Interview with Joe Hardy

We spoke to Joe Hardy about the concept behind his Animate OPEN film, Cassette Tape: Side A.


Where did you find the tape that inspired Cassette Tape: Side A?

It was hiding in a cupboard under the stairs of a rented flat.

It feels almost like a ‘site-specific’ work - with Vimeo as the site - and you incorporate the Vimeo player into the work - the ‘play’ button. How did that all get worked out - was it always meant for Vimeo?

I was definitely attracted to Vimeo because of its ability to present moving images with a non-standard aspect ratio. The other option would be to embed a flash player myself but it’s nice to have the inbuilt features of Vimeo and there’s more potential for people to stumble across it on a random video search.

There’s another other element of the work, which is a small print run to duplicate the original cassette tape. It will have the full recording on it, and be labelled with a web link to the video. I’ll be leaving these duplicate cassette tapes around places I go over the next 12 months.

You describe the film as “simultaneously nostalgic and mundane” - are you nostalgic for analogue times?

I definitely enjoy analogue technology although I work predominantly on a laptop these days. There is something woozy and hypnotic about the nature of sound on tape. I play music in several bands and when mastering we regularly run an otherwise digital recording through a tape machine to get ‘that sound’.

You mix hand drawing with digital - do you find that digital changes the way you draw by hand eg do you anticipate that a drawing is destined for digital ‘distribution’?

On paper I work on a very small scale as I tend to get intimidated by large empty canvases. I enjoy seeing artefacts in these hand drawn images accentuated when they are imported and enlarged. I also do some work using a drawing tablet. It has taken a while for me to be able to recognise when a line has suitable character without being too perfect – I used to be way too trigger-happy with the undo button.

The film is lots of things - conceptual, durational, do you think of it?

A constant theme in my work is an element of endurance, although this usually manifests itself in the process of fabrication. It seems to have bled quite predominantly into the act of watching the piece on this occasion. There are, however, some subtle payoffs for making the effort to view the work in its entirety –like the tape feeding from left to right on the spools, and the various noises picked up by the home recording.

Making the TCM-848 anatomically correct was also a definite preoccupation for me on this piece. I couldn’t imagine the work being rendered in any other way satisfactorily. I think the source of this idea was a practise I’ve seen regularly employed by record enthusiasts on YouTube. They set up a fixed camera position and just film entire plays of rare 7”s to share with each other.

Who are your influences or heroes/heroines – films, art, people?

I like a lot of Japanese filmmakers – Mizoguchi, Imamura and Oshima for instance. Wim Wenders also continues to make amazing films. My most recent obsession would be a TV series called An American Family which was broadcast in the 70’s in the US and I think is recognised as the first reality based TV show. I love the way music features in the footage and the comments they make in passing about now classic albums or the way they sing along to songs playing on the radio.