March 27th, 2005


A Folktronian yarn

In October 2000 I held a one-man art show at New York's LFL Gallery (now Zach Feuer Gallery). It was called Folktronia and featured haybales, teepees, a forest walkthrough projection by Florian Perret, recording devices for Harry Smith / Alan Lomax-style "ethnographic field recordings" (in fact just me recording "mistaken memories" by gallery visitors of the songs from my Folktronic album), and a video camera. The video camera was for me to improvise stories into. Anyone could get themselves written into the oral mythology of this imaginary state, Folktronia. (Folktronia was imaginary but real, rather like the "real estate" of cyberspace, still at that point the subject of a dot com goldrush.) For $200 I'd improvise a long, tall tale about you and sing a song about you. It was a folksy continuation of the portrait songs idea I'd introduced in Stars Forever, my 1999 album. (You can read an interview made at the time of Folktronia / Folktronic here.)

Well, my snake oil didn't attract many buyers. But a gay couple from Athens, Alabama (one black, one white) did fork up. In Joseph and Alton I ramble through the tale of a deep south inter-racial gay couple's perfect day. Joseph Whitt (an artist himself, check his blog) recently sent me a DVD of the video tape I made for him and Alton. It was fun to watch it again, because I'd completely forgotten the story I improvised. Here's an mp3 of the outrageous yarn, featuring Una the Bomber, a pair of testicle-dangling dungarees in Matthew Barney's Cremaster 0.5, a bloody Fischerspooner performance, a phonecall from God, and a very poor rendition of the Momus song Heliogabalus.

Folktronia: Joseph and Alton (mono mp3 file, 12.7MB, 27 mins 49 secs)