Marc Fischer is a Chicago-based artist. He administrates Public Collectors. In 2014, Public Collectors presented a project on the life and work of the late documentarian and activist Malachi Ritscher for the Whitney Biennial. Fischer's most recent project with Public Collectors is Hardcore Architecture which explores the relationship between the architecture of living spaces and the history of underground American hardcore bands in the 1980s. Along with Brett Bloom, Fischer is also a member of Temporary Services. Since 1998 the group has produced 115 publications and organized and participated in dozens of exhibitions, projects, and events. Fischer and Bloom of Temporary Services also run the publishing imprint and webstore Half Letter Press.
I have been enjoying an exploratory summer. I have been spending quite a bit of time in Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center, letting this huge public collection guide me toward some research topics I could not have anticipated six months ago. I took on some writing assignments that were a little unconventional, I’ve been digging around in flea markets as usual, I’ve been protesting the murderous police, and I’ve been doing quite a bit of gardening. When I accepted this curatorial request from Ellen Nielsen for Video! Video!, I knew it was the kind of thing that I would either complete in three hours or thirty hours. I’ve definitely watched dozens of videos that I would not have otherwise encountered, but I tried to choose quickly, write quickly, and gather some things that were new to me. The title “Voyages of Discovery” is derived from the name of a book on the films of Frederick Wiseman. I’ll get to him toward the end.
ASMR Close Whisper Record Collection/Haul
I recently learned about ASMR videos and I’m still unsure how to comprehend this phenomena or what I’m supposed to feel when I watch and listen to them. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The Urban Dictionary defines this as: “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scalp, and often moves down the spine and through the limbs. Also known as: AIHO (Attention induced head orgasm), AIE (Attention induced euphoria), or simply "head orgasms"/"head tingles".” A quick search for ASMR on Youtube yields over four and a half million results. Some features of ASMR videos are speaking, gesturing, and completing tasks, quietly, gently, and with every sound greatly amplified. Some of these videos are highly sensual. Others are mostly annoying. Listening with headphones is encouraged. There are ASMR videos for everything from women chewing food to people assembling balsa wood airplane toys. I like loud things. These videos test me. The videos are commonly very slow. I’ve chosen the video that first introduced me to ASMR. Here, TinglebelleASMR gently glides her manicured fingers over records by Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar, Elvis and more, while detailing some historical facts about each album. While this is hardly the longest ASMR video example, at nearly thirty minutes, it isn’t exactly short. Unsurprisingly, there are many ASMR parody videos, including whispered Photoshop tutorials.
Digging Out an Old Trash Pit !
Nuggetnoggin is one of many metal detector enthusiasts with a channel on Youtube. While the prospect of watching someone digging in the dirt in a rural area may not seem promising, this young man’s enthusiasm and curiosity are contagious and the things he finds are a lot more intriguing than the bits of broken plastic that I keep uncovering in my yard when I rip out sod that I wish to replace with plants. I also save the things I find, but they tend to be objects like the plastic leg from a He-Man doll, or a marble if I’m lucky, not old silverware or antique toy guns. I’ve watched a few of Nuggetnoggin’s videos so far and he seems far more focused on discovery, identification, and history than the monetary value of the items he uncovers. Refreshing.
How Ink is Made
Almost two years ago, Temporary Services—a group I’m a member of along with Brett Bloom—acquired a RISOGRAPH duplicator and we have used it to produce many new booklets and posters. It has changed our publishing practice in dramatic ways and it has also led me to watch many videos showing of how various kinds of equipment work, how to fix printers, how to maintain paper cutting machines, and more. This video shows how printing ink is made. This is not the same kind of soy-based ink that our machine uses, but I still found the process extremely satisfying to watch.
I love Frederick Wiseman and his extraordinarily generous films. He has called them “reality fictions” but they tend to be regarded as documentaries. I recently saw that Wiseman will be the subject of a four year long, complete retrospective in Los Angeles at The Cinefactory, which almost makes me want to move out to L.A. to attend every screening.
This is a clip from his 1987 film Blind, filmed at a school for the blind in Alabama. In typical Wiseman fashion, this requires some patience, but it’s the scene that has really stuck with me since I first saw Blind a number of years ago. Here a teacher helps a child learn how to navigate objects and space using a cane and their hands. Watching this absolutely generates feelings of empathy. It sensitized me to so many fine details that, as a sighted person, are easy to take for granted.
Keiji Haino / Cameron Jamie – JO, 2009
This final voyage may involve more recovery than discovery but I was invited to submit my selections in July so it felt right to include. This audience video shows a screening of Cameron Jamie’s short film JO, with audio accompaniment by the Shamanic Japanese eardrum destroyer Keiji Haino. I’m guessing that Haino is performing live but out of the camera’s view, in the dark somewhere.
JO was shot at the annual Nathan’s competitive hot dog eating contest that is held every Independence Day at the corporation’s restaurant in Coney Island, New York City. I’m completely grossed out by hot dogs, competitive eating, and the 4th of July, but I do love Keiji Haino. I’ve been a fan ever since first seeing him perform in Chicago with his trio Fushitsusha back in 1996—a show that completely blew open whatever ideas I may have had about rock and roll’s limits. Haino’s music isn’t normally known for its sense of humor, which is what makes this crude piece of documentation all the more enjoyable. As competitive eaters stuff their faces with hot dogs (and unstuff them as the video plays in reverse), Haino lets out volcanic eruptions of screaming, gargling, and piercing cries—reconnecting the eaters with the violence of the massive American slaughter factories that produced the cheap encased food they are devouring. All you can eat, indeed.