Setting No. 1: Day For Night.
Day For Night originated in 1991 as a recording imprint and independent-projects label, based out of Santa Monica, California. Promoting multimedia while emphasizing a lightly-branded, personalized design style, Day For Night CD releases to date include works in contemporary music and new media released on CD, CD-R and the web.
In nearly-equal parts, the Day For Night Catalogue continues to offer an esoteric mix of creations — combining music, art, typography, design and literature. This imprint is not a traditional “record label,” – its commercial releases will be limited, over a course of time, to 100 total – while its push for to recruit new artists from the outside world is often shadowed by inner development goals – first, to release the full schedule of projects back-logged at this time, many of them still in the works. For this, Eric Scott occasionally reaches critical mass as Creative Director; every day, he shifts gears in his capacities as composer, producer, recording artist, designer, typographer, and author.
These endeavors also include software releases from sub-brand digital type foundry NIGHTfonts, which is currently designing experimental typefaces – as seen in some of Day For Night’s business communications – and for distribution via commercial outlets, for application in desktop publishing.
Day for night takes its name from a filmmaking term – creating the illusion of night-time in broad daylight by employing special lens filters. Within this term creative or technical misdirection is implicit – like any special effect that conceals or subverts reality. Eric refers to this, throughout his discussions of “Internet Theater,” one Day For Night’s “critical services” – as well as a personal design focus. One primary example of this is the self-initiated NIGHTlink Rail internet project, which first launched in 1997, and continues to evolve, slowly, as the Day For Night catalogue grows.
From its fictitious marketing campaign (“Take An Internet Journey By Rail – It Still Beats Walking.” and the mock train stations, NIGHTlink Rail becomes an emblematic parody of the label’s catalogue: CD project titles are also often referred to by name and, interchangeably, by catalogue number (“Day 001” through “Day 100”). This cryptic emphasis upon cataloguing and order also informs the schematic design of the NIGHTlink Rail Travel Planner – one that might easily be mistaken for a real subway map. The Station stops along this network also share and cross-brand Day For Night catalogue projects, amidst playful marketing “hype” banner ads that cover railway station walls like fly-bill ads.
Another similarity shadows the 1973 film of the same name, furthering a personal authoring style, as did the œuvre of director Francois Truffaut. Where Day for Night the film represented the filmmaker as the bemused subject of the same director’s own fiction, Eric compares this to his own continually “being at the heart of Day For Night’s big picture, and living inside many of the details as well.”
Real-world clients have approached and boarded Day For Night, demanding the finest in this brand of creative misdirection…from Imagine Television, Disney Online, Touchstone Television, to its inner Artist Projects network, Day For Night has consulted and delivered when even the most daunting levels of creative misdirection is in the design brief.
The sum of the label and its multimedia endeavors represent this artist’s vision – one that is largely self-contained, and occasionally self-referential – and one which Eric describes as part of his “personal search for an absolute truth about New Media.” Presenting a lexicon of sounds, textures and graphic possibilities, Day For Night consciously expresses its own subjective experience, as well as its human fallibility.
It pays to be reliable. It also really pays to be flexible.
It is the promise of joint partnership, such as an invitation to participate in an affair, even in an observational capacity. Like the look of a young woman, whose parents are driving her mad. It is a massive hormonal buildup. Everything about her eyes.
If pressed, everybody should answer the same:
“Don’t you know I have my own agenda…?”
There is much additional creative that takes the form of lightness in dark — licht und blindheit — light and blindness?
We expose the means and methods perhaps, but in so doing, we are to remain simple and unaffected.
Perhaps it was Greenaway’s intention to do the same, using the text of the script as a backdrop behind the action during 8 1/2 Women.
Years ago, I remember a friend pointing out that a piece of music I played her off a CD sounded so simple – too simple.
She said she could have done it. Using spoons. OK. So what’s wrong with that statement? Easy, it was a negative; it was a dismissal of the first artist’s work, and it didn’t inspire the response which was to get her to create a piece of music of her own. But to me, that’s the only appropriate response there is. If something is too easy, it makes you want to emulate it, only to improve upon it. Nothing, nothing at all wrong with that.
