So, you like Daniel Johnston‘s music. And maybe you’ve glanced over the Waller, Texas-based outsider artist’s drawings—surreal folk-art interpretations of Superman and Casper the Friendly Ghost, along with other, harder-to-define images—and liked those, too. So how’s about getting lost in a three-dimensional labyrinth where his drawings spring to life and gyrate to his greatest hits?
Last week Austin, Texas-based game company Dr. Fun Fun released Hi, How Are You, an iPhone game based on Johnston’s work. It’s pretty weird.
It’s also habit-forming: In terms of rock-nerd esoterica, Hi, How Are You beats the pants off of Brian Eno‘s snoozy iPhone-based ambient music generator, Bloom.
Maybe some other outsider/folk artists, or their estates, should consider getting in on this as well. A couple of recommendations:
Francis E. Dec: While suffering from schizophrenia, Dec published reams of racist/anti-Semitic/anti-government screeds populated by bizarre entities such as “Frankenstein Earphone Radio” and “Eyesight Television.”
Possible iPhone App: Given the current tenor of political discourse in the United States, Dec’s rants no longer seem all that ranty. In fact, Dec’s language, once considered the hysterical (albeit kind of hip-sounding) words of a total loon, don’t seem all that far afield from the diatribes of today’s talk radio. A Francis E. Dec iPhone app could supply snippets from the author’s writings—”eternal Frankenstein living death slavery” or “inevitability of gradualness conspiracy,” for example—with which to pepper policy arguments should the Glenn Becks of the world suddenly find themselves short on words.
Henry Darger: A reclusive artist and painter who published a 15,145 page manuscript called In The Realms of the Unreal, which includes The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several watercolor illustrations.
Possible iPhone App: Storybook imagery and brutality? Darger’s work clearly has some unexploited crossover appeal for the goth demographic. An iPhone app could render the artist’s epic story as a manga-style comic book, with bratty looking caricatures of the Vivian Girls. A streaming-audio soundtrack could be provided by Gravediggaz.
Howard Finster: A Baptist reverend from Summerville, Georgia who turned to painting at God’s bequest, eventually completing roughly 46,000 pieces of art.
Possible iPhone App: Among Finster’s most widely recognized works were the record covers he created for R.E.M.’s Reckoning and Talking Heads’ Little Creatures. The latter was even named “Album Cover of the Year” by Rolling Stone. So, perhaps an art-school album-art generator can be created that would match scripture verses to images—as was Finster’s calling card—after being supplied certain basic information. For instance: folk-inflected art rock vs. art-inflected folk rock, or, which art school did you graduate from/grow disenchanted with and drop out of?