Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and filmmaker Leah Singer at Tokyo’s Super Deluxe.
First, when did you two start working together?
: Around the time we first met, there were a lot of small clubs in New York and many people were trying improvisation. I was one of them, projecting my images along with the improvised performance. Sometime in 1989, I happened to work as a curator for the Handmade Musical Instrument Festival
at the Knitting Factory
in New York. There, I found Lee playing with images, and we became friends. Afterwards we decided to work together, and it has been going on since then.
What made you think of creating DRIFT?
: For our live performances Lee improvises along with my created images, and I can say that DRIFT
is a compilation of our 15-year long history. When we held our exhibition in NY in November last year we got an offer to produce this DVD.
Lee explains: “Different things come to the surface and drift away, then others come up… I think it is a sort of meditation. Each person has both a different vision and a background that gives him/her different feelings or ideas when coming across something…”
Would you tell us a little more about your special improvised performances?
: We only have a rough idea when we play. At each performance, we change the order of films, the content of the text, and the sound we make. In that way, we can always have fun with our discoveries. First we arrange the main element, such as images and sound, and then play around with them. We really enjoy seeing what comes out by accident.
Split screen to let the viewer make up his own connection about the images.
: Experimental music is part of the New Yorker music history, and we originally wanted to see what happens if we mix the experimental with other elements. For example, music overlapping on my poem… I mean, we wanted to create different kinds of layers, like layers of sound, layer of words, and music layers, of course…. for the audience to appreciate the same material in different ways. One might watch an image while another looks at the player, and the others might listen to the music…
“We only have a rough idea when we play. At each performance, we change the order of films, the content of the text, and the sound we make,” Lee says.
: Also, my old projector brings us fun accidents and sometimes produces unexpected effects. For once, we choose performance as a way of conveying our ideas to give the audience the freedom of catching the meaning by themselves. Neither we do story telling, nor do we play a movie with a story. It’s more abstract, like poetry or Haiku