Mixtape, 2002 takes as its starting point a recording by experimental musician and composer Terry Riley entitled You’re No Good. Originally recorded in 1967, Riley’s soundtrack involves the meshing together of layers of sampled music. The work opens with a throbbing electronic drone increasing in pitch and intensity as the camera draws back from the face of a young man with a sparkler in his mouth. The camera moves further away in pulses to reveal birds of prey and a floral wreath reading ‘Besht Mate’. As the music strains to breaking point, black paint runs down the walls accompanied by bursts of confetti. The images then career from one surreal situation to the next, while the soundtrack of You’re No Good is cut, pasted and looped, creating both a sonic and a visual collage. A bass guitar punctuates clips of a garage band. A girl tap dances gracefully in an underpass, observed by a nonchalant crisp-eating boy. A young man in a red top stands in a park looking up at a fountain. He climbs up the fountain and kisses one of the statues. An old man crawls along a pavement hitting it with a hammer. A line dancer appears in vivid strobe light. Images of English wildlife and parkland deer form a backdrop to a couple kissing on a sofa, only to be interrupted by footage of American hunters shooting prey. Break-dancing body parts move on a painted pavement.
The artists intended the images to be constructed like a collection of sketches and doodles. They began by collecting many of the images that ended up in Mixtape but were inspired to put them together as a film only after hearing Terry Riley’s recording: ‘We already had a lot of the ideas that ended up in Mixtape already. We were thinking about doing a book. But essentially we just had twenty or so ideas that were kicking around, just waiting to be forgotten. [...T]hen, at the shop where I was working at the time, we got to play our own music. And my friend came in with that CD that he’d borrowed, and just played [You’re No Good], really loud. And I just started getting ideas. [...] I [...] started seeing some of the images, that we were thinking about doing, in a book. I could see them cut to this piece.’ (Nick Relph, interviewed in Taschen.) The emphasis on youth culture and dance evokes Mark Leckey’s 1999 film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (Tate T11817), a documentary that charts the rise of British youth dance subcultures while reflecting on the collective loss of innocence as each subculture inexorably yields to the next.
‘West end boys / Frieze talks to Oliver Payne and Nick Relph’, Frieze, issue 75, May 2003, pp.70-75.
Andreas Kroksnes and Hans Ulrich Obrist (eds.), Taschen: Oliver Payne & Nick Relph, Oslo 2004.
Judith Nesbitt, Now and Then: Art Now at Tate Britain, London, 2004, pp.9-13, p.40.