Update: comments are now closed. Once you experience a work of art that invites you to rev a magical lawnmower or honk a vibrating VW Bug's horn, you may start wishing all art had at least a few buttons to press. So who thinks up these sensory overloads? Multimedia artists from collectives like Fall On Your Sword do – and five of them are here to answer your questions about creating works of multimedia art from an apocalyptic piano to a Pringles pipe organ.
Multimedia Art: A (Very) Brief History
Multimedia art combines visual art with elements like sound, video, and interactivity. While the concepts that drive multimedia art can be traced back to 19th-century composer Richard Wagner's theory, Gesamtkunstwerk or "total artwork," the movement is most commonly associated with the 1960s: a decade that compelled artists like Allan Kaprow to create works like Yard, which summoned viewers to frolic in a yard full of rubber tires while an audio loop commanded them to "rearrange" them.
The term "multimedia" is credited to musician and entrepreneur Bob Goldstein, who used it in 1966 to promote his installation, LightWorks at L'Oursin: a visual jukebox experienced through curtains of light under spheres of mirrors. Many believe that Goldstein was inspired by British artist Dick Higgins, who introduced the term "intermedia" in 1964.
The first multimedia art collective, Fluxus, emerged in the late '60s. It named Dadaism among its influences, and members like Yoko Ono created "event scores": performances that included sound art, visual expression, poetry, and video. Today, collectives like Fall On Your Sword are following their example with art that cofounder Will Bates says, "is about throwing some kind of visual element out of context using sound."
The Birth of Fall On Your Sword
Will Bates, a former teen jazz musician, electronic music producer, and indie rock band frontman, started the band Fall on Your Sword and earned Internet glory after their video "Shatner of the Mount" (featuring, appropriately enough, William Shatner on a mountain) in 2009. These days, the FOYS team — which has grown to include producer Lucy Alper, audio post mixer Ryan Price, and often collaborates with audio engineer Ken Heitmueller and artist Sarah Bereza on installations — is scoring Sundance Film Festival movies like Another Earth and Lola Versus and constructing interactive art installations like a replica drive-in make-out palace and a working pipe organ out of Pringles cans – with matching chandelier.
Will, Ryan, Lucy, Ken and Sarah are in the comments to talk about viral videos, film scores, apocalyptic pianos, and Pringles chandeliers. They may even help you come up with an idea for a Pringles masterpiece that could get you a chance for you and a friend to attend the fourth annual Gawker Media Silent Disco event in New York City where FOYS's Pringles masterpieces will be on display (entry guidelines below).
So jump in the comments and ask them something!
To enter the Pringles as Art contest, send photos and/or a written account of your creative Pringles can or crisp creations to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Pringles as Art Contest" as the subject line. You'll have a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip with a friend to the Silent Disco, presented by Pringles. Standard contest rules apply. Submissions will be reviewed by Studio@Gawker, and a winner will be selected based on their creativity, innovation, and sense of fun.