A Memory Of A Thing: Our Recollection of An Interview with Dan Lopatin, and A Brief Look Into His New Album, "Age Of"

June 14, 2018

Dan Lopatin, also known as Oneohtrix Point Never, just released his latest album of experimental and ambient music titled Age Of. He has also incorporated an expansive audiovisual experience that involves performances at MoMA PS1 and the Barbican. With Age Of, Lopatin conceptualizes communication in the internet age, twisting and contorting original instrumentation and samples into a glorious soundscape.

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I had the chance to interview Lopatin on the phone in late May. Our 15 minute conversation ended up being close to an hour. We chatted about Western Massachusetts, (where we both attended college,) music journalism, art school, and DIY venues. As we spoke, he would reference an artist or concept that reminded him of one facet of what he does, loose associations that make perfect sense when explained. I listened on, briefly asking questions as he discussed the nuances in his choice for album art, the feeling he wanted to communicate with his live performances, and the basis of his maximal approach to creation, which he calls Compressionism. I had opened 16 tabs before we hit 30 minutes.

He articulated something I hadn’t heard put into words, a radical acceptance of the information age where, rather than condemning the neverending torrent of information, he found a language, or something like that, to compress the content into something tangible, coming back out as one thing. Although it came in as hundreds, or millions of images, references, sounds, commercials, TV shows, movies, and everythings, he had found one way to compress that content into a unit, which would then need to be decompressed afterwards.

OPNAgeOfAlbumCoverFULLAge Of album cover, based on "The Great Whatsit" by Jim Shaw

I asked him about Jim Shaw, whose image "The Great Whatsit" became the basis of Age Of’s cover. The painting features a computer opening with a shining radiance, as the crowd gazes off at something even bigger in the distance. He told me about stumbling across it at Metro Pictures in New York, and being struck by how well it captured a similar representation of the concept he was working towards. A fortuitous find considering how many bits and pieces play a role in Lopatin’s process.

Embarrassingly, my recording application failed to capture the audio of our conversation, so I started piecing together a quick write-up based on what we spoke about. I would try to remember a quote or idea, and then use the internet to fill in the gaps, reopening the conversation in my head and on the screen. I went to my bookmarked tabs: A press preview of Jim Shaw’s show at Metro Pictures, saved images created by Lopatin’s collaborator Nate Boyce, a picture of what signs may look like to humans in the future with no context, and the website for the Ray Cats Solution. Throughout reading these, I slowly pieced back together our conversation. Looking back through, I know for a fact that I missed some things that I remember finding absolutely incredible, but considering I flipped through a hyper-speed information portal, I factor that possibility into all of my writing (sorry). 

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I think generally we're coming to a point where words are, in a way, less meaningful. Sometimes we’re bombarded by so many words and images that all we can grasp in the look backwards is some vague feeling that something happened, but putting that into words, and imagining how someone will read the words, is more laborious than it's worth, considering most people have probably quit out of this article by now. 

I wouldn’t claim that I can recollect and recreate something the same way that he does, but it became an interesting parallel; trying to piece together pictures and snippets that give a solid representation of an idea. With Age Of, and Compressionism, Lopatin succeeds in starting to piece together infinitely more references into a sensory experience that channels them in an abstract, yet masterful way.––Eben Benson