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The Highs And Lows Of Status Quo: Meet Rashaad Newsome

NYC-based multi-media artist and New Orleans native, Rashaad Newsome, grew up during the era of the music video in the late 80s and early 90s. His work, which encompasses collage, performance, and video, is partly influenced by hip-hop music. His artwork consistently samples and remixes aspects of both high and low culture, working against the stigma that art can be esoteric, available and understandable to only an elite few.

One of his most notable works, FIVE, was a performance piece showcased at the Whitney Museum’s Biennial celebration last year. Combining five different mediums, it explored the street-dance practice of “voguing,” with musicians, an opera singer, play-by-play commentators, and a custom-built computer program that Rashaad developed to track the dancers’ movements in real-time.

For one of his other pieces, Rashaad hacked a Wii controller to function like a guitar effects pedal, allowing him to record samples of both audio and video and mix them into the performance in real-time. In his ongoing Shade Compositions series, which highlights culturally specific and stereotypical gestures, movements, and vocalizations, he wields the rigged controller like a maestro conducting a symphony, triggering audio and visual loops.

Tonight, Rashaad will be speaking at our first Creators Project Meetup, which is organized around the theme of “free culture” and what it means for artists, distributors, and the general public. He’ll be touching on the remixed nature of his work, alongside Kirby Ferguson, Nick Catchdubs, and Jane Park.

Speaking of remixes, here’s a clip from one of Rashaad’s recent DJ sets. Some of the music featured will be part of a mixtape that he’ll release later this year. See more of Rashaad’s work and learn more about his artistic practice in his Creator mini-documentary.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

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