Call for Submissions thru March 22: Video Artists/Experimental Filmmakers for Performance Project

Seeking 13 Video Artists and/or Experimental Filmmakers of a “darkly emotional bent” for a 13-part song-cycle, IN THESE BOXES, premiering at a Los Angeles area non-profit arts center this summer, and then continuing on tour through the following year.

Award-winning singer-songwriter Dudley Saunders ( will perform the 13 story-songs before a screen on which 13 video/film art pieces will be projected.

These are not meant to be “music videos” but rather art pieces that work with the live performance and evoke the content of Dudley’s story-songs. Artists should consider the complete image to be a combination of the video and the live performer. As such, simpler, evolving concepts are often most effective (but not required).

The song content ranges from Appalachian murder ballads to cyberpunk tales to sexually-graphic homoerotic narratives. There are no restrictions on the visual content.

Ideally, we would like to work with 13 different artists, each of whom would take on a different song in the cycle and bring their own vision to bear on it. The artists will work in consultation with Dudley, who will himself be creating interstitial video elements to stitch the evening together.

The finished piece will tour various cities throughout the U.S., and you will be featured in the program and in all press materials.

There will be a token honorarium for each artist. The songs can be heard now at, but MP3s can be made available on request. The songs are:

Zero Out (In These Boxes)
The Rosewood Casket (
The Man in the Game ( NOTE: This song concerns the relationship between an adolescent boy and the man in his video game. As such, we are also open to anyone who has an existing photo-realist, hyper-masculine game character that can be incorporated into the final video art piece.
Truck of the Rising Sun (
Wheelchair in the 7-11 Parking Lot (
Love in Crystal (
Love Song for Jeffrey Dahmer (
Jesus Didn’t Love Us Enough (
Look For Me (
What Rats Are We ( NOTE: This song centers on a lesbian butch-femme couple, so we are especially interested in the participation of lesbian/queer artists for this video.
The Rain on 8th Avenue (
We Were Right (

Interested artists should submit links to work samples and their preferred song choices no later than March 22. Finalists will have discussion with Dudley about the songs and their visual ideas before final choices are made. Preliminary Quicktimes need to be delivered by May 4. To submit, or for more information, email


“I moved from Kentucky to New York’s East Village in the early 1980s and began to see, over and over again, something I didn’t understand: the personal contents of people’s apartments piled into the garbage.

There would be letters and photographs, or Playbills from decades of playgoing, clothes and old throw pillows, even artworks – the kind of personal things that tell a person’s life. In time, I realized that people were dying of AIDS in these apartments, people rejected by the families who would otherwise have come to take these things and keep them in memory. Instead, their lives were disappearing in the garbage.

At the time, I was writing a sort of modern equivalent of old mountain folk songs, which I didn’t yet understand were really all about the people disappearing from my world.

Instead, I became haunted by the work of Joseph Cornell, who assembled things in boxes, often very ordinary things, in such a way that they evoked missing lives. Cyberpunk writer William Gibson incorporated a version of these boxes in his novel COUNT ZERO, and the book so haunted me that I put up passages from it on my wall.

It was only after I wrote the song ZERO OUT (IN THESE BOXES), that I realized my songs are my version of these boxes: they take details from the lives of ignored people, forgotten people, shunned people, so that I can make them visible again, show that they were here. That they mattered.

In this project, a video will take the viewer inside of 13 different boxes, in which we will find the video-evocation of the life I am singing about. It is this video-evocation that I am asking other artists to find with their own eyes and bring to life again.”

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Welcome to Strange Troubadours

While media in all its forms has been changing, challenging artists and the human needs they serve have not. Book publishers, record companies, film distributors etc etc — all have collapsed as usable institutions for art that is not comforting.

Yes, the rise of social media and digital distribution have opened up opportunities for these artists, but it also leaves them on their own, wearing marketing and clerical hats that don’t fit their heads. Still, with hard work and some smart guidance, they can get surprisingly far. (Some I personally know actually make a living now.) And given the fact that the old institutions can’t be trusted to provide the business services they used to, there’s really very little choice.

But the one thing that labels still have and these artists still need is the brand of a label. Once, if Farrar, Strauss & Giroux published your novel, you hit the market with a certain literary cache. Or more recently, when the band My Brightest Diamond hit SXSW under the auspices of Sufjan Stevens and his label, the sudden attention paid by the media was attention of just the right art-folk-rock sort.

That is what Strange Troubadours is here to provide. If you like the work of our first artist, Dudley Saunders, then you can be sure the next artist will occupy the same offbeat territory. The novels that come out will bear emotional similarities too, and so will any film or video. And the more work that comes out under our logo, the more it will pre-identify the work to the media and the public.

But unlike old style institutions, there is no infrastructure to support. Business-wise, the artists are still on their own. But now, they are in good company. And it’s a company that will give them a clear public identity without taking one cent of the income they derive from their art.

Look forward to some very unusual artists, and art that conveys some very out of the ordinary things.


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