Remixing racism

DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid is a bit of an enigma. Spooky, or Paul Miller as he’s known in the civilian world, has taken on the world of academia, writing, DJing, painting, performance art and computer science. He has taught music-mediated art at the European Graduate School, has been editor-in-chief of the online magazine Artbyte, and has collaborated with musicians such as Yoko Ono, Killa Priest of Wu-Tang Clan, and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. His latest book, Rhythm Science, is a stream-of-consciousness manifesto that has made waves in the underground DJ community.

He is the personification of Attention Deficit Disorder and damn it if this guy hasn’t taken on the world — several projects at a time. And, oh yeah, he’s only 34.

“People want branding. They need to think of you one way. I try to suspend that,” Miller says.

Miller is best known for Rebirth of a Nation, a multimedia installation in which he recasts D.W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 silent film, The Birth of a Nation, into a postmodern exploration of racism, technology and the power of propaganda. The original film, after all, was used as a recruitment film for the Ku Klux Klan until the 1960s. Miller has been commissioned to present Rebirth at museums and universities all over the world, and, this week, he comes to Ann Arbor.

In an interview with National Public Radio in October 2004, Miller gave some insights into his traveling exhibition: “In a certain sense what I’m doing is portraying the film as he [Griffith] intended it. This is a film glorifying a horrible situation. And I think a modern sensibility is something where people will look at this and go like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe this, I don’t relate to it, I don’t think this is right, what does he mean?’ So it’s not letting him off the hook so much as presenting the film and actually having it fall in on itself.”

This installation will use three different screens to simultaneously show pieces of Griffith’s original movie along with other video images and electronica music accompaniment.

“It’s really just for people who are open to information,” Miller says.


Rebirth of a Nation will show at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 14, at the Power Center, 121 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor; 734-764-2538.

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