Friday, January 29, 2010

TOM GREENWOOD: This Infinity Thing

Tom Greenwood was born in South Dakota which accounts for his largeness and blondness. He cut some teeth in Baltimore and upstate New York, did booking for underground clubs before it was cool to do so, and scooted out to Portland OR to settle for good and give his never-ending rotating-cast musical entity Jackie O Motherfucker a place to call home. He's been releasing handmade CDRs, serving residencies, and making exhibitions (including a solo show coming up in March at New York's Cue Foundation) since forever. Most recently, Jackie O Motherfucker's latest release Ballads of the Revolution is now available from Fire Records.

What do you do? What are you doing the most lately?
navigate, document, accumulate and edit. smoke a lot of cigarettes in between...
lately i'm editing... it's the fall, time to bring in the crops, see what's been collected this past year.

How long have you done these things? How have the things changed?
my whole life, at least since i can remember. maybe since 1970 when i was 4.
the territory i travel has gotten larger, the documents more precise, the accumulation- is getting smaller, as the editing gets more fluid... the transitions are smoother.

Why do you do these things? What's it like when you are unable to do these things?
i'm working on my line. something identifiable, to establish it's origin.
there are so many of us on the planet. i just want to work on something peaceful.
we're all very similar collections of cells, yet each of us has a different fingerprint.
it's worthwhile to me exploring this snowflake, infinity thing...

When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are?

i was on top of mt. leconte in the smokey mountains, maybe 1987. i had found this salamander under a rock, it was beautiful, black with very unique spots on it. i think they were orange. i took it with me to the other side of the mountain, and let it go.
later on i looked under the same rock, and there it was again. so, i took it to the other side of the mountain again, and let it go. later i looked under the rock again, and there it was... i did this all day, and it became horrifying. this infinite identity of individuals in space... i guess i was tripping.

How has your life changed to accommodate That Moment's effect on you?
well, that was a very enlightening journey. it was summertime, and i was on the loose, hitch-hiking around. i discovered many things, and the darkness of it all overwhelmed me i guess. when i returned home, i became more politically active, making a lot of audio and film documents of local demonstrations against US activities in central america. i eventually got arrested and jailed for these documents, and many of them were destroyed by the authorities. when i was released, i had to let in some pretty negative allies in order to cope. they stayed with me a long time, maybe 20 years or so... finally i was able to remove them, and i was left with a really beautiful and complex skeleton which was formed at that time.

How has your work affected your life in return?
my work is the ground i walk on... it's given me a way to structure reality, so that i can exist in it. when i was younger i saw no way that i could be a part of all of that i saw around me, and it was scary. so slowly and slowly, i started to accumulate. i worked guided by intuition, objects next to each other create a new entity, and by documenting and editing with intent, you can create narrative, and build your own story...

What do you think of the future?
i feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so many creatively evolved, enlightened, and intelligent beings, who are doing their best to better themselves and their communities. for this, i feel hopeful...
however, for greater society, for people who have depended on an imposed structure and placed faith in the actions of dominate social leaders, i am not so hopeful. i don't really know what's in store for them, but i know change is possible, if you want something different.

How does David Lee Roth affect your life?
david who?
all images courtesy Tom Greenwood

Michael Farley's PARTS & LABOR

I WILL DO YOGA FOR FRIES: Sam Garner & Amy Waller McArtscape, 2009

All images courtesy Marcin Balicki.