Q&A: Graphic Designer David Wexler on Media, Design and Strangeloop


The following sentence is false. The previous sentence is true. This self-referential paradox that cognitive scientist and philosopher Douglas Hofstadter describes as a “strange loop,” a phenomenon that occurs when you move through real or imagined levels, but unexpectedly end up where you started.

The works of David Wexler, a graphic designer who also goes by the stage name Dr. Strangeloop, are directly inspired by Hofstadter’s analyzes of infinitely recurring objects in his sets for Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and the Rolling Stones.

Wexler will give a conference for Design | Media Art’s lecture series on Tuesday, where he’ll go from the backstage to the Broad stage to discuss the form of media and design.

The Daily Bruin’s Daniel Alcazar spoke with Wexler, who was in the middle of rehearsals for EDM artist Flume’s Australian tour, about his upbringing, collaborating while creating visual performances and why which his next conference is significant for him.

Daily noise: Where does the name “Strangeloop” come from?

David Wexler: I’ve always loved loops, especially “strange loops”, infinite recursive sequences, stuff you see in the work of artists like MC Escher… Video feedback loops are a great way to have a visceral impression of “strange loops”, and when I was a kid it was one of the fundamentally fascinating effects that got me to work with video.

comics: Can you preview your speech?

DW: I want to talk about media, I want to demonstrate the kind of expressiveness one can present nowadays when working with live media and I want to discuss in more detail my background in the specific field of design and art in which I currently find myself. I also want to talk about my grandfather, Haskell Wexler, who passed away recently. He was a very important person in my life and I know the lives of many other people. He had a really good relationship with UCLA, and I think if I’m going to be there, I really want to honor that.

Experimental hip-hop artist Flying Lotus performs using one of Wexler’s set design collaborations called “Layer3”. The design features projections behind and in front of the performer, which work in tandem to enhance performance. (Courtesy of Red Bull Academy of Music)

comics: Can you tell us about upcoming projects?

DW: I am working on a living archive project of all my drawings and paintings. I’m building a new site to distribute visual content, working on a movie with E. Elias Merhige, finishing a music video for Daedelus and Kneebody with Gavin Gamboa, and also lots of exciting stuff I’m not sure I can talk about on .

comics: Are you a self-taught artist?

DW: I’ve always done art, but I studied film for a year at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and studied video installation and “mystical states” at Santa Monica College. Whatever that means. I think doing my own major was my way of focusing more directly on what really interested me in art and design. I guess I’m mostly self-taught, but I’ve had a lot of great mentors, people like Leigh McCloskey (and) E. Elias Merhige, and I’m very lucky to have a lot of amazing artists around me. challenge and teach me things all the time.

comics: What kinds of themes and ideas influence your work?

DW: Loops, sci-fi, altered states, cosmic pessimism, natural patterns, infinite complexity, iterated strobe patterns of hyper-dimensional geometry. Hyper-reality, simulations, artificial intelligence, dreams, are also very important (for my work).

comics: What does the collaboration process look like when working with other artists?

DW: At this point in my career, I’m collaborating with a lot of different musicians on creating visual performances. Sometimes there is a lot of direct communication with the musician, but more often I collaborate with a lot of different artists and engineers who surround the musician to create something that visually reflects their sound, their iconography, their universe. The process can be drastically different depending on the show, but involves a lot of the same tools you might use if you were making a movie, storyboards, pre-visualization, design, editing.

Although there seems to be an additional freedom in form, in that it hasn’t been around as long as cinema, there is more of a desire to break convention, to combine sound and image in innovative ways that can create new kinds of storytelling. , or simply treating the imagery as pure spectacle, somehow devoid of traditional narrative.

comics: What is your most memorable collaboration?

DW: I’m not sure I can tell. Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Skrillex, The Weeknd – all were very memorable experiences, and I definitely take away something different from any artist I collaborate with.

comics: What’s the last song you listened to?

DW: Flume’s “Holdin On”… 27 times.

Compiled by Daniel Alcazar, Senior Executive of the Daily Bruin.


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