I Come From Leeds – We Are Poets

New York Is Killing Me (Chris Cunningham Remix)

Haunting last video of Gil Scott-Heron

The Problem With Science

New documentary film by Michael Coldwell on philosopher Jim Schofield’s latest theories. Science has made several crucial assumptions that are fundamentally flawed, and may have skewed our view of the world around us.
Music is supplied by our friends in the Urban Exploration collective ūüôā

Urban Exploration in the Ragged Kingdom

ISAM live in Graz

Marsen Jules & Anders Weberg

Life in the Overgrowth

Music by Urban Exploration

Arrangement and Video by Conflux

Urban Exploration jamming at Temple Works

Religulously Funny

Pretty late to the game as always, I know, but I’ve only just seen this film. A no-holds-barred comedic assault on all organised religion, it is both poignant and hilarious (just what you’d expect from the director of Borat, Larry Charles). Bill Maher travels around talking to various religious types, ruthlessly takes the piss out of them and reveals the gaping holes in their beliefs in the process. It is refreshing to see this sort of thing, as religion is considered a no-go area for such treatment by many, and you can rest-assured, Religulous is as deeply offensive as it sounds! I like that kind of thing it must be said. If there’s one thing holding back social progress (aside from the relentless pursuit of profit, of course) it is irrational belief. If you are an Atheist or Agnostic, or you’re just having theological doubts, you definitely should watch this. Or is that just ‘preaching’ to the ‘converted’?

Wiki on the film

This rip is a bit weird as it has been flipped, but it’s still pretty watchable. Que up all 10 parts and enjoy ūüėČ

Generation OS13

For a new era, generation OS13, the repression will not be tolerated; do¬†the government really think they can win that war if the young people are like fuck this, you cant beat that you, can‚Äôt beat us, it‚Äôs Impossible¬†‚Äď Saul Williams

Slightly flawed but welcome documentary from someone ‘Anonymous’
Give it a watch, keep your eyes open <o>

26 copies of The King’s Speech

Michelle-Obama-and-Samant-008

Charlie Brooker on how British cinema needs to go about getting more commercial hits, why Fish Tank doesn’t have any 200ft robots in it, and why David Cameron has 26 copies of The Kings Speech in his DVD collection…

Time to think inside the box, dumb down and make some pennies for the tories’ car crash economy.

A golden opportunity for the cream of British filmmakers, I think you’ll agree!

Read it all here

On Thin Ice

David Attenborough's Frozen Planet

I recently read online that the final episode of David Attenborough’s latest epic, Frozen Planet, would not be shown in the US or China due to it’s apparently “controversial” angle on climate change.

On Thin Ice says nothing we haven’t already heard a million times about the polar icecaps melting – but it tells the story with amazing pictures of global warming’s effects on these regions, a calm and concerned narrative by Attenborough, and a lot of¬†incontrovertible evidence. This was too much for some it would seem.

The BBC defended it’s decision to sell the series to 30 countries as a six-parter, with the 7th episode missing – stating that this was due to a difference in style rather than content (bullshit).

The good news is that Discovery Channel has backtracked under public pressure, and has now decided to show On Thin Ice on the US network, after a Change.org petition gathered 84,000 signatures complaining about this apparent censorship. Discovery Channel denies that the petition had any influence on their decision (more bullshit).

The episode itself is awesome. I watched it last night on BBC iPlayer and it is the best in the series in my opinion. It should still be available there to watch for viewers in the UK. Check it out

The Trap

If you have not yet seen Adam Curtis’s 2007 documentary series The Trap now is your chance. All three episodes are included in full, below.

Here Curtis explores what we mean when we talk about Freedom, the ideas of negative and positive liberty, and the strange dichotomy between coercion and it’s apparent opposite.
It’s really interesting stuff whatever political side of the fence you prefer. The concept of freedom lies at the heart of many political ideologies, from the Neoconservatives and the Bush Administration to Anarcho-Communists to New Labour – what differs is how freedom is conceptualised and administered, who that freedom really benefits and what it is actually liberating us from…



I Am Not A Number

THX 1138

I feel the need to put into words some of the mental ramblings that have been preoccupying me of late. I apologise for any lack of coherence herein, please bear in mind that in some respects I am just thinking aloud.

Big changes are happening to the political landscape. Could this be the beginning of the end for Democracy in Europe? Are we being ushered into the new age of the Technate as a last-ditch attempt at saving free market Capitalism? It is far too early to tell, and I am certainly no expert in the subject, but I feel this is something we must strive to understand, and quickly, before it is too late to stop what may have been already set in motion.

