The technological musings of Dr. Strangeloop

BY SHARON JACOBS
Assistant Arts Editor
Published March 24, 2010

“Strange loop” is the technical term for an endlessly rising or falling sequence — like the M.C. Escher lithograph Drawing Hands, the rock-paper-scissors game or the novelty song “I’m My Own Grandpaw.” It’s also a focal point for the art — and stage name — of Dr. Strangeloop (real name David Wexler), a VJ who will be performing his experimental audiovisual work this evening as part of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

“2010: (or) How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Technological Singularity”


Friday at 6:45 p.m.
The Michigan Theater
Tickets from $7

“(My art) is some trans-cultural beast from the future that can’t be controlled,” Strangeloop wrote in an e-mail interview with the Daily. He cites diverse sources Terence McKenna, Aldous Huxley and Leigh J. McClosky as influences.

Friday marks the world premier of Strangeloop’s self-proclaimed “avant-garde sci-fi epic” called “2010: (or) How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Technological Singularity.” The piece, like Strangeloop himself, takes its titular cues from the work of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

“(2010) is about a dystopia present where an AI-God-Thing is imprisoned within its own Ego,” Strangeloop wrote. “It discovers a sort of transcendental media living within an archaic laptop, and begins to ingest it, facilitating a spiritual evolution for the AI. Pretty out-there stuff.”

Even more “out-there” is the fact that Strangeloop will be performing the piece live, so this specific production will have never been experienced before. Traditionally, VJs make moving visuals in real time to accompany music — sometimes their own compositions. In Strangeloop’s case, the creative processes for music and onscreen visuals are inseparable.

“I've always been cross-sensorial,” he wrote. “I make music which gives me visions, and I have visions which evoke music for me.”

But the music evoked isn't always his own: Following the 15-minute premiere of “2010,” Strangeloop will perform visuals alongside his Brainfeeder labelmate and experimental hip-hop/electronica musician Flying Lotus. Friends since their days at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, Strangeloop and Flying Lotus are hardly strangers to joint shows.

“People have frequently asked me after sets how we synched all the audio and the visuals, and when I tell them its real-time/improvisation, they don't believe it,” Strangeloop wrote of the frequent “telepathic link-ups” between him and Lotus.

Strangeloop admits his work is vastly different from traditional cinema — his preferred descriptor is “free.”

“Live visuals are kind of the wild-west of cinema, the rules are being written as it is happening,” he wrote. “I mean, what do you call it when you make a live-feed turn into a feedback loop of itself then fractal-ize into kaleidoscopic iterations? It made cinema fun again for me … sometimes it’s just an eruption of imagery and ideas.”

Despite working in a medium that's inescapably technological, Strangeloop explores patterns and feelings that are fundamental to humanity and the world around us. This paradox of using the complex to describe the simple feeds back into the concept of the strange loop. And while it can certainly be mindblowingly “out-there,” Strangeloop’s work is undoubtedly evocative and thought-provoking.

So what can we expect from Strangeloop’s performance Friday?

There’s no way to tell, but the artist can promise “some definite mind-fuxing.”