Interviewed by Lob
"harsh synchronization combining harsh and disturbing images together
with harsh and violent sounds..." Michael Contrares has been unleashing
his image based audio terror upon the public for the last 4 years or so..
with his project DEATH SQUAD and with his highly controversial
experimental TV series, FUCK TV. Upon recently returning from a semi-
successful European tour with Radiosonde, TerrorState, &
Chapter 23, (dubbed the "ANIHILATION TOUR" 1998), on the eve of
Death Squads 100th performance, I got to quickly ask Contrares a
few questions about his motivation and future directions..
L: Okay.. so you say this show you are gonna play tomorrow is your 100th
L: so out of 100 shows, what was the best so far? or rather out of 99
shows..what was the best time you have had so far?
M: The most rewarding show was probably this past summer, before we left
for Europe, at Scott's (Arford) wherehouse in San Francisco..to me it was
the best thing that I have ever done, period.
L: at Arford's wherehouse?
M: Yeah, it was the last show (before leaving) and let me tell you, let me
explain why ... I guess, like to me.. doing sound, and video, and vocals
have become really fucking boring.. it doesnt do anything for me... like
tonight I was just frustrated with technical problems.. and I am sick of
doing this.. and not just because there are so many shows that I am
doing.. it is more that i want to progress. I want to take it to another
level.. At the show we did at Scott's wherehouse..we stretched plastic
across the whole wherehouse from side to side and set up three cubicles..
on the far left was girl, in the middle was me, and on the right was a
police interogation...we had a camera on each end videotaping, and then a
video projector projecting it on the wall while Scott Arford was mixing
the video feeds.. It started out with this girl, she began be talking
about the state of the world, exsistance of the mind.. and then the sound
starts to come up.. and the camera on the left comes on.. and this
interview starts.. and I'm interviewing this girl about why she is a
junkie.. while the interview is going on..she shoots herself up, and then
she shoots me up...and it's being projected in green on the wall..the
sound comes down, the lights go out.. and it's dark.. on the right hand
side this kid gets thrown through a door and into this room..into a
chair, he is being interrogated for a murder...there was a liquor store
robbery and there was two guys, they dont have the gun.. one of the guys
got away..and they dont know if the shop owner or one of these guys
killed a little girl.. a little girl was killed.. so he's being
interrogated by a detective.. and they are mic'd.. and their audio is
slowly brought up.. over time the cop starts getting more violent with
the kid, and like he starts fucking hitting him.. on the left hand side a
strobe light comes on.. and the girl starts stripping.. the first song
one the first Portishead CD comes up together with her and the strobe
light.. and all of the audio is up.. the music, the interrogation.. the
cop throws the kid down to the floor and knocks out the power amp.. so
now it is completly quiet.. at that point, I turn on this white light
that is aimed at the audience..bright and white.. just shining out there
at them.. and I pick up this gun that I have.. I loaded so that the
audience could see that it was gun .. and then I aimed it at
the audience and fired once, and it jammed.. then I fired a second time..
and I had replaced the bullets with tissue paper and it actuall punched
two holes in the plastic..and then the lights went out.. and it was
silent.. and the audience just stood there in silence for like 10 minutes
in complete darkness.. and we all just sat there.. quiet.. and it was
simply amazing.. and then it was over.. and we were about to go to
europe.. and I was like.. "I dont wanna go".. I knew what I was gonna be
doing in europe.. and it was so far from what I wanted to do.. that it
just seemed really pointless, ..and the only reason that I really ended
up going was because Scott was going, and the only reason Scott was going
was beuase I had talked him into going...and if it wasnt for that I
wouldnt have gone to Europe at all. I realized at that show in SF, that
THAT was really the kinda thing I wanted to do...to force the audience to
interact, to fore the audiene to be part of the performance..they cant
just sit there passively...I want to bring them into the fold of
what's going on...I mean, the 10 minutes of silence after the show, in
darkness, was as much the performance as anything that happened on stage.
Becuase it was the audience's pure reaction as to what had happened..and
that is kinda more what i want to start doing more of..
L: wow.. so to get more audience reaction ??
M: Yeah, and not only this set up, or this particular idea.. but to come
up with other ideas .. other sets.. and to do them with actors, and
sound, and video, and pull the audience.. without even their consent,
into the performance.. Usually an audience is so distant.. they come to
a performance...they watch, they see, they applaude, and they leave. I
want to cause them to think on another level.. to create a situation, or
an environment that they just cant ignore...that they are forced into the
center of the performance.. and not to keep it like goofy or silly but a
serious content to force that deep introspection and that kind of
thought.. to begin thoughts in thier heads like, "Is this real?" or
"What's going on?", "How do I feel about it?", "What are my reactions to
what is going on?".. to make them really critically view themselves
within this piece that is going on around them.
L: wow man, that sounds really cool and intense.. i cant wait to see it..
to see you move past what you are doing now.. it sounds REALLY intense.
so, are you gonna be doing anymore TV?
M: Yeah we have been doing FUCK TV for over a year.. and we're gonna keep
doing it.. and we wanna get it programmed around the world. We're gonna
get filmakers and video artists the materials, and were gonna rotate the
tapes throughout Public Access stations in the US, and to different
foriegn countries.. and then create a web site that lists every single
station in the world that is carrying our TV show, and a list of the
artists that are on the tapes.. and the time of airing.. to create this
sorta netwerk and system inside a netwerk and a system that is allready
established. Total video subversion...and we'll get people and artists that
cant get thier work show anywhere else..and give them opportunity to have
thier stuff shown on TV, in many many differnt places..
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