Italy and Greece have now had their democratically elected governments removed, and in their place Technocratic administrations have been imposed, to make the “unpopular” decisions required to rescue their respective economies. Milanese students took to the streets yesterday to protest against this unelected “bankers’ government”. Police responded by charging the students with batons. In Athens too, violence broke out in protest against the new unity government, as thousands of demonstrators and anarchists met with thousands of police officers armed with “stun grenades”.¬†“Down with the government of socialists, conservatives and fascists,” a protester’s banner said.¬†Greece’s third largest party, the Communists, and the smaller leftist Syriza party have pledged to fight to bring down the government to prevent further cuts, in a country mired in a deep recession since 2008.

When I imagine a world run by Technocrats enforcing strict economic restraints, I am reminded of George Lucas’s Kafkaesque debut feature, THX 1138 – a dystopian nightmare vision in which human emotion is controlled through government-administered narcotics, where names are replaced by codes, people become numbers and every aspect of life is run to a stringent budget. The film is extremely cogent and leaves a lasting impression, akin to that of Huxley’s Brave New World or Terry Gilliam’s outstanding feature film, Brazil. It highlights the inhumanity, latent within bureaucratic systems of control, the dangers of totalitarianism and the fragility of freedom. But surely the fledgling Technocracies of Italy and Greece will be very different from this bleak cinematic experience? Surely this sort of dark fantasy could not be actualized in 21st Century Europe? What happens when you forcibly remove Democracy, does freedom vanish overnight? Are we on the brink of something sinister?

While THX 1138 certainly raises important issues and warns us of the potential dangers of such systems, it could just as easily be seen to be an overly simplistic and overtly sensationalist critique of Soviet Communism – and while this agenda may do nothing to undermine the legitimacy of its harrowing message, because of this bias we cannot rely on it, in any way, to tell us about the true nature of Technocracy.

So what the hell is Technocracy? It is a concept few people understand.

According to the fountain of knowledge that is Wikipedia,  Technocracy is a form of government where important decisions are made by scientists and experts, rather than elected politicians.

Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body. In a technocracy, decision makers would be selected based upon how knowledgeable and skillful they are in their field.

Technical and leadership skills would be selected through¬†bureaucratic¬†processes on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than¬†democratic¬†election by those without such knowledge or skill deemed necessary. Some forms of technocracy are envisioned as a form of¬†meritocracy, a system where the “most qualified” and those who decide the validity of qualifications are the same people. Other forms have been described as not being an oligarchic human group of controllers, but rather administration by discipline-specific science, ostensibly without the influence of special interest groups.[1]

As of 2011, Italy has a technocratic goverment Рsee Monti Cabinet.

Politics is supposedly about ideals and morals as much as it is about systems’ management, but this aspect seems missing from the Technocratic vision. The primary problem with this sort of government must be to do with accountability. How can you be sure the experts placed in charge are working in the best interests of the people, and not merely serving their own interests or those of a wealthy ruling elite? In a Democratic system, at least the people can supposedly vote-out a government that is not working for them – although you often hit upon the problem that none of the electable parties are working for the people!

What may come as a surprise to some, is that many of the trailblazers of Technocracy, were some of the great thinkers on the historic Left, such as Henri de Saint-Simon and Friedrich Engels, who believed an authoritarian, State-controlled economy, was the only way of creating and preserving an egalitarian society. A scientific socialist theorist, Engels envisaged that the state would eventually die out and cease to be a state, when the government of people and interference in social affairs was replaced by an administration of things and technical processes Рa sort of anarchic Technocracy. But surely this sort of system can only exist in a positive state if the people have given their consent to this sort of economic management Рotherwise ruthless control of those people is needed to keep that system in place Рand you are back to totalitarianism, THX 1138, Huxley et al. I doubt this is what Engels had in mind. Unchecked rule by bureaucrats has become a trademark of totalitarian regimes, such as those that existed in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. George Orwell described Technocracy as a precursor to Fascism. What was Adolf Eichmann if not a Technocrat? How can this be reconciled with Socialism?

More “wisdom” from Wikipedia:

In the economy of the Soviet Union, state ownership of the means of production was combined with central planning, in relation to which goods and services were to be provided, how they were to be produced, the quantities, and the sale prices. Soviet economic planning was an alternative to allowing the market (supply and demand) to determine prices for producer and consumer goods. The Soviet economy utilized material balance accounting in order to balance the supply of available inputs with output targets, although this never totally replaced financial accounting. Although the Soviet economy was nominally a centrally-planned economy, in practice the plan was formulated on-the-go as information was collected and relayed from enterprises to planning ministries.

