Friday, October 16, 2009



Spacklequeen is Rhode Island's Dan Vena. He's one of many artists featured on the Illegal Art compilations which launched the label, in 1998 (they were Deconstructing Beck, 1999's Extracted Celluloid and Commercial Ad Hoc in 2000). He was the only artist to have tracks on all three releases, in fact, and was extremely hard to track down, so this feels like a good week for the Q&A...

Deconstructing Beck was hailed as a "brilliant exercise in guerrilla art-making" by Steven Shaviro, who eloquently summed up not only the CD, but the art of appropriation in general, in his article for ArtByte Magazine. I think I'm going to just cut and paste practically an entire paragraph from that article, in fact... I could dig out one of my own college papers on the subject, or summarize for the umpteenth time, but I think Shaviro puts it much, much more succinctly...

...We live in a world of ubiquitous images and soundbytes. The electronic media are to us what ‘nature’ was to earlier eras. It’s the background against which we live our lives, and from which we derive our references and meanings. In such a framework, the distinction between high art and popular culture becomes ever less viable. For any cultural work must come to terms, one way or another, with the mediascape that’s always Out There. That’s why appropriation is the major aesthetic form of the postmodern digital age. It’s everywhere, from rap records, to film and video, to installation art. Everyone now understands what Andy Warhol was perhaps the first to enunciate: that our lives have to do, not so much with fruits and flowers, or rivers and mountains, as with cans of Campbell soup, and images of Marilyn and Elvis...

Spacklequeen's Dan Vena is also a comic strip artist and illustrator. He's currently moved away from sound and is working primarily as a visual collage artist. He's also a self described luddite, which is refreshing in this world of high tech creativity. Although, it's not as surprising as you might think, anymore. The fact is, the technology has been getting more and more user friendly, to the point where you don't have to be an electrical engineer (or a rocket scientist) to make this kind of music and/or audio art, just a creative person with your own perspective.

Vena has gone out of his way to keep a very low profile, over the years. Perhaps this little feature will get the ball rolling in the other direction... Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Spacklequeen...

*Name: Spacklequeen

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: It's been shortened to "cklequ", to make myself even less accessible. An extra shot in the foot, if you will.

*Members: Dan Vena

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Just deconstruction. Not so digital these days, but everything involves taking apart someone else's work.

*Is there a story behind your name? When I was just starting to DJ I needed a name. Everyone had a catchy name. I was just spouting nonsense ideas one night, looking for something that said "I am in no way serious about this", and for some reason Spacklequeen stuck. I don't know where it came from. Maybe it had a deep hidden meaning back then. But I doubt it.

*Location: Currently stuck in a rut in Providence, RI.

*Original Location: Ridgefield, CT, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, Northampton, MA

*What is your creative/artistic background: I make it all up. I have no training aside from an art class in high school, and certainly no musical training. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Somebody had let a friend of mine know about this upcoming release of remixes of Beck's music thinking he would be interested and he passed the information on to me. I ended up sending a few different tracks. I don't know if I had even included my real name when I sent them. I never thought they would use it. I had no permanent address at the time, so had used my parent's address and phone number. Months later my mother got a phone call from somebody looking for Spacklequeen, which confused the hell out of her. After that I just signed up for the illegal art mailing list. Every time I heard of a new release, I'd send in a fistful of tracks. I know I never was able to send the format they wanted. Technology and I don't agree. Back then, the best I could do was cassettes. But for some reason they kept putting the tracks on the albums. Maybe it was because I sent so many…

As long as I can remember I've been trying to create in some form. I got into working with sound I guess around the time I was pretending to be a DJ in mid/upstate NY. That would be in the mid/late-nineties. At the same time I was doing some comic strips and illustration type drawing, and these days I work with visual collage. The music aspect was short lived, but never entirely abandoned. I never really seem to have the proper equipment for what I'm trying to do. Which may explain why that didn't last. I was working with nothing. Now I've moved on to simpler more readily available materials, like scrap lumber and a stack of old magazines. Even I can figure out how to make that work.

*Born: 1975, Connecticut

*Motivations/Philosophy: If I don't do something I will quite literally lose my mind. It's therapy. I have to do it.

*How would you like to be remembered: As a halfway decent human being.

*Web address:
Currently offline

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