Jim Drain goes by "Gorgon Radeo" for his work with art/music/video/performance group Forcefield. Here he discusses the difference between knitting for Forcefield, and knitting for Happy Banana, his clothing design collaboration with Elyse Allen.
Photos by Hisham Bharoocha
Gorgon Radeo: It's the same thing, it's knitting, using the knitting machine, but for different ends.
Sabrina: One's clothing and one's costume?
G: It's not costume.
S: What is it Gorgon, tell me.
G: t's costume, but I think if I saw it as costume I would just, kill myself. I wouldn't be interested in doing it anymore. You know what I mean? Because then you're just making costumes. You'd just become a clown. I'd rather it have more importance than that.
S: What is the importance?
G: Well I guess it's less about knitting so much, even though it's something that's knit. It's more the byproduct of what we want to accomplish. It's not like Forcefield set out to make costumes, it just sort of came out of what we were doing.
S: Did it start with the shrouds?
G: Yeah, it started out with Meerk Puffy and Pattotie Lobe using afghans to make outfits. It's a different intention. I think that's what confuses people- they wonder how we ever came up with the idea of using knit. But it's a secondary thing for us. It doesn't have to be knit. It can be a puppet or something. A can.
S: But it was knitwear because of pattern and color? Because of the afghans?
G: Yeah, pattern and color because of the knit...that sort of goes along with what we're doing.
S: Which is what?
G: The video stuff. And music. Trying to find the space between doing something the proper way I guess. Not using- or, using technology or machines, and using them the wrong way. I'm sounding really far-fetched I guess. Forcefield started with Meerk Puffy and Pattotie Lobe drawing together. It started with them being psyched about hanging out. Even music wasn't the primary focus. I'm trying to figure out the primary focus...it's kind of an excitement that you get from an endurance test. A test of yourself. A painful kind of excitement. The way blue and orange fuck with your eyes you know? That's a painful excitement. The way equipment's used to make sounds that don't sound like music- the things that come out aren't expected, but they're exciting. Or like imagining you're not in Providence or on Earth. Just totally lost. That's what we're all about. Painful excitement.
S: So the knitwear's part of that disorientation?
G: Yeah, it's removing your identity. Removing the context of what knitwear's about, what people are used to. The afghans were even more about that, it started out with things that grandmothers would make and all of a sudden they looked like outer space. And all Meerk Puffy did was make pants out of them. It was such a big jump, to go from a grandmother's couch space to outer space. All it needed was two small movements, you know? So it's disorienting to see full knitwear outfits- I'm sure there are knit jumpsuits, but once you put it over someone's face, it's a whole different thing. But such a small move.
S: So it's interesting then, that you're in that outer space Forcefield world and then you're in the world of Happy Banana, making legwarmers.
G: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I wanted to just be with Elyse too. I learn a lot from her, about the technical part of knitting. Knowing about the yarn and colors and stuff. I didn't even know what cashmere was when I started. All the different ways to use wool. Even though I was using it for Forcefield. I've cultivated more of an appreciation for it with Happy Banana. It's hard not to want to participate with Elyse. Plus I think it's awesome if you see someone wearing your clothes. That's how it started.
S: How long have you and Elyse been doing this?
G: Just like a year and a half.