Then there was the one from a conference at The Foresight Institute on Nanotechnology, back when nanotechnology meant little robots that would make you immortal rather than carbon nanotubes.
There are also the video projects, which often involve me stripping the audio off of a videotape, then digitizing it so we can use the cool transcription software on it. It's still typing, not voice recognition, but being able to slow the thing down to match your typing speed (just one of the whizbangs for digital transcription software) is a godsend. The first one we did was for a documentary project on a group that tries to keep military recruiters out of high schools, so we got to see Cindy Sheehan before she became famous. I can report that, whatever else has happened to her since, the loss of her son was as devastating as you can imagine, and, as far as I'm concerned, she gets a free pass on anything she's done since then.
Then there was the documentary on Sam Wagstaff.
Wagstaff was the patron and lover of Robert Mapplethorpe, of whom I've written previously. In fact, and this is a little strange to me, recently the Mapplethorpe essay here is the single most viewed essay on this blog. Is there some art course that is studying Mapplethorpe now? Many and mysterious are the ways of Google.
Anyway, Amy did most of the video transcription and I did the timestamping. Having a timestamped transcript allows preliminary editing to be done without having to watch the video. It saves a lot of time, and when you're done, hey, great, you also have the transcript.
The documentary was called Black White + Gray, and it seems to have been quite a success, and good on James Crump, the director and the guy who hired us to do the transcription work. I haven't seen the film yet; I've just seen pretty much everything that went into it, which is weird, isn't it? I do recommend the trailers on the linked web site.
The New York Times review of the film notes:
In particular, Patti Smith, the poet and rock star, offers tender descriptions of her friendship with both men.
Ms. Smith’s friendship with Mr. Mapplethorpe began in 1967 when they were both art students at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. They were living together near the Chelsea Hotel in the early 1970s when Mr. Mapplethorpe first brought Mr. Wagstaff to meet her. “Sam came in and seemed totally at home in my mess,” she recalls. “We liked each other immediately. He had such a great sense of humor and had such a nonpretentious and nonsanctimonious spiritual air.”
Wagstaff was clearly a charmer, as the archive footage of him revealed. You can't help but like him in his interview with Dick Cavett and in the other footage of him in still earlier days. He charmed Mapplethorpe (though his wealth couldn't have hurt), and he charmed Patti Smith as well.
It's Patti Smith that was the revelation to me in viewing the raw video footage. I've been a fan of hers since the 1970s, of course, how could one not be? But seeing her in a simple setting, not performing, just reminiscing about those she loved, those who died, the expansiveness of her humanity seemed to flow from her like the wind from the sea.
I know I may being sappy here. But the only word that I could think of to describe her was "magnificent." The human race cannot be as vile as it sometimes seems, not when it can produce creatures as magnificent as Sam Wagstaff, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Patti Smith.