Both Sides Now (Star Trek: TOS slideshow)
|1980 (possibly earlier)
|slideshow set to music
|Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video, Archived version
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Both Sides Now (1980) was a Star Trek slideshow—the earliest form of vidding—made by Kandy Fong. We have a video version of this slideshow thanks to Gene Roddenberry, who wanted a copy, so the slideshow was videotaped.
While of an earlier era both stylistically and technologically, "Both Sides Now" is the grandmother of fannish vids. The vid emphasizes Spock's dual nature as a half-human, half-alien caught between two different cultural and expressive traditions. By using a song sung by Leonard Nimoy, the vid gives the unemotional Mr. Spock an unexpectedly poignant inner voice that's hard to dismiss, since it's actually Nimoy's own.
By staging the contrast between Spock's external appearance and inner voice, the foregrounds many kinds of "bothness": human and alien, public and private, even—in its slashy subtext—male and female, gay and straight.
The vid was brought back to the attention of modern audiences when it aired at Vividcon in 2005 during the "Wayback Machine" show, which showcased vids from fannish vidding history - particularly appropriate, as Vividcon was celebrating the 30th anniversary of vidding that year, and specifically honoring Kandy Fong as the woman who started it all.
The source material for the original slideshow deserves a special mention - the slides were the leftover film-cells that were edited from the TV show (aka film footage literally left on the cutting room floor). The use of these deleted moments is symbolic of how vids and fan fiction often operate between the spaces and narrative gaps of popular media.
In the summer of 2013, the vid was selected to be part of the vidding segment in the New York Museum of the Moving Image exhibition "Cut Up".
In a 2008 email, the vidder explains the meaning behind the vid (which changed over time) as well as the creation of various versions of the vid:
Some scenes in the vid ".....were added later, copied from pictures in a mag about the upcoming movie, because they fit and expanded the idea. The Death aspect did not enter the vid until then. I created it originally about different lifestyles. Starfleet vs Layla...accepted love (which Spock trying to be the perfect Vulcan can't even admit) vs love outside the norm (Kirk). To my mind, Spock had 3 types of love offered to him: romantic love from a female, Love from Mom, and Being in Love (Kirk). He feels something but rejects it, so insists he doesn't know love at all. As far as the date is concerned, my first show, which included 'what do you do with a drunken Vukcan', was done for a ST club meeting 1975. Then, the following year that was shown at the last Equicon/Filmcon 1976. (where I met Roddenberry and got his permission to do more slide shows) Shortly after that, I was invited to show the first show at another con & did 'Both Sides' to make the show half an hour long. 1980 seems late for the date. I really wish that I had put a date on it when I made it.... The vid copy that you have was made in 1986, when I sent a copy of a bunch of my slide shows to Roddenberry."
Highlighted in 2015
This slideshow was featured at MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery at the Vancouver Art Gallery in February 2016, along with six other fanworks. This part of the exhibit was curated by Francesca Coppa.
The exhibit is here: MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Archived version
The vids were:
- Both Sides Now - Kandy Fong
- Something To Talk About - Kandy Fong
- Data's Dream - Shadow Songs
- Starships! - bironic
- The Lightning Strike - obsessive24
- Flow - Lim
- The Test - here's luck
Some Fan Commentary
Remix culture didn’t start with the Internet. Women have been vidding, or making music videos with found footage, since at least 1975, when Kandy Fong made her first slideshows. Inspired by the Beatles filmYellow Submarine, Fong took Star Trek footage from the cutting room floor and synchronized those images to music. Fong performed her shows live at Trek conventions and gatherings, first using one slide projector and then two, clicking between them so she could "cut" faster. By the early 1980s, Fong and other vidders were making vids with two VCRs, often forming collectives in order to share expertise and equipment. We have the featured vid, "Both Sides Now" (1980), literally thanks to Gene Roddenberry; Fong’s slideshow was videotaped so he could have a copy. While of an earlier era both stylistically and technologically, "Both Sides Now" is the grandmother of fannish vids. A vid is a visual essay: a vidder constructs a reading by forcing you to see the text "her way." In "Both Sides Now," Fong emphasizes an aspect of Spock’s character which has been a point of attraction and identification for women: his dual nature as a half-human, half-alien caught between two different cultural and expressive traditions. By creating an intertext between Leonard Nimoy the actor and Leonard Nimoy the singer, Fong gives the unemotional Mr. Spock an unexpectedly poignant inner voice that’s hard to dismiss, since it’s Nimoy’s own. But it’s also a voice fraught with gender slippage: written by Joni Mitchell, the song was popularized by Judy Collins before Nimoy recorded it for his album, The Way I Feel (1968). By staging the contrast between Nimoy’s external appearance and inner voice, Fong foregrounds various kinds of "bothness": human and alien, public and private, male and female, mainstream and resistant reader.
What a great selection. Watching it, I feel like I’m witnessing the birth of “schmoop” - with a touch of “angst.” The slashiness is evident, along with a preference for seeing Spock as he relates to others. In the end, though, his “pairing” is left undecided. I take the appearance of his parents and Vulcan elders toward the end as reflecting his inability to ‘meld’ fully with new cultures while he still has such ambiguity about his own.
Having been around for both the show and the song, I enjoyed rethinking both in light of your comments. The simple, cotton-candy dualism of the song is a sardonic comment on both Spock’s unexpressed emotions, and the repression of an era that positioned emotions as the “opposite” of thought - or realism. The images almost speak more powerfully to the song, than the song to the images. Perhaps this is because the song is more open to a general understanding, whereas the images require inside knowledge of the series, its stories and alternative readings. I might add to your list another “bothness”: visual and aural.As well, the vid is an insider’s reading that engages in that inside dialogue first, and only then moves outward to critique the larger social context of the series, fans, and performer/s. By unabashedly speaking from this standpoint, focusing on relationships and identity, and playing with multiple intertextualities, the vid is clearly continuous with current fandom work. I’d love to see more of this history.
What a great choice to start off this discussion. It’s interesting how fresh this piece looks because it’s not following the contemporary conventions of vidding (even as we can see in it the seeds of conventions prevalent today). It relates image and cutting to music similarly than do many of today’s vids, but somehow through the use of the still image rather than the moving image, the viewers’ eye is allowed to roam and each image holds its impact in a way we rarely see in contemporary vids (Lim’s vids come to mind as an exception). Of course, thinking of it this way is ahistorical; this vid worked with and against the technological limitations of its time as do vids now, but it’s still compelling to note how those differences lead to a difference in affective quality, even while similarly functioning as an essay conveying the vidder’s particular take on a character and a given storyworld.
- Vidder's private e-mail correspondence to Francesca Coppa dated circa 2008, quoted with permission.
- Francesca Coppa, November 19, 2007 Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video, Archived version
- Chris Pine, November 20, 2007 Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video, Archived version
- Louisa Stein, November 21, 2007 Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video, Archived version