Official music video for "Junk Mail" by Boyfriend Academy. Video remixed by Boyfriend Academy from the GM promotional film "Leave It to Roll-Oh" produced for the 1940 New York World's Fair. All music and lyrics composed, written, performed, and recorded by Boyfriend Academy. All rights to this music video reserved by Boyfriend Academy.
Browsing through my "junk mail" folder looking for false positives, those unfortunate messages erroneously flagged as spam, I was struck not only by the large volume of junk mail but also by the random poetry of the subject lines. I felt as though I had stumbled upon a subterranean window into the psyche of our base desires and social anxieties. Each subject line shouted at me in the imperative or asked me rhetorical questions, a rapid-fire succession of dialogue suitable for late-night infomercials, giving me easy solutions to the difficult problems of pain, health, money, relationships, success, and happiness. I created the electroacoustic piece "Junk Mail" to convey this sense of uncomfortable beauty, to question our technolust, and to recycle my junk mail into art.
Junk mail, or spam, is a worldwide phenomenon. Many people consider it an extreme irritant. Most of it is sent from compromised computers of unsuspecting hosts to people who would rather not receive it. Millions of dollars are spent annually on the bandwidth costs and on spam filter technologies. The goal of filtering is two-fold: prevent unsolicited emails from reaching the recipient but allow desired and legitimate messages to pass through. I believe the concept of junk mail filters will evolve and become more significant in our world of ever-increasing information overload.
I used several eclectic pieces of electronic equipment to create "Junk Mail". To create a robotic voice, I wrote a short program on a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A Home Computer from 1981 to read aloud the subject lines of my junk mail using the attached TI Speech Synthesizer. I created the hypnotic musical score by building up layers of guitar melodies on an Oberheim Echoplex Digital Pro from 1994. The buzzing and chirping sound that grows, climaxes, and concludes the piece was made by a Gakken-SX150 Japanese analog synthesizer kit. I recorded and mixed the elements of the piece using Logic Studio on a first-generation MacBook Pro.