For the last several months I have been sorting through the 4,202 music files that I found on Tod's old computer. This work was done as my Senior Honors Project at the University of Rhode Island. This video presentation includes a brief history of Dockstader and an overview of the work that I've been doing.
Exempa440: the cataloguing of Tod Dockstader's computer from Justin H Brierley on Vimeo.
More information and an abstract for the project can be read here.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
As I arrive at my weekly visit with Tod I am always filled with wonder. I wonder what kind of mood I’ll find him in. I wonder if he’ll remember me. I wonder where our conversation will go. And I wonder about the physical details of his surroundings. For example, the items on his small desk are often carefully arranged in some fashion whose meaning I can only guess at.
The one item that is the most wonderful of all is his blue walker. It’s the sort of walker that has four wheels, a seat, and a small basket under the seat. Often times this basket is so full of random items that it doesn’t fully close, rendering it’s functionality as a seat moot. There’s usually an assortment of DVDs, some loose, some mismatched, others unopened. There are sometimes articles that somebody has printed or torn from a magazine. Occasionally a bit of a plastic plant will be stuck in the hole at the end of the handgrip as a bit of decoration. One time he had a stuffed bumblebee tucked into the pocket of his jacket that hung from his walker. Apparently he had hijacked it from one of his visits to Beverly. (The bumblebee can be seen in the penultimate shot of Unlocking Dockstader: episode one).
And then there are the tissues: facial tissues, half rolls of toilet paper, paper napkins. He’s constantly grabbing them from around the home; he’ll see a box sitting on a table and say “Oh I need those,” grabbing them and adding them to the collection. To be fair, he does frequently have the sniffles, so it’s not like it’s just some weird pathology.
Other times the blue walker has been a source of concern as he’s left it somewhere and forgot where it is. The staff will buzz around looking in his usual places until it turns up in a bathroom or on the patio or wherever it might be.
On a recent visit I discovered that he had acquired? Stolen? Let’s say “appropriated” these two little flowers in their pots.
Monday, February 11, 2013
When I first met Tod Dockstader, he was a name on the spine of a few CDs in my collection. He was the sound of a music that I didn’t (and still don’t) completely understand but that I was intensely drawn towards. He was a myth of a recording engineer who created a world all his own and on his own terms. Today he is still all of those things, but for me he has become something else entirely. He has become my friend. We’ve built up our weekly routine: I explain, to his great amazement, that my Zoom H4n replaces his old Nagra tape deck and how my tiny SD card can hold hours and hours of recordings, we share laughs as we listen to his music, and as I leave him he genuinely thanks me for my visit. I believe, despite his dementia, that he truly does remember me, and I know from his smile as I leave that he enjoys our time together.
As I move into the next phase of making this documentary, I hope to show this human side of Tod. For every creator, no matter how great or little their work, no matter how tragic or commonplace their life, is human. Nowhere in the previously existing writings about Tod do you discover one of the most startling (for me anyway) facts about him: he’s funny! He has this strange sense of humor that often comes through in the amusing wordplay he engages in. I can’t do it justice here in written and remembered form, but I hope to share those moments with you so that you too can get to know him the way I do.
So, I will be showing these other sides of Tod in two ways. First, I will be trying to capture those moments on film and/or audio, and second through this blog. I will be occasionally posting musings like this one to share some personal moments, and to reflect on my thoughts as I continue on this fascinating journey.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Here is the first in a series of podcasts about Tod Dockstader. This one is particularly emotionally challenging as Tod, in a moment of lucidity, describes his experience of losing his mind and struggling to return to a "normal" state of mind. Tod's Dream by UncleJubb
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I've been working with legendary electronic composer Tod Dockstader for the last year, trying to write his life story and uncover the mysteries of his as-yet-unreleased late works. The first phase of this work is the short documentary seen above. This site will eventually feature extensive biographical information, new short (or perhaps not-so-short) documentaries as they get produced, rare photos, cartoons Tod drew in college, podcasts (Todcasts!), music, and more. Be sure to check back often as new things get added.