Wednesday, 24 October 2012
Oliver Payne and Nick Relph - Mixtape
'Mixtape'' is a seemingly mundane yet ecstatic 23-minute music video whose underlying message seems to be, simply, that in the midst of death, there's always life, and its pleasures are not limited to the young. Death -- Judgment Day, really -- is present here in a nearly unbearably loud soundtrack, Terry Riley's 1968 remix of Harvey Averne's 1968 Latin pop single ''You're No Good'.
Gradually, these random moments of isolated pleasure, joy or eccentricity start to form an encompassing celebration of sorts. When a man and a woman line-dancing in blue jeans are joined by a young raver who moves in and out of the shadows with them, peaceful coexistence seems possible. The final scene is almost corny: a sweet-faced older woman descends from a taxi, suitcase in hand, and walks, smiling, into a cemetery. Mr. Relph and Mr. Payne have a lot of interesting ideas about narrative.
The artists intended the images to be constructed like a collection of sketches and doodles. They began by collecting many of the images that ended up in Mixtape but were inspired to put them together as a film only after hearing Terry Riley’s recording: ‘We already had a lot of the ideas that ended up in Mixtape already. We were thinking about doing a book. But essentially we just had twenty or so ideas that were kicking around, just waiting to be forgotten. [...T]hen, at the shop where I was working at the time, we got to play our own music. And my friend came in with that CD that he’d borrowed, and just played [You’re No Good], really loud. And I just started getting ideas. [...] I [...] started seeing some of the images, that we were thinking about doing, in a book. I could see them cut to this piece.’ (Nick Relph, interviewed in Taschen.) The emphasis on youth culture and dance evokes Mark Leckey’s 1999 film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (Tate T11817), a documentary that charts the rise of British youth dance subcultures while reflecting on the collective loss of innocence as each subculture inexorably yields to the next.
In Mixtape we wanted to exhaust people--hurt their eyes and make them feel a little sick--but make the experience enjoyable. We used certain images from earlier works, like the line dancers from House & Garage, to have fun with our aesthetic. Mixtape is a celebration of young people, but it also touches on the idea of what one critic called "youth under siege by youth culture." So Starbucks is "cool" because they'll employ you even if you have piercings, but they'll make you wear ludicrous hygienic blue bandages over them. Scooters are "cool" because they're aimed at "youngcles," twenty-somethings stuck in adolescence, but if you stick two kids on a scooter on a treadmill, they still ain't going nowhere. Our images are a "fuck you" to corporate intervention in youth culture, whether it's hardcore, punk rock, skateboarding, graffiti, whatever. We wanted to celebrate the other to that: the pure, raw cane sugar.
After listening a lot to the Terry Riley song, we constructed a series of images and sequences that connected with these ideas and had a place within the music. Absurd or funny, poignant or romantic, we wrote them all down and assembled the best of them around the track. It's about fifty-fifty sound and vision. We tried to be aware of the music while we were editing. The strobe lights and the hunting scenes, for instance, begin just as the track goes mental. It would have been a drag to edit everything right on the beat. It's like a Krautrock record, a Neu! or Can track, in which a single phrase is repeated until it begins to generate new rhythms. The economy of the cuts in Mixtape is critical. The editing is crass at points, but we were mindful of a disjunction between sound and vision as well as a connection. Mixtape was shot on film, so it looks different from our previous work. We wanted it to look like a cross between an insurance ad and Schindler's List: heavy and ugly and stupid. But at times it also h as a brash, colorful Carry On appearance to it. We didn't want to make another shaky handheld film. The more we see films shot through plastic bags, the more we want to make refined, "straight" classics.