In That Water by Joe JohnstonArtist Statement: In That Water is a film about the dangers of nostalgia and the courage to create. I go through these stretches every year where I get antsy and desperate for escape while simultaneously being unable to create anything new. A weird combination of wanderlust and writer’s block. It’s easy for me to alleviate this frustration by thinking back on past times and adventures and memories. It’s easy to take this giant tumble down Mt. Nostalgia. If I were just back home, I could break out of this and escape. If it were just back in the day when everything was better, I would be free. These eventually prove to be nothing more than lies I tell myself to distract me from doing the work I need to do to move forward.

Much of my work deals with the notion that not only can you not go home again, but that you shouldn’t want to. It’s easy to wrap oneself up in the comfortable blanket of the sound a dead relative made while puttering about his garage or the way radio knobs used to crackle or the way time would stand still while playing with toys. But it’s a false security that wastes a colossal amount of time. It can take strength and courage to reject the comforts of nostalgia and move forward, and I think that’s ultimately what this piece is all about.

I played the music for this piece on a one-string diddley bow I made from a wooden box and walking stick, plus amplified harmonica. Reducing the music possibilities to the bare elements of a single vibrating string and single breaths of air across single brass reeds ended up being a great challenge in itself. It was fun to try and make something big from so little in the way of raw materials.