Escapades in sound from DJ Spooky

Updated: 2011-10-14 11:45

By Rebecca Lo (China Daily)

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Paul Miller, better known as DJ Spooky, says he is excited to be back in Hong Kong.

Escapades in sound from DJ Spooky

DJ Spooky is a storyteller with experimental techniques. [Provided to China Daily]

"I love the way the city reflects the complexity of the post-colonial Asian scene," he gushes. "Hong Kong is a city at the crossroads of global commerce. I think the audience intuitively understands the idea of sampling and remixing stories using multimedia."

He should know. The Washington DC-born Renaissance man is a universally renowned storyteller who first created a splash in the mid-1990s with influential work on Illbient music - an experimental form of hip hop that fuses digital media and soundscapes. The DJ, VJ, composer, multimedia artist, writer, scholar and music professor has collaborated with diverse personalities including Yoko Ono, Kronos Quartet and Steve Reich, as well as Chinese musicians DJ Wordy, Min Xiaofen and Jing Zhou.

In 2004, he unveiled DJ Spooky: Rebirth of a Nation, commissioned by New York City's Lincoln Center Festival; after acclaimed performances, it was released as a film in 2009. The seminal work is DJ mix applied to cinema with D. W. Griffith's 1915 black and white film Birth of a Nation providing thought-provoking imagery for a multisensory experience.

Rebirth of a Nation has previously performed at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Athen's Acropolis and London's Tate Modern. The two shows in Hong Kong follow a DJ workshop, seminar and master class held in late September and early October.

"Film is a tool which is an extension of economic and political processes," says DJ Spooky. "Film speaks to all people. We respond to images in a different way than sound. With Rebirth of a Nation, I wanted to figure out some ways to get people thinking about DJ'ing images and figuring out the ways in which stories have evolved over the past 100 years. My motto for this project is director as DJ.

"Birth of a Nation was the first film to really tap the emotional logic behind how people perceive 'the other'. With the rise of 'black faces' and the minstrel show, we saw a century rise of the entertainment-military-industrial complex.

"I wanted to figure out a way to look at the film through the prism of conflict and perception: We live in an information economy and film is a kind of information. That means it can and should be changed. That's why I wanted to remix it."

He is encouraged by the avant-garde film scene coming out of Hong Kong and feels that China is the future and the past.

Escapades in sound from DJ Spooky

"I'm always checking out international styles - composers like Huang Ruo and Du Yun," he says.

"There's a lot of standardization these days and I'm fighting that. I try to figure out new ways of thinking about song, multimedia and art, and that means I'm always doing research. The best thing for me at the moment is my Antarctica project -that's my next film."