Natasha Spencer is a visual artist from Chicago, Illinois. She has a BFA in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and has worked as an installation artist, using nature as her canvas. She experimented briefly with sound collage, during her time at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the results of which appeared on Illegal Art's 1999 release, "Extracted Celluloid." The film from which she appropriated her sounds (all of the artists on the release were asked to use samples from films alone) was the 1939 classic, "The Wizard of Oz."
Often regarded as one of the standouts on the release, I was thrilled when I got ahold of Spencer online and was able to obtain the full version of the track. A shorter edit of the track had been used on the compilation. I was able to play the full version and another track she'd created, using the same source material, in Episode 72.
She and her husband run an art installation service in Chicago, and you can see some of her artwork at the website for their business. Check it out HERE.
Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Natasha Spencer...
*Name: Natasha Spencer
*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: No
*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Digital Deconstructions
*Location: Chicago, IL
*Original Location: Cleveland, OH
*What is your creative/artistic background: My background is in the visual arts. I received my BFA from The Cleveland Institute of Art in Painting/Drawing (1994). My introduction to sound came during my master’s degree in Time Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1998). The persistence of Lauren Weinger, the chair of our department, was really the only reason I ever step foot into a sound suite. To be quite honest, I was quite intimidated by the idea and had no real sense of what to do or where to begin. At the time my thinking had been focused on “ritual in popular culture” and how “things” acquire icon status. My first memory of this growing up in the 70’s was the annual television broadcast of The Wizard of Oz; so, I started there. The first three minutes came together my very first night in the sound studio. It surprised even me and I “ran with it”.
*History: I always had a creative bent but didn’t get serious about it until I was 17 years old.
*Born: Cleveland, OH
*Motivations: “The House She Flew In On” is a contemporary parody on the American film classic, The Wizard of OZ . Through the utilization of digital soundtrack technology, lines from the original film where isolated, cut and edited, freeing them from their placement in the original narrative construct, allowing for the emergence of an alternative story line. Characters voices sound familiar, but their relationship to one another is seriously altered, challenging the images we hold of them in our memories. Ambient sounds were later recorded and layered in, amplifying “the action,” contributing to the radio play format. Not having completely dissected all I needed to with The Wizard, I focused my thinking on Judy Garland’s solo “Over the Rainbow.” Although I started by manipulating sound, the end product is a compilation of both sound and image. I was fortunate to take up residency at The Wexner Center in Columbus, OH, where I completed the video. The House She Flew In On: The Video uses the framework of the film The Wizard of Oz to explore both the predictability and the discrepancy that exists between sound and image in a film narrative. With the aid of digital technology, dialogue from the original film was isolated, cut, and edited, freeing it from its placement in the narrative construct, allowing for the emergence of an alternative story line. The corresponding visual imagery was then synced accordingly. What we see becomes a direct result of what we hear, producing a relationship where two different actions compete for the same sound simultaneously. And with that my exploration of OZ was over, thankfully. I haven’t delved into sound or video since, but have returned to working as a visual artist.
*Philosophy: When I look back at the history of my work, the common thread running through it is an investigation into what we see or experience on a daily basis. I feel a close affinity with and great distance from the scientific process; while the artistic and scientific need and method of investigating a problem can be quite similar, art is dependent on culture while science is independent of it. Perhaps in another life, I’d prefer to explore the left side of my brain!
*How would you like to be remembered: At this point in my life, I’d like to be remembered for having a sense of humor. God knows how easy it is to take life very seriously, especially when there are so many serious issues to be confronted. If I’ve learned anything from my relationship with the creative process, it’s that playfulness can lead to answers the conscious mind can’t grasp.
*Web address: Some artwork is represented here, however the site is primarily for the art installation and collection design business my husband and I run: www.theartofinstallation.com