Jen Stock, you is awesome!

In the hour and a half or so that we spent with Jen Stock, we learned a lot of really interesting things about her: you can set your watch to the frequency of her hiccups (one per hour), she has a real passion and thirst for knowledge, and she’s smart as a whip. What we weren’t able to do, however, was categorize her. (Yes, we do subscribe to the fact that there are things that defy categorization and very well should, but for the sake of keeping an organized blog, categories is awesome.)

So here’s our checklist, which we made once and checked twice. Ha! Getting into the holiday spirit…Anyway, Jen is a composer. Check. She is a curator. Check. She is an artist working with found sounds, images, instrumental, and video. Check. She is a software writer-engineer thingy. Check. She’s from Indianapolis. Check.

OK, so that last one didn’t really need to be in there, but there you have it: Jen Stock defies categorization, just as her art form does. She’s playing the vBrooklyn video festival on Saturday, December 13th, so go check her show out and decide for yourself. In the meantime, mosey on over to I LOVE Your Clothes, where we learn why feathers and clothing from foreign countries don’t mix well.

YouIsAwesome: What’s your least favorite curse word?
Jen Stock: I like most curse words when used appropriately, so this is a tough one. I just Googled a list of curse words to get some ideas and saw “butt plug” listed. That doesn’t seem very useful. I think what makes a curse word good or bad for me is its context. Obviously any curse word that’s used in a derogatory sense I don’t like; ditto when people use them so much they become verbal crutches. But for example my mom, who is the most ladylike and polite person in the history of the universe, will occasionally unveil a brilliantly timed curse word, with all the proper inflections, and that I think is awesome. So to sum up, probably “Butt Plug” is my least favorite.

YIA: Have you heard that the MTA is considering cutting the Z line?
JS: I’m OK with that as long as the J and M keep running. Looking at Brooklyn and Queens from the windows of the JMZ is one of my great New York experiences, but I’ve never actually taken the Z train.

Editor’s Note: And at the very least, your piece, JMZ, will sort of stand as a momument in history to the, ahem, glorious Z train.

YIA: Let’s pretend it’s 1940. What would you do without computer software?!
JS: I would make installations for public spaces that filter light and water and put them everywhere. I’d try to be some eclectic cross between Louis Kahn, Tord Boontje, Andy Goldsworthy, and Banksy. I’d like to leave huge constructions of glass and white stone in parks and courtyards, quietly, always at night and anonymously, so that when people wake up and go to work, or on a walk, or look at the window, they’d see these elegant and enigmatic Stonehenge-like objects. Then popular opinion could decide if they stay — they’d either work, or they wouldn’t, but at any rate it would hopefully add some visual interest to everyone’s day.

Editor’s Note: Hmm…Maybe you should do it anyway! Brooklyn, prepare for some Kahn-Boontje-Goldsworthy-Bansky-Stock awesomeness!

YIA: Would you rather never work with found sounds ever again or never work with a piano ever again?
JS: Never work with found sounds again. Nothing beats the beauty of a piano. And besides, without the piano, I wouldn’t be a composer. I absolutely stink at playing piano in public, but I’ve had a piano since I was eight, and my earliest memories of music are sitting behind it. In fact, the first ten years of my musical life had relatively little to do with recorded sound and everything to do with sitting at the piano. I started composing to evade the boredom of Czerny exercises and the like, which I was supposed to practice every week.

I know I make a big deal out of using found sounds in my own compositions, but I always want to integrate the found sounds with pitched material. The band the Books is pretty much the perfect example of how I aspire to use found sounds: patterning the found sounds into grooves and ostinati that can be interwoven with beautiful melodies.

YIA: When using a public restroom, do you kick flush?
JS: No, but I kind of admire women that do. Very assertive. I picture a lady in stiletto boots doing this, impatiently, just before she goes out to kick some butt in a heist or something.

YIA: Do you think you could make music out of a donkey neighing into the body of a banjo?
JS: Yeah, sure. First, I would make sure that no donkeys were injured in the making of the sound, of course. I have to wonder where I would get a donkey and how I could get him/her into my apartment where all my equipment is without anybody noticing. Sounds like a good idea.

YIA: A laptop that You is Awesome works off of has been in our possession for nearly four years now and it takes about 87 minutes to start up and sometimes it makes noises as of yet unheard by man. What do you suggest we do?
JS: I have had a couple older, sluggish laptops in the past, and usually a couple of slaps does the trick. You can try coaxing, of course, but I find ultimately it’s best to be direct.

YIA: Do you think you could make music out of our laptop noises?
JS: Heck yes. Especially if they are as yet unheard of — I’m very interested in obscure sounds.

YIA: What were you put on this earth to accomplish?
JS: Well, to sum up, I don’t actually know. Hopefully just to live life as graciously and as compassionately as possible.

In terms of my work, what I’d like to do is create composites of sound and image that could be shared in public spaces of all kinds. I’d especially like to work with architects and create installations that are intended as integral parts of buildings and outdoor spaces. I’d like to write songs with found sound grooves, and collage text, image, and sound for online consumption — I have in mind a kind of visual journal, a way of capturing the beauty of the everyday and using the computer and the internet as a means of sharing it.


~ by youisawesome on December 11, 2008.

One Response to “Jen Stock, you is awesome!”

  1. youisawesome is awesome!! Fun reads. I didn’t know who these last two (Jen Stock and The Middle Eight) were, but I like ’em now! Although, I guess I didn’t really know who any of your featured were. haha.. but it’s good exposure for them and for us, so thanks! Keep ’em coming!

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