Blue Mercury was recorded at the Experimental Television Center in July 1986. A year had gone by since making Bad Knees. After living in Owego, building hardware for the Center and developing my own synths at the same time, I had moved back to NYC in the summer of 1985. The west edge of Park Slope was still a little rough, and I didn’t have much space so I parked my system at a friend’s loft in Soho above Arnolds Turtle. I had little work and no money, teaching at the Center for Media Arts, but I would take the train into Manhattan every day. I made a great deal of video, however for some reason, during this period I didn’t record very much of what I generated. At the center we often saw recording as documentation of a real time process, one that could exist as performance without ever being recorded. A patch would go in, you would work and rework it, until finally you make a recording and then another and another. My edits, almost entirely, followed these sequential recordings chronologically, with a great deal of the documentation cut away. Even with all the imagery that I generated in Soho, all the patches, for some reason, I had left off the recording part of the process. I made one piece with Laurie Needell called Hymn to Re, there were a few other recordings on Spring Street, but at the time of writing this I have yet to look at any of it. Jeff, who’s loft it was, had a straight cut editing system and it was here I edited Before the Flood.
After everyone left the Spring Street loft I parked my system with Hank Linhart at his apartment on North 13th Street in Greenpoint. Though I didn’t get much recorded there either, Hank, Terry Mohre and myself would get together once a week and collaborate, video jam. I have fond memories of these sessions and one piece came out of it that I don’t seem to have a recording of. I remember Jeff sold Hank his editing system (I sold Jeff’s M3 to FVA), and Hymn to Re was edited on North 13th on Jeff’s former decks.
Blue Mercury turned out to be recorded in a session that was my last trip to the ETC as a resident. Like Bad Knees I cut a super short 3 minute edit that I showed around for a while. Unfortunately there was an audio hum in most of the recordings from that session. I have filtered it out somewhat, but unfortunately the filtering limits the tonality of the sound track. The title was inspired from the first segment, after that the rest of the work veers toward a bloody place. I later made a 15 minute edit of this material for an installation (More than Blood) that was shown a few times, finally it evolved into a collaboration with Charlie Citron. We first showed it at Monte Video in Amsterdam and then in 1991 at the old Thread Waxing space in Soho. Though I didn’t make too many installations, in part due to the fact that I stopped working soon after, and in part I didn’t have the space or funding, they gave me the opportunity to allow myself to be a little bit more verbose, showing a good deal more of the body of work that went into the shorter recordings. Given the opportunity, it is now the longer versions that I try to show.