Phonode is a new website devised by the UE collective. It will focus on the more exploratory fringes of electronic music, demystifying the techniques used by musicians and artists working in the field, reviewing albums and equipment as well as examining the new processes and ideas which drive its creation. As the boundaries between noise and techno blur, disparate scenes seem to cross-pollinate more than ever before, and electronic music returns to a more experimental DIY aesthetic – the time seems ripe to launch a fresh investigation into where electronic music is at, and where it’s going next…
Just read a really interesting interview with sculptor Antony Gormley (in New Scientist magazine, of all places) that had a surprisingly political slant.
His recent installation Clay and the Collective Body explores “conversations between people – through objects or through the process of creating” by locking 100 random people in a stark white environment, with only a monolithic block of clay for entertainment. This “gave rise to an extraordinary and explosive outpouring of, you could say, collective unconciousness.”
This alien place seemed to trigger something in the participants, something primal that if I was more of a “yogurt-weaver”, I may be tempted to call a universal human connection – certainly the only familiar sight were other people, and the only way of killing time was to create.
“What’s absolutely beautiful is the way that people have occupied that space and become the absolute opposite of what capitalism wants us to be – passive consumers of spectacle, of information, of entertainment, of objects of desire – they become participatory and productive and cross-fertilising.” I thought it was particularly apt that Gormley chose to use the word occupy in that context.
Although Gormley goes on to state that he never intends to make overt political statements with his work, he lets slip that “…there’s no question that many of my works, in different ways, are asking about the connection between humans and our environment. And I think that all my installations in cities of the naked human animal in effigy form – surrogate fossils, industrialised fossils – are asking, where does humankind fit? Now that we seem to be well into the sixth great extinction, how long are we going to contribute to the evolution of life? Those are very big issues” – and undoubtedly political ones.
Another subject that Gormley brings up in the interview, that is also a favourite of my own, is that of Easter Island.
This ‘ghost island’ captured my imagination from a very young age, as it seems to encapsulate the power that art and iconography can hold over people, our self-destructive tendencies, the damage that can be caused by a flawed belief system and the folly of excess that human civilization seems prone to follow.
“What was in the mind of the man or woman on Rapa Nui who cut down the last tree? It seems the answer to that question is “Well, I cut down this tree because that was what my father did and that was what my father’s father did.” I think we’re in the same position, but we are running on the myth of progress. My work is there to ask pretty serious questions about how we can shift our perception of what constitutes viable human actions or viable human behaviour.”
I always thought there was an eerie connection between Gormley’s sculpture and the statues on Easter Island, and I’m pleased to learn my instincts were close to the mark. Both signify mankind’s strange detachment from the world that bore him, and the lonely marks left on the land after he has gone.
Gormley also goes on to criticise elitism and the determinism of scientific progress – it is a thoroughly thought provoking and enlightened article, that has once again piqued my enthusiasm for art’s potential to induce change, by making us take a long, hard, look in the collective mirror.
New compilation album for free download from Dead-Channel.com – featuring the work of the Urban Exploration collective – Download here
I never thought I’d say this, but massive respect to Madonna for her stunt supporting Pussy Riot. People like Yoko Ono and Sting have made statements in support of the band and stuff, but only Madonna went to Russia personally and performed in front of a crowd of thousands of people with their name scrawled across her fucking back! I know she’s a master of cynically using controversy for her own publicity and everything, but fair play to her for this one – I just hope it makes sufficient impact. The fact that sentencing has been delayed may indicate that they are wavering under growing public support for Pussy Riot’s plight.
Madonna’s performance certainly seems to have offended the right people, with a Russian deputy Prime Minister (and former ambassador to NATO) tweeting “With age, every former slut tries to lecture everyone on morality” and a priest from the Russian Orthodox church urging believers to call in bomb threats to disrupt the gig! It sounds like they are clutching at straws to me. You can read more on this in The Guardian.
Pussy Riot’s closing statements yesterday took the form of a rousing speech against the authoritarian regime in Russia, leaving no doubt in my mind that these women are true freedom fighters and intelligent artists who have been demonized as part of a wider crackdown on dissent in the country.
The closing statements from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in trial. 8 august 2012:
“Yesterday (on the 7th of August according to the website lenta.ru) Madonna’s performance took place. Madonna performed with the inscription “Pussy Riot” on her back. More and more people see that we are kept in pre-trial prison illegally and because of an absolutely false accusation. I am astounded by it. I am astounded by the fact that truth really triumphs over lies though we are physically here, in the cage. We are freer than all the people sitting opposite us on the side of the prosecution because we can say everything we want and we do it. As for the people from the side of the prosecution, they say only words passed by a political censor. They can’t say such words as “punk-prayer” and “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin!” They can’t say the lines from our punk-prayer that are related to the political system. They probably think that another reason why we are to be put into prison is our rebellion against Putin and his system. But they can’t say it because they are prohibited to do it. Their mouths are sewn. Unfortunately, they are just puppets at this trial. I hope they will realize it and will also head for freedom, truth and sincerity because all this is more important than static nature, affected decency and hypocrisy.
Because we don’t really have religious hatred, and never had it, our accusers have no choice but to resort to using a false witnesses. One of them – Motilda Ivashchenko -got ashamed and did not appear in court. And there is no more evidence of our hatred and enmity, in addition to this so-called expertise. Therefore, the court, if it would be honest and fair, must admit inadmissible evidence, due to the fact that this is not a rigorous scientific and objective text, rather dirty and mendacious piece of paper times of medieval inquisition.
Prosecution is ashamed to voice excerpts from lyrics by PussyRiot, because they are in fact the evidence of the lack of motive. I’ll present you this excerpt here, I think it’s very valuable. It’s from the interview for the “Russian Reporter” magazine, that was given on the next day after the performance in the Chuch of Jesus The Savior: “We feel great respect to any religion and to orthodoxy in particular, that’s why we’re so distressed about that, so great and so positive as it is, Christian Philosophy is being used in such a filthy way. Our brain is getting blown out by that all this beauty is being now used from the back. All of this is quite painful to observe.
14:47 In the end I’d like to quote one of the Pussy Riot’s songs, as if curiously enough all of them turned to be fateful. Including the one which says: “Head of the KGB, their major saint, guides the protesters to detention under escort”.
15:06 And what I’m going to quote right now is this very line: “Open all doors, take off your shoulder straps, feel the air of freedom with us”.”
Good luck Pussy Riot, you have our love and respect.