NMR Commission: “You’re Not My Father” by Paul Slocum

logo_300.jpgYou’re Not My Father, by Paul Slocum, [Requires Quicktime plugin] is composed of a sequence of recreations of a 10 second scene from the television show Full House, overlaid with sound loops from the scene’s original music. The crews who re-shot the scene were recruited through Internet message boards and Craigslist; each was paid $150. Instructions for shooting the scene and delivering the footage were issued to the crews. To-date, the project includes participants from Austin, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Denton, London, and San Francisco.

Although the commission money has been exhausted, Slocum is still accepting submissions. If you are interested in participating, read the PDF document on the website. Your footage will be added to the video sequence online and exhibited in future gallery exhibitions.

About the Process: In an email he wrote to Helen Thorington (January 11), Slocum describes the difficulties he had finding participants for the project:

Originally I was posting on Internet message boards for Full House, fan film making, and other related topics offering $80 for each completed video, hoping I could get about 18 videos. But nobody was taking the offer so I increased it to $150 and accepted that I had to reduce the number of videos. I ended up having the best results with Craigslist. You can’t post an ad to multiple cities, so I rotated the ad between different locations.

I gradually built a list of people willing to participate, which was complicated to maintain since people frequently expressed interest and later stopped responding to my emails. Most participants did not meet the deadlines I set. I received the first video in early November, and the last three in early January, less than a week before the launch date.

He then goes on to describe the formal challenges he faced:

Originally, I’d wanted the voicing of the dialogue to be so close to the original that it would maintain the hypnotic rhythm of the mockup loop I had created. I specified this in the documentation, but nobody could do it well enough, and the sound from the reshoots didn’t maintain the rhythm of the original concept. I was concerned that the piece wouldn’t work until I had the idea of overlaying the original audio onto the reshoot audio. This maintained the rhythm and emphasized the room reverb (and space) from the reshoots.

I found that the key to making the piece work out was subtle changes. Very slight timing changes made a big difference, equalization of audio, selection between two slightly different takes… Also some of the reshoots did not work aesthetically, but after a lot of experimenting I found that changes in color saturation of the clips could fix problems without changing much about the original authorship of the reshoot. I could bring out colors in dull clips, and control overly complex clips. I also discovered that the transition from under-saturated clips to over-saturated clips can be interesting.

You’re Not My Father is included in Slocum’s solo show “More House” which opens tonight at Dunn and Brown Contemporary, 5020 Tracy Street, Dallas, Texas.

You’re Not My Father is a 2007 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for Networked_Music_Review. It was made possible with funding from the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.


Paul Slocum is a musician and new media artist living in Dallas. Computers and computer culture are often the medium and subject of his work. Some of his projects are “The Dot Matrix Synth”, an 80’s dot matrix printer with re-programmed firmware to transform it into a musical instrument, “The Century Callback Project”, a phone number that calls you back 8 times in a century, and “The Time-Lapse Homepage”, a video made with HTML. He is also half of the “Tree Wave” project that creates music and video with obsolete assembly-language-programmed computer and video game gear. Paul is the director and co-founder of “And/Or Gallery” in Dallas, a gallery that specializes in new media artwork. Some of Paul’s performances and exhibitions include Transitio MX in Mexico City, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Deitch Projects, and Eyebeam in New York, Le Confort Moderne in France, README 2005 in Denmark, and The Liverpool Biennial.

Jul 11, 2011
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3 Responses

  1. paul_slocum_yrs_rvng:

    […] did a commission for Networked Music Review (on Turbulence) which launched yesterday online and at my new show at Dunn & […]

  2. Peter:

    I had a little email back-and-forth with Paul about this piece, that we’ve decided to paste here (with Paul’s permission). It discusses some of our thoughts regarding influence and intention, as well as how the piece came to be.

    —— from my first email to helen thorington, which she then forwarded to paul slocum ——

    … i watched/listened to paul slocum’s commission yesterday after our chat, and found that it was actually quite musically interesting. while the visual aspect of the piece, at least to me, mostly just humorous, the audio seems to exist at some intersection between early minimalism a la steve reich (‘it’s gonna rain’, ‘come out’, etc.) and lucier’s ‘i am standing in a room…’. in his email to you and his instructions to the participants, he specifically refers to the pitch/rhythmic contours of the original excerpt as being musically interesting. in the piece, the reproductions are overlayed onto the original doing a couple of things in the process: a) they slowly form a chorus with the original actor’s voices and b) the reverberations of the various recordings are combined. this is the lucier-ish aspect of it for me – that instead of reinforcing a room’s reverberation through repetition to make a phrase musical, the reverberant surfaces are the actors reflecting their interpretations of the original back into the mix. perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but that’s sort of how i connected it in my mind. each additional recreation mixed into the piece is like a new set of reflections that both distort the clarity of the original, but also emphasize/deemphasize certain aspects of the chorused phrase.

    regarding the reich-like aspect, that (to me) comes more from the overlay of the background music that builds and builds over the course of the piece, much like happens in early phase music where pairs of phasing motives double, triple, etc. to build walls of sound. i’m curious if slocum would agree with this take, and if not, where he locates the piece historically/influentially. anyway, just figured i’d share my thoughts with you….

    —— paul’s first reply —–

    Helen forwarded me some of your comments. I definitely thought about the sound/music of the work very similarly to you. I’m glad that carried across. I was definitely influenced specifically by Reich and Lucier in this sound portion of the piece.

    As for the larger concept, I kept thinking about what’s different today from the pop world that Andy Warhol was documenting. As things shift towards user-generated content and away from centrally-driven media sources, the user generated content is still heavily derived from and influenced by current and past pop culture monoliths.

    —— i then replied with a few more questions —–

    i really enjoyed your piece, and it sounds like it was a pretty challenging undertaking in terms of just getting the people to keep within your prescribed boundaries in producing their versions (and i thought i had a high bar to entry for itspace participants 😉 ). what you mention about the user generated content being influence by past pop culture monoliths certainly makes sense now that i think about it. i wonder if you had tried to do this piece maybe 7 years ago, when the medium for soliciting participation existed (i.e., craigslist), but the social networking/youtube phenomenon did not, if it would’ve been much harder to find contributors? by that i’m wondering whether or not the readily available pool of people willing to videotape themselves and put it out there in the public sphere is a direct result of lowered privacy expectations/exhibitionism as encouraged by youtube,facebook,myspace, etc.

    also, out of curiosity, how did you come to pick that particular clip as the seed of the project? was it something you had always remembered since watching that show many years ago? was is more random (such as going through various sitcoms until you found a scene that had the musical and dramatic qualities you were looking for)?

    —– and paul replied ——

    I suspect it could have been done through the Internet up to 12 years ago. Based on my experiences with communities of the early Internet, I think that the kind of people who would do this are the same kind of people who were early adopters of the world wide web. Before the Internet, I suppose it could have been done through traditional classified ads. But yeah, I think as the years go back, the (inflation adjusted) dollar amount required to get people to do it would go up.

    I was watching the show on TV 3 years ago, and when I saw that scene, the music and absurdity of the scene really struck me. It felt like the ultimate dramatic TV cliche, and I knew I had to do a piece with it. Shortly after that I came up with the idea. I tried for a few months to get a copy of the episode through various means like buying bootlegs on ebay, but failed. I also watched the TV guide for the episode to cycle again. I ended up having to wait for season 2 to come out on DVD to get it. After that, it was a matter of funding.

  3. Al Masland Jr:

    I am very interested in participating in this project where acting roles are concerned. can someone please tell me who to contact?

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