The original footage for these videos came from my vault of VHS tapes that my friends and I made when we were in high school in Princeton, NJ. We had a really great editing facility at my school, and when I learned how to use the VHS editing decks as a freshman, I became obsessed with video. Every moment was spent dreaming up things to shoot, and then my friends and I would get together, put on costumes, make props and shoot stuff. I worked a lot with my best friend, Tamara Barnett-Herrin, as well as a lot of other friends who were so great and willing to do all kinds of uncomfortable stuff, like be body painted in tempra, or wear heavy clay hats that made it hard for them to move.
A lot of those tapes were me trying to recreate Fellini’s Satyricon. I made that same movie again and again for about 7 years.
Around 1999 I saw Jack Smith’s work for the first time and was amazed at how much my own work looked like it was inspired by his. It was really strange. I decided to do a blind remake of Flaming Creatures—we made it without having seen it. There weren’t a lot of pictures of the film up at that time, just one or two, so most of my research came from reading the few books that were out about him and talking to people who had seen the film. The interesting thing that I discovered in my research was that Fellini had seen Flaming Creatures before making Satyricon! So it was almost like I reverse engineered Jack Smith out of Satyricon when I was a teen. I always kind of loved that.
This edit was created as part of a larger piece by my video partner, the amazing Johnny Woods. He was making a movie to accompany an album by DPony as I was packing up to move to L.A. As I pulled the boxes and boxes of VHS tapes out of our closet, he did the herculean task of digitizing all of the tapes and then did a terrific job of weaving the material together into a piece that’s about an hour long. It was so awesome to see this footage that I have so much attachment to reinterpreted by another artist. It made me so happy.
You can order the full movie on VHS here: dponymovie.com
Thanks for the tip, Karen Azoulay!