John Sanborn was a key member of the second wave of American video artists that included Bill Viola, Gary Hill, Dara Birnbaum and Tony Oursler. Sanborn's body of work spans the early days of experimental video art in the 1970s through the heyday of MTV music/videos and interactive art to digital media art of today. He has directed multiple films for The Residents.
History With The Residents
Sanborn first discovered The Residents through mutual friend Chip Lord of Ant Farm in 1980. After hearing some vague details about The Residents (mostly around their experimentation with laserdiscs), Sanborn and Lord met with the group at their 444 Grove Street Studio. The Residents showcased some material they were working on and gave Sanborn a copy of Santa Dog and Meet The Residents.
Since The Residents usually only work with artists in San Francisco, collaborations with the NY-based Sanborn were deemed impossible until his relocation to California in 1990. After this, Sanborn and the group began working together on a short documentary titled The Eyes Scream, commissioned by a British TV network. Sanborn had previously enjoyed The Residents' output, but wasn't overly familiar with their background or lore. This changed throughout the documentary's production. The year afterwards he directed their Freak Show Press Release VHS.
Next, Sanborn provided the voice of 'Otto' in The Residents' Bad Day On The Midway video game, then, there was a nine-year gap between his and The Residents' collaborations, broken by the three music videos he directed for The Residents' Commercial DVD. Seven years later, he'd direct the 'Ghost Snake' segment of 'Randy's Ghost Stories.' Then, five years later, he would direct their Rushing Like A Banshee music video.
Most recently, he's worked with the group on their God In Three Persons live project, creating the striking video projections, as well as promoting the concerts.
- The Eyes Scream: A History Of The Residents (1991, Co-Director)
- Freak Show Press Release (1991, Co-Director)
- Bad Day On The Midway (1995, Voice Actor)
- Have A Bad Day (1996, Additional Voices)
- Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses (1997, additional voices on 'Have A Bad Day Concentrate')
- The Commercial DVD (2004, Segment Directors)
- Dimples & Toes
- Love Leaks Out
- Freak Show (2006, The Freak Show Press Release Director)
- Ghost Snake (2010)
- Bad Day On The Midway (Music From The Game Reconsidered) (2012, additional voices)
- Rushing Like A Banshee (2012)
- God In 3 Persons (2020, Video Direction & Adaptation)
- Duck Stab Alive (2021)