Meet Dan and Dominique Angeloro. Each sister is one half of Soda_ Jerk, a collaboration that exploits existing audiovisual material to create statement video installations. Although Beat has not deciphered which sister is like Soda and which sister is a Jerk, the Sydney/Berlin based collaboration will be in Melbourne for one day only this week as part of ACMI’s Star Voyager exhibition. One small step for man, one giant leap for…Soda_Jerk.
Although the pair have been officially cutting, contorting and creating together since 2003, Dan and Dom have had a penchant for technology since they were youngsters. Dan recalls playing tapes on broken VCRs in an attempt to record static, white noise and glitch pattern. But their passion can be traced back to ’87 when the Angeloro family bought their first video camera. “Our most ambitious venture was a sincere – but sincerely awful – remake of the ‘80s teen flick Heathers, which we filmed almost shot-for-shot in our basement,” reminisces Dominique.
By chopping and changing existing pop culture samples, the pair produces thought-provoking and amusing clips that can be classified as speculative fiction. Soda_Jerk’s videos are neither entirely true nor entirely fictional films that make you reconsider the world. “The boundary between history and fiction is pretty slippery, and this is something that really informs our work,” explains Dan. “So although many of our video projects take the form of science fictions, they are also heavily engaged with questions of cultural history. In some sense they're all based on a true story.”
But why Soda _Jerk? The girls borrowed their name from a 1950s American term that refers to youngsters who operated soda fountains at diners and mixed ice-cream sodas. But as with all of their work, the traditional term is not what’s significant. “For us the original meaning is not as important as the potential for this term to be reframed; we’re interested in the way that the meaning [of Soda_Jerk] is compromised by becoming part of our name,” explains Dominique.
Although their installations are often critiques of various ideologies and historical events, Soda_Jerk hope to place a positive spin on the objectionable. Analysing society in such an inventive manner invites viewers to consider what they have had not considered previously. “Our historical revisions are optimistic in the sense that we are interested in creating alternative accounts of the past that call into question official accounts of history,” Dan elaborates.
Soda_Jerk’s video instalments are certainly eccentric, but it is exactly this eccentricity that makes them leaders in remix culture. Remix culture can include anything from music mash-ups and turntables to editing film and hip hop. It refers to the processes of sampling, or as Dominique puts it, “taking fragments of films and music that already exist and reassembling them into new forms.”
Open to improvisation, Soda_Jerk often alters the course of an idea as new samples are discovered. By letting their research lead them, the possibilities are endless. Imagine a movie, for example, about space pirates who want to alter the course of video history by abducting Elvis Presley from the past and using his DNA to create a clone to assassinate Moses.
It may sound bizarre, but Soda_Jerk will be screening this exact plot as part of ACMI’s Star Voyager exhibition. The 52-minute video installation, Pixel Pirate 2: A Video Remix Space Epic, is “part B-movie, part activist call-to-arms.” Constructed completely from audiovisual samples, the film uses samples of other films (piracy) that feature pirates (more piracy) to critique piracy (even more piracy).
“It was essential in this project to engage the idea of piracy both conceptually and formally,” Dominique says with confidence after four years of “hectic” hard work and samples from over 300 different sources. Expect cameos from The Hulk, Lara Croft and Luke Skywalker to Rambo, Captain Jack Sparrow, and NASA. Although entertaining, Dan insists Pixel Pirate 2 contains a potent political message: “For us, what is at stake with copyright is whether cultural history should be shared and reshaped, or owned and controlled by a minority.”
Soda_Jerk will be participating in the second panel of the day, The Official Noticers, at 2pm. Chaired by ACMI Head of Exhibitions, Conrad Bodman, Soda_Jerk will star alongside scientists Dr. Chris Fluke and Martin Bush. The panel will discuss their experiences of art and science blending together, creating a new picture of what space means to others.
Soda_Jerk will cause you to reconsider space from the perspective of both the past and future as they present ideas that are beyond this Earth. Dan sums up why Soda_Jerk place such importance on what has been and what is to be, by characteristically appropriating from another source, George Orwell’s 1984. “‘Whoever controls the past controls the future, whoever controls the present controls the past.’ We view remixing as a form of cultural warfare waged along those lines,” she quotes.
With footage and images from Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg’s Moon Museum of Art (which was smuggled into space on the 1969 Apollo 12 mission), and Laurie Anderson’s artwork in residence at NASA, the panel will inspire and inform. Drawing inspiration from art, film and politics, Soda_Jerk’s latest work-in-progress is fitting, with regards to modern day media coverage. “We are currently working on a video project about the history and reception of WikiLeaks. It's a ‘60s style political thriller called How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Internet.”
With a face as memorable as Julian Assange’s, Soda_Jerk’s next instalment will surely leave an impression.
BY SOFIA LEVIN
Open 10am until 6pm daily, ACMI’s Star Voyager exhibition blasts off this ThursdaySeptember 22 until Sunday January 29 next year. Soda_Jerk will only be featured on the first Thursday.