America’s Funniest Home Videos (and its international offshoots) might represent the most lucrative user-generated content project in history—until the arrival of Facebook and YouTube, anyway. A genius by the name of Vin Di Bona realized that there were untold thousands of hours of hilarious content out there just waiting for a network TV outlet, and that the owners of that content would be only too happy to send a major media corporation their videotapes for a chance at widespread TV recognition (and cash too, let’s not forget the cash). So in 1989 ABC began broadcasting the show, which was originally hosted by Bob Saget and, thrillingly, featured the voiceover work of legendary announcer Ernie Anderson (also known as Ghoulardi). The volume of submissions was so thick that it’s said that the show singlehandedly caused the Hollywood post office to take on increased staff.
The show lasted until—Oh wait. The show, of course, is still on the air even now.
Recently, noted Australian composer Chris Cobilis has immersed himself in the decades-long output of America’s Funniest Home Videos and its Aussie counterpart Australia’s Funniest Home Videos as part of the process to create an experimental orchestral work inspired by the show. That work, created in collaboration with poet Kenneth Goldsmith and Spektral Quartet and engineered by none other than Steve Albini, is called This Is You and will be available for purchase on Bandcamp on October 28 (but you can pre-order it today).
In preparation for the work, Cobilis transcribed entire episodes of show, a process that encompassed dialogue, voiceover, and sound FX cues. In addition, he took chunks of audio from the episodes and converted them to MIDI, resulting in a side-scrolling “animated score.” Perhaps the project’s most fascinating aspect is that funny videos on the Internet were shown to the musicians, who were told to “play what they saw” without any prior knowledge of what they were about to see. Each instrument was given different array of videos to play off of.
Kenneth Goldsmith is a fascinating figure, a renowned poet who is the founding editor of UbuWeb and had a popular show on WFMU for many years. Spektral Quartet is a string quartet that is the ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago’s Department of Music. In its 2014 project Mobile Miniatures, Spektral Quartet recorded the (very brief) musical creations of 47 composers including Nico Muhly, David Lang, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir, which were then made available for download as ringtones.
Steve Albini, of course, was in Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac and has served as the recording engineer for countless classic albums, including Slint’s Tweez, The Jesus Lizard’s Pure, Superchunk’s No Pocky For Kitty, and Craw’s Lost Nation Road.
According to press materials, This Is You is described as “a metaphysical feedback loop” that “traces the 25-year history of the TV program Funniest Home Videos in an attempt to describe the prism of existence as solar vanity.” It’s safe to say that we could all stand to give our solar vanity a little look-see.
Here’s the full piece from Bandcamp:
Video after the jump…
Posted by Martin Schneider |
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