Socialist economists and political theorists have criticised the notion that the Soviet-style planned economies were socialist economies. They argue that the Soviet economy was structured upon the accumulation of capital and the extraction of surplus value from the working class by the planning agency in order to reinvest this surplus in new production ‚Äď or to distribute to managers and senior officials, indicating the Soviet Union (and other Soviet-style economies) were state capitalist economies. Other socialists have focused on the lack of self-management, the existence of financial calculation and a bureaucratic elite based on hierarchical and centralized powers of authority in the Soviet model, leading them to conclude that they were not socialist but either bureaucratic collectivism, state capitalism or deformed workers’states.

Or indeed Technocracies. Certainly my own political awakening and evolution has been marred by these past failings by supposed Marxists, trying to impose a “fair” economic system through extreme authoritarian control, the so-called Thermidorian phase – and while I can see why such a conservative period, post-revolution, may be necessary to establish a new system, my gut reaction to an all-powerful state is simply to fight it. How can a Technocracy ever be considered socialist if the people have no say in how it is being run? It simply becomes another system of control, where a ruling elite of “experts” is in charge and the masses do as they are told.

I very much doubt that these new Technocratic governments in Europe will begin to resemble Stalin’s bureaucrats – they are all working for the bankers and the existing financial elite after all, a system which relies on the free market. But this opens up a bigger debate for anyone left on the Left, for all those involved in the Occupy movement worldwide, and for all those who wish to end predatory capitalism. It reveals a dichotomy in my own thinking that just won’t go away. How do you create a fairer society without destroying people’s freedom?

I sometimes feel I have the head of a Marxist and the body of an Anarchist, and although they are fighting for the same thing, they are also fighting with each other and differ very much in how to go about it. When I take the Political Compass test, I come out as extreme Left Liberal – or Anarchist.

My Political Compass

This is how you’d expect a Lefty with an aversion to all authority to come out! Freedom is the embodiment of Anarchism. The act of fighting for freedom is Revolution. All revolutionaries in the act of revolution are therefore Anarchists!

But that is not the end of the story. I sometimes think that being a Left Libertarian may actually be a contradiction in terms. I have read papers on the subject which have made me think a little differently about what Liberalism actually means. That Left and Right are divergences towards state-control from either side of a Liberal centre-ground, that resembles Laissez-faire capitalism – commerce without government intervention – or “freedom to trade”. I am also very aware that the importance placed in Individual Freedom is often at the expense of the collective good. People re-branded in their own minds as consumers place their own choices and freedoms above all else – and this props up and encourages free market capitalism, begging the “devils-advocate” question: is capitalism the natural outcome of Anarchy? I’m not so sure about this, but there are many who think so.

Many Neo-liberalists, individualists, mutualists, economists and advocates of the free market consider themselves Anarchists to some degree – people such as Friedman, Murray Rothbard and even Ayn Rand believed in freedom of the individual and reduction or elimination of the state.¬†Murray Rothbard maintains that Anarcho-Capitalism is the only true form of Anarchism. I’m not saying that I agree with this at all, or that I cannot conceive of an Anarchist society being fair and egalitarian – but it does flag up an important question. Would people be any safer from exploitation without the state? And now I feel like a Socialist again!

I have no answers to any of these questions, I’ll be the first to admit. But I am, at least, asking them!

One of the problems with the current resistance movements across the world (fighting corporate greed and for the rights of the 99%) is that by and large they aren’t asking these questions. They reject all prior political movements and “-isms” without proffering any alternatives. The lack of any solid theory behind the movement, and knowledge of prior political ideas, may be its undoing. If you reject Communism, Socialism, Corporatism, Free-Market Capitalism and Technocracy as systems that have failed, what do you accept? What, indeed, are you fighting for?

I can understand why the Occupy movement and Anonymous, and others, reject being pigeonholed politically – all these old political philosophies have their pitfalls and problems. But I do oppose the idea that a new system will emerge out of nowhere, with no reference to, or study of, systems and ideas that have come before. Without a deep historical understanding of these things, we may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

It really does feel like the movement is in its infancy in this respect. There is a naivety at its core which belies its noble intent. My chief concern is that while the movement is working out what it is, trying to answer crucial questions like: Can you have real Freedom and real Fairness? What replaces Capitalism if it falls? How will we fight all those that oppose us? While we are all still finding our feet, Technocracy may well sneak in and take over by the backdoor, supplanting democracy, and all our freedoms and hopes for fairness may be usurped. Social engineers and psychologists may be brought-in by the new management team, to deal with these voices of dissent, which are so detrimental to the national credit rating. People’s beliefs and opinions and rights are of no value when there are severe deficits to reduce. They do not compute. The chants from protesters may disappear as the subsequent crackdowns intensify, then triumph, and all that can then be heard, above the gentle hum of myriad machines, is a muffled whisper: “I am not a number”

