Local videographer uses body as a medium and experiences as fuel

Brenna McNamara

Former KSU student creates obscure YouTube videos

A tube is taped into his olive-skinned nose. His body is still in the hospital bed. As if he hears a distant noise, his

eyebrows perk and his head of dark, messy hair jerks slightly. He digs his elbows into the hospital bed, trying to sit up. A hospital gown drapes off his left shoulder, revealing tubes that crisscross over his chest. With closed eyes, he searches the room. This lasts for a couple seconds until a nurse says “Andrew, relax” and grabs his hand to lie him back down. His fingers won’t let go of hers.

The average YouTube viewer doesn’t know Andrew Pitrone, former visual communications design major, is in the hospital after being poisoned by datura, a plant commonly known as jimson weed that induces deliria, hallucinations and surreal euphoria. The viewer also doesn’t know that Pitrone is seeing angels and ghosts under those closed eyelids.

“My mom took that footage. It was when I was dying, delirious. I don’t remember it. I do remember the feeling in my muscles, though,” Pitrone said. “And (the video is) called ‘Ghosts and Angels’ because they were on the ceiling and coming out and at me and stuff.”

Andrew’s YouTube Videos

“Ivy old ivy”

The lyrics to this song were thought up minutes before it was filmed, after a friend suggested it would be a good opportunity for a song. Pitrone’s poignant voice and deep eyes are a chilling contrast to the video’s dream-like colors. It sounds as if he is singing of a lover: “Ivy old ivy you fit right inside me, to help me, to guide me.” But it is, in fact, speaking of his IV.

Watch Andrew’s YouTube video, “ivy old ivy.”

“I feel the same way too”

Shot in 20 minutes with bandmate Alex Roberts, this video is an example of Pitrone’s obscure taste for both the subtle and disquieting. In this scene, Pitrone has returned from the beach, reporting he’s been shot. He tries to pull the bullet out of his brain, which they made with ground beef and ketchup.

Watch Andrew’s YouTube video, “I feel the same way too.”

“That’s why you’re the one”

Just when a viewer assumes they understand Pitrone’s filming, more vulnerable songs like this add another dimension to his work. He flips through a composition book full of drawings that coincide with the lyrics. “Moriah” is written on some pages, which spelled backwards is “hairom,” which is a place in the song where he goes to choose a woman among many because his one true love keeps disappearing.

Watch Andrew’s YouTube video, “That’s why you’re the one.”

Aside from “Ghosts and Angels,” Pitrone posted two other films made in the hospital to his YouTube account. “‘@#$%&’ Said The Doctor” is a 10-minute piece of Pitrone springing all over the hospital room. The film was sped up to match the way his body felt.

“They put a lot of speed in me right before I shot that to speed up my heart because it was almost stopped, and I was dying,” Pitrone said.

The other film, “Ivy old ivy,” is an a capella song that references the IV that pumps nutrients into Pitrone. He mentions the angels and ghosts that danced around him, his lack of recollection of them and how he “ate the whole seedpod and all of the flowers.”

Experiences like this are more than life lessons for the former Kent State student – they are opportunities for art.

“I just see the world as art,” he said. “If I have a camera and can capture the moment, I should because art is life, and I’m living at that moment.”

Pitrone, a member of the band Legendary Seagulls, started college at 17, after being home-schooled for many years – an experience that taught him to appreciate art.

“(My siblings and I) said ‘We don’t want to do school today.’ So we just went on a field trip to like the greenhouse or art museum or science museum and just, you know, look at things and learn about history, I guess,” he said.

The Renaissance man refers to someone who masters, not just one or two, but many trades, and this is an idea that Pitrone holds dear. He works on poetry, films, photography and music. “Everyone says no, you can’t do that; you have to focus one thing. But I don’t really think that’s the case. I really don’t care enough about one thing,” he said. “I care about everything.”

Take for instance, a piece he did on the five senses for a class where he sat on the balcony in the Art Building; ate ginger root, hot peppers and garlic; projected a white skeleton on his body; chained together X-ACTO knives; and had a microphone that picked up his tiniest of noises.

“My fingers were feelings things. And I was up in the air, so that was another feeling. And the light was blasting in my eyes. So it was just really powerful,” he said. “I had, like, snot running down my nose. I felt the effects for days after. The professor made me stop because they thought I was going to die.”

Pitrone’s friends are also quick to testify about his versatile viewpoints and eccentric habits.

“Drew definitely has a unique way of thinking of things. The way he looks at things and describes them is in a different light, whether musically or otherwise,” former bandmate Joshua Goran said. “He is really refreshing compared to a lot of people.”

Goran met Pitrone at an open mic night and promptly recorded a few songs within hours of their meeting.

Legendary Seagulls bandmate Alex Roberts, junior electronic media production major, remembers meeting Pitrone at the same open mic night with Goran.

“(Pitrone) came in with friends and giant sunglasses. He started playing a toy piano – one with rods instead of strings,” he said. “He forgot words, so he took off his shirt and had the words written on his chest with markers.”

Roberts considers Pitrone a performer, first and foremost. He can’t, however, say if that performance at the open mic night was planned because, “it’s kind of a guessing game with Drew.”

“You can’t tell if he’s serious,” Roberts said, adding that he’s still trying to figure out if Pitrone’s claim that he played Russian Roulette is true.

Performance or not, Pitrone’s antics and art continue to draw viewers to his YouTube account, listed as “apitrone.”

After failing the art school’s sophomore review, Pitrone tried a semester of non-VCD classes but later decided to drop out of school completely. He plans on moving to Japan in August to build his portfolio.

Contact all correspondent Brenna McNamara at [email protected].