Recently we've seen musicians like Willis Earl Beal, Dirty Projectors, and Dum Dum Girls expand into the realm of experimental film. It's not a trend: musicians have worked within discipline since before the conception of the music video. And so, with deference to Yoko Ono, Sun Ra, Brian Eno, Genesis P-Orridge and countless others, here's a quick and dirty introduction to some of works by artists you may not know have dabbled in the field.
Kim Gordon (with Chris Habib), Teenie Weenie Boppie (1997)
Teenagers with their first video cameras, making single shot music video tributes to their favourite songs, aspiring to glamorous positions in male-dominated industries. Kim Gordon's experiences in the worlds of visual art and music are likely responsible for the anxiety coursing through this piece, a collaboration with artist Chris Habib. Kim's three nieces star, and her concern for them and their lack of revolutionary role models in the entertainment industries is palpable and tragic.
David Byrne, Two Moon July (1986)
An excerpt from Two Moon July (a TV series which also featured Laurie Anderson) finds David Byrne playing a cinephile who gets riled up at the prospect of this year's film releases, wearing a hole in the gallery floor from pacing. Perhaps an ancestor to the omnivorous rantings of Tim Heidecker's On Cinema character?
Kurt Cobain's Horror Movies (1984)
A 17-year-old Kurt Cobain and his future Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic take a Super 8 camera and make a horror film, hailing Satan by way of drugs, animal mutilation and suicide. It was shot in 1984, when the USA's perception of music's nefarious influence on children was only just beginning to fester into moral panic (it would be a year before the formation of the PMRC, and six until Judas Priest would be sued for implanting subliminal messages in their music). In that atmosphere, their teenage impertinence takes on a revolutionary shade, especially with the cuts to various neighbours and clueless strangers: the camera's perspective becomes an unblinking staredown, daring its subjects to unholster their petty morals.
Captain Beefheart, Small Yo Yo Stuff (1993)
Though not directed by Don Van Vliet, his imposing spirit commandeers the film from Anton Corbijn, and remains a fascinating and eerie portrait of a reclusive artist, filmed over a decade after he retired from music to paint.