i have a friend named, wesley, who often tells a story of being a kid and spending an entire day setting up dominoes, like, when you set them up in a line with the intent to flick the first one in the line and set off a chain of events begun by the one domino falling into the next. he would set up these elaborate pieces of work in his garage after he had talked his parents into parking their cars outside for a few days. so, anyway, he would get these intricate, serpentine creations set up and then he would walk away, leaving them set, not flicking the first domino over, it sitting there, everything waiting. at this point someone usually asks wesley, “why?”
his answer is always the same, “because it was always more fun to see something happen that you hadn’t planned for.”
so the dog would walk in the garage and wag his tail, or his brother would ride in on his big wheel, or, well, who knows what happened, but he would get up the following morning and most of the dominoes would have fallen over by some unknown cause.
an answer like this was frustrating for those listening to this story because it’s expected that the most fun would come from being present when the dominoes start to fall.
this came to mind when i thought of posting this video and asking you to send it to all of your friends and family. granted, the hope is that you would enjoy and, dare i say, be moved by this little video, but you won’t get to see, exactly, what may come from your help in getting it in front of people.
this video is our attempt at creating a visual supplement to the song, sms (shine), that appears on our latest album called, “church music”. the thematic content of the song is this: god shares in the suffering of life and brings redemption for everything that is broken, and this revelation causes, no, demands, that those of us who have experienced and participate in this great rescue, display such a thing to those who live unaware of a balm, a fix, an answer to and for all that is bent.
the video began as a simple idea: “hey guys, i have an idea for our next video. do you remember that 80s toy, the Lite Brite(r)?”
to which they responded: “uh, what is that parenthetical ‘r’?”
“well that’s there because Lite Brite(r) is a registered trademark owned by Hasbro and this company does not give permission nor support making a video out of their children’s toy.”
soon the little Lite Brite(r) idea expanded into a story of a girl and a boy. it made sense, if you’re going to open up a conversation (and this is what you are doing when posting such a kitschy piece of pop art like this – opening a conversation) it would be helpful if it were about the stuff of life that is unavoidable and is universal in its experience. death would be one of those topics. the christian response to death is very much at odds with current culture. current culture insists that the material is all that is important, that the ‘here and now’ are all we have, that when the body dies, that’s it, the end. yet despite our collectively ‘enlightened’ state, we’re still scared to death of death. either: this is it, or there’s more. i believe there is something in us that “knows” there is more.
sorry, i got sidetracked. the point is, when you want to tell a story to someone who’s not really listening, you want to take your time and get it right. so, when this means purchasing every Lite Brite(r) peg on eBay, you do it. and when your math reveals that you’re not even close to having enough pegs yet, you do it again. like four times. this, the purchasing of every Lite Brite(r) peg on the internet felt like a bucket list item – you know, you’re sitting around, thinking, “hmmm, what i’d really like to do today is buy every Lite Brite(r) peg that exists on the internet right now.” and then you do it. i’ll tell you though, by the fourth time you do this, the buying of every Lite Brite(r) peg on the internet, it’s more annoying than fun.
then the boxes start arriving on your front porch.
then there’s that first day, when you start actually sticking the Lite Brite(r) pegs into the metal grids that you’ve made specifically for this project, as in, the plan is to make 270 frames at a time and so you have cut 270 grids out of metal that you purchased off of amazon into the appropriate Lite Brite(r) size, and you realize that this idea, the one of making over 1200 frames of Lite Brite(r) images and taking a picture of them, is impossible if you don’t get some help.
and so then you have very good friends, pitch in, some of which contributed over 50 hours of “pegging”, which is a noun root that turned into a verb quickly and intends to indicate the pushing of tiny pegs into black pieces of paper affixed to homemade metal grids. (also, “litebriting” was used often. both have the same linguistic development as “googling”.) yeah, there were about 80 of these angelic individuals, most of which still have nerve damage in the index finger. we explained our insurance coverage was, well, non-existent, so, yeah, they’ll just never feel the delicate fuzz of a peach, at least not with their index finger, and they were ok with this.
over 700,000 pegs are visible in the video (this doesn’t even come close to the actual number used due to our amateur stop motion skills, as in, for every sequence you are viewing there was some mistake, or story piece that didn’t work like we hoped, which means hours of “pegging” gone to waste. i’m confident that we, and our dear friends, pushed well over a million pegs. that is certifiably insane when i think of it. the world record for the largest Lite Brite(r) ever made on planet earth (i don’t want to be presumptuous) is just over 300,000 pegs. we didn’t just beat such a number, we crushed it completely.) we shot over 1200 frames. we had to learn animal and plant origami. and there was then the stop motion trickery, as in, how do you make something jump through the air and capture this in still photography. we knew nothing about any of this until we started down this trail. (don’t get me started on how much time it takes to cause confetti to appear to be thrown from a hand and fall into a Lite Brite(r))
things you should look for in the video:
the strings attached to the jumping origami frog. the discovery of the water material flowing off of the table. the player piano playing in the background. the monkey clapping on the couch. the strings holding the pegs falling from the watering can whose effect was accomplished by distance parallax. bwack frame by frame through out the wedding sequence, amazing! dust specks on the table coming and going. the lighting changes. the purple pegs that appear in the moon in two frames as it rises. there’s more, of course, some things i’m sure you’ll spot that we haven’t even noticed, and yes, this is all mentioned to get you to watch the thing over and over, which will, of course, drive up the view count, which brings me to my closing…
it would be amazing if you would help flick some of the dominoes over. i know you won’t be able to see or hear all that comes of it. we spent a whole lot of time, meticulously organizing these tiny little pieces of plastic that arrived on my doorstep, from places unknown, from people i’ve never met, and these organized bits of plastic will have a bit of light shown through them and our hope is that the story of redemption and reclamation shines through.