Jim Allenspach began cutting tape in Peoria, Illinois, while studying at Bradley University and volunteering at WRBU. He currently lives in Chicago, where he is gainfully employed, perhaps as a web designer (considering all of the websites he has a hand in), but we can't be sure about that. One of the (many) websites which he created, and/or administrates, includes the Mother, Jugs & Speed fan site - a newsgroup parody about the (relatively) obscure 1976 Bill Cosby film. Another of his websites is Legnog, but the main site, if I had to point to just one, is his personal blog, empty-handed.com which often proves to amuse more than just the author, himself. A major feat for any blog!
Allenspach is the creator of quite a few sound collage tracks, many of which are of a genre of his own creation... Dictionaraoke is a style of cut and paste wherein the sound artist recreates, (or covers), usually well known songs from popular culture, word for word, utilizing one or more of a handful of online dictionaries which offer pronunciation guides as audio files. Hundreds and hundreds of examples by dozens of artists are available online by now and Dictionaraoke has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and On the Media, not to mention The Wire, Wired and Spin Magazine. Why, we've even played some examples on Some Assembly Required! A CD was compiled in 2001 (the year which Allenspach refers to as "The heyday of Dictionaraoke"). It contains 100 songs in MP3 format, and I believe they are also available for download at the the Dictionaraoke website.
Be sure to check out his artist's page as well, for links to audio, video and other digital collage he's created. Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Jim Allenspach...
*Name: Jim Allenspach
*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Yes, I've used the name "jima" or "Jim A." in the past. The derivations of these names should be obvious.
*Do you use a pseudonym? See above.
*Members: There's just me! The computer doesn't count.
*Founding Members: Me me me! It's all about me!
*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: All of my current work is digital, but I did start out with traditional tape editing and manipulation at my college radio station (WRBU, Bradley University). We had a bunch of old cast-off studio equipment and it was always exciting to try and use the tape decks, reel-to-reels, and cart machines to try and craft something entertaining.
*Another genre descriptor: I like the term "audio collage" because it has a more artistic connotation. Plus, it also ties in with other collage artwork that I've done in the past.
*Location: I've been living in Chicago since 1995, and I consider that my home.
*Original Location: I've lived loads of different places in the continental US. My family mostly lives in central Illinois.
*What is your creative/artistic background: Not much in the way of formal training. I had only one art class in school, and no musical training until I was an adult. I do a lot more drawing and design work than a person of my modest talents should feasibly take on.
*History: I believe I started to create collages in 1997 or '98, when I got inspired by the artists on the Negativland mailing list, Snuggles, to try and work on my own creations. It's been a humbling experience to try and make unique audio art out of samples, especially when there are so many people currently doing outstanding work.
*Born: Late 1960s, central Illinois.
*Motivations: A lot of my motivation comes from the fact that it's just fun to put together different audio samples and create something new out of them. There's an astounding amount of media out there, and technology is allowing us to capture it, to catalog it, and to combine it in ways that were not possible just a few years ago. The possibility of making up something that could not have been heard or seen before is very tempting.
*Philosophy: I don't think too much about the philosophy in my stuff, apart from the obvious point that you can make new things out of old things. Sometimes there's an ironic point to be made, in the case of political sources, but most of the time the idea is to put two or more sources together and see what it sounds like.
*How would you like to be remembered: As long as possible.
*Web address: My main blog is www.empty-handed.com, but I'm trying to put up some kind of artwork site as www.manminusone.com. I was hoping to have something up by the time this interview was to be published, but circumstances have interfered with that plan, so I will just put up a token information page at the latter site for you to link to, in case anyone's interested in my other audio/video works.