The work BOXES+LOOPS by THE SPINNING BOY is a dialogue between the comfort and anxiety created by limitations. The work looks at the positives and negatives of restricting space and time. Rhythm, by definition, is satisfying because we know what’s coming next, but repetition is monotonous. Knowing our place in the world makes us secure but also constricts us.

BOXES+LOOPS is heavily influenced by concepts explored by Gilles Deleuze in his 1968 publication ‘Difference and Repetition’, which looks at ideas of how change happens over time. Deleuze’s post-structural approach suggests we create meaning through difference; we assess everything compared to what preceded it. This is how we understand music of all kinds, but the repetitive component is heightened in music composed of digital samples and loops. Furthermore, using non-synched loops, a subtle time shift occurs, creating the evolving process of phasing. Deleuze notion of ‘virtuality’ points out that there is no such thing as perfect repetition; everything repeated adds more ‘noise’ with the ‘signal’ and creates something new.

The media used is a combination of lo-fi audio, created live through improvised performance, electro-acoustic instruments, delay pedals and various quasi-obsolete technologies, and looped video projections shot by the artist.

The videos take the form of short visual essays on urban locations and performances by actors playing characters created through improvisation. These videos are played back in ‘cut-up’ sections, repeating visual motifs or characters soundbites that combine with the audio to create an integrated two-channel work.

BOXES+LOOPS takes the form of a trilogy following the artist’s own experience dividing his time between three continents from 2003 to 2015. Interrogating the conflict between the familiar and flux, the work has three settings: Ireland, India, and the USA, and thus entering the ‘Old’, ‘New’ and ‘Third World’ contexts, questions emerge as to what is quotidian. An act, a hope, or an environment may appear exotic and alienating to one viewer but utterly mundane to another.

BOXES+LOOPS Los Angelenos

BOXES+LOOPS pt. 1: Los Angelenos reflects on sounds, images and behaviours of fictionalized characters living in a city that notoriously sells the dream of transcending the everyday through escapism, celebrity and glamour. But even in LA, people have their routine, fall into bad habits, and dreams of being unique are, in fact, universal.

Concerning itself with the eternal struggle between the rewards of familiarity and the deadening effect of redundancy, BOXES+LOOPS also engages with the very contemporary matter of our rapidly changed and changing relationships with digital technologies. The tension between human error and technological precision is examined in the work on both a thematic and performative level. The Aesthetic of Failure is an important influence on the approach.

THE SPINNING BOY, aka Marc-Ivan O’Gorman, is an artist who has been developing his two-pronged practice of filmmaking and improvised performances since the 1990s. A founding member of the non-verbal improv theatre company, Essential Theatre, he privileges that unplanned, unrepeatable quality of live invention in his performances. Since the 1990s, his films have spanned genres from art film to narrative film.

This work was first presented at the Time-Based Art Pop-Up in Carlow, Ireland as a Culture Night Commission in September 2018.


BOXES+LOOPS pt.1 – Los Angelenos

BOXES+LOOPS pt.1: Los Angelenos

45 minute film screening with live improvised audio/music accompaniment

Part one of BOXES+LOOPS is set in Los Angeles, where an ethnically diverse selection of ordinary men and women describe themselves and their hopes for the future. Interspersed with these direct-to-camera pieces is footage of the characters involved in everyday activities like going to the gym, memorizing information for class, or working their day jobs. Also included are clips of images of the street life of Los Angeles.

These clips are played with portions live looped, and accompanied by ‘post-digital’ music, also commonly known as glitch, or microsound music, created using traditional instruments, triggered ‘musique concrete’ samples, and various lo-fi technologies. The aleatoric music produced by the imperfect interface of man and machine introduces the element of creation in the performance. The performance here is not merely a reproduction of a prepared work but an extemporaneous composition in the moment.

The characters featured have been created by actors using improvisation under the artist’s direction. Below are samples of the piece-to-camera component of the work.

These clips are at times played in full, but sometimes cut-up and repeated, producing loop soundbites, which create a modernist, incidental ‘cut-up’ effect developed by Dadaists and subsequently mastered by the Hip-hop artists of the late 80s.

BOXES+LOOPS – Debut Performance


BOXES+LOOPS (Pt. 1. Los Angelenos) received its first performance by THE SPINNING BOY at the Time-Based Art Pop-up, in Carlow as a commission for Culture Night, 2018.

THE SPINNING BOY had previously provided live improvised musical/audio accompaniment to film screenings at this venue. This excerpt from a Carlow Arts Festival screening of Andrei Parajanov’s 1968 symbolic masterpiece The Colour of Pomegranates being an example:

BOXES+LOOPS was the first time THE SPINNING BOY accompanied his own film work with improvised accompaniment. In addition to sampling audio created live, the artist also looped the dialogue from the film and integrated into the audio mix.