NATE HARRISON - AUGUST 2005 - ENGLISH VERSION
CM>>>The first time I became interested in your work was on the website “Esthetics As A Second Language” (www.eslprojects.org). What’s the concept behind this project?
Nate>>> It´s a project that I do along with two friends of mine since nearly two years now. We started this project when we were at art school. It’s kind of a gallery, so we don’t do art on our own, we invite other artists to show their work. The concept behind the name “ESL” is kind of a play with the words. Here, in California, is a huge movement from Mexican people who live here and learn English as a second language. So we have a lot of programs here called “English as a Second Language - ESL”. So we took these three letters and took them for our project, which means something in the way like “Art as a second Language”. So the content of the website is changing when we invite an artist to our gallery.
CM>>> Is this project self-financed or do you have some sponsors?
Nate>>>It’s a free project financed by us.
CM>>> Ok, on your project website called NkHstudio (http://www.nkhstudio.com), you show eight videos. Did you produce these videos as part of your studies at the California Institute of Arts or is NKH a project apart from that?
Nate>>> No you are right. All these videos and documentations were made when I was at art school. But these projects are not just videos. For example the 303 video is just a video. But the Amen video is not a video. It’s documentation of the recording I’ve made.
CM>>> Why do you show your projects for free on the web?
Nate>>>Haha, basically I want to show my art. So maybe some galleries become interested in my work. But I also hope that the website will help me to get a job.
CM>>>So you are in search of a job?
Nate>>>Good question. I am still looking for a job.
CM>>> What kind of job?
Nate>>> I can do a lot of different things: websites; music; something in art. I am not sure. But it’s difficult to look for a job in the United States that isn’t commercial or too commercial.
CM>>>Your projects like the “Amen- or the 303 project” makes me guess that you are interested in electronic music?
Nate>>> You know, I grew up in Michigan which is near to Detroit. So I was influenced by Techno and all kind of electronic music. I started to listen to electronic music when I was thirteen. Please don’t laugh. It was Kraftwerk. Anyway I was always fascinated about the Detroit-Berlin connection which shows that music has no boundaries.
CM>>>But your documentataries like the “303” or “Can I get a Amen” also criticize or ask questions: Like the fact that people use midi controllers and a laptop to get the sound of a drumbox, or the fact that the Winstons never saw one Dollar for their Loop…
Nate>>>Well in general I am interested in the fact that a lot of music is produced with samples or electronically. So I was always curious to find the origin of the samples. I think that it is important that people understand how things are built and how things are put together. I don’t think that people realize that the music that they hear on a Coca Cola commercial or something comes from old samples from twenty years ago.
CM>>> Where did you get the film material for the 303 documentation? The film samples (laughing)?
Nate>>> I got the material from a few different sources. One thing is I went to the Roland headquarters here in the US. I talked to them and after a while I got some stuff from them. It also happened that the owner of Roland wrote a book a couple of years ago and so a lot of background information comes from that book. And I did a lot of internet research and listening to a lot of music (laughing) and talking a lot to people who own a 303…
CM>>> Do you own a 303?
Nate>>>I had to sell mine. I had one but I needed some money.
CM>>>So you are a musician or a DJ?
Nate>>> I used to, but not so much now. I stopped making music when I went to art school, because there wasn’t too much time left. About the DJ’ing, I used to, but I did with a laptop.
CM>>> One more time back to your videos: In the documentation one can read that you produced DVDs for your projects. So are the films on the internet a just a part of the whole film?
Nate>>> Yeah on the internet you just see a compressed film.
CM>>> Can I buy these DVDs?
Nate>>> Sometimes people ask me for the DVDs so when they send me 10 Dollars or Euro I send them the DVD. But I didn’t know that there is a market (laughing).
CM>>> What about the content of your documentation “Time Machine”?
Nate>>> “Time machine” was a structured work. I chopped off the film and made some picture loops. So I represented the movie as a collection of edits. It was kind of an exercise - a new way looking at that film.
CM>>> Do you need to do film rights clearing when you use this material?
Nate>>> Good question. I know a lot of artists who sample movies or commercials for their films and I really don’t know how they get permission to use this material. I am a small enough artist and I don’t earn money with my films so I think there’s no danger for me.
CM>>> Are you a curious person? Do you like to look behind things?
Nate>>> Definitely yes. A lot of my artistic thinking comes from looking at how the mass media constructs things. Thanks god that we have the internet so we can select besides the mainstream media.
CM>>> Do you think art can help people to ask more questions?
Nate>>> I hope so, I really hope so. People should ask more questions, more questions about the mass media, more questions about the content.
CM>>> Will this be the first time you visit Europe when you show your work in Stuttgart in December 2005?
Nate>>> I’ve gone to England and Scotland a few years ago, but I never was in Germany before.
CM>>> You have a good voice to represent things…
Nate>>> Haha, a lot of people told me that I should work on a radio station or something like this...
Interview Michael Mück
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