(Now-)Ghostly artist Com Truise, based in Princeton, NJ, has become a hot item musically in the last few months, manufacturing a regular Komputer Cast podcast and a celebrated release entitled Cyanide Sisters. His music, “slow-motion funk” renderings of lo-fidelity synths, seems to have hit a nerve.

But he deserves special mention here for the eyeball-massaging, deliciously dreamy “FairLight” music video, which perfectly captures the world he inhabits, somewhere between a digital past and the future that never quite came to pass.

It’s the work of 10lb Pictures, aka Will Joines & Sowjanya Kudva, a fairly unknown house out of Brooklyn.

I’m normally a little wary these days of 80s nostalgia – folks in my generation are just about to cross the line where we’re old enough that this ceases to be ironic nostalgia, and we’re just, um, actually beginning to get old and out of touch.

But pay no mind – this is actually pretty damned brilliant. It’s the future that wasn’t, or as Yogi Berra put it better, the future ain’t what it used to be. There’s pitch-perfect VHS glitch! Lasers shoot out of space! It’s a universe filled with perfectly-designed consumer gear, minimal enough to make Dieter Rams glow! It’s the digital universe of Tron! Sony electronics even work! Looking at it, you realize that some visual stylings of the era, far from dating, actually look more contemporary. That’s the same hope I have for the synth sounds themselves – that maybe the advantage of history and distance will be perspective, a sense of lasting value that tech didn’t have in the disposable 80s boom.

Anyway, bonus points for how much you can spot. (I’m embarrassed to be able to recognize the bits in the VHS-distorted tag.

I looked for more work of the same caliber from 10lb, but I think maybe they haven’t made it yet, but will. Instead, here’s a more run-of-the-mill video for electronic songstress Sally Shapiro. I love living in New York. But sure, sometimes I dream of taking the love of my life up on Metro North to a field somewhere upstate where we can gaze into the void while wearing expensive headphones. So, yeah, this video hit me perhaps too close to home. (Now, if Brian Crabtree would just show up in that field, bearing an Arc for me, I’d know I was dreaming…)

Com Truise on ISO50, guest music post

  • Would love to know how much of the "Fairlight" content is appropriated and how much is original – it looks like several laserdisc promo's edited together with a bit of kaleidoscopic effects for good measure. In any event, it's certainly a nice result. I'd love it if CDM included more Q&A with content creators.

  • Juno

    Don't take this too harshly…
    80's nostalgia? Most of this is 90's clips cut together. I'm sorry but when I recognized an old intro from the Channel Nine news in Sydney (the voice of conservative politics) I thought 'meh' and stopped it. No understanding of what's being used. None at all.

    There's a huge difference between yearning for something just out of reach and wallowing in the half arsed. A lot of 80's-90's video art is half arsed 'new media', but you forgive it because behind it you feel the yearning to do great things tempered by what was available. It's not the work itself it's the dreams of the people who are spending 9 hours per frame to make it -almost- good. So cutting together a whole bunch of this is facile – it doesn't touch the heart.

    As an old old trouper (I used to capture still video images with a Digi-View with the red green and blue coloured plastic wheel) I am going to applaud passionate young art that bends the rules now. This retro stuff is 'safe' – very very 'safe' and doesn't understand that we made crap back then so you could make much better crap now!

    If you want to appropriate this material, at least have the slightest clue what you're cutting and pasting.

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, yes, I'd actually rather like to see people draw on this idea and build stuff that's original. So I don't necessarily disagree, Juno, though I still take it as a challenge to make this sort of stuff. You'll definitely be doing it yourself, though, as I can't imagine any music artist being able to pay someone to generate this kind of work. But hopefully for someone out there it'll be a labor of love…

    I don't post stuff with the assumption that it's above criticism. (Especially easy for me to take, as it's not my work! But, heck, even if it is my work, I welcome criticism…)

  • Juno

    For all the work that went into it – it remains the video equivalent of Engrish. The lettering is all laid out neatly but if you can read it you're asking 'what the hell does that mean?'
    T Shirts in Japan that have meaningless English wording stem from exactly the same basis – it looks cool.

    A greater and more worthwhile challenge is to interpret the spirit of the work and represent it in the current forms. Modernism is a state of mind rather than an era.

  • mo

    i like it. it's mostly good because the stuff it's cut together from is great. but also because it works with the music and retro 80's/90's is somehow incredibly appealing especially when you've grown up in those days.

    i'd like to see new original stuff – think real time audio-reactive graphics – to be made using that style complete with VHS glitch and washed out blurry glow. 

  • Greg

    @ everyone calling this crap and Peter lamenting 80s and 90s digital art leaving the realm of irony.
    I don't see why this has to do more than inspire nostalgia, nor do I see why it matters if collage content passes from irony to genuine nostalgia.
    An artist is appropriating old images and themes that mattered to someone in the past to make something that further means something to a lot of people. Are you really criticizing that?

  • I think it works really well, so it's just collage? hey that's still ok they've really captured the feel of com truise's music even if they used 90s stuff or new bits or old bits; it works. being stuck myself, dj-wise, somewhere between soundtracks, chiptunes and post dubstep, com truise hits me in exactly the right spot. the komputer casts get it spot on. has anyone noticed all the tunes on 'cyanide sisters' fall between 80-89bpm? 😉