Four years after the premiere of The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, Yo La Tengo and I continue to screen the piece. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the continued interest in it. We recently did a terrific screening at SUNY Oswego and in a few weeks will screen the piece at one of my favorite venues in the world: Teatro de la Ciudad in Mexico City.
That’s the theater where I saw Guy Madden do a live version of his fantastic film Brand Upon the Brain way back in 2005 – the show included live narration by Isabella Rosellini, live soundtrack, and live foley and was a huge inspiration for me in developing my own form of live cinema. Looks like we’ll finally be screening LSRBF in Los Angeles in the fall. Stay tuned for details.
I was interviewed recently for WNYC’s podcast Only Human. The episode is called Bacon, Booze and the Search for theFountain of Youth and is about Supercentennarians (people over the age of 110). I spoke with the reporter Kenny Malone about the current oldest person in the world Susannah Jones and her 116th birthday party in Brooklyn last summer, which I filmed for my new project The Oldest Person in the World. I’m always a bit wary of being interviewed by other filmmakers or media people (being familiar myself with how the sausage gets made), but this piece is actually really good. My section starts at 19:00. Take a listen here.
I’ve been working on an exciting new project for a while now but have not been public about it. I recently got a grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund, so it’s now out there on the internet. I guess it’s official. The new project is a live documentary about the Kronos Quartet and the group’s 40-year history. Kronos will play a live score for the piece, and I’m especially excited about this odd, meta form. Ultimately the piece, which is currently called Untitled Kronos Project, will be a meditation on music itself – the act of listening closely to music, the experience of feeling music deeply, and the power of music to change people and change the world. This new project came out of the great experience I had making a short documentary about Kronos for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary. Find that full video here.
Had a great time on the road with Pop-Up Magazine in September and October. This was the most ambitious project yet from Pop-Up. In the old days, it was just a one-night event in San Francisco. Then a while back we did three cities. This time it was a full-on, seven city cross country tour. A big pleasure to share the stage w/ people like Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine, podcasters Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, John Mooallem, NYTimes writer Jenna Wortham, the mind-blowing Manuel Cinema, and many others. My piece was about Susannah Mushatt Jones who is currently the oldest person in the world. She’s 116 years-old, lives in Brooklyn, and I filmed for a couple of days with her over the summer. This piece is part of a much larger and ongoing project documenting all the people who become the oldest person alive. Stay tuned for more details. Was very excited to wrap up the Pop-Up Magazine tour at BAM, where I’d never performed. A big thrill to be on stage at the Harvey.
I’m thrilled to screen The Measure of All Things in London on August 26th as part of David Byrne’s Meltdown Festival. The Talking Heads were a huge part of my adolescence, and in recent years I’ve come to really admire David Byrne for his creativity, the broad range of his interests, and the obvious hard work involved in producing so much work. So it’s a huge honor that he invited us to take part in the festival. Brendan Canty, Todd Griffin, Catherine McRae and I are doing one show of MOAT at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the Southbank Centre. Tickets on sale here: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/the-measure-of-all-things-92716
My old friend Rebecca Solnit recently wrote a mini-essay about my work. Rebecca’s one of my all-time favorite writers, so it’s a real honor to have her so articulately express many of the thoughts and feelings around live cinema that inspire me. To read, click here.
I did a new short piece about Louis Armstrong at Pop-Up Magazine in San Francisco recently. The show was at the fantastic Davies Symphony Hall – completely sold out. I had worked hard on the piece – it was far more ambitious in its craft than anything I’d done before – and was happy it worked. Leah Garchick wrote a nice item about it in her Chronicle column.
My old friend Brent Green and I premiered a new live cinema program recently at the Parrish Museum in the Hamptons. A while back Brent suggested that we do an evening together of our short live film-music pieces. Brent is an animator and has been making fantastic live cinema for many years. I’m a big fan, so I loved the idea. We reached out to Brendan Canty, who is a longtime collaborator of both, to put together music. He was joined by James Canty and Kate Ryan. Brent and I alternated – he did one piece, then I did one, etc. I had been unsure how our films would play next to each other, but it was hands-down one of the funnest shows I’ve ever done. And the response from the audience was pretty rapturous. It was a special night. And an extra added benefit: we made the Southampton Press. (If you have five minutes to waste, it’s a hilarious article). We are looking forward to more shows in the fall.
A while back, a guy named Ian Daniel got in touch with me about doing an interview for a website he manages called Extended Play. He’d seen The Measure of All Things at the Kitchen and the piece resonated with him. Ian recently sent the finished interview to me, and I have to say, it’s one of the best I’ve participated in. I’m not taking the credit here! Ian is just a really smooth and canny interviewer. He somehow knew exactly what to pursue. I bristle a little at the personal nature of the interview, but I’m happy to have it out there – sheds more light on my work than perhaps any other.
I did a TED talk in Vancouver recently. It was about Louis Armstrong and the thousands of hours of audio tapes that he recorded over the years. I hadn’t known, but Armstrong was a huge taper – he taped himself talking and hanging out with people. The tapes are bawdy – lots of talk about sex, marijuana, and dirty jokes. They are now stored at the Queens College Library, and I’ve had great times over the past year going out there and listening to them. It was an interesting experience doing the TED talk. I got a nice pair of shoes out of the deal as swag. A lot of people have asked when they can see the talk online. I actually asked them not to make a video of it. If you know anything about me, you probably know that a big part of my live-cinema work is that it’s not documented. I’m a big fan of the ephemeral. Hope you can see this piece at some point in-person.