Which leads back to the list. So many things we do are, ultimately, made to appear more complicated than they need to be. It’s like a drummer who shows off when he plays. Remember those t-shirts that bass players used to wear in the 80s — it was a sixteenth note with a red circle and a line through it. Perhaps, the message there is the same. Colin Newman (a dear friend) used the following quote in his cd liner for Bastard, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Einstein.
What may seem weirder, is what I do with Dayfornight.com, and maybe just the role I see for websites, with artists, and with music. Originally, I had all these theories about how DFN.com was going to remain an artist-driven website (which it still is) but I was intent upon making it a parallel experience for how we perceive things on the surface, about reality. And so the site was going to offer music, within a metaphor for modern-day railway travel, and it was going to have points of interest — stations, and the depth of content for that project, or point, would determine whether the user could get off at the station and just walk along the platform, or maybe just leave the station altogether and wander outside in the park. Then there’s the “junctions” aspect, which is my carefully-considered, but largely-unrealized goal of defining further impact, through junctions, which are a way of explaining what happens when two or more artists collaborate on a one-off project and mix energies. I say largely unrealized, because I can’t seem to allow Dayfornight to blend beyond my own personal boundaries.
I was at a multimedia conference in San Francisco, and became momentarily obsessed with typing this when I should have been listening to the speakers. Truth is, I was listening — it was to Hillman Curtis, who inspired me so much that I went into “processing” mode — which is where I free-associate, and instead of taking notes that are a copy of what the speaker says, I let everything the speaker says guide the direction of a newly created piece, which I generate live.
What is Day For Night about?
• creating a better world than the one we live in
• inspiring others
• being inspired
• acknowledging difference
• a sense of place
• the contemporary
• the temporary
What is its structure or format?
• Negative space (“club-style”)
• Dream imagery
• Music and mood
What is its Process?
• “i am never bored”
• “everything is useful”
For me, Day For Night has never been about any political or social issues, because these really don’t, on the whole, interest me. Want a list of things that interest me?
And the list goes on, but none of these are hot issues. So the only things that makes them matter is how they’re treated, and whether or not these treatments add value, and inspire others to do more of the same.
Well, things do change over time, and it appears that each year, I had the impetus to sit down and try to define Day For Night in a new way that got me excited, and would trigger an opportunity to share something unique.
Here’s one of the more pointless, and pompous attempts:
What is Day For Night?
A movement for a personal music, art, literature, film and design—though not necessarily in that order—for both the jaded as well as the discerning.
About music, made-to-measure for a roomful of listeners who have made it their obligation to listen; a soundtrack to the life of everyman; a sonic tapestry for talkers & thinkers alike.
Numbers and time, both prime and even.
A film-makers’ term, referring to the process of shooting a nighttime scene during daylight hours, employing the use of special filters–alternately, a “special effect.”
The difference between the taste of salt and sugar.
The title of a film by Francois Truffaut, which netted him Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 1973 (and which, on a broader, possibly more holistic, level, continued his now legendary autobiography on film; this time placing him in the character role of Director-as-Actor-as-Director, in a Film about the Making-of-a-Film).
A complete musical universe; one that is both self-referential and self-contained. An index of textures; a lexicon of possibilities.
One’s refusal to participate within the normal confines of the Industry; and living the dream of achieving those ends justified by the means.
The color of night, as seen by the cold light of day.
Day For Night is my life.
