This week I was supposed to tell you about showing a one-minute film in cultural institutions around the globe in December, and, new looks in live projection, and, how cool it was to do a »radiantdevices« show on David Bowie’s birthday last Friday. How a few of us improvised a goofy cover of Ziggy Stardust and were so happy even though it was silly and Zack’s first mic failed. As Zack Violet [ the singer for that moment ] put it, “This is kindof rough, but, if there was no David Bowie there wouldn’t be a me!”
I lost Monday to a surprising number of tears, once I’d learned he’d died. I’ve listened to his music for over thirty years. At times his was the only music I listened to for months at a time. In many ways he made the world safer for me. His work invited me to take certain risks; his longevity, and his commitment to the artwork, to persist.
Aesthetically, for me his cutup/assemblage lyricism and archetype-roulette slots alongside that of William Burroughs. Both Bowie and Burroughs are important to me as pop culture links to DaDa and side doors to the dreamt, the sur-real, what I’ve nicknamed “the imaginarium”.
One artist-friend said he’s “considering what of the work Bowie’s left for us, that I can take up, that fits with what I do”.
This link is to the isolated vocal track of Bowie’s original recording of Ziggy Stardust.
Behind that second link I wonder if you might hear what I hear – a tremendous spirit of intimacy and connection, a big folk-hippy heart singing out from under the sleek, produced surface. He sang in a moment of our great darkness and difficulty. He knew that the audience looks for an image of itself in the media it consumes. He chose to cover “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. On some level he gave us an undamaged image of our country, instead of the smoky wound we’d all just fallen into.
This example is, I think, one of his challenges to artists.
Because I’m supposed to tell you, well, there’s another »radiantdevices« show coming up, February 12 at Chicago’s Metro.
But besides that, I’d love to hear from you, with links to your favorite Bowie thing – movie or music or interview etc – if you have one to share.
Thanks for being here, and reading my notes.
PS: the subject line of this post quotes a lyric from DB’s newest album, Blackstar.
David Bowie : Love Is Lost [ Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA ]
It’s a music video; it’s a 10:30 short film odyssey from particulate animation through meshes through datamoshing and other decay tricks, edited with quicktime effects and transitions, and referring always to the human form and figure in this newnew language of ours.
or, David Bowie remains just about best at everything.