Rob Parrish is an Arlington, VA-based homegrown video artist and amateur filmmaker who has been vlogging since July 2005 on Hopper Video. His recent work on Next to Heaven started in August 2006 and has focused on reworking commercials and movies from Archive.org, an online movie archive that promotes open source sharing outside the boundaries of copyright law. He replaces the audio with his unusual and often ridiculous voiceovers. Weird and cancer-friendly, this is a good place to go for your weekly dose of online video art. Says Aaron Valdez of the similarly themed Valdezatron Industries, “Rob’s work lodges itself in the backside of my brain like a piece of alien gum.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
There is not a single video here that is not absurd and funny, if not absurdly funny. Updated with a new installment each week, the clips are short and make their points quickly. Parrish writes new scripts for old public domain films and commercials (he seems to have a penchant for early tanning promotions and footage of elderly women) and turns them into 30 seconds of cultural satire. Most episodes have dubbing that’s written from the perspective of a visible character, but Episode 16’s peculiar narrator is a purveyor of vintage porn who began to realize that the fetching secretary who gets into a lesbian underwear catfight in the video was his own deceased grandmother. Friends and voice alteration programs are employed for the voiceover monologues, like in Episode 6, where a wife explains that she left her husband, the man who ingeniously adapted the quartz light from the quartz mercury light, because of his “smoky, milky breath” from smoking too many cigarettes and drinking too much warm milk while toiling in his subterranean laboratory. It’s hilarious.
The clips are kept the same as the source material with only alterations in music and dialogue, but Episode 7 is one of the few shorts with visual editing. Featuring iconic clips of the atomic bomb, an informative film about sinus infections, and a man getting snapped up and swept away by an oversized suitcase, it’s one of the Parrish’s best.