“In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready… Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz. It was like a revolution within me, not as it was, but as it should have been.” — Kurt Schwitters
Around this time last year I saw the Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage exhibition at the Menil. I really liked his idea of Merz—collages incorporating found objects, discarded ephemera of little importance, recycled and re-contextualized to express something new. Ninety years later, we call that a mash-up, and it is just as valid a mode of art today as it was then.
Bringing it to the digital era, though, I coined the term “Gigamerz,” riffing on the metric system, the frequencies of our cellphones in gigahertz, and just generally making a bad pun.
What if Kurt Schwitters was a DJ?
My first exploration into Gigamerz as a brand was Radio Gigamerz, which became a way to showcase various sound art in an “internet radio” format. I set up a Mac Mini on my desktop and started filling it up with field recordings, found sound collage, experimental music and spoken word tracks, then setting it up to stream for anyone interested in listening in.
Having a platform and a “brand”, of course I had to design a logo set for it, and thus, through brainstorming the variations, invented various categorizations: Cinema Gigamerz, for time-based visual collage; Festival Gigamerz, which could be a sound-art celebration; and even Studio Gigamerz, which became the label I attached to my workspace.
In an age of democratized media, with pools like Twitter, Flickr and YouTube to sift through, digital collage has a limitless potential. I hope to use my virtual residency with Glasstire to explore new methods of finding those stray ones and zeroes on the internet and breathing new life into them. This blog, Chronicle Gigamerz, will be a documentation of my thoughts and ideas as I move forward with my project.
I’m looking forward to my virtual stay here.
Chuck Ivy is the winner of the 2011 Glasstire Virtual Residency.