About Spencer Sundell

This Web site is that of Rev. Spencer Sundell, a web developer and autodidactic polymath currently residing in Seattle, WA. He is an expatriate of Chicago, IL and Indianapolis, IN (where he was born).

Profession.

Mr. Sundell has been a Web developer since 1993, in the dark ages before graphical browsers existed, when he worked on a hand-me-down Amiga 500. He turned pro circa 1994 and has been at it ever since, serving clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to internationally-known arts organizations to businesses big and small to public television to bizarre musicians with eccentric habits and questionable teeth. Learn more about his storied career at this resumé page.

In addition…

Avocation.

Since November, 2004, Sundell has served as a volunteer projectionist at the Northwest Film Forum, a critically acclaimed non-profit cinemateque in Seattle that celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2005. The NW Film Forum offers ongoing film programming in two screening rooms, educational fora, workshops in all aspects of filmmaking, grant and organizational support for independent filmmakers, equipment rentals, and post production facilities.

Literary Arts and Archiving.

Sundell also has a background as a writer, journalist, and editor, beginning in the mid-1980s. His journalistic writing (under various pen names) has centered on national security, intelligence history, and related topics, with similar additional experience in straight news, the arts, press releases and promotional materials, technical documentation related to the Internet and web development (for both professionals and laymen), anthropology and ethnobotany, spot copy, e-zines (remember those?), sometimes-baroque parodies, and of course blogs and proto-blogs. He was also the curator of the Octopus Archive, an early online (Web & FTP) collection of articles and information concerning politics, the paranormal, and other high-strangeness. In this capacity he took it upon himself to create what proved to be the very first hypertext edition of the US Dept. of State’s annual report, Patterns of Global Terrorism (ca. 1993-4).

More recently, writings by Sundell have been cited as authoritative sources on Wikipedia, specifically for entries on Harry Smith (viz. his landmark experimental film, Mahagonny) and the Dickson Experimental Sound Film produced circa 1895.

Given the above, it will not be surprising, then, to learn that Sundell is also a bibliophile. He maintains an extensive private library of books, government reports, periodicals, ephemera, vertical files, and digital media encompassing intelligence and military history, political science, organized crime, radical history, cinema, avant garde music and art, the paranormal, and other areas of interest. Among his prized library possessions are: a 1955 edition of the Oxford Universal Dictionary which contains a definition for “syzygy” but not for “who“; a Yugoslavian edition (in English) of Nicola Tesla’s lab notes from Colorado Springs, 1899-1900; first-editions of The Adding Machine by William S. Burroughs and The War Report of the OSS by Kermit Roosevelt; hardbound copies of all five volumes of John Barnes’ landmark study The Beginnings of the Cinema in England, 1894-1901; as well as autographed volumes by Hans Blix, Timothy Leary, Gary Webb, and others.

Audio Arts.

In Chicago, from 1986 through 1996, Sundell was an active audio engineer working in concert and studio settings, specializing in experimental music, world music, jazz, punk/rock, and other hard-to-classify “alternative” genres, as well as theater and performance art. He enjoyed tenures as the official live engineer for several critically-acclaimed ensembles of multi-instrumentalists, including Maestro Subgum and the Whole, Ulele, and MNEMIO. He also co-produced recordings released by several such ensembles.

During roughly this same period, Sundell was also an occasional independent promoter producing concerts, music festivals, film screenings, and other special arts events at venues around Chicago. From 1987 to 1989 he worked at the legendary and influential Chicago nightclub and arts venue Club Lower Links as technical director, assistant publicist, and assistant booker. This was an important formative experience, exposing him to an extremely wide range of creative endeavor, process, and cultural dynamic that otherwise would have been lost to him.

Given all that, it’s not a shock that Sundell also has an extensive history as a musician, song writer and “composer,” working solo and in ensembles in a wide array of genres including experimental/industrial music, free improvisation, folk, country, hardcore punk, percussion groups, and world music. He has also created soundtracks and soundscapes for film, theater, and installations. Sundell has performed on recordings released by Climax Golden Twins, Illusion of Safety, Maestro Subgum and the Whole, Jabon, and trondant shaman, as well as various private label limited releases by other groups.

Since 1982, his musical projects, bands, and collaborators have included i8M, Funeral Car, The Wretched Bastards, Scott Colburn, Climax Golden Twins, Wormwood, Eric Leonardson, Dylan Posa, trondant shaman, Illusion of Safety, Jim O’Rourke, David Shea (okay, it was in high school), Liz Payne and The Betsy Years, Mike Whybark, Paul Mahern, Eboka Banzie, translocation, Stool, Pontius Pilate and The Naildrivers, Tha Paranoidz, The Barking Toasters, The Wounded Reagans, and The Rotting Slugs.

Theatrical Arts.

Sundell also has an extensive history as an actor. His stage debut was in third grade, for the spring school pageant when he delivered a quasi-comedic essay on the largely apocryphal origins of the term “hoosier” (i.e. native of Indiana).

