Mike Hack
open through Oct. 16th

Mike Hack makes videos – he's been making them for a long time. Over the years, they’ve seen shifts in technology, changes in culture, and different phases of Mike himself. 

 

Mike is a man with autism. This influences the way that he lives, talks, behaves, thinks, and feels. It can be difficult for people without autism (neurotypicals) to understand Mike’s experience, however, through his videos, he provides an insightful visual memoir. haul gallery has worked with Mike to archive and present his videos for a wider audience.

 

When I (Max, of haul gallery) was around ten years old, my mother received a VHS tape in the mail. Mike wrote his name on the front. I didn’t know who he was, but she told me he was her friend, and that he had autism. She also told me that he filmed himself inside an automatic car wash, except he wasn’t in a car. He only wore a bathing suit. Mike's commitment to an idea impressed me. I don’t even remember asking why – I just thought Mike was so cool.

 

My mother met Mike in 1988 while she was studying music therapy at Arizona State University. Mike was five years old, my mother was twenty-one. They met weekly for therapy sessions, though for only a few months. At the time, Mike was nonverbal. Years later, Mike and his mother visited ASU again — because Mike had fond memories (and an above-average memory) and wanted to reconnect with his former therapists. He asked for my mother by name and got her phone number. He called her one day and introduced himself. He’s an adult now, with varied interests, a passion for making videos, and a highly accurate recollection of the time he spent with my mother. This phone call started an ongoing friendship and a small collection of tapes that Mike mailed to my mom. 

Since then, we (haul gallery) decided to help Mike digitize the rest of his tapes. There are over a hundred of them, with about 8 hours of video each. Not every video on these tapes is something Mike made, but Mike has intricately interspersed his own work in between full-length movies, music videos, and commercials. Most times, he has diligently labeled the tapes with every video contained within. Other times the tape is blank. Finding Mike's own work takes time – we are still working on this project.

Mike’s videos on tape are highly-tactile collages layered with different sources, media, and timelines. Videos playing on a screen are re-recorded, resulting in two timestamps. Audio plays from both the-video-being-re-filmed and the original footage, on top of which Mike adds even more commentary. Other times he edits and archives his videos by connecting a digital camcorder to a TV, which then records to tape. The result is an idiosyncratic and simultaneous production/editing process that reveals Mike’s deliberate decision making, calls attention to the process itself, and builds a stacked montage of bygone pop-culture that Mike has filtered and digested for us.

Mike is also a performer, where his own voice and body are a constant presence. At times he is an actor, whether imitating a commercial for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin or parodying Bill Nye The Science Guy as Mike Hack The Science Kid. Other times he provides a voiceover for movies and television, where he constantly connects the images to other movies, TV, songs, ads, or sometimes things that only Mike can understand. Other times, he is present through the subjective view of a handheld camera, where pointing at something adds it to the lexicon of Mike’s endless world of overwhelming associations.

Mike never stopped making videos. He has made hundreds more digital videos. He produced 100 episodes of Mike Hack The Science Kid. A selection of "video mashups" will be included in this show. These days, he most commonly parodies music videos.