Why the Universe is Shaped Like an Egg & Why Stars Aren’t Where We Think They Are

Buxton’s BUG

BUG
Adam Buxton
“I tell people that BUG is like going round to a friend‚Äôs house and having him open up his laptop and show you interesting and amusing things he‚Äôs found or made, except not as tedious and shit as that sounds.” Adam Buxton

We went to see Adam Buxton present BUG last night at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, with no real preconceptions whatsoever.

Well, maybe one. That it would be something akin to watching Rude Tube live, but with more interesting beats and without that curly-haired twat.  Thankfully it was nothing of the sort.

Sitting in an art-house cinema to watch cutting-edge music videos was a novel enough experience in itself, but the focus of the evening was definitely the host, Adam Buxton, who was in fine comedic form, making the whole experience much more like live stand-up comedy than anything else I can think of.

He would be the first to admit he has been off the public radar for a few years – in “TV Jail” as he puts it! But he has still been very active in the digital realm, carving out his own surreal style via his Youtube channel. While incarcerated in obscurity, Buxton has embraced the viral and assimilated this culture into his comedy vignettes,¬†which seem just as playful (but a lot less infantine) than his seminal work with former partner-in-crime, Joe Cornish.¬†As a childhood fan of The Adam and Joe Show it’s really nice to see his comedy mature and develop as I do.

The whole evening had a really relaxed and intimate atmosphere – like you really were round his house, peering over his shoulder while he showed you his favourite online clips. My only criticism of the event was that it didn’t last quite long enough. I could easily have stayed into the small hours watching music videos with him. It felt like I was hanging out with an old mate of mine that I hadn’t seen for a few years, and it seemed like the rest of the audience felt the same.

The music videos he showed us were also of high quality. Alongside more obvious (but still great) choices like Roots Manuva’s Witness The Fitness and contributions by the legendary Cyriak, there were also some great videos that had passed me by, and I enjoyed this aspect as much as the comedy. If you get chance to go see one of these shows, do so!




Some of Adam Buxton’s new material:


Adam Buxton’s website

BUG website

redeyewitness

I’m Mad as Hell, and I won’t Take It Anymore!

Network 1976
Television and the media may have changed a lot since 1976, but Network still packs a punch. Profit motivated corporations still control the news, and televised news is still how most people find out what is going on in the world – even in the digital age of free information, the media giants heavily influence public opinion. There are parallels with Murdoch’s empire and its recent controversies. The film is set during a global recession, and feels more relevant than ever. Recommended viewing for all.

More info here:

IMDb / Wiki / PB

I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!

Urban Expo 1

Urban Exposition 1

Improvised music by Urban Exploration with Live visuals.

 

Capitalism: A Hate Crime

Michael Moore

Despite being released in 2009, we’ve only just got around to watching Moore’s latest polemic (Capitalism, A Love Story), which is perhaps his most overtly political film yet. Moore is routinely criticised for over-simplifying issues, not backing up all his points with rigorous research,¬†narcissism and plain old-fashioned partisan politics. While many of these criticisms are often true of his work, that is not why he is routinely criticised. It is because he is a genuine threat to those in power. He speaks emotionally in plain English about important issues and encourages people to stand up for themselves. This is why he receives so much flack. His latest film is hard to criticise on these grounds as it is much more thoroughly researched than previous outings and goes straight for the jugular. Capitalism itself.

There is often¬†something rather jarring about Moore’s documentaries. Unlike much mass-media produced treatise on the structures we call society, Moore’s offerings are ribboned with emotion and dramatic protest that can sometimes seem circus-like, theatrical. ‘Capitalism, A love story’, is in some ways no exception, with Moore playing at performing a citizen’s arrest and draping police tape around major banks. But there is also a simple and hard-hitting breakdown of the facts around global financial crisis, accompanied by archive footage, and a rather predictable yet occasionally effective soundtrack. The call-to-arms here seems a lot more tangible. The disgust you are lead to feel in the plight of families evicted from their homes, at children jailed by a for-profit prison system, is counteracted by pure elation at the footage of strike action at Republic Windows and Doors, and at a community whose peaceful action supported an evicted family squatting their own home.

