drawn by hand. So were looking at a couple decades now of documentation of Antarctica with film, with photography and I wanted to think about that as the stepping point for digital media.

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

SPOOKY: In the U.S. the idea of the Urban is really defined by concrete. You know like you walk, you put one foot in front of the other, you’re not expecting the concrete to collapse. So there’s a kind of very centered, very you know kind of, standardized experience of being in the city. There’s concrete. There is heat. There is traffic. In this kind of place, all those variables are removed and you are the movement. Everything else, there’s no mammals, almost, the only eight, nine creatures are stuff like seals and penguins

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

And the sound is basically like you’re an intrusion. Your feet, you put one foot in front of the other, you hear the crunch of the ice against your boots, you hear the wind pushing against your clothes and the way that your clothes will ripple in the wind makes its own sound. The intense cold for me at least wasn’t as bad as the water. Like the water temperature is really really starkly different than anything I am used to. So if you fall in the water you die of hypothermic shock within in two to three minutes. So there’s a lot of ice and if you walk on the wrong patch of ice, you could fall, [laughter] fall right through.


Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky in 2007

  

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

SPOOKY: The whole notion of music for you know social fun, party stuff. I’ve tried, but it just didn’t feel right, I made a couple tracks for like Antarctica Party.

[Laughter]

SPOOKY: The penguins were looking at me like, what are you doing. Don’t forget I had an outdoor studio I would set up. And just kind of look at the landscape come up with certain sketches and compositions and you know see what would come out of the process.

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

SPOOKY: I guess its propaganda for change or propaganda for thinking about the world in a different way and seeing that there is just not one way. I know that sounds really simple, but you’d be surprised, a lot of my peers in the DJ scene or youth culture, hip-hop consumerism, bling-bling, people always tend just to look to the media just the next day or the next week. They don’t really look to the next 10, 20, 50, 100 years.

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

SPOOKY: Right now I think the biggest question facing everybody is that the planet is really going through a massive change. The film project is to kind of balance and think about art, music and creative processes and how they can, I think, at least be tools to change peoples perception of the environment.

[DJ Spooky – Music from DJ Spooky’’s Multimedia installation : Terra Nova – An Antarctic Suite]

CURWOOD: That’s hip-hop artist DJ Spooky, and an earful of his spooky “Terra Nova – an Antarctic Suite.”

 

Links

DJ Spooky’s website

 

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