Deviants and Devices: An Interview with Charly Fasano

It’s certainly no secret that the digital revolution has been commandeering the artifacts of artistic creation for years. Records, tapes, and books are all being replaced by digital downloads — mainly because our ears are too precious for skips and pops, and our eyes wouldn’t know what to do if it didn’t have a screen to stare at. Of course, with every digital innovation unleashed in a thoroughly saturated market, there are artists who eschew the brave new virtual world altogether. Charlie “the City Mouse” Fasano and his twin brother Vincent Fasano both have two feet firmly planted in the world of analog. With an ever-expanding catalogue of books, tapes, and paintings, the Fasano brothers have no plans to completely digitize their creative output (though they do often include accompanying downloads, but even then, they’re generally more of an afterthought). Their upcoming show, Deviants and Devices, is a celebration of the non-digital world, featuring a collection of paintings, collage prints, instant photography, short films, and books (Charlie Fasano is releasing two new books, Deviants and Devices, a handmade journal of linocut prints published on his Fast Geek Press imprint and Next Analog Broadcast, a book of poetry published by the Buffalo, New York-based Sunnyoutside Press).

So what’s the allure of analog?
I like how tangible and imperfect it is. Analog gives you mistakes; it’s more human in that aspect. With digital, I feel like it’s in a vacuum. It’s too perfect. And digital is easy; you just press a button and it’s done. With analog, it takes more time to create. And of course, it breaks, you know? It’s not forever. If all the lights ever went out, the analog people would handle it much better.

What does "Deviants and Devices" mean?

It’s a title I came up with because when I got home from Chicago, I started working on Colfax again. And working in the evenings, I stand there and watch people. So I’ve been getting into linocut prints and I just started making portraits of deviants and the devices they use. The show incorporates a bunch of linocut prints, short films that both me and Vinny shot, some stamp collages, and paintings by my brother. There’s going to be recordings of poems that I did and put together and played all the music on. It all culminates into releasing a handmade, hand printed, linocut illustration book that’s going to come with seven recordings of the poems and that’s called Deviants and Devices.

So you handmade the book?
Yeah, it’s a little thirty-page hand bound, hand printed chapbook. It’s going to be thirty prints with a download card with recordings that I put together. I played organ and my $80 pawnshop guitar called The Amigo, made in Romania. I sat and taught myself how to do all this stuff. I’m hand binding them as well. It’s one of those things that I did everything for it myself, and taught myself. Usually I have a lot of other people I collaborate with, but this is the one time that I tried to put it all together.

Why did you try putting it together yourself?
I don’t know… It teaches you how to do things really quick. This was a project that if I was going to do it, I wanted to try to work through all the problems of learning how to do things. It’s inspired by the shenanigans on Colfax Avenue, so there’s a level of shankiness, I guess. Or just kind of an unfinished thing about it. That’s the subject matter. Colfax is like a kid acting out.

A lot of times when people talk about Colfax and the people on it, there’s a level of patronization, like I’m better than those people. So with this book, how are you presenting the people on Colfax?
It’s a subjective look. I started out making these prints and these portraits and I started doing those before I wrote the poems because I wanted to stay as a partial observer. It’s just little photographic clips. There’s humor involved, but I’m not pointing the finger at anything or anybody specific. It’s not to degrade any sort of person or anything. There’s a spectrum of different characters in it, from a lady that goes and prays every day at seven o’clock at the Cathedral to a yuppie swinging his briefcase at bunch of skateboarders, or video store workers looking the same in every town.

What is it about Colfax that’s inspiring?
It’s funny because people who live in the Capitol Hill area walk through it every day and they don’t notice what’s going on. I’ve stayed at a stationary point at Colfax and Lafayette for years where I work, and there are the same reoccurring characters, and it’s a big cross-section of characters. When it used to be the main boulevard, it was the center of Denver. And then when they build the interstate, it was gone. Now it’s a dilapidated stripe and no matter what developers try to do with it or how bureaucrats try to change it into an attractive area, it still has that level of seediness. From the richest person in Denver walking past a student walking past a guy asking for change in front of a liquor store, it all happens at once.

How many books are you making?
50 total. 30 for the show. It takes awhile.

What about the Last Analog portion of the show?
I had this idea in Chicago about the last analog television broadcast. I did a bunch of woodblock and rubber stamp prints of analog devices — like it’s the analogue apocalypse. I did a nine-minute stop-action animation film that we’re showing during the event.

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