Thursday, 8 July 2010
Christian Oldham is an artist who exists on the internet as Megazord, a personal brand of meta like proportions. The design, music, tumblr and videos of this teenager from California all combine to create this incredibly of-the-now distorted visual aesthetic that has the same fascination with the unusual and plain as Joe Coleman and Nike7up, but with so much more of prolific output and psychedelic bent. We spoke to each over a e-mail providers instant messaging service, which was a lot less hassle free than Skype usually is.
So yeah Sacramento, you're 18?
I am going to college so right now on a vacation and I mean going to go to college. Just finished high school. Planning on studying business and art, media, and technology
No in Salem, OR at a school called Willamette Univ
Congrats, yeah okay that's enough, just for a bit of context to things
So what is 'Megazord'? Why the name?
It's strange because I was just asked this by a friend about an hour ago. And by definition a Megazord is some sort of mech in the Power Rangers universe that takes on a humanoid form and is created by several smaller mechs. All very child-like but then again Power Rangers was one of my favorite shows as a child As to why I chose it, I really can't remember, I think it was 2 or 3 years ago when I decided to use that alias, for a long time I was throwing names around but I think Megazord stuck because I had a strong connection to it and it was short and kind of had a strange feel to it Also not everyone knew what it was, it sounded kinda cool
I suppose it also ties with in how you operate, working with various mediums under the same alias
Yeah, for sure, It's nice to have all my media under one umbrella. And I thought having an alias would achieve that better than just using my name.
Do you feel like there is a certain aesthetic that you have to stick to with MZ?
No, definitely not, it could be anything and everything and that's what I love about it. No boundaries is such a freeing feeling and it's really hard for me to make something within a set of boundaries, I usually feel like it's not my best work and feels more forced.
(do the hyphens represent when you're finished? that would be really helpful)
(I was using that as a pause, I will use a . when I'm finished)
(wait I'm done).
With your music, there's a real feeling of sterility, not in a negative way, more focused on the beauty in the more placid, it also crops in your visual work, real simple shapes and patterns but used to good effect.
Yeah I mean, when it comes to music that's a whole other ballpark. Making the music is quite easy since most of it is one take but I usually plan things out in advance and then allow room for some improvisation here and there. Each song kind of rolls on with one idea and sticks to that, I sort of prefer long, repetitive pieces because repetition is something I'm really big on sonically speaking Also I wanted each "release" (if you could call them that) to be a sort of similar "zone" so to speak So from song to song there might be a recurring structure or sound that is used.
(wait hold on)
Where do ideas come from for you? I know you've had a few commissioned pieces (we'll touch on that later) but what inspires you to create?
That's a really tough question to answer due to the fact that I really don't know. The only "art" class I have ever taken was a beginning photography class I needed to take in order to graduate. But otherwise I've never really learned anything about art history or form or any of that. I think being a child of the internet I've always been influenced by technology but that can only account for so much. Having a Tumblr has definitely helped me out with ideas because I post what I'm looking for so in turn it's sort of like laying out what I have to work with and then using the images I post whenever I feel like they need to be included in something I make As to what inspires me to create, I've always been a fan of the arts whether it be music or visual or whatever and I've always felt like I've needed to give back to those mediums, and I think that's what really got me going creatively. The hope that I would please someones senses as someone else had pleased mine (as corny as that sounds).
No, I understand, funny that you brought up being a child of the internet, as I'm guessing it influences a lot of your life, it's strange that i can look back on your progression as an artist via flickr
Yeah I kind of love that idea though, It's like one of those baby diaries that shows all of your big moments
It's something that's only starting to become more prominent, with the dominance of facebook, to think that one day you might be able to look back at someones entire life on that site.
Oh yeah for sure, it's almost sickening, I've been slowly taking more and more information off of mine although I don't think I can entirely disconnect due to so many people who I have connections with only through that site.
Yeah that's the thing about facebook, and the internet in general. I mean can you ever see yourself 'disconnecting' as you put it?
Oh definitely not, although I've always had that dream of going to New Mexico or Texas and living in a cabin in the middle of the desert with no internet and all my gear, just creating weirdo stuff for a month or so, I'm not sure how feasible that is but I like to hope it happens one day.
The internet has definitely become more and more forgettable, sometimes I just roll through blogs and then forget what I saw within seconds. I think it's either that a lot of people are posting the same thing or that I am rejecting the net.
I was thinking the exact same thing, but I blamed my own poor memory rather than the internet, says a lot about our respective mindsets.
Age can only dismiss you of so much!
Haha, I'm 23! haven't got Alzheimer's
Yeah I mean you're still a part of the net
But I know, it's weird, you trawl through Flickr and it's easy to find so so much stuff that it all blends into the same and nothing stands out.
To be totally honest I don't like Flickr all that much! There isn't a huge sense of community and I feel like I never really get any comments on what I make. I always like to hear what people have to say about what I make. Because I'm really into introspection and although I might not want to change anything, I think it's always a good thing to recognize your flaws. But I guess I have to give my thanks to Flickr because that's the primary place where people can see what I make without all the text posts and random other things I put on my Tumblr.
Lets talk about some of your work, what was the process (thought and physical) behind the melted/furniture of the world series?
Well I like to go thrift store shopping a lot and I found a book simply called "Furniture of the World" that had all these really amazing photographs of furniture (from around the world of course) and I really wanted to scan them all just to have a permanent (relative term) picture of them. Deciding to melt them all was sort of just for fun, lots of the images had really great colors and shapes and in my mind that just screamed "Melt me".
(wait! change of wording)
(and in my mind the images just screamed "Melt me")
With your videos you shape a lot of found footage as well, do you create the videos in the same, the source material influencing you or did the music make you want to go out and find something to fit it? the same way*
Well, I think I'm really inspired by the music for the Stellar OM Source video it was pretty easy for me because I knew Christelle (Gualdi)'s music pretty well beforehand and I knew that it had a very feminine feel to all of it with the video I wanted it to be a complementing piece to the music, matching it thematically Same with the Oneohtrix Point Never videos I've been familiar with Daniel (Lopatin)'s music since 2008 so I've sort of seen his evolution and when I heard Returnal I was really amazed by how far he had transformed and what I heard was really inspiring Sometimes I look for material ahead of time but it sits in a folder for a while until I think it's the right time for it to be used, usually it will be something that pleases me visually and can reflect some sort of mood.
Yeah Lopatin's amazing, I'm really just enjoying his work with Games and some of his recent mixes such good taste, everything's executed so perfecetly
Oh yeah Daniel is a great tastemaker, he's really specific in everything he makes, very detail oriented, something needs to be 100% before it gets his seal of approval.
I'm surprised he got you to make a video (right?) just because he makes his own stuff quite a lot
I actually made the videos myself without any asking of Daniel, we've been in contact ever since he released "A Pact Between Strangers. And we are both fans of each others work at the time the video worked two ways it gave me some of the experience I lacked and also it provided a video for some of my favorite parts of Returnal. (oh wait) I thought that Returnal was a really powerful album and needed a visual counterpart that would reflect the sounds. (oh wait again) Daniel's own video work is very static and repetitive (not a bad thing at all and something I'm a fan of) but since I felt Returnal was by far his most complex and "far-out" album, I felt like the visuals needed to reflect that and morph alongside the song.
What do you think you'll be working on over the summer?
Right now I'm working with Daniel and Joel on a lot of stuff for Games, I'm also curating a section in a publication called The Report, which is put out by Chocolate Bobka a sort of gallery pre-se (per-se_). I also just finished a video for Zach Hill and I'm also working a lot with Adam Forkner of White Rainbow on miscellaneous artwork for multiple projects. (Adam Forkner *of White Rainbow and Rob Walmart)