WELCOME TO MY TALK SHOW
by Mark Baumer
Adara Meyers: How did you arrive at the sequence of shots and sounds for this piece?
Mark Baumer: I went to the grocery store before I began recording and bought grapes, figs, and dates. I ate these things while I sat on a wall. As I sat on the wall and I ate I thought about what I wanted to be in the video. The two ideas I came up with were: a “talk show” and a poem. I recorded the “talk show” first. Then I tried to write a poem off the top of my head while talking into the camera. When I finished I decided to combine the two things into one video. After I made the video I tried writing a poem using the video as text. Here’s the poem I wrote: welcome / to this / hole / i built / on the internet / it’s going / to be / a really good / hole / our first hole / was a wall / oh / cool / you won’t / believe / who / did a hole / i didn’t / even know / all corporate holes / are a promotion / of / the location / you won’t visit / after death / you’re useless / after / life / ends /
AM: The act of walking and Providence, RI, are recurring themes in your videos. Do you think of location as a character in its own right? What are some of your thoughts about filming yourself in (or with) this particular city with its particular objects, buildings, detritus?
MB: Whenever I visit a new place it feels very fresh. I like Providence a lot, but I have lived here almost seven years. Every place will get old after seven years. When I record videos in Providence I try to find things I haven’t noticed before even if it’s in places I have been hundreds of times. Making videos in Providence allows me to explore the surroundings that have grown boring.
AM: How does making video art inform your fiction writing (and vice versa)? What do you find and what have you found most surprising about these intersections?
MB: Recently, I’ve been making new videos daily. I guess this is commonly referred to as “vlogging.” I don’t really like the term “vlog.” It sounds dumb. Maybe I’m old. In the video I made for Sleeping Weazel I used the term “talk show.” I like the phrase “talk show” better than “vlog.” Anyway, my point is that I’m spending more time making videos these days than I am writing. When I do write I’m not actually writing anything new. I’m mostly going through all the piles of old writing I have and trying to figure out what to do with it. It feels very exciting. Making daily videos and editing old writing is a pretty good way to exist. Oh, I just remembered, I’m writing a book with my roommate. We already wrote one book. I’ve actually been collaborating on a few books with different people. I completely forgot. It’s fun. Writing can be so lonely. Making videos can be less lonely if you force yourself to go out into the world. Collaborating on books with other people has also helped with limiting the feeling of loneliness in writing.
AM: As an artist working in various disciplines, what do you make of the phrase “online presence”?
MB: I should probably have a child at this point in my life, but instead of making babies and raising them I guess I use social media and the internet too much. I really enjoy my online presence. It’s like having a pet that is housebroken and can be forgotten for long stretches of time. Everything I post online probably satisfies something. It’s very pleasing to walk around, have thoughts, pull out your phone, and immediately act on those thoughts. Sometimes it’s bizarre to have so much of my life out there. I think people who look at my online presence think I’m very insane. I guess a part of me is very insane, but it’s okay everyone has a little insanity in them. Most people maybe hide their insanity. Making content online definitely makes me feel very alive. It also makes me feel a little dead inside. I guess there’s a balance. How can one create the perfect online content so they feel equal amounts of being alive and dead inside?
AM: What are you working on now?
MB: Well, I’m writing a book with my roommate about a bowling ally. I’m writing another book with a friend about how we both don’t have any siblings. I’m writing a third book with another friend that is entirely nothing but classic memorable lines. I also was recently awarded a RISCA poetry fellowship. I’m thinking about doing a very large project for that, but I’m still planning for it. Then there’s all the unpublished manuscripts I’m slowly trying to figure out what to do with. Oh, and the internet. I’m doing internet. Please do that creepy normal thing where you follow / heart / like / add / subscribe / ask / vine / etc me.
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