His proper acting debut was at age 10 in the feminist musical titled, aptly enough, It’s Only Being Crazy That Keeps Me Sane, independently staged by WomanShine Productions (Indiana’s first feminist theater company).

He continued to pursue his interest in theater throughout his teen years, working in varying capacities both on and back stage with the Indiana Repertory Theater, The Indianapolis Civic Theater (where he once worked with Ginger Rogers), The Midsummer Mime Theater, and an ill-fated stint as a renaissance fair jester during an August heat wave. During this period, Sundell also appeared in Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird (as the evil wizard, Kastchei), and wore a diaper for the opera Madame Butterfly (as “Rickshaw Driver”).

Later, in Chicago from 1992 through 1994, Sundell resumed his theatrical pursuits as a member of the Curious Theatre Branch, a critically-acclaimed consensus-process theater company in Chicago supported in part by grants from the NEA. As an actor with the company, he appeared in Three Floor Walk-up by Bryn Magnus, Jenny Magnus, and Beau O’Reilly (Curious Theatre Branch, 1994), Dying is Private by Beau O’Reilly (Curious Theatre Branch, 1994), and in a one-act monologue by Bryn Magnus which was performed entirely at the end of a rope suspended from the ceiling.

Additional acting experience includes a lead role in the underground film Stagefright Chameleon (Jim Sikora, 1988), and a smattering of other solo and ensemble works and productions, such as the ritualistic performance piece My Memory Has Been Shredded for the Bill of Rights Project (1993).

Film & Video Arts.

Sundell has also dabbled rather extensively in film and video. He produced and directed video documentation of the 2000 Seattle Poetry Festival; served as assistant director, editor, and sound recordist for the independent feature film Alex the Great (Cal Godot, 2000); produced and shot the to-date unreleased Dark Rainbow (2000), a concert film of the Sun City Girls (audio portions of which have since been released on CD); produced and directed a small number of industrial shorts for Seattle businesses (ca. 2000-2001); and co-produced and directed The High School Student and You (1983-1984), an Indianapolis public access cable public affairs program created entirely by high school students.

During high school, he made a series of surreal horror films on Super 8 including Splatter (1985), Zombie! Or, The Amazing Colossal Munchies (1984), and even earlier a number of stop-motion animation shorts co-produced with Yuri Duncan. There were also a number of other more personal and experimental Super 8 films which have since been lost.

Avocation II: Film Collecting and Programming.

Whenever possible (i.e. whenever he can find someone willing to lend their backyard, basement, garage, or tar-paper shack), Sundell enjoys programming film parties — a habit that dates to his pre-teen years.

This has become much easier since he has taken up collecting 16mm, Super 8, and Regular 8 films. His film collection includes nearly 200 prints of rare, classic short and feature-length works by the likes of Georges Méliès, Emile Cohl, the Fleischer brothers, James Whale, Willis O’Brien, Thomas Edison, a 1900 sound film (yes, 1900), the Lumiere brothers, Norman McLaren, Alexandre Alexeieff, Pearl White, W.C. Fields, Aleksandr Ptushko, and many others.

In 2007, Sundell and fellow itinerant projectionist Brian Alter formed The Sprocket Society with the hope and intention of providing notable film experiences for all and sundry.

Reverend.

In 1998, Spencer Sundell was ordained as a reverend by the Universal Life Church.

Primordial Influences.

In addition to the foregoing, Mr. Sundell as a person is profoundly informed by the following life experiences and influences.

  • Mother: ordained Wiccan priestess, theatrical artist, scholar, writer, and early feminist activist.
  • Father: Computer engineer and systems analyst (1965-present), scholar, archaeologist, and bibliophile.
  • Being a homeless punk rocker and tribe member (ca. 1984-5).

Strange But True Trivia About Spencer Sundell.

  • Once worked with Ginger Rogers.
  • Kicked Roger Ebert in the head (by accident).
  • Has made toast with a space heater and a wire hanger.
  • Has seen an indoor toilet frozen solid.
  • Briefly volunteered at the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), where he got to hear original audio recordings of interviews with Roswell witnesses.
  • Has files with the FBI and CIA thanks to his nonviolent activism over the years.
  • Was once featured in a huge above-the-fold photograph on the front page of The Daily Iowan newspaper. (See also FBI & CIA, above.) Said photo was subsequently published as a postcard.
  • Has interviewed John Sinclair (who ate Spencer’s flan…with his permission), Jello Biafra (who stole Spencer’s audio tape under false pretenses), and the architect who restored the Seattle Cinerama theater (who graciously surrendered the sweet spot during a 3-strip test screening).
  • Has consulted for NOAA (government agency) and the Brothers Karamazov (jugglers).
  • Has officiated several weddings.
  • Once gave bunny ears to John Doe from X.
  • Once worked with legendary porn star Annie Sprinkle (but not like that).
  • Once played in a concert live on the radio over the phone.
  • Had a press-access tour of the set of the second X-Men movie, met Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Romyn-Stamos in full costume, and got to interview the director during shooting.