DJ Spooky examines D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent, controversial film The Birth of a Nation, which is set during and after the American Civil War and provoked controversy for its treatment of white supremacy and its positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Rebirth of a Nation is Miller’s retelling of The Birth of a Nation as a DJ remix of Griffith’s original work. Using his skills as a music producer and composer to mash music and film techniques, he recontextualizes Griffith’s achievement and places the original film in a moral framework, drawing striking parallels between socio-political conflicts in America during Griffith’s era and today. The film features Miller’s original score, performed and recorded by the Kronos Quartet.
What critics are saying:
“Silent film scores were grandilo- quent, meant to heighten what we saw on screen. Mr. Miller’s score, by contrast, deflects our responses, then alters them. A hip-hop drum beat pulses. (It sounds African and ur- ban American.) A wash of industrial sound is joined by bells and cymbals; a dissonant violin; blues fragments. These are the sounds of history and racial complexity that Griffith tried to suppress. ”
– Margo Jefferson, New York Times
About the Artists:
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. His written work has been published by The Village Voice, The Source, and Artforum, among others, and he is the Editor of Origin Magazine. Miller’s work has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture; the Ludwig Museum in Cologne; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Miami/Art Basel fair, and many other museums and galleries. Miller’s award-winning book “Rhythm Science” was published by MIT Press 2004, and was followed by “Sound Unbound,” an anthology about electronic music and digital media, in 2008. “The Book of Ice”, an experiential visual and acoustic portrait of the Antarctic, was published in 2011 by Random House.
Miller has collaborated with a vast array of recording artists, ranging from Metallica to Chuck D; Steve Reich to Yoko Ono. His large scale, multimedia performance pieces include “Rebirth of a Nation,” “Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica,” which was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the Next Wave Festival 2009, and “Seoul Counterpoint”, written during his residency at Seoul Institute of the Arts in 2014. Miller was the first Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he premiered his work “A Civil War Symphony” in 2013. In 2014, Miller was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, an honor recognizing visionaries at the forefront of global problem solving. Recent projects include “Peace Symphony,” commissioned by UN Peace Boat, “Hidden Code,” a new planetarium show commissioned by Dartmouth College in collaboration with Museum of Science Boston, “Forest Symphony” commissioned by Oregon State University, the CD/DVD of “Rebirth of a Nation” on Cantaloupe Music, and the publication of his fourth book “The Imaginary App” from MIT Press.
Miller is the 2017-2018 recipient of the The Hewlett 50 Arts Commission Award which will support the creation of “QUANTOPIA: The Evolution of the Internet” a multimedia performance and an installation based on the history and evolution of the internet, which premiered at San Francisco’s YBCA in January 2019 to a sold out house. Latest album releases include “Phantom Dancehall” with premier reggae label VP Records and his first blockchain album “The Invisible Hand” commissioned by Breaker.
For more than 40 years, San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet – David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello) – has combined a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagine the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the world’s most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts, releasing more than 60 recordings, collaborating with many of the world’s most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning over 900 works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos has received over 40 awards, including the Polar Music and Avery Fisher Prizes, two of the most prestigious awards given to musicians.
Integral to Kronos’ work is a series of long-running collaborations with many of the world’s foremost composers, including Americans Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich; Azerbaijan’s Franghiz Ali-Zadeh; Russia’s Vladimir Martynov; Poland’s Henryk Górecki; and Serbian-American Aleksandra Vrebalov. Additional collaborators have included Wu Man, Laurie Anderson, Tanya Tagaq, Mahsa Vahdat, Trevor Paglen, Van Dyke Parks, múm, Dawn Upshaw, Noam Chomsky, Tom Waits, Asha Bhosle, Taraf de Haïdouks, and Howard Zinn.
On tour for five months per year, Kronos appears in the world’s most prestigious concert halls, clubs, and festivals. Kronos is equally prolific and wide-ranging on recordings, including the Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated Nuevo (2002) and the 2004 Grammy-winner Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite. Kronos’ most recent releases include the One Earth, One People, One Love: Kronos Plays Terry Riley box set; Folk Songs, which features Sam Amidon, Olivia Chaney, Rhiannon Giddens, and Natalie Merchant singing traditional songs; and Ladilikan, a collaborative album with Trio Da Kali, a “super-group” of Malian griot musicians assembled by Aga Khan Music Initiative.
The nonprofit Kronos Performing Arts Association manages all aspects of Kronos’ work, including the commissioning of new works, concert tours and home season performances, education programs, and a self-produced Kronos Festival. In 2015, Kronos launched Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, an education and legacy project that is commissioning—and distributing for free—the first learning library of contemporary repertoire for string quartet.