American visual artist, Vice Cooler, the virtuous DJ, musician, director and photographer, showcases his talents with artistry that transcends the norm, taking the Diana F+ Glow in the Dark for a spin. Check out his interview and gallery after the jump!
After using the Diana F+ Glow in the Dark for a while now, what five words best describe this camera?
Mine glows in the dark.
Since becoming an Amigo, you’ve attended and DJ’d some of the Lomography Gallery Store LA parties, what do you like best about Lomography?
I’ve been using medium format cameras along with some of Lomography’s small run of disposable cameras for years before any of this came about. I was already a fan of the company when my manager approached me about working on the lomo amigo project, which I didn’t even have to think twice before saying yes. I hold a lot of respect for companies that pay attention, and help out, artists that exist outside of the hype syphon.
The LA office needed a last minute DJ for their anniversary party so they asked me to fill in. It turns out that Matt Sharp (of Weezer and the Rentals) showed up. One of my biggest influences artistically, musically, and visually has been him. He really helped shape those bands, and culture, into a much better landscape. My respect for Matt Sharp runs deep. That has just been one of the highlights.
The last time I DJ’d they did an installation on projectors with my photos. That was cool too. It’s subtle but interesting to think about the fact that a lot of those songs I was playing were also playing the background, in my head or in the room, of some of those same photos. Honestly Lomography asking me to DJ has been an honor. I hope the opportunity comes again, in LA or elsewhere.
Have you always loved analogue photography or did it grow on you after you started directing music videos, performing and traveling the world?
I have always loved it. When I was a child, before the age of digital, I started using film as a means to document. My dad also has an intense OCD problem. He always carried multiple cameras with him and aimlessly take thousands of pictures… but that doesn’t mean that they ever looked good! He would use the cheapest, shittiest cameras bought (and developed!) from Wal Mart. I think it was around $2 per roll for print! The quality was THAT shitty!
Where I’m getting at is that there were always (cheap) camera’s around the house. A lot later on my brother got a better camera- the canon rebel- and started taking all these intense, slow shutter speed photos. That was the first time I saw a camera with a lens. I thought a lot about those photos in high school- their look- and the possibilities of what I could make using the light to paint a photo. That is when I started seeing it as an art form more than a means to document.
Later I switched back over to documenting. This was because of traveling so much and I couldn’t remember most of what I saw. At one point of their first southern tour Black Dice was staying with me at my mom’s house, when I still lived with her in Alabama. Hisham Bharoocha took probably a hundred photos over those few days. Before then I had never seen anyone, especially a musician, pay so much attention to what was happening around them. After that one of my bands, XBXRX, went on tour and in Portland stayed with Get Hustle. Their drummer, Maxmillion (Avalon), spent the whole night showing me all of his tour photos. They were incredible. I was mesmerized. From that moment forward I brought a camera with me everywhere I went. I also hold the photography responsible for helping me break the amount of shyness that I had. It takes a muscle to pop into someone’s space to snap a photo.
What one person (living or deceased) would you give a roll of film and camera to for 24 hours and why?
I would love to say Kurt Cobain. Especially if it was one of the days he was in Canon Falls recording In Utero. It’s one of my favorite albums and there is so much mystery behind it. But honestly giving it to someone like Otzi the Iceman or even Ardi (oldest human skeleton found in Ethiopia) would be the home run, assuming that this would be them taking photos during their living period. Can you even imagine what they would take photos of?
If you had a big bag of film, a plane ticket and a Diana F+ Glow in the Dark camera, where would you go, what would you shoot and why?
I would probably fly somewhere like Alert, Nunavut, Canada, which is 500 or so miles from the north pole, or to the Marshall Islands, located in the middle of the pacific. Just because they are so isolated and expensive to fly to. While the weather in both are quite different, I would hope the photos could capture how isolated those places are from the rest of the world.
What’s behind the story the name, Vice Cooler? Is it your alter ego, performance name or something much more?
It’s really my legal name. I don’t really believe in alter ego’s for myself.
What have you learned from shooting analogue that you plan to incorporate into your directing and vice versa?
Honestly, me doing video work was a result of getting into photography. I had never intended on becoming a director, and still laugh when people refer to me as one. I write treatments that are frame based. The easiest way for me to explain treatments to the bands is that it will look like a really pretty photo. I never attended college or have done anything beyond Youtube tutorials, so I still don’t really know what I am doing. I guess its proof that with art the idea will always outweigh the knowledge. You can’t go to school for good ideas. They are either there or they aren’t. Though being aware of how things work never hurts!
You’ve got quite the variety of images. Where have your travels taken you lately and what have you been up to?
Believe it or not, I traveled more until recently. In 2011, I have only been to a few places- but good ones- like Turkey, Britain, Scotland, Netherlands, and Germany.
Since I moved to Los Angeles (A year an half ago) I have been trying to focus on stuff that I can do locally. My current projects are finishing my first solo record, the new XBXRX LP, and writing for kit. I just put out a benefit LP compilation with unreleased tracks from Deerhoof, Dan Deacon, No Age, The Gossip, Xiu Xiu, and more (can be purchased here ).
Myself and Mira Aroyo (from Ladytron) are also working on a photobook of our photos. They will be laid out as call and response, throughout six books, with twelve photos (6 for each of us). A song, written the same way, will come with each book. This might evolve into a live performance with us doing projection, but its too early to tell. We also just directed a video together. It was filmed at the sound mirrors from WWI off of the English Channel.
For film I am starting production this summer on “Charisma Void”, a movie with myself and Peaches. Also in the works is a show for Iheartcomix starring Juiceboxxx and an Alaska documentary.
My next photo book gets printed next month. If you want to know how to get it follow me on twitter
What words of advice can you give other Lomographers?
Only get into something if your heart is in it. The most positive thing for a human to do is to be spending their time working on projects that they love.
What else is boiling in the pot that you want to mention?
Me and Dean Spunt wanna do a vegan restaurant.
Check out the rest of his gallery!