Artists in their own words: Michael Arcos
Who: Michael Arcos
Where: Little Woods, Louisiana
Artist’s chosen location for interview: Goth Beach
Q: If you were granted immortality with the requirement that you had to watch only one species evolve with all of your time, what species would you chose to watch?
MA: Being an immortal might also give me the ability to breath under water, so I would chose to follow nutria around because I’m really intrigued by their existence. They are such a strange rodent. They live on water and land, they have orange teeth, they’re used for their pelt, and they aren’t even supposed to be living in North America in the first place.
Aside from holding their breath underwater for over 5 minutes and being on land, I think nutria are eventually going to walk on their hind legs, and they’re going to start revolting against those who are killing them for their pelts. They could start killing humans and using the human flesh to make leather jackets, and they would use the human bones as earrings. They’ll be like a Mad Max post apocalyptic punk rodent. Or like the weasels in Roger Rabbit.
They are going to evolve into cartoonish rodents of the Roger Rabbit realm, and I cannot wait to see that happen.
I'd become really annoying to my non-rodent peers because I’d be talking about nutria all the time. I would be talking about how proud I am of them progressing, their fashion, and what they’re doing. People would probably be like, 'Here’s that nutria guy again. It's weird because he’s been around here like 50 years and he hasn’t changed. He looks exactly the same age.'
Q: What do you feel like is your truest emotion?
MA: I don’t know if this is necessarily an emotion, but I feel like I’m a pretty calm human, even in cases of detriment or trauma. I’ve always been very accepting and calm about all scenarios.
I’m the oldest in my family, so I would also say that I’m stubborn. Stubborn and calm, that will do it.
Q: When did you understand that you had a childhood?
MA: When I was corrupted. I feel like corruption made me clearly see that there was an adolescents and an innocence in childhood. There were a series of corruptions.
One was when I was in kindergarten. One of my best friends growing up came from a Haitian/Jamaican family.
His mother had all these artifacts around that house, and it was common for them to have nude women sculptures. They also had these series of pens. Ink pens. The design of the structure of the pens were naked women and bodies. I had always been attracted to a woman’s figure, but I specifically was turned on by this particular red pen that was the shape of a nude woman. I ended up stealing it and keeping it with me for a couple weeks. I held onto it, and I would secretly look at it.
I recall showing a friend in Kindergarten during 'rest time,' she asked what it was, and she made a big deal about it. She ended up telling another classmate who got upset, and they told the teacher, and that teacher ended up shaming me in class and taking it away from me.
I didn’t really know that I was dealing with something that could be seen as offensive, indecent, or wrong to have. I just knew that I was turned on by it.
And then there was a scene in Robocop 2, which I also watched at my aforementioned friends house. There’s a scene where a villain comes into an arcade with a few goons, and ends up killing an innocent kid. That particular scene really corrupted me. I have never rewatched Robocop 2 but maybe I should?
Those two things really made me acknowledge that I was transforming out of something.
Q: How do you think form and function relate to each other?
MA: Within the medium of film, I’m writing and creating something because I'm compelled to. Yet, I’m always conscious that the end result is a form of entertainment, and I’m aware that I want to captivate the audience in some way.
As far as form, it’s more true and natural to what I need to be expressing versus function is being conscious of its relatability--how it will be funny or appealing to an audience as a form of entertainment.
I do have projects where I only focus on one or the other, but those wouldn’t necessarily be shared.
I’ve been messing with the medium of video for over a decade, and that’s definitely inspired by my father documenting my childhood and the childhoods of my brother and sister. I always had access to cameras and films, so I started messing with the mediums as a way to make my friends and parents laugh. Then I started to understand that there was power in that.
Q: Who do you still wish you could see?
MA: There was this girl who lived in the cul de sac with me. Her name was Susan. She fit the mold of a tomboy, and I was in love with her. We always hung out together. We would have picnics and we would bring our stuffed animals and show them to each other.
She had two dads at one point; I think it was a divorce situation. They had a pool in their backyard, and it was all green because they didn’t take care of it. The dads were alcoholics, and they would drink canned beer all the time. As a pastime, Susan and I would go and crush beer cans for fun.
She always had a dirty face, and she always smelled like cigarettes and beer.
It’s strange because for the last four years I’ve been writing this rough script that I hope will be my first feature endeavor. It’s called Biting Susan, and it’s about her. Even though I know her original last name and I’ve looked for her online, I can’t find her anywhere. I would love to see her again.
We were the two strange kids on the cul de sac. She was a tomboy, and I was this androgynous thing that collected He-Man, Barbies, and My Little Ponies.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.