Wreck and Salvage Interview

We had the honor to interview the folks over at Wreck And Salvage.

If you haven’t heard of them, you should check out their videos. They are today’s media mechanics and culture jammers. They have no agenda except for the one that the viewer creates.

I’ve always considered the artist a form of philosopher.

Tech4thought:

Alright, I think everyone is here

so thank you again for the interview

Adam Quirk:

Great

Erik Nelson:

Yessir

Adam Quirk:

Thanks for watching us do stuff on the internet.

TT:

Okay for the first question:

I’ve heard your crew described as editors, remixers, and new media artists, which title do you prefer?

Erik Nelson:

media mechanics

Adam Quirk:

yeah that’s a good catchall

Aaron Valdez:

I like the old school “culture jammers”

TT:

What in particular attracted each of you to become a media mechanic or culture jammer?

Adam Quirk:

Usually when people ask what I do I say “producer” because it covers everything, but in the case of W&S we try to hold a mirror up to society, show it its flaws, poke fun, in the vague hope of making it somehow better.

Aaron Valdez:

Just the old making something out of nothing. or reusing things as they weren’t intended. medium of choice just happens to be video

Adam Quirk:

Mostly video, but we do image mashups and photochops too

Aaron Valdez:

And you can use video to say the exact opposite of what it’s intended, flip commercials around. it’s a beautiful medium.

Erik Nelson:

Love the sound bite

TT:

How would you classify your work as video or is it something else?

Adam Quirk:

Can you clarify that question? you mean what kind of video do we make?

Erik Nelson:

Depends on whether you think this new online experiment constitutes a new medium?

TT:

Exactly, do you think the nature of your work gives it else to a new form in how it is consumed and produced?

Erik Nelson:

I think thats obvious

Aaron Valdez:

Some of it is traditional video. Stuff like Suppendapo is participatory. Viewers shape the videos

Adam Quirk:

It doesn’t feel new to me because I’m used to it, but the format is novel to most people.

Erik Nelson:

I probably wouldn’t be making videos though if the internet wasn’t the playing field. Oddly enough.

Adam Quirk:

The attention span of the Internet has shaped a lot of what we’ve created for better or worse.

TT:

So a “medium is the message” effect?

Erik Nelson:

I’ve never fully understood that statement

Adam Quirk:

I’ve never completely understood that. Yes. See

Erik Nelson:

Ha

TT:

Haha alright

Aaron Valdez:

Some of the videos fit the “medium is the message”

TT:

Think what I want to know does a remix differ from a traditional video viewing wise.

Aaron Valdez:

The youtube collages of people singing, club iraq, technology. The youtube test videos.

Erik Nelson:

It might demand slightly more from the viewer, but it all depends comparing apples and oranges.

Adam Quirk:

That’s true, some of our videos are jabs at internet culture and internet video culture and attention span.

Aaron Valdez:

You’re hoping the viewer is bringing the knowledge or reference points into a remix

Adam Quirk:

But most of our stuff is approachable without that knowledge…It just adds another layer if you are familiar with the original material.

Erik Nelson:

Remixes are not for the insular…or maybe they are

TT:

I see, the internet has been brought up a bit, What are your individual perspectives on where the Internet will take us?

Erik Nelson:

to the second internet.

Adam Quirk:

Either the Singularity or multiple civil wars. We’ll either all upload our consciousnesses and get along as a hive mind

Erik Nelson:

we’ll go fungal

Adam Quirk:

or we’ll all continue to segregate ourselves by favorite band, favorite jonas brother, whatever

until there are thousands of warring factions and we take it to the street

TT:

which scenario would you prefer?

Adam Quirk:

have you heard about the Internet Laser?

TT:

and I haven’t

Erik Nelson:

We’ll all get so sick of it, we’ll voluntarily go back to the 18th century

Adam Quirk:

I’d prefer a version of A, where we can choose to live ad infinitum in cyberspace, but can unplug for days or weeks or years at a time and go out and eat real food and fuck each other. raise little humans.

Erik Nelson:

Today I got asked by my 5 yr. old, “What is the internet?”

