Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video

Curator's Note

Remix culture didn't start with the Internet. Women have been vidding, or making music videos with found footage, since at least 1975, when Kandy Fong made her first slideshows. Inspired by the Beatles filmYellow Submarine, Fong took Star Trek footage from the cutting room floor and synchronized those images to music. Fong performed her shows live at Trek conventions and gatherings, first using one slide projector and then two, clicking between them so she could "cut" faster. By the early 1980s, Fong and other vidders were making vids with two VCRs, often forming collectives in order to share expertise and equipment. We have the featured vid, "Both Sides Now" (1980), literally thanks to Gene Roddenberry; Fong's slideshow was videotaped so he could have a copy. While of an earlier era both stylistically and technologically, "Both Sides Now" is the grandmother of fannish vids. A vid is a visual essay: a vidder constructs a reading by forcing you to see the text "her way." In "Both Sides Now," Fong emphasizes an aspect of Spock's character which has been a point of attraction and identification for women: his dual nature as a half-human, half-alien caught between two different cultural and expressive traditions. By creating an intertext between Leonard Nimoy the actor and Leonard Nimoy the singer, Fong gives the unemotional Mr. Spock an unexpectedly poignant inner voice that's hard to dismiss, since it's Nimoy's own. But it's also a voice fraught with gender slippage: written by Joni Mitchell, the song was popularized by Judy Collins before Nimoy recorded it for his album, The Way I Feel (1968). By staging the contrast between Nimoy's external appearance and inner voice, Fong foregrounds various kinds of "bothness": human and alien, public and private, male and female, mainstream and resistant reader.


What a great selection. Watching it, I feel like I'm witnessing the birth of "schmoop" - with a touch of "angst." The slashiness is evident, along with a preference for seeing Spock as he relates to others. In the end, though, his “pairing" is left undecided. I take the appearance of his parents and Vulcan elders toward the end as reflecting his inability to 'meld' fully with new cultures while he still has such ambiguity about his own. Having been around for both the show and the song, I enjoyed rethinking both in light of your comments. The simple, cotton-candy dualism of the song is a sardonic comment on both Spock's unexpressed emotions, and the repression of an era that positioned emotions as the "opposite" of thought - or realism. The images almost speak more powerfully to the song, than the song to the images. Perhaps this is because the song is more open to a general understanding, whereas the images require inside knowledge of the series, its stories and alternative readings. I might add to your list another "bothness": visual and aural. As well, the vid is an insider’s reading that engages in that inside dialogue first, and only then moves outward to critique the larger social context of the series, fans, and performer/s. By unabashedly speaking from this standpoint, focusing on relationships and identity, and playing with multiple intertextualities, the vid is clearly continuous with current fandom work. I'd love to see more of this history.

What a great choice to start off this discussion. It’s interesting how fresh this piece looks because it’s not following the contemporary conventions of vidding (even as we can see in it the seeds of conventions prevalent today). It relates image and cutting to music similarly than do many of today’s vids, but somehow through the use of the still image rather than the moving image, the viewers’ eye is allowed to roam and each image holds its impact in a way we rarely see in contemporary vids (Lim’s vids come to mind as an exception). Of course, thinking of it this way is ahistorical; this vid worked with and against the technological limitations of its time as do vids now, but it’s still compelling to note how those differences lead to a difference in affective quality, even while similarly functioning as an essay conveying the vidder’s particular take on a character and a given storyworld.

It's wonderful to be able to see this "ovular" vid, and to learn about its historical context. I've very recently become a vidder myself, and I'd heard about this vid from a friend who's a media scholar (hello, Catherine!). Coincidentally, I had already made my own vid set to Judy Collins' version of this song, using clips from Stargate Atlantis. My inspiration in choosing the song had been Lt. Col. Sheppard's love of ferris wheels. I was thrilled to subsequently learn that my vid in fact inadvertantly echoed the song choice for this foremother of all fanvids! Here's the link to my vid on You Tube: McShep: "Both Sides Now" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWjriHhCWsY (Sorry, you may have to cut & paste that, because I'm not too adept at HTML.) I created the vid as part of a larger fannish project, an AU fanfic with a midway theme, which includes 8 of my fanvids, embedded in the text as "full-motion illustrations" for the story. Here is the URL for that story: "Candy Floss" http://hesternic.livejournal.com/823.html [Note: The 5th embedded vid in that story, also entitled "Candy Floss" will not actually play, because it was removed earlier this week by You Tube in response to a copyright infringement complaint by MGM.] Many thanks to Francesca Coppa for presenting Kandy Fong's historically crucial vid on _In Media Res_, and to Kandy Fong herself for initiating this thriving artform, which is now providing me with a very satisfying expressive outlet.

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.