While I agree that Moore can be a little crass, the accusations of manipulation by the right are utterly laughable. What Moore does (and what the right fears) is to simplify and explain the means by which the super-rich are managing to routinely rob the 95% of the population with little economic power. A good analogy for the way in which the public are usually systematically obfuscated by the financial elite is the formula shown in the documentary for ‘derivatives’. The muddier the explanation for financial catastrophe, the easier it is for those in power to capitalise and exploit the rest of us for their own profit. Moore clears the waters for us, and what strikes me time and time again is how¬†blatant¬†the robbery of the working class has become. This so-called recession amounts to the biggest heist of public money in recorded history, and so far the¬†thieves¬†have gotten away with it.

One point the film makes very well is that we do not live in a democracy, and cannot while the world is still run from Wall Street. Moore talks with Democrat senators who feel that what took place was a “financial coup d’etat”, where power was irrevocably shifted from elected representatives to the CEOs of banks and other financial institutions, by the back door. This is backed up by good evidence. When our governments’ now talk about budget deficits they neglect to mention how much of OUR money they “gave” to the banks. They suggest that these current times of austerity are somehow OUR responsibility, and we must take these CUTS to our vital front line services on the chin, like good loyal citizens to the church of capitalism, and sit by and watch as our most precious institutions are dismantled in the name of efficiency, while private companies rake in the profits.

Yet again we sit in the aftermath of another depressing expose of the system that robs us of our wealth and¬†opportunity. We write in the wake of yet more cuts to services, including¬†proposed¬†cuts to legal aid, a 30% cut for NHS cancer scans, 25% youth unemployment… the list is endless. It is very difficult not to get despondent in the face of all this, difficult not to either block our disgust with distraction- or even give up completely and attempt to suck at the sour teat of the system as if there is no choice or escape. But not so. A point which drove these almost invariably united authors to heated debate was the idea that there is nothing left to do in the face of all this save violent revolution, a forced seizure of what rightly belongs to the people of this planet for the benefit of all. Yet look again… all of the successful protest portrayed within this documentary was peaceful, and a good reminder of the most powerful weapon we have- the right to¬†withhold¬†labour. Without our continued co-operation, this parasitic system can, and WILL fail. Let us not be complacent. We have a responsibility to each other, and the more of us care to remember that, the less powerful that top 1% can be.

Micolagist & Floatfly

Attack The Block

In light of the recent rioting in London and various other places around the UK, I urge anyone still under the dillusion that the kids involved were just a bunch of criminals, set on destruction and terror to watch this film with an analytical frame of mind, as you may learn something about how the youth of today are feeling and why they are capable of such acts. The messages are subtly displayed, usually through the use of extremely well conceived dialogue, but anyone with an ounce of intelligence will be able to see where the film-makers are coming from. Attack The Block¬†was written and directed by Joe Cornish, an English comedian, writer and television presenter, best known for Channel 4’s, “The Adam and Joe Show“, which ran from 1996-2001, consisting of 4 series and with co-writer and presenter, Adam Buxton.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh9GEvMzA6I&feature=related

Since 2007 they have presented a radio show together on BBC 6 Music, however, Cornish took some time out during 2010 to direct this film.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00876k2

The best way for me to describe Attack The Block, is a cross between Kidulthood and Alien, but with some solid, dark comedy in the mix too. I was pleasantly surprised at the gore content as well, considering the 15 certification attached, however I imagine this was discussed at length when taking into account the ages of the majority of the actors and actresses involved. The film includes a number of debut roles including the main character, Moses, played by John Boyega, who takes to the lead with finesse and believability from the outset. It also stars Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Joes, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker and Nick Frost (Spaced/Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz) and is produced by Edgar Wright, Nira Park, James Wilson and Mary Burke.

Unsurprisingly, it was made in conjunction with Film 4 as well as Big Talk Productions, Studio Canal and UK Film Council. The original score was written by Steven Price, Felix Button and Simon Ratcliffe although the soundtrack also includes the Basement Jaxx track, “The Ends”.¬†The movie was shown at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), Austin, Texas in 2011, where it won the Midnight Feature Award. It also won the audience award for Best Narrative at the L.A. Film Festival 2011.

I consider this feature to work on multiple levels, comparable to that of Shaun of the Dead and can be watched simply as a cool Sci-Fi, Action film, a Comedy or as an insight into youth culture in 2011. There is a scene including an exchange between two wannabe gangster kids, Props and Mayhem that is absolute comedy genius and again, this is down to the brilliant dialogue, consistent throughout the whole movie. The design of the creatures is unbelