Ben Sisto: Who Let Who Let the Dogs Out Out?
Ben Sisto is a Brooklyn based artist with experience working at venues and concerts in the Boston/Rhode Island area. As the self-proclaimed leading expert on the song “Who Let the Dogs Out,” Ben has compiled his multimedia research into an hour long presentation known as the “Museum of Who Let Who Let the Dogs Out Out?” which touches on the subjects of lawsuits, unknown DJs, and rare sample sources. Sisto’s presentation will be held at Psychic Readings (AS220) November 12, 2017 at 5pm. Tickets will be sold for $5-10 on a sliding scale. This event is all ages and open to the public.
What was your first initial connection with the song “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
I’ve been aware of the song since the release of the Baha Men’s version around 2000 but it wasn’t until 2010 that I began looking into it’s history. I had been looking at the Wikipedia page for the song—I was likely lead there by an article on the track’s 10 year anniversary—when I noticed some missing information; both a citation and a last name. That is when I began looking into that issue, more or less just to be helpful. One thing lead to another and here we are…
How has compiling this research given you a better understanding of yourself as an artist?
Researching “Who Let the Dogs Out” changed how I think about project timelines. As an event producer, I’ve always worked on a fairly tight, often immediate timeline with clear objectives, budgets, etc. This project has had a much looser feel. I’ve never really had a goal or idea of when it would be completed, and I only have a rough idea of the costs. Furthermore, I’m more thoughtful about how to ask questions now. Even if I think I know the answer, I can now find a way to leave room for the audience to fill in some blanks on their own.
What does this presentation mean to you and why do you do it?
I probably do it because people like it. It’s fun to entertain, to teach and to share. It’s fun to be “the expert” on something that on the surface sounds kind of silly, but opens up a lot of conversations about race, class, gender, attribution and more. I learn something every time I give the talk. I learn about myself, about public speaking, about ways of phrasing things, even about how poorly low resolution graphics show up on a 12′ tall projection. Not to mention better ways to prep audio for playback…
What sort of connections has the Museum of Who Let Who Let the Dogs Out Out opened up for you?
Since presenting this event I’ve had the fortune of speaking at King’s College in London, I’ve talked at Eyebeam in NYC and now a few places like AS220. Some folks who saw the museum at Spring/Break in NYC followed up with me after the show, ultimately leading to a couple work-related connections thereafter. At the same time, I had some old friends that were there say that they had no idea I was doing this project at all. So, it has been kind of a mix of connections both old and new.
Who is your target audience or someone who might benefit from hearing your thoughts on the subject of “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
The audience for this presentation is really wide. Some students in their late teens / early 20s have said they know the song from specific movies, toys, or even just the phrase “Who Let the Dogs Out” from internet memes. Other audiences, like 35-50 year old krautrock fans, are curious to learn how Kraftwork fits into the story. IP / copyright law students, art school kids, weirdo collectors, pop culture fans alike all feel included. I think part of what makes doing this fun is all the different perspectives involved. The story of this song illustrates both where copyright can be of benefit to artists, and where it fails to protect them as well.
Where do you see yourself in the future with regards to this presentation or any outside goals that may result from it?
I’d like to sell the entire museum to an institution who can properly care for the various items, such as the records and toys to the digital items and magazines. Hopefully I might see donating it to someone who can ensure it won’t be lost with time. It would be nice to break even at some point and then I suppose a video / documentary would be nice to make; although, I don’t have any specific expectations. For now, I’m just here to have fun with art.