Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ellipse Elkshow

Ellipse Elkshow

Ellipse Elkshow is California's Todd Huber. He's one half of the online artists collective/record label, Buildings Building Themself (vs) Media Machine, and the author of the longest response to the SAR Q&A, to date!

It's more than just your basic ramble, within which he defines art, quotes Tolstoy and speaks openly and honestly about... well, a lot of things, really, including competition among artists, which is why I thought to mention that he has beat the record for longest response, by nearly 100%. Congrats EE!

He has four records as Ellipse Elkshow and one as Gitar (with I Cut People). Gitar has been performing live since 2007 and their album, "Stuffed" will soon be released on Seeland Records. He also records as The North American Boatshow, which he describes as the "schizo-phrenic sister project of Ellipse Elkshow," which has been around since about 2004.

Their web pages are as hair raising and frantic as so many of their albums, so prepare yourself. I found it was necessary to occasionally look away from the screen (or run the risk of some kind of media-hypnosis). Oh, and between the two of them, Ellipse Elkshow and I Cut People have NINE Myspace pages... Check them out HERE.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Ellipse Elkshow...

*Name: Ellipse Elkshow

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Consistently, I describe "this project" as LIFE. There are loads of other words used to describe it... More recently, we [Buildings Building ThemselfVS media machine - "artist collective"] have come closer to understanding what we are creating as a "NEWS" source. The actions seem equal to analyzing, interpreting, satirizing and reporting information, ideas, memes, events, occurrences and social and political propaganda.

*Do you use a pseudonym? When I’m alone... Ellipse Elkshow, The North American Boat Show, the forcemeat horse-show, Free Trade & The Oxymorons, Death Vomit, General Electricks, etc. When I’m not alone... Gitar, Marrow Smiths, Shampoodle, NATO, Tore Nato, Jimmy Dean & The SaUSAge collage, Mall Goths, Cops, Fools, Stupid, Roosters, UnderCover Hippies, the French-Djibouti Naval BASS, Koleslaw and The Elk, Blunder Spunt, Small Reverberating Thistles, Swam, Swum, and there was one show as Don Mattingly's 23 Versus DJ David Crosby and the Afex Twins.

*Members: One, and all... Ellipse Elkshow was given the name Todd Huber at birth... but I’ll bet there are lots of Todds and lots of Hubers, and even some other Todd Hubers out there, so that doesn't do you much good.

*Founding Members: My parents [sperm vs. egg] are the founding members of Ellipse Elkshow, or - at the very least - they set-up the situation. I Cut People and I are the founding members of the Buildings Building ThemselfVS media machine collective, and we also work together in the band, GITAR.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I’m sure you get a lot of "NONE of the Above" on this question. And just as many "All of the Above." So, uhm, my first thought was "cultural deconstructions," but probably not. No. Something like that, but I can't really understand why I would say it that way, unless I was just trying to fit as many words - out of the six words that the question provides - into the way I might "CLASSIFY mySELF/BAND's CREATIONS." It seems difficult for me to really focus on the tools or physical methods being used [digital, turntable, tape]. The focus, for me at least, is on the ideas that are exchanged through [any] media, the voices or the filters that ideas fall through and the culture or audience that these ideas apply to. So, I suppose the focus, for me, is on the message in the media... not "the medium is the message."

*Another genre descriptor: I think you're asking about another way I might describe what I’m doing... and, if the words people create for the media were about utter honesty, I would say "sure," and indulge the reader in the many wonders of proposing personal purposes for the perceptions of other people. And, yes, I would agree that most artists describe what they are doing, naturally, TO THEMSELVES, in all sorts of ways. But even if I do indulge, and describe the different descriptors as you ask, it will almost inevitably come off as negatively self-indulgent... unless I can use the culturally accepted formula for experimental artists to describe what they do... in a very brief way or within some disorganized dada abstraction. I think this name-game we all have a tendency to play [or purposefully avoid,] is just a raw and honest reaction to the GENUWINE [ride it, my pony] human condition... artists - and, really, all humans - are searching for meaning, trying to define why they do what they do, attempting to designate faith or packets of meaning [POINTS] to their feelings and actions. In flat boring terms, describing and classifying and naming the things we create is part of the game of manufacturing confidence... which I’m not saying is necessarily a BAD thing [though, arrogance can be]. Confidence may be an essential part of continuing and repeating any action, especially to the point of declaring that any specific human creation is ever "finished" or COMPLETE. What I'm trying to explain, put another way, is that Differentiating our WORK or declaring its sameness... classifying it... in itself, is irrelevant. But why we do it is a different beast, classifying is another way we humans place ourselves into the story of HISTORY. It gives us the feeling that our work and our lives could have everlasting life, and for some reason, I think we give the idea of [FOR]EVERlasting a whole lot of meaning in our society... regardless of the fact that the sun will eventually burn out. So, the paradox is that honesty isn't necessarily the point here. Not from your standpoint, the interviewer, but from the standpoint of cultural trends in the answering of questions. What people seem to want to see, in interviews, is not a well-thought out chunk of honest answers... Like a list of ways that an artist describes their work. Nope. People are used to wanting short, glib, unattached answers that show a little cleverness and a lot of disinterest. This isn't to say that short answers [or simplicity] are WRONG, but – from my experience - when someone elaborates, it instantly takes the appearance of "rambling" or "ranting" because visible self-consciousness is currently [culturally] unattractive. But this seems to be at odds with the (invisible?) feelings of self-importance that are a necessary part of all human decision making… So, anyway, the best move is probably for me to hide the fact that I have a constantly evolving set of words and ideas to describe the projects that I work to complete… and just let you choose the answer you like best from the choices below: A) Bob Ostertag: "I try not to classify myself" [S.A.R. July 2008]. B) The Bran Flakes: "Pop Music" [S.A.R. Feb 2006]. C) Steinski: "Digital deconstruction and nitroglycerine" [S.A.R. Aug 2007]. D) Girl Talk: "My music is pretty much pop music" [S.A.R. May 2006]. E) Wayne Butane: "I'm not that clever. It's just sound collage" [S.A.R. Sept 2008].

