For a very different aesthetic take on the United States’ Independence Day celebrations, here’s electronic producer Steve Nalepa joining visualist superstar Johnny de Kam for a collaboration. I find it makes for some nice, chilled-out Monday, July 4 inspiration, wherever you are – no marching-band bombast required. Nalepa has been sharing his Ableton skills with the Dubspot school, online and off, and Johnny de Kam, if you don’t know his work, is one of the leading visualists on the planet, a skilled craftsman of motion and live visual performance, as well as a founder of visual software maker Vidvox.

See, what has America accomplished if not send a man to Jupiter and put human civilians on a permanent space station served by daily commercial Pan Am flights? Wait a second here…

For an alternate take, here’s a second video, also by Johnny for the same track — thanks, ChuckEye!

Now that I’ve opened that can of worms, by posting a 4th of July video — or, erm, box of firecrackers — it’s worth saying that symbolic holidays can be a time for reflection on how we relate to our civil societies.

For all the more troubled parts of America’s history, there are reasons to celebrate, too, as an international community of artists, the sequence of events that would eventually enshrine in US law protections for freedom of expression, religious practice, separation of church and state, and a free press – institutions that around the globe are closely interconnected with our freedom to create digital music and motion. (I can say that, doubly, too, because I’m not actually in America at the moment, and the US is cutting those patriotic fireworks shows to make a gesture toward budget cutting – take that to mean what you like.) But as I talk to artists from Moscow to Sao Paolo, I find common themes in fighting to build free communities of artmakers, that transcend history and borders. These may not involve fighting the British Army, to be sure, but there are legal and civil policy decisions, philosophical ideas, that are part of these historical events, too.

There, in case someone were to decide to go on a flame war about US holidays given the video’s theme, I’ve gotten my word in and can leave you to it. Now, I’m off to celebrate my Fourth of July with the awesome people of the Netherlands. (Neth-er-lands! Neth-er-lands!) And yes, to my home nation, I hope as always for a bright future.

Oh, and if you’re mostly celebrating the Nation of Ableton Live, here’s one of those Nalepa videos I mean… as a tasty, watermelon dessert on this post.

  • ChuckEye

    Another take of Johnny's on the same track. (I think I prefer this one to the 2001 footage, personally)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yax0UYpSc2A

  • Peter Kirn

    Speak for yourself, ChuckEye. I don't think any American will forget the pride, in country, in the flag, they felt the moment we sent a man to Jupiter. 

    ;)

    (uh, yes, seriously, added the second footage to the story. I do like the textural, architectural quality of the 2001 take, though.)