Day For Night has evolved primarily by means of accretion of music-based projects, articulated via an ongoing artistic monologue, and interpreted through audiovisual design; As inspiration enters this process, ideas are formed and recorded early in any media for an immediate response;
This tension created by this intuitive-intellectual response informs the Day For Night catalogue, and gives us the freedom to discover and experiment with various styles and artforms. This is a monologue germane to Day For Night, slowly tracing its way outwards to those in our immediate circles of influence;
Certain projects, including the NIGHTlink Internet Journey- by-Rail, which originates in the Day For Night audiovisual imprint – are primary expressions between specific Day For Night artists and the clients and friends that are closely connected to us;
Sometimes Day For Night forms an imaginary or virtual space where this expression exists (such as NIGHTlink, H O SPITAL, and the Re:fresh Intermedia Centre and Gallery), reinforced by the self-published works on cd and cd-rom from the catalogue;
Over the past 10 years, Day For Night’s projects have included the following;
Television and motion graphics design, music and sound design, web-based art and site design, photography, print, publications and typography, branding and strategy documents, and the publishing of narrative fiction and poetry;
Our most visible contribution is through the Day For Night audio-visual imprint – a serialized catalogue of 100 independent artist projects formatted for audio cd and cd-rom. These merge diverse musical explorations – triphop, drum’n’bass, post-rock, indie, techno, and minimalist and contemporary classical. The projects are an outlet for a more personalized, non-judgmental style of narrative and self-expression, and are designed to illustrate both a taxonomy, which categorises free-form poetry and music, using urban information systems and even railway signage;
A critical approach to presenting text and imagery begins with a deconstruction of the narrative format of the more traditional cd booklet, in favor of a modular series of cover panels which emphasize use of negative space and contemporary sans-serif typography;
At this time of writing, summer of 2002, Day For Night continues to seek out strategic relationships and partnerships with other fine artists and design agents who share these values and ideals.
Personal expression sells.
I derive my client work from pre-existing personal work. Ideas are neither good nor bad, but are merely awaiting to be positioned, and to find their ideal home.
Personal tastes have always been a starting point for any work worth creating; therefore I have (essentially) close personal relationships with my clients and with the work itself. I only seek out commissions I would consider pursuing over a longer term – endorsements of what we can make happen together. That’s because usually, personal selling is 95 % of the work.
There is nothing I loathe more than boredom. For this reason, I rarely find myself bored.
I keep a library of ideas on my computer hard drive. Over time, this has proven to become a really useful system. Largely, this permits reappropriation – borrowing from oneself – and believe me, thievery is the sincerest form of flattery. Thus, I keep an archive going at all times: an image gallery of screens, sounds, designs, interactive toys, movies. These are a continual reminder of where I want to go.
The library serves continually as a visual reference in client meetings:
• For inspiration in motion design
• For deployment in writing
• For deployment in music
Everything that is anything, must also be a system unto itself, in the interests of making it teachable. That way, we can leave things better than the way we found them.
I have always been fascinated with the concept of a perfect system:
• Everything I do emanates from reusable ideas,
• Reusable bites of code
• Reusable words
• Everything must be permitted to lead to something else
• Everything must be permitted to evolve, and to lead to something better
Forward movement is the only movement worth pursuing in the long run, and therefore, also in the short run. So maybe it’s better to sacrifice the short run for the long run, and to make wiser decisions in the present.
Personally, this requires a continual assessment of where I want to go. Everything we do is poetry in motion. I have no-one to teach but myself at the moment.
Life is a continuous workshop.
Some of my work is predominantly about loneliness. We write about what we know. I was born alone, have lived alone, and assume that even when we die, we die, probably, alone. Grim, to some, maybe. To me, this is simply fact, and it lacks any particular charge – it is as potentially helpful, as it is hindering, as beliefs go.
The other viewpoint that guides my work is that principally, we are all good beings, and that we are all simply capable of great things.
So, my creative goal is the make sure that neither viewpoint overshadows the other.
Well, the main reason I do any of this is that I want to leave the world a better place than the way I found it.
But what is Day For Night? That’s some question. Nobody knows for sure.
But my bet is that it’s something to do with my fascination with music.
Every time I sit down at a computer, I start typing, hoping that I will figure out something more than I knew the day before – about what Day For Night truly means. But it’s more of a today kind of thing; like what does Day For Night mean today?
I’ll come up with descriptors and definitions. Positioning statements.
Amusingly grandiose stuff, like: “DayForNight.com! An Ordering System – and a System of Order.”
Sooo clever …Get it? The Day For Night obsession with cataloguing and numbering, meets the demand to satisfying B2B and B2C commercial ends.
Or “Day For Night. Design From The Inside Out.” I must admit to quite liking that one, which was given to us in J.J. Abrams’ description of what he feels I do.
Obsession, good word. But doing that kind of positioning thing gets me going for about twenty minutes, until I realize that it’s a mistake – while invariably all are true statements, or variations, they’re still getting a little off the point.
