Theory of Obscurity (2015)

Theory of Obscurity tells the story of the renegade sound and video collective known as The Residents. A story that spans 40 years and is clouded in mystery. Many details surrounding the group are secret, including the identities of its members. Our film takes viewers inside this incredibly private group with unprecedented access to their archives and their recent 40th anniversary tour.

Film Synopsis

THEORY OF OBSCURITY tells the story of The Residents: a renegade sound and video collective from San Francisco. Their history, spanning more than 40 years, continues to be shrouded in mystery.

Many details surrounding the group are secret, including the identities of its members. They always perform wearing masks and costumes, which is part of their magic. Still, The Residents have a management company, The Cryptic Corporation, led by Hardy W. Fox and Homer Flynn. This business counterpart allowed director Don Hardy and his crew unprecedented access to the groups’ archival materials and recent world tour celebrating their 40th anniversary.

The Residents have always played by their own rules, managing to release more than 60 albums and garner critical acclaim for their artistic acumen. The filmmakers followed them on their most recent world tour, bearing first-hand witness to their highly diverse legion of fans – turns out they are everywhere!

They are ultimately much more than a band that plays strange music: The Residents are multimedia pioneers. They led the way in home recording, video production, animation, CD-Rom, laserdisc, podcasts and web-series. They were also one of the pioneering groups in the music video revolution. Their short films were in heavy rotation during MTV’s early days and they are now part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

The filmmakers interviewed artists inspired by The Residents such as Les Claypool from Primus and Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, as well as other fans and industry leaders who claim The Residents are “the best experimental art band of all time.” All of these pieces come together to form a well-rounded tale which is sure to captivate both long-time supporters and audiences discovering them for the first time.

At its heart, this story is about perseverance and passionate pursuit. The Residents never caved to convention. They never compromised. Their art is their own, and THEORY OF OBSCURITY’s goal is to shine a light on what they’ve done over the past 40+ years, while also showing the difficulties they’ve faced along the way. These are hardworking, do-it-yourself, everymen who still have mortgages to pay and families to support…though they do it by wearing eyeball masks and tuxedos.

The Residents have followed their muse for decades and thousands of fans have hung on for the ride. Along the way they’ve also inspired countless people to be weird, take chances and find their own voice. THEORY OF OBSCURITY will surely do the same by introducing The Residents to a whole new generation.