Adam Quirk:

and you showed her 4chan

Erik Nelson:

Hah

Aaron Valdez:

a place for fat men.

TT:

Oh God

Erik Nelson:

I said it’s a place where we’re all connected through computers.

Aaron Valdez:

i don’t really think about any of these things.

Erik Nelson:

I think that got to the gist of it. Gotta love a 5 year old mind to break down your understanding of things.

TT:

Which piece of yours, do you feel is the most important piece?

Erik Nelson:

Tough.

Adam Quirk:

Important is hard, I haven’t thought about that we probably will have 3 different answers

Erik Nelson:

If I were to pick a Valdez, Good morning is a favorite.

Aaron Valdez:

Club Iraq. Best combo of internet culture and message.

Erik Nelson:

Glenn beck beats is great. A Quirk? His early OC’s are great. I rewatched a bunch of those. so good

Adam Quirk:

most important for me is Tom Hanks Pickle Sandwich, because it’s opened a lot of doors for W&S. I’ve used it to get us paid work. Culturally important, I’d say Club Iraq

Aaron Valdez:

Also the Nokia Saddam hanging video is really good

TT:

Have you faced any legal issues with your work?

Erik Nelson:

Not Really

Aaron Valdez:

Some YouTube removals for audio.maybe 3. but that’s all automated stuff

Adam Quirk:

Only legal things we’ve dealt with recently have been with corporate legal depts for companies we’re working with. basically telling us we can’t just use whatever we find on the web in the work we’re making for them which is obvious. they just don’t want the hassle of explaining fair use to whoever decides to sue them.

TT:

Does fair use usually holdup in legal battles?

Aaron Valdez:

it’s too dangerous to take your battle to court

Adam Quirk:

It’s hit or miss. subjective. subjective laws are pretty much worthless.

Aaron Valdez:

All depends on your judge

Adam Quirk:

Larry Flynt got away with making fun of that reverend but BBDO got sued for using some song a couple years ago. Can’t remember exact use, but they had changed all the lyrics, the key, and the arrangement record company still sued and won it’s impossible to know. laying chess with smoke pieces on an invisible board.

Erik Nelson:

Probably the largest gray area in law.

TT:

Do you feel with the increasing popularity of remixes and remix artists that a shift is coming?

Erik Nelson:

It’s possible, because it’s broke.

Adam Quirk:

Probably a slow shift yeah

Aaron Valdez:

I feel like the shift has happened in a lot of people’s minds except the lawyers and the big guys.

Adam Quirk:

A german author recently won a book award even after admitting she took entire pages from a previous author’s work. She claimed it was just like DJ’s remixing and won a 20k grant or something but Germany and Europe are a bit ahead of USA in that field.

Aaron Valdez:

i’m editing this Starwars uncut project and George Lucas supports it

Adam Quirk:

That’s awesome.

TT:

That is pretty cool.

Adam Quirk:

it’s weird that it would be any other way though why shouldn’t he support it? Feels like little battles are being won here and there in the minds of the old guard. When an old media guy does something cool like that, the new media people have to celebrate it. Soon it will just be the norm.

Erik Nelson:

I almost feel once something has entered culture’s canon, it’s ripe.

TT:

Do you think when the new media in the future when it is the big guys will continue to be innovative or will it fall back into the cycle?

Adam Quirk:

Radicals always tone way down when they get their hands on power.

Aaron Valdez:

Innovation seems to happen with the little guys. the tinkerers and technologists. i think it’ll always be that way.

Adam Quirk:

Yeah, change comes from the bottom up.

Erik Nelson:

People who innovate because they have no choice. If a whole lot of money is involved it’s more difficult to take risks.

Aaron Valdez:

Big media coops good stuff and tries to find a way to make $ on it. Usually ruining it.

Adam Quirk:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Erik Nelson:

Isn’t that spiderman?

Adam Quirk:

Sorry, yeah his uncle.

TT:

I wrote my college essays on the wisdom of spiderman

Erik Nelson:

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Adam Quirk:

Awesome

TT:

And going off of that what are you hoping to achieve with these remixes?

