For me, “the digital” is a place to make art, work with fellow artists, build community and play with new technology.
When I was nine-years-old my Dad got the family a shoulder mounted VHS camcorder. I immediately began making James Bond action movies. I convinced my friend, Ben, to get into a trash can so that I could videotape him rolling down a hill away from a super villain. I convinced my friend to Evan to leap off of the roof, drive his parents’ ride-on lawn mower (without telling) and climb into an icy mud puddle to initiate various climactic fight sequences. Soon my parents started driving me 45 minutes each way to the Harpswell Community Public Access TV Station where I could edit my masterpieces on two Super-VHS edit decks. For school, I filmed Phaeton losing control of his Dad’s sun chariot and scorching the earth (Imagine a Buick Skylark, Evan (again) and a bunch of Coleman camping fuel). I animated Icarus plunging to his death using cutout ads from old National Geographics. I animated comedy sketches with cats and pigs and lobotomy patients to lighten up the newly televised high school morning announcements. Senior year, I convinced the school to give five of us credit to make an original feature length action-adventure film about an evil business magnate with an illegal cock-fighting ring, two star-crossed lovers, a blind street musician plagued by inner demons and the physical manifestation (shirtless and armor clad) of the concept of Fate. Eight months into production, before we had captured, stored or backed up any of our footage we lost it all in a mishap with a car and a rain storm.
For the next three years I crawled through college in a haze of mild depression, heartbroken and embarrassed to have lost so much of my own work and the work of my friends. I stepped away from all of the art practices that I loved. I tried as hard as I could to do other things. Classics, Econ, French, American Lit., but none of them were me. Senior year I began again telling stories with visual images. Eleven years later I find myself with students and faculty and staff going on exactly the same adventure that I fell in love with as a child: the collaboration; the community building; the storytelling; and the sweet new digital gear (rest in peace VHS). It’s a real joy.