[VIDEO] Midday Veil’s Anthem: Inside the All in All in All

This morning, my band Midday Veil premiered a video for Anthem, the second “single” off our debut studio album Eyes All Around.  Unlike our video for Asymptote Part II, which was produced for Midday Veil by the Seattle design firm Dumb Eyes, the Anthem video was shot and edited entirely by members of the band: Timm MasonDavid Golightly and myself.

Nearly all of the footage for the video was shot last September during a residency procured by Timm at the Experimental Television Center in upstate New York.  Using the ETC’s arsenal of video art gear, including multiple vintage surveillance cameras and handmade analog video processors,  Timm set up a studio environment where I could see and interact with live video feedback as it was being generated on and around my body by means of a number of television monitors stationed throughout the room.  During a series of all-night marathon sessions—the studio’s windows made for inconsistent lighting conditions during the day—we generated some twelve hours of footage for two distinct projects: the Anthem video, which we just completed, and an as-of-yet-unifinished video for an epic 25-minute track called Moon Temple, from the digital/cassette only release Subterranean Ritual II, due out this summer.

Midday Veil at the Experimental Television Center

At the Experimental Television Center, Owego, NY. Photo by David Golightly.

It’s a strange thing to work on ambitious, multi-part projects—(particularly if you are working on several things at once, like we are)—because by the time you finish something and it is “new” to other people, it is well-worn to you.  This is the case for me with Anthem.

Anthem was conceived musically, in part, during the psychedelic improv session in September 2009 that yielded the material on the first Subterranean Ritual CDR and was honed over the course of our rehearsals leading up to the Eyes All Around recording sessions in January 2010.  In listening back to our recordings on Soundcloud, David marked the section “Anthem,” meaning that it sounded like the chorus or theme to something larger than itself that we should revisit, and the name stuck.

In writing words to inhabit the oddly anachronistic power ballad that was taking form, I turned to a photograph I had found of myself as a sad-eyed baby while cleaning out my parents’ stuff in the aftermath of the 2005 car accident that took both of their lives.  When I found the photograph, it struck me that I was 27 years old—precisely the age that my mother must have been when this photograph of me had been taken.

baby photo

Portrait of Emily Pothast, summer of 1980. Photographer unknown.

At it turned out, the moment marked by this photograph divided my mother’s life nearly precisely in half.  Furthermore, at the time the photograph was taken, my mom’s mom, my grandmother, had just died a premature death due to colon cancer, and so in a sense, the image marks her transition from being someone’s daughter into someone’s mother.

Engulfed by the implications of the awareness of both death and the continuation of life through reproduction reflected in the in the moment recorded by the photograph, I experienced, upon handling it, a momentary hallucination of what my mother’s last moments of life must have looked like. It is this moment that is chronicled by the lyrics to “Anthem.”

I remember a shape that my mother saw
in the blue-lidded light of the human hall
giving form to a face with familiar charms
the ouroboric grace of a babe in arms
like the curve of a pearl, like a nebula
like the wheel in a wheel that Ezekiel saw
just like the edge of a stage in a curtain call
inside the all in all in all

I remember a shape that my mother saw
at the edge of a road down in Wichita
it was the flowers of the spring with the leaves of fall
it was the taste of my blood mixed with alcohol
it was as grey as the ash on a funeral pyre
it was as bright as the strains of an angel choir
it was the edge of a stage in a curtain call
inside the all in all in all

Still from Midday Veil - Anthem video

Still from Anthem video by Midday Veil.

During the course of the video, the ghostly form of the narrator is gradually overtaken by imagery related to my mother’s death, and is finally transformed into a feedback-demon closely resembling the Hindu goddess Kali, the dark mother of Time, Death, and the constantly cycling energies of Eternity.

Still from Midday Veil - Anthem video

Still from video for Anthem by Midday Veil.

The final touches to the video involved the inclusion of several bits of found footage, including a video taken of me when I was around eight years old, modestly resisting my mother’s attempts to film me.  This tension, of documenting and presenting that part of the self which eludes documentation, is at the heart of my artistic practice and is specifically the theme of this video and song.

For a few years in the early 2000s as I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I tutored math at a community college in Texas. I worked in the same building as my mother, and would hear, almost daily, obnoxious exclamations about how much I looked like her.  I found it obnoxious, in part, because it was so true, and in the intervening years the resemblance has only grown stronger.  I am now at an age that I remember my mother being, and am physically, literally haunted almost constantly by sheer virtue of inhabiting a body that bears an uncanny resemblance to hers.  Our voices are especially similar, so much so that I cannot hear the cries I am emitting in this song as mine alone.

This isn’t really a normal rock video.  I don’t think I look or sound particularly awesome in it, and I guess I wasn’t trying to.  It is, however, one of the most honest, uncomfortably personal artifacts I have had a hand in producing to date, and in that regard I suppose I consider it successful.  (Part of the reason it took so long to edit is that I would go through phases where I couldn’t stand to watch or listen to it.)

Anyway, that’s that. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy being done with it!

~ by emilypothast on May 4, 2011.

One Response to “[VIDEO] Midday Veil’s Anthem: Inside the All in All in All”

  1. [...] Emily Pothast & I filmed this at the Experimental TV Center (RIP) in autumn of 2010.  Editing and additional footage were done by David Golightly & Emily over the subsequent months.  Emily elaborates on some of the themes and personal meaning behind the song & video here. [...]

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