By Matthew Vizbulis
‘Video’ was termed strong for good reason. Its adversary, or partner, if you will, since the beginning, is broadcast television and its affiliated network – both a hot aphrodisiac to stormy days, favourite shows and choice movies over dinner. A nurse of salvation when in recovery, rehab, or any number of healing situations. The Tube, The Box, The Television has inspired us all and we have all been on a television at some point, somehow, for something as simple as getting a loaf of bread.
Julian Anderson’s current situation shares a history that we understand not just from TV or Video. It’s a common connection to a past for us here in North America, linked at the root of Popular Culture. Touching upon these very notions of intimacy, family, stardom, noise, sound, healing, destruction and cinema. Reaching out to people by any means possible to establish connections like soul food to combine efforts and theories with others.
“This region is a vortex of energy. I am in the thick of it for now,” he explained.
Anderson’s work place is an assembly field of pixels, it is a terranova of digital insertion. He has published over 100 videos since 2003 to his YouTube account. Anderson does not consider these works of video art. But video has dominated his current creative aspirations, projects and exhibits.
“The videos on the channel are mostly 4PLAYlive productions, my indie media endeavor,” he explained. “I have recently removed about 50% of the videos I had on the ‘channel’ as part of the clearing process I have been going through internally and externally in my home.”
He lives in downtown St.Catharines and is extremely active in any available exhibit space – public or private, on the street or in the park, endorsed or voluntary. Anderson has not been afraid of showing his work wherever possible.
“The artist is the gallery and exhibiting on the outer walls within society could lead to more discoveries than internal exhibits where only select people would see the work,” he said.
“Being outside with my art is connected to being outside of myself.”
Anderson explained that it is about “sharing who I am internally with others outside of myself. It is a time for openness and being outside, hence the recent slew of movies. They are made outside with others for others.”
So why does he exhibit?
“I have always had a need to share what I did with others. At first, my friends at the time thought I was weird, that hurt. I then shared my photos and videos with a good friend and that made the difference,” he explained.
“When I came to St. Catharines I felt compelled to exhibit work because I was in a time and place that allowed me to produce. Prior to moving, all of my “major” possessions were lost or destroyed. Some by people close to me. So, I started fresh and had things to share again. I had a better understanding of how to reach people in the sweetest and most refined way I could.”
The on site interviews for this piece were no different – a grassy knoll over looking the 406, outside the library in downtown St.Catharines, and at the Niagara Artist Centre. And, of course, Julian’s home editing suite just a short distance away.
They were all connected with a short walk and our experiences were usually recorded, doing what Julian called a ‘Drift.’
“The drift is ‘play’. One can play alone or with friends. Drifting alone has its purpose,” he explained.
“However, drifting with friends allows me to experience their perspectives. If I only drift through my own lense, I’m not lead to places I would never go. As much as I may try to have a locked groove when traversing this city, bringing others along creates new grooves for me.”
Anderson’s latest project reached completion this past week – a music video for Anthony Sweet and The Sweet Experience.
It was mainly filmed downtown St. Catharines onsite at the Merchant Ale House during a live performance at the brewpub.
“It was my response to the music and also an attempt to showcase the band,” he said.
The music video is currently unreleased, yet finished. It features a heavy, soulful, live set which gives way to this visual and tribal nomadic encampment.
Ribbons of hazy colors and images turn to road travel and fast growing flowers. Dramatic lofty recordings tour the ‘The Sweet Experience’ on stage at the Ale House.The ensemble of instruments echo inside and out of the venue seeming full with spectrum. Cosmic flavors of other indie clips from a past road trip mingle with a micro-cosmos. “It’s a moving portrait, a collage,” Anderson explained.
Another enterprise of Anderson’s is the creation of music being a member of Think Of A Name – a local indie showcase that tours as many open spaces when possible. With past venues not limited to OPIRG InfoShop and Mahtay Cafe & Lounge in St. Catharines, Array Space in Toronto and Silence Sounds in Guelph.
“OPIRG was where it all began. Then the Oddfellows Lodge in St Catharines. We had a mini tour and next we played at Array Space, Silence Sounds and Mahtay were the spots we played, he said. “Think Of A Name is about joining others in the community, and about being together. Before, I used to make music in isolation, then I found the friends that make up Think Of A Name.
“We share in sound and space. learning about taking time to pause and listen to others. But also joining in and playing along with each other. It is music.”
In a lot of ways, Anderson’s journey is completely accurate to the growing artistic avenues opening up around him over the past four years of Niagara living. Flowering ideas of his own experience and the adaption of other artistic enterprises grow whether it be as a musician, painter, graphic designer, photographer, street artist or documenter. Anderson is no stranger to diversity through the arts. It becomes obvious of his nature that he has something special to offer us and the community at large.
“I didn’t know a soul when I arrived in the Niagara region, let alone my own soul. In discovering myself through art, music and movies and telling that story, I have become part of a wonderful ever changing arts community.”