Originally, the purpose of publishing some of my theses – under the collective title Obsession – is to document the process of Day For Night and its workings, from creation through output; even to clarify relationships between some of my post-Situationist influences: Jamie Reid, Malcolm McLaren. Factory Records, Design by Peter Saville. Rob Gretton, The Durutti Column…and who can forget Tony Wilson. It seems only natural to raise questions about these figures, in light of my lofty ideals.
Consistently these individuals and their works have inspired and triggered my output stages. Filtered through me, everything – music, values, inspiration, comedy, art, noise, nature, animals, people, tribalism, like-mindedness, archival strategies, typography, order systems, chaos, the spectacle…and ultimately, even Situationism – eventually becomes Day For Night.
These figures have inspired me during my drive to inspire others – to put their lives into action and find consistency of purpose; to seek out and pursue worthy ideals. In my case, all objectives relate to my continuing fascination with musical and artistic expression, and especially, the contrasts between a human lightness and a reclusive darkness.
It also seems appropriate to mention, here, that I often work alone to achieve these ends.
But then something happens – I show and share around these things with others – my VIP list – and much appears to be connected. Over time, these creations have attracted the kinds of people and businesses who want to give me money to develop these kinds of things for them too, so Day For Night has effectively become a modest business, after pleasure.
You know the ones – when your mind simply will not focus, and everything you feel like saying is best summarized by that 4-bar phrase from the song that passes through your head, just long enough to create an impression and then disappear, before a different one from a different song, takes its place. On those nights, I feel scattered.
And tonight is one of those nights.
I am sitting on the studio floor; no, make that the sofa, and then, occasionally the stuffed chair in the corner – most comfortable – using a makeshift ottoman (an office chair that swivels uncontrollably under the weight of my legs as I continually reposition them to shift my weight.)
There are over two dozen CDs on the floor next to the sofa and the player. I used to be sitting in the office next door, but after 14 hours in there, I’ve relocated everything to – a different room; because I just won’t stop yet. The stacks around me grow more chaotic, as the surfeit of my wandering musical attention seeks company with Freeform (“Prowl”), Sun Electric (“Kitchen”), Bisk (“Time”), David Toop (both in the literary and audio realms, as my copy of “Ocean Of Sound” sits as reference beside the CD Screen Ceremonies, which hasn’t left my bedside since 1995. Later, I explain to my girl that it’s the only disc I’ve established an on-demand rest-response to; conditioned during my recovery from a bout of surgery, and under the drowsy influence of Percocet some years ago.)
As my thoughts race, somehow some of them still make their way into the Olympus MP3 dictaphone, which stores individual files of my musical ideas, business meeting notes, and my occasional verbal diarrhea. At one point, I record a monologue of uninterrupted thought, about the frustrations of being one half of a business, and I use up 18 solid minutes without taking a breath. Nearby, my copy of the All-Music Guide To Electronica gets a repeated flicking-through as one name or sound bite conjures up another, and these references become a roadmap to tonight’s musical journey.
Today I realize that I have become a glutton for music ephemera, while I cut, copy and paste paragraphs like these, adjusting my thoughts onscreen, and attempt to grasp the symbiotic space of creation – where harmony of word and mind become one. Tonight, this impression never actually does come, but so many new ideas do so along the way, and all of these get noted down in its place.
My reference piles up higher; quickly I add my copy of the Designers Republic book 3D->2D and Kim Hiorthoy’s manifesto, Tree Weekend. I am inspired by sheer abstraction, and some of life’s more complex responsibilities evaporate, or at least, fade just slightly while I’m in this space.
* * * * *
I am repeatedly distracted by the silence coming from my studio; if I could clone myself now, I’d also be in there finishing up Mousse, the track which was borne in the wee hours of last night when I attempted to record a mere 2-bar riff – within minutes, what I had begun had descended into musical chaos, an amalgam of nine unmixed layers of Rhythm Factory. This logistical nightmare, employing a range of three keyboard sounds and several happy accidents — I found I’d left the track’s record-mode in overdub instead of replace) so I know that I have a lot of cleaning up to do.
This absorbs into my conflict, over which I exercise restraint of judgment, because I know that all will come to fruition, but only when the time is right.
There are some nights, when I am scattered like this. Many of them. And when I get up in the morning, everything gets put right again, before another day begins.