Selected works by Greg Reitman
Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your work as a video artist and the concept behind your Flying Blynd project.
Greg Reitman: Flying Blynd is my Instagram account where I create :15 second video art installations.
The project started as a collaboration between myself and Alejandro Nieto, a close friend and incredible NYC musician. I had just moved to Los Angeles in 2013 after living in NYC/Brooklyn for 15 years. We wanted to start a project together from opposite coasts as a way to stay in touch and start creating. I was brand new to Los Angeles trying to find my way with a lot of downtime those first few months while looking for editing work. I’ve always loved Instagram, and they had just enabled the :15 second video upload feature. Alejandro was totally onboard and was the first music contributor to the project. I had never created video art before but I did have a pretty strong vision of the aesthetic I wanted to go for.
I named it Flying Blynd mostly because I had no clue what I was doing though I was pretty confident it was going be unique project.
AM: What is your biggest inspiration?
GR: My biggest creative inspiration for my videos is color. I’m fascinated how various shades, tones and hues can evoke raw emotions.
I’m hitting a pretty signifiant mid-life age milestone this summer, so I’ve been in total reflection mode. I lost my Mom in 2010, which was obviously a really challenging time for many years, and I was devastated. The world can be a pretty dark place, and when I say I dark, I mean literally. For quite some time, it was like I was seeing everything in black and white. I needed color back in my life to heal. So when I started Flying Blynd, I promised myself that every single video would be super colorful. I mean over the top colorful. Deep purples, pinks, neon green and baby blues. The colors really do reflect my healing process.
AM: What themes do you typically pursue in your video art?
GR: My videos are free form and don’t stick to a strict narrative. There are plenty of movies, reality shows (debatable) and stuff on TV if you want a real linear story. Not everything you watch needs to have a beginning, middle and end. If you take a step back, why should this be the only option?
Sure, I get that people need to feel part of something and identify with the characters in a linear way. I'd like to think that people don't need to be spoon-fed on how to feel and react. My videos are theme based where it’s all pretty subjective. Some of the themes I love exploring are greed, fulfillment, rage and compassion.
AM: We love your mix of imagery and content in each work. What's your process for finding the pieces for videos?
GR: I have over a dozen music contributors who submit original tracks for each video. The first thing I do is listen. Once I get a certain sort of vibe from it combined with how I’m feeling that day, I start pulling together an idea for a theme.
I find public domain footage on various websites, and I'm secretly obsessed with stock video. I have subscriptions to a few [stock sites], and it’s incredible what you can find via that search box. “Man running on beach with suit in slo mo” is my current favorite.
As far as the exact imagery, I’m totally into anything related to early academic films. I remember watching those in grammar school and even thinking at the age of 10, WTF am I even watching? These government films were totally lecturing us on sex ed and proper table etiquette among other random topics. But I watch them today, and I'm like, THIS. IS. AWESOME. Growing up on the east coast in the 80’s, I loved watching public access TV. Especially all the NYC ones, so I love exploring those, too. Early computer art and drive-in movie ads are other favorites of mine.
AM: When creating a piece, do you always create the video based on a specific song, or do you ever choose a soundtrack based on a completed work of video art?
GR: Almost all of the time, I search for footage and create the video after listening to the soundtrack. I’ve tried it the other way, but it falls short most of the time. I have really incredible and supportive music makers from all over the world sending me tracks, and I’m so grateful they have the confidence in me to trust my instincts.
AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
GR: It’s funny. I moved here in 2013 and really did not like Los Angeles. I was that typical annoying New Yorker who compared everything to NYC. You know that guy who’s like, “You have to drive everywhere!” and “Traffic is the worst!”? That was totally me. But you know what’s worse? Having to get to work at 9am on a Monday during a snowstorm walking through disgusting slush, getting on the subway with a billion other commuters only to have your “local” stop turn “express” without any prior warning. I’d be in the village having to go uptown 3 stops to work and the announcer is like “next stop, 72nd street!" Yes, I’m a bit jaded.
But I’d say over the past year and a half, I really fell in love with this town. New Yorkers complain there is no culture here. It’s total BS. There’s so much art and neighborhood culture, it’s insane.
I don’t think I’d ever be able to pull off Flying Blynd if I were still living in Brooklyn! As I mentioned earlier, color really does play a huge role in everything I experience, and LA takes the cake on that one. The sun is so much sunnier here, and the landscape is so much more colorful and lush. It’s really inspiring to walk outside every morning to incredible weather and opportunity to do stuff outdoors all year round. Some East coasters who live out here miss the 4 seasons. I could care less. Sure, days sort of flow into one another but sometimes that’s not such a bad thing.
AM: What music is currently inspiring you?
GR: Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up listening to Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead. I spent many of my college summers following Phish all over the place, so it’s fair to say I love improvisational rock and roll. Lately, it’s been Ryan Adams, Tom Petty and old school rap. Guys like Diggable Planets and Gangstarr. I’ve been getting into more electronic sounds lately, as it lends itself really well to the vibe I’m going for in my art.
AM: What can we expect to see from you next?
GR: In addition to posting on Instagram, I’ll be creating a ton more longer form video art on my website. Over the next several months, I’m going to be projecting my installations at a few music festivals here in LA and abroad, some art walks and a couple of galleries in Europe. In the early fall, I’ll be creating some video art in the commercial world for a few fashion brands.