Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sound Bite 1.0

I have created a soundtrack that mashes up, remixes and repackages some very important and influential moments in modern history into a piece that is meant to evoke memories of both the real and unreal. A major part of the project was to include tracks from both the “real”, through clips of speeches, historical events etc with the “unreal”, through select clips from TV and movies references that I believe to be engrained within pop culture. The blending and mixing of the real and unreal was my hope to blur the boundaries. The sound bite is sort of the analog to the picture; a picture is a skewed or biased memory of an event but is often the only memory we will have. Most of the “important” events that I included were things that I have only experienced through sound bites: in many regards, Kramer’s words or Homer’s words are more real than Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Neil Armstrong’s moon walk.
Some parts of the clips I edited in a manner that they may not instantly seem familiar. By removing the context of several quotes, or pairing them with other events it creates new realities.
At the intro of the project, I begin with George Bush Sr., speaking about the death of communism and the collapse of the Soviet Empire. This moment can be understood as the victory of the American way; the “American dream”. While that clips is playing, the voice over of the news report announcing the death of JFK begins. This is an intentional “double voice” that parallels the announcement of the death of communism with the death of Kennedy. Kennedy is important in understanding, because it is one of the most tragic events in the American psyche. It plays out as sort of a “win” and a “loss” for America.
The track goes on to include a quote of Malcolm X, in which he refers to the “American dream” as an “American nightmare”. This quote is used mostly out of context (he, referring to the narrative of African-Americans), as it is used as foreshadowing the next clip. The clip that follows is George Bush Jr. announcing the attacks of Sept 11. To me, with Kennedy’s death, is considered one of the saddest days in modern American history: The “American nightmare”.
The first part of the track all goes on while the “2001: A Space Odyssey” music plays. I chose this song because it is epic, grandiose and very familiar. It frames the first part of the soundtrack, in which George Bush Sr. and Jr. are the bookends.
At this point, I take the track to a little bit more lighthearted place, while still maintaining the theme of the project. Part 2 of this project begins with Einstein, with a low quality clip of him announcing his mass-energy equivalence equation. While the Einstein clips plays music begins. The music plays throughout the rest of the piece. The music is a combination of a steady, simple beat with somewhat off kilter, off-time synthesizers. The purpose of the music is two fold, basically it allows for a steady narrative through the rest of the piece, but is intentionally not syncopated. The music is intended to at a textured layer in which the sound clips are played. The use of synthesizers gives a technological feel to the song and creates a somewhat cerebral juxtaposition with the words heard.
The song moves on to include more pop culture references. Often lighthearted these more are intended to provide a more instantaneous response: bouncing between the real and unreal, while evoking the thoughts that may be associated with these events. The overall track is a somewhat schizophrenic run through of a multitude of themes and events. There is no real underlying narrative throughout, in a lot of ways it doesn’t make sense, and it is not really supposed to. The purpose of having short, mostly familiar clips is something of an exercise of emotions while also challenging to meaning of what is heard.
Sound Bite 1.0

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