*Is there a story behind your name? Ellipse is from the Greek word (elleipsis) that means "falling short." It's also the locus of all points, the path of lines traced outward, in math. It is an idea that is used to describe things that are perfect and things that are imperfect. It can be defined as the perfect appearance of a circle seen straight on, yet it is commonly represented by a shape resembling a semi-flattened circle. All these things are common and boring from one perspective and all encompassing and profound from another. The Show is what you're watching, what you're listening to, What you're reading. This time, I choose ELK. Which is another name for another animal with other archetypical characteristics.

*Location: It can sometimes seem difficult to answer any question. Imagine, this time, that you were answering the simple question of where you/your band is "from," but you couldn't stop yourself from considering: A] Different possibilities for Jon Nelson's original intentions with the question [such as: where do I currently live, or within which borders did the given artistic project begin, city, state, nation or otherwise]. B] How long is the attention span of you, the unknown reader. C] What is the level of interest and meaning reader's might find in these words, or lack of them. D] A constant nagging feeling that nothing seems simple enough to just simply answer. E] All of the above. Now, with those in mind, the question is... "Where are you from?" Some choices, A] USA - the name given to a certain patch of the earth, grounded in 233 Gregorian years of genocide, slavery, nepotism, colonization, war, xenophobia, and bickering without much change. B] Louisville, KENTUCKY - the city and state names given to the place where I was born, though never lived at for more than a few months. C] California - the name of a large patch of land, as defined by mysteriously unviewable borders, where I currently sit. To make matters worse, the modern land known as California [USA] was cut and pasted from the nation called Mexico in the late 1840s. Before that it was claimed by Spain in the 1590s. Before that it was named [Nueva] California by a European on a boat in the 1530s, but was already populated by people that had different names for it. D] Something brief and ambitiously witty. For example...

