DJ Mark Brown: from Montage to Music.

Local video artist, DJ and curator, Mark Brown studied at MICA and has lived in Baltimore since then. He’s an artist of the computer generation and grew up fiddling with paint, photoshop and co. “I was obsessed with filters” Mark told us to describe his beginnings in art creation while he was a teenager.[1] His early interest in working on distorting pictures is still visible in his most recent psychedelic work, such as his 120 Megabytes project – a music video and video art series – for the Youtube channel Network Awesome.

Mark Brown. Picture by Jen Mizgata, co-runner of Showspace.

Mark Brown. Picture by Jen Mizgata, co-runner of Showspace.

Mark Brown is very involved in the artistic scene of Baltimore, which he praised for its musical diversity that gives him the opportunity to collaborate with many musicians to realize video clips for them. He also appreciates the possibility and easiness to interact with many artists, due to Baltimore relative small size. Among the artists he collaborated with is the famous band from Baltimore Beach House. He made the official video for their song Zebra.[2] For Dancing In Slow Motion, by the local band Teengirl Fantasy, Mark used a picture of the singer – no longer in living in Baltimore – and animated her mouth in a mixture of warm color for the music video.[3] One of his early video production published on the web used footage from the popular mainstream movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). In Mark’s videos (he made several versions using this movie sequence), both characters are falling in an endless void with their scream in a continuous loop.

Youtube is crucial for Mark Brown’s visual production. That’s where he finds the footage he uses to create his videos. It opens up almost unlimited possibilities for the artist. Nowadays, the average number of hours uploaded on Youtube is of sixty hours per minute. It represents an incredible resource for an artist like Mark Brown, who can spend hours surfing on Youtube to find material.[4] He’s been particularly influenced by “experimental” filmmakers such as Abigail Child and Bruce Conner, both famous for their work with found footage and their editing process. Mark Brown evoked Bruce Conner’s film A MOVIE (1958), which was a revolution in filmmaking, and “is being used today in teaching film classes,” as an inspiring model.[5] Most generally, the book Recycled Images: The Art and Politics of Found Footage Films by William C. Wees has been a source of inspiration for Mark. The book contains a collection of memories of many filmmakers who work with found footage. Published in the e arly 1990s, what these artists are saying about montage is strikingly relevant for today’s artists using Youtube.

DJ Mark Brown. Left hand.

DJ Mark Brown. Left hand.

His musical career as a DJ is successful and leads him to travel around the country and even overseas. However, Mark Brown is still very attached to the city he lives in, and every first Friday of the month, Baltimoreans (+ 21) can dance on Mark’s sets at the Club Hippo. He initiated there, with Djs Cexman and Schwarz, a monthly dance party called “Deep in the Game,” in which other Djs are regularly invited to perform.[6] He also co-runs with Jen Mizagata the local blog Showspace, which advertizes local events like shows and art previews.[7]

Mark’s videos are available on the web through his website and Vimeo channel as well as Youtube. In addition, his work is regularly presented in film festivals, museum exhibitions, local theaters, art galleries and live shows. To conclude, I would like you to have a look at Prototype Room (2011), one of his last video realization which uses a commercial for articulated hand-robots he found on Youtube.[8] The rapid changes of pictures and their distortion from the cracks, glitches and fall-out of digital realities make some part of the video look like still life pixelated paintings, while sometimes the robot-hand seems lively. I believe that the soundtrack perfectly matches the video: I really appreciate the heavy mechanical/industrial atmosphere given by the rhythmic and saturated music of Baltimore’s band Five Masks.

Pierre

[1] Visiting Artist Talk with Mark Charles Brown, Johns Hopkins Univ. 02/08/12
[2] Accessed 03/04/2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-wfb25WmV4
[3] Accessed 03/04/2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT2_G6Dov0U
[4] Visiting Artist Talk with Mark Charles Brown, Johns Hopkins Univ. 02/08/12
[5] William C. Wees, Recycled Images: The Art and Politics of Found Footage Films, (New York: Anthology Film Archives, 1993), 78
[6] Accessed 03/04/2012, http://deepinthegame.tumblr.com/posters
[7] Accessed 03/04/2012, http://showspace.tumblr.com/
[8] Accessed 03/04/2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw4QsQmLlK0

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