"My role as a clown, trickster and village idiot is to parody excessive seriousness by playing with taboos, rules, and social norms. My inspiration comes from my heart. I perform for smiles and laughter, loosening people’s armor, and opening up a portal for imagination, creativity and love.
Some people see me as a raving lunatic, pompous “artistic” hipster, or attention-starved 9 year-old, but people don’t consciously understand the role of a clown in society. Read between the lines and you will start to see things from a different perspective. By breaking down boundaries, I provide you, the viewer, with permission to open your mind and realize it’s okay to act silly from time to time. We may trick ourselves into believing we know everything, constantly striving for perfection in a society that requires a civilized, job-holding, serious individual. We cannot be perfect. If we allow ourselves the chance to be flawed perhaps we can let the obstacles humble us, rather than make us rigid. In the end we can let our guards down to attain our most basic need of giving and receiving love." - Matthew Silver
The project was to consider the specific and singular. I wanted to find a current news story that either describes an idiosyncratic individual or a very specific condition for which a small number of people would have to adapt and then design an object that is adapted in a highly specific way to the idiosyncratic conditions of the life or situation depicted in the news story or character. From there - make a film.
Matthew Silver is a a street performer in New York City. While we were at Ithaca College film school, I was immediately drawn to his personality and used him in many of my student films. Underneath his act is what I have always been drawn to about Matt. Pure love. I think his haters should think a bit deeper than what they see purely on the surface.
What excited me about this project was trying to find the impetus for Matthew’s practices performing on the streets of New York City. My rationale was it needed to come from a device that only he would be able to design based on his eccentric character and his lens on the world we live in. What makes him talk about chickens one day as opposed to rats or hipsters? What makes him discuss design in a performance as opposed to monkeys and or making sounds of flatulence? After talking to him on the phone I was intrigued at how when he wakes up in the morning he jogs in place as opposed to how we "normal human beings" start the day with a cup of coffee. I find his whole process extremely fascinating as I think we all should.
Completely fictional, my prototype was a device that would not only give him a means for exercise in the morning when he woke up, but also a way in which to contrive ideas such as what props to use, what behavior to act like, what tasks to indulge in and what place to actually go that day for him to perform.
As Matthew calls himself The Great Performer, his device is called The Great Force Perceiver. As Matthew puts it, he can now "get his juices flowing" by either running in place or using the perciever as an ergometer that will then tell him what to do that day. The materials used were based on what Matthew would intentionally use to make such a device for himself. i.e...his continual mention of chickens in his performances is purely referenced with chicken wire as material.
Using the character of the curious observer, played by Joshua Feldman, I wanted to invoke the idea that this device was so powerful that it could make someone happy. We all know that this isn't possible but what if there were such a device? Would you want access to it? What I love about Matthew is that he acts as that device in public. No matter how shitty you feel, Matthew continually tries to make you realize that you are here in this world to enjoy too. Why not try and breathe for a second or take a moment of pause to let your true "happy" instincts come to fruition. But ultimately, only you can make that happen with the choices you essentially make, he can't do it for you. No matter how ridiculous you think he is, just being in his presence you can't help but crack a slight smile. If your not...(i'll be rather blunt about it ) you have some work to do.