*Original Location:
Vibrating air molecules.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I’d say that to live as a human, you're going to create something. So my creative background would be the whole bloody thing. But "This blog is about recycled media primarily in the form of sound, mister elkshow," someone is thinking to themselves… if they've read this far. Yes, I saw that, and I suppose that means my artistic background is either: A] Something GLIB/SHORT, SPECIFIC or CLEVER - or some combination of the three (for example: "Jonathan More: Teacher 3D design art graduate. Matt Black: Computer programmer, science graduate" [Coldcut; S.A.R. March 2008]). B] A (brief) personal story about the first time I can remember doing something that might be considered as having a relationship to recycled media. Oh, there are more... but the point is... there is a formula for answering these questions... but, there is no formula for answering the questions honestly, seriously and with any thought that this interview could provide the readers with information other than that which promotes the products/art-objects I have made. To even know where to begin, without choosing A or B from above, you must have an idea of what ART IS. But, Art can be defined as almost anything, usually given that it has something to do with human action or invention. There are those that claim a definition of Art - or a focus in Art - that means to exclude other definitions of art [such as: "Fine Art," "High Fashion," or "That's what I call MUSIC"]. But these titles or definitions do little more than acknowledge that different conceptualizations of the exact same thing exist and are just as popular [such as: "Folk Art," "(just) Clothes," and "this is SOUND art, not music”/”this is NOISE, not music”/“Hey kids, cut out that NOISE"]. Not that you're suppose to care, but a guy called TOLSTOY wrote (though not in English): "And it is on this capacity of [hu]man[s] to receive another [hu]man's expression of feeling and to experience those feelings [her]self, that the activity of art is based." If I believe what Tolstoy said, at all, then a person's artistic background can only be pinpointed by looking at a whole boatload of things: such as A] The Level of Empathy in the artist, or how much the artist lets the rest of existence influence his or her ART. B] How far back into history does the person look, and how close do they look... because, if art is based on the reception of other "human's expressions of feeling," as Tolstoy wrote, then it would follow that the more human expression you have observed, the more points you might choose from when deciding at which point does your artistic background begin. For those of you who might be bored with the words above, but are still reading on, just waiting for the point where I can answer a question "normally," simply, or "un-pretentiously," then, for you I have, here, honest answers that attempt to answer the question of ARTISTIC BACKGROUND, using the concept of what I think might be normally expected, here: A] The "sincere personal" approach: My artistic background probably started when my mother had the idea of giving my brother and I a pad of paper and a writing utensil everywhere we went, so we wouldn't fight with each other. B] The "dad was a jazz musician/I was forced to practice piano everyday" approach: I had three close relatives that played drums, but I was never around when they did. So there's that whole "nature vs. nurture" debate. C] The "try to stay focused" approach: Does anybody remember Christian Death [Rozz Williams-era]? I was in a Goth band in high school where we covered a bunch of s*** like Bauhaus and maybe 6 Christian Death songs. To tie this in to recontextualization, we, uhm, we artistically created a song that had a melody which was ripped off from an Alien Sex Fiend song. Later we found out that this particular Alien Sex Fiend song was a rip off or parody of a Johnny Cash song, which was a rip off of an old Gospel song. D] And then there's your "everyday western-culture slanted" approach: This is where I go on to tell you about the first time I did something with some sort of technology that allowed me to physically evoke the modern wonder of recontextualizing pre-recorded media sound bits... and even less socially productive, is where - when I'm finished with my story about when and where I first used previously copyrighted material to produce my own piece of artwork - I'll slap a date on this moment, and this date will be a call out for competition to other artists "in the field...” who did what, first, and how old were they when they thought of it...

*History: Creating. Work. Working. Usually, this means creating human toil, or in this case, art-related human toil. But, in its most physical sense, Work is generally defined as the transfer of energy. That's all I'm going to type for this one.

*Born: January, 1981

*Motivations: Physically, energy motivates. Mentally, thought motivates. Philosophically, meaning motivates. Emotionally, might be neuro transmitters, might be environmental training, but generally characterized by Gut reactions... So... I’ll try going with what GUT says: My motivation can possibly be described as... from my experience, when we're young, adults tell us that the world is motivated by love, honesty, empathy, sharing and fun. Generally speaking. And, when [and if] you become an "adult," you realize that love is impossible to globally define; fun is selfish and requires distracting oneself from all the suffering; empathy is too consuming for most people to bear - though the total lack of empathy is defined as AUTISM; and you might realize that honesty and sharing don't actually work for you, when it comes to the bottom-line purpose of our existence, at this historical moment… Work. Labor. Energy pushing. To make money. To spend money. To work, money. So, I’m motivated by the knowledge that most people tell lies or have deluded themselves into believing so many misused-truths that they are comfortable with a brutally meaningless life that ignores the suffering of others and focuses mainly on selfish material gain.

*Philosophy: Currently, the philosophy behind and in front of my work is: Words… or, the idea that language has a working meaning… Words work for us, on us and with us. Other ways to break this down might look like this: *Propaganda works... Teaches... Especially when it is interesting, beautiful or hideously ugly. The Sabot... Shoe for stomping slave-masters crops. Existential ecology... Moveable webs. Social evolution... Things f***ing change. *A reinvention of religion... Burning pictures of killing people for ghosts. *A re-telling of history... Hierarchy for kids. *The commodity to kill commodities... Capitalism toilet-bowl-cleaner *A reprocessing of broken ideas... First rule: some assembly required. *Finding cures to sick culture... Some goals: Culturally defining terrorism, competition, faith, law, class and war.

*How would you like to be remembered:
I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.

I believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs;
And I believe that seeds grow into sprouts.

And sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.

And in the wisdom of the eyes.

I believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.

I believe in life.

And I have seen the death parade

march through the torso of the earth,

sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight
and seen bloodthirsty maggots

prayed to and saluted.

I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind

in one easy lesson.
I have walked on cut grass.
I have eaten crow and blunder bread

and breathed the stench of indifference.

I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.

Gagged by the greedy.
And, if I know anything at all,

it's that a wall is just a wall

and nothing more at all.

It can be broken down.

I believe in living.

I believe in birth.

I believe in the sweat of love

and in the fire of truth.

And I believe that a lost ship,

steered by tired, seasick sailors,

can still be guided home to port.

(By Assata Shakur)

*Web address:


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