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Rough Mix, by Rick Silva

[...] Rough Mix [Quicktime .mov] features [Rick] Silva outdoors with his DJ mixing board doing turntablist moves on rocks, leaves, snow, sand, water: "scratching nature" if you will, treating the landscape as a series of imaginary vinyl LPs to be mixed. In his talk Silva discussed the importance of the hand and touch to the DJ, and here it's as if he's lost nature and is desperately (joyfully?) reconnecting with it by clawing, patting, swiping, rubbing, and scattering it. These seem like the actions of a crazy man since he has no turntables, only an unplugged board resting on various surfaces in the middle of nowhere (a gorgeous mountain landscape), but the piece makes it funny rather than alarming.

Aside from the obsessive performance aspect of it, the work thrills through its use of high-def cinematography but especially through its state-of-the-art collage of electronic sounds. One of Rough Mix's paradoxes is that turntablism is an "analog art" and the piece is about connecting with nature yet the sounds and images are quite distinctively digitally realized, that is, artificial. The abstract "music concrete" recalls urban dance music but densely filtered and "glitched"--imagine skipping CDs reverberating in a dreamy aural haze with the occasional hip hop beat cutting in and out. The timing pulls it together: the piece is long but the quick editing of the music in sync with closeups of Silva's scratching hand, spinning geosat views of the land, and the "surprise factor" of never quite knowing where the mixing board will turn up in the ecstatically empty, Western terrain, keeps you engaged. The DJ is the focal point, a crossing point of the real and the digitally mapped.

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