I’ve been super-impressed with Cristopher Cichocki’s “Elemental Shift” DVD-R release for brand-new label Table of Contents, so much so that I did what I always do when I find an interesting artist– pick his brain with a bunch of questions! Lucky for us, Cichocki was more than willing to take a bit of time for STARTLING MONIKER, and provide some nice video links and photos as well. Be sure to tune in during my upcoming May 3rd broadcast, as I will be playing a portion of this disc– as well as making an important announcement about my broadcast for the 10th of May!
STARTLING MONIKER: Creating “Elemental Shift” took you over two years to accomplish. It’s beyond doubt that the editing alone was a grueling task– what was it connecting you to “Elemental Shift” that kept you going?
CRISTOPHER CICHOCKI: Well, it was really a question of when do I stop. Walking away is the hard part for me. I’ve gone through countless incarnations experimenting with my material, and the work continues to flux and re-fragment within my sets that I project in live venues and public spaces. Just like a band plays their set and has room for improvisation on each song from night to night, I re-edit my work each time I project it at a venue. It keeps it fresh and exciting for me, and also makes it much more than just showing my video again and again. Like an organism that can extend and embody itself into morphing hybrid forms, the material from Elemental Shift continues to evolve.
SM: I’ve read that you call your work “video composition,” which seems to imply a more musical approach to directing. Can you explain why you’re using this new term to describe “Elemental Shift”?
CC: The root of the project started from making audio tracks with field recordings that I’d manipulate and layer upon. I thought of releasing these early tracks in a straightforward fashion until I began to capture video and photos in the mix of my field recording journeys. Being influenced by Earthwork artists I’ve always liked the idea of extrapolating various audio and visual content from a specific site and then reintroducing those forms building a new cohesive entity. I call my work “video composition” because there is a symbiotic relationship of visual and audio being constructed in the process. The audio informs the visual on equivocal grounds, and both are composed in a see-sawing, back-forth method of experimental fragmentation. I build it up, I tear it down, again, and again.
SM: Noise art is often a music of limits; the limit of our willingness to listen to it, the limit of performers’ ability to push forward, and even the limits of pain have all been explored. I’m curious about your limits. What limits is “Elemental Shift” testing? What limited you in its creation? If you’re pursuing this direction in the future, what limitation do you hope to overcome the most?
CC: Well, I have many labor intensive ideas for video installations that are interactive with my painting, photography, and sculpture. It’s really just a matter of budget and context until I can manifest these works. As far as other ideas of limitation, I think my work has a maximal element that many noise artists are invested in, but I’m equally interested in minimalism as well. I’m interested in the narrative of emotion that a roller coaster provides. You have a slow ride up to the top in anticipation, then switch into hyper full throttle on your way down. You repeat this over and over again, still interested in the next phase.
SM: For much of “Elemental Shift,” the visual pacing could really only be described as frenetic. However in the last section, a nearly static cityscape dominates the frame, with only a few small movements. Eventually, it is replaced with darkness while the music continues. What is your intent in this final portion of the work?
CC: Most of the first half hour in Elemental Shift blazes by with a fury of fast paced over-stimuli. The minimalist ending with the LA nightscape is an opportunity for people to come out of that hypnotic overload and take a breather within a vast environment of fresh smog.
SM: What musicians and filmmakers are you excited about right now?
CC: I definitely think there’s a huge list of artists doing really exciting things right now. Some of which are listed here…
SM: What do you have coming up? Will “Elemental Shift” be showing at film festivals?
CC: I should submit to film festivals, but haven’t given it much thought to be honest. I’m currently working intensively on my side project with Ryan Seymour called State Rec (State Recreation) which is a site/ non-site noise video project that incorporates live footage of us performing at the Salton Sea and other abandoned desert areas not too far from where I live. I just finished up a music video for Foot Village, a band I toured with to SXSW.