EK Interview: Max Capacity

art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom

Max Capacity is from the East Bay.  Where lots of awesome things come from.  He’s done some really cool things with older ‘antiquated’ media of many different kinds lending relevance and style to ‘found’ media.

Are you originally from Santa Cruz?

I grew up the East Bay, but I moved to Santa Cruz a little over 10 years ago. That doesn’t count as local still, by Santa Cruz standards.

What’s your day job?  How does it contribute to or detract from your art?

I work for an unpopular music streaming company. It’s cool because I live close to work. It totally gets in the way of my own stuff, but I gotta pay the rent!

art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom

What’s your source material for Pixel Smut?  Can you explain how you came up with the idea, how it changed from the original idea to the final product?

I steal them all from porno websites. I forget how it came about, but I was definitely influenced by early digital pornography. I remember finding a 5.25 floppy disk when I was a kid that had a loop of a woman giving a guy a BJ and at the end of the loop it paused and displayed the text “C-C-C-C-CATCH THE WAVE” (a Max Headroom reference). And from then on I would screenshot video games and edit their clothes out in MS paint. Nowadays I like the idea of turning commercial pornography into something resembling art.

How do you approach the visuals for a live show?  Do you know the set list before hand?  Do you have a bit of preset footage or do you make it up on the fly?

I never really know the track list. I usually get hit up to do a show at the last minute. So i tend to stay up for a few days making all new premade footage to play live. I hate showing old stuff, but often because of time constraints I have to mix in older material.  I do a little bit of effects on the fly, but it’s mostly all preplanned. Eventually I’m going to do it all analog, but I don’t have the equipment for that yet.
How do you make your stickers?

I have a thermal label printer like you might use for UPS shipping or something. I once worked as a shipping clerk, where I discovered the thermal label printer could print images too. That lead to me buying my own corporate surplus printer and ordering blank labels. Also, I sometimes get vinyl stickers printed from Sticker Guy, but the thermal labels give me a lot of flexibility to make small batches.
art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom


What about older media, video tapes in particular, do you find interesting?  How has your attachment to that media influenced the content you choose for your work?

The price is right! I grew up with VCRs, taping things off of my TV. I’m totally obsessed with the same stuff, even still. One of my favorite things is watching old commercials on taped television broadcasts. Now everyone is throwing all that stuff away and it’s easy for me to get my hands on.
art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom


What aftereffects and what software do you apply to your motion pieces?  How does your process and approach differ when making a static piece?

I mostly use free software to do everything. And a really old version photoshop 5.0. I use VirtualDub constantly to rip frames. Then I edit them frame by frame usually in photoshop. Sometimes I’ll convert everything to an old graphics protocol like ZX spectrum or C64 and then edit them frame by frame. I like using command line software a lot because it’s so unapproachable. I basically follow the same process for stills, except I’ll do more hand editing since I don’t have to run a whole batch operation.

How do you choose the colors in a piece?  You use a lot of loud, neon colors, what’s the reason for that?  Is there something in particular that such loud colors say to you?

I guess the world is kinda grey and boring. It seems like my memories are more vivid than reality. Plus I’m probably influenced by old punk and new wave art and skateboard and video game art. Also cartoons. I was a kid in the 80s.

art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom


Your work seems to be a large amount of both still and moving images, .gifs and otherwise, does this reflect your opinion of the direction of art?  Do you think it’s going towards less static pieces?

I used to make lots of weird videos just for myself until I realized there was an interest for it on the internet. YouTube probably deserves some of the credit. I think it’s a symptom of the direction of art maybe? The democratization of media and globalization are making things crazy. In a good way.
What music and films have influenced you?

Anything by John Carpenter, for both. Also, I’ve wanted to own my own TV or radio station since I saw UHF. Anything science fiction or post apocalyptic is cool too. I don’t get influenced too much by music, or if I do I don’t notice.
art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom


What artists or sites are you following/have you followed in the past and turn to for inspiration?

I feel really ignorant about art in general. But I’m influenced heavily by animators, video game artists, comic book artists, graffiti artists, most of which I couldn’t even name. I follow a ton of amazing artists on Tumblr, which totally inspires me all the time to do something new.
Do you like crunchy or smooth peanut butter and why?

Smooth definitely. So I can eat more food faster!

art blog - Max Capacity - Empty Kingdom