Erik Nelson:

That’s from a Clint Eastwood movie. They’re all probably rooted in traditional philosophy…To get these things out of my melon. They’re like purges at least for me.

Adam Quirk:

Yeah, purging is an important part of it for me too.

Aaron Valdez:

Each video is different. i usually don’t go in with an idea.

Adam Quirk:

Most of the time I don’t either. Context comes after it’s finished.

Aaron Valdez:

Something i watch might spark an idea.

Erik Nelson:

I usually end up seeing patterns of some sort. Intuitive connections between images, something like that.

Adam Quirk:

I set out to make people think a certain way. Sorry *don’t* set out.

Aaron Valdez:

Yeah, You’re an asshole.

Adam Quirk:

I set out to make people think like me, eat like me, and look like me.

Aaron Valdez:

I think that’s the big difference between us and a lot of remixers, especially politically.

Erik Nelson:

We have no alliances.

Adam Quirk:

Yeah, it’s the Michael Moore style vs the Errol Morris style maybe.

Aaron Valdez:

No agenda.

Erik Nelson:

Right.

Adam Quirk:

Agenda vs. Objective.

Erik Nelson:

That should be our new slogan, “W&S; No Agenda”.

TT:

Why is the agenda less effective or desirable in your opinions?

Adam Quirk:

it seems easier to me, to make something that’s obviously biased in one direction rather than let people watch something and think for themselves.

Aaron Valdez:

Yeah it is too obvious.

Adam Quirk:

Come to their own conclusion.

Erik Nelson:

Limits it’s possibilities maybe.

Aaron Valdez:

Then there’s stuff like Glenn Beck Beats.

Erik Nelson:

Yeah, but how could it not be that way?

Adam Quirk:

I obviously took all of his idiot soundbites.

Erik Nelson:

Considering the source.

Aaron Valdez:

But everyone knows he’s an idiot.

Adam Quirk:

People tend to remember things easier, and form more powerful feelings, when they watch something and make a discovery, have an A-ha moment. much more so than when you just show them what you want them to see.

Aaron Valdez:

Showcase the stupid.

Erik Nelson:

BIg fan of the video koan.

Aaron Valdez:

?

Erik Nelson:

I just made that up.

Adam Quirk:

Yeah sometimes you have to make use of your skills to show something that seems obvious to you, but isn’t being made clear elsewhere in the media.

Erik Nelson:

That term will be huge.

Adam Quirk:

Like Glenn Beck.

KoanKampgrounds of America (nipples).

TT:

Haha

Aaron Valdez:

This is generally how W&$ chats go.

TT:

As a finalish question: Do you guys have any predictions for the aesthetic future of the remix?

Erik Nelson:

Yeah, I’m off on a tangent right now. Searching. Farming.

Adam Quirk:

Off on a Tangent is Steve Garfield’s old videoblog title.

Aaron Valdez:

Better live mixing tools on the internet. Browser-based.

TT:

I see.

Erik Nelson:

Way ahead of his time.

Adam Quirk:

Aesthetically I think everything will start looking the same, until one day it starts looking different. Sorry I had to throw in something like that.

TT:

Will there be live remixing events in the future?

Adam Quirk:

Minority Report editing suit. We’re doing one on Livestream March 21st at wreckandsalvage.com/tricorn.

Erik Nelson:

Ha. We’ll be able to plug and remix our brains, and then we’ll get some variety…or maybe they’ll all be the same.

Aaron Valdez:

There are already, just requires prep work.

Erik Nelson:

T R I C O R N

Adam Quirk:

Yeah, you have to have pieces pre-cut.

Aaron Valdez:

I’d love to be able to plug in a few youtube urls into a tool and have seamless control.

Adam Quirk:

Yeah, just use keyboard commands to jump back and forth. Assign keys to videos.

Aaron Valdez:

Output memories to animated gifs.

TT:

Thanks for your time, do you guys have any final manifestos or proclamations to announce?

Aaron Valdez:

Raise hell and put a block under it.

Adam Quirk:

2nd

Aaron Valdez:

See you on the Second Internet.

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