Brandon Geurts spoke with Terence Hannum about the variables of afterimages, disconnecting mind and body, the nuances of appropriation and why genre can be a trap and a liberation.
Many amazing things have been created out of inappropriate use, and being creative has this strange cultural capital.
Your work — musical, artistic and otherwise — seems to be interested in the idea of an afterimage left by a product that lingers far beyond its initial time and purpose. The cassette works on panel show this in a more explicit and tactile way, but I think this is something that carries over throughout your work. Is this a fair statement?
Sure. It really is about a delay. It’s one of my favorite sounds, but also its variables, like decay and feedback, are interesting to me. So in my music, art, and writing, I focus a lot on the echo of what is left behind.
Do you believe the obsolescence of the material you use relates to our trend as a society towards overconsumption and overproduction?
It’s always interesting to think about appropriation and the ways we do it unconsciously. There are a lot of artists who appropriate cultural artifacts as a means of critiquing the value systems that culture holds, but there are also malignant examples where you see people in places of privilege lifting aspects of other people’s cultural or sexual identity for their own aesthetic goals. As creators, do you think we have a need to appropriate responsibly? What do you believe responsible appropriation entails?
Well, I am of two minds. I mean, the first is that when I was younger and in punk and hardcore, you would just do it; put it through the photocopier and do it. The second, as someone whose creative life has never been successful enough to generate a livelihood, is that I appreciate the other side of that coin much more now.
We’re in a very weird place, culturally. Many amazing things have been created out of inappropriate use, and being creative has this strange cultural capital. I think for artists or writers, you should reach out and communicate. Chances are, if you think you need to check, you probably should. I think it’s entirely abhorrent when it isn’t a artist or underground musician or whatever, but an ad agency who has means. Or larger music artists or their stylists who appropriate.
Do you see the act of appropriating as a kind of parasitic relationship, or is it something more holistic?
It depends, it certainly can be both. Both can have value as well. I mean, are you being parasitic to something that deserves it? Does it come from a place of hoarding power or emancipation? For me I view it as an act of decomposition, decomposing. Recreating from entrails. Haruspicy.
I think technology mediating desire is what brought the mind-body problem into focus for me. A disconnect of what you observe is real or not.
What kind of habits have you developed in the studio? How do you end up dividing time between your musical work or your writing or your art?
I have a lot of practices: audio, visual, writing. So there tends to be balance, but day-to-day, it is just following deadlines and where I feel I need to be. My visual art is on a brief transition, which is terrifying but also exciting. Meanwhile, my music is really generating some things I am excited about. Same with my writing. It’s just trying to keep it all in balance.
What projects are you currently working on?
Well, I just had my novella All Internal published by Dynatox, and finished my first novel Lower Heaven. Plus I write about art. Musically, I finished the new Axebreaker full-length Brutality in Stone which will be out on Phage soon, and a new solo LP. There is a new Locrian in the works too. In my visual art, the work is shifting and becoming more improvised and sculptural, coming off of the plane and into the space.
I’d like to talk about your new novella, All Internal. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m really interested in the way you choose to depict the body/mind disconnect. What made you decide to use porn as a lens to view this disconnect?
I think technology mediating desire is what brought the mind-body problem into focus for me. A disconnect of what you observe is real or not. Is it viral or “viral” or akin to a virus? I am always inspired by philosophy. Luce Irigary was a big influence on me; her ideas were really potent, about women as a value exchange. The influence of philosophy tends to generate these strange ideas, and typically, as a discipline, it moves on into other arguments. The ideas, though, are so abstract that, to me, they become a decent premise for weird fiction.
Plus, pornography is the literature of our time; it has driven many advances in technology and communication, yet we tend to treat it as this outcast when statistically it is way more vernacular then we’d socially like to admit.
It’s fascinating to see a parasitic horror story told from the eyes of the parasite. We tend to associate parasites as this inscrutable force who possesses a body to assert dominance, but I think that assertion leaves open multiple questions about agency. Is this a question that you considered in the writing process?
Absolutely. As the novella progresses, the parasite speaks and drives the narrative over the main character. I just thought it would make it more interesting and unsettling, it’s easy to make it the “other”. But in All Internal, the parasite controls the body for nefarious purposes.
For me, horror can address empathy and the unusual, maybe allowing you to process something you wouldn’t normally process.
There are obvious comparisons to be made to David Cronenberg’s films, but I think the idea of a body losing control of itself is something that has so much creative potential that using Cronenberg as a frame of reference feels somewhat limiting. Are there any other artists or films that influenced you in the process of writing All Internal?
I am a huge Cronenberg fan, but for me, outside of The Brood or Shivers, I actually got the idea from low-grade sci-fi horror like Forbidden World, Xtro and Inseminoid. Obviously they owe debts to Alien and its corruption of the lifecycle, but they also think of bodies, specifically women’s bodies, in this weird misogynistic way. I wanted to use that parlance and flip it. I also was thinking of writers Bret Easton Ellis and J.G. Ballard, to somehow fuse the indifferent and uncanny in an analytic way. I really like Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the 1978 film is one of my absolute favorites.
Horror film has always been fascinating to me because it’s seen as this inherently low form of art, yet it’s able to take the viewer into this wonderful empathetic space where they relate themselves to the bodies they see on screen. Even bad horror movies can do this for me. How has horror, film or otherwise, influenced your process?
I think genre has a way of being both a trap and a liberation. For me, horror can address empathy and the unusual, maybe allowing you to process something you wouldn’t normally process. It’s like a free pass to address things that wouldn’t be addressed otherwise, or would be too difficult in other contexts. I often get strange responses from my more literary friends and writers when I say I write horror, but often what I write doesn’t exactly fit in that box.
Certainly, I owe a lot to Cronenberg’s films and the other films that inspired All Internal. I think horror films like Repulsion, Last House on Dead End Street and Dawn of the Dead aimed to be low and high at the same time.
In addition, writers from the New Narrative movement like Kathy Acker, Dennis Cooper and Kevin Killian really freed me to pursue these impulses, they let me know it was okay and, in fact, imperative to push myself. Likewise, the New Wave of science fiction with writers like J.G. Ballard, Ursula K. Le Guin, and then writers like Jorge Louis Borges, Franz Kafka, Roberto Bolaño and Andre Breton have been people I have really gotten a lot from. For my process, a lot of philosophy influences me, like George Berkeley, Liebnitz, Delueze, and others. I tend to combine a lot of this into what I do. It helps focus the lens a bit.
Curated by: Brandon Geurts
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: May 24, 2018
Total questions: 10
Word count: 1398
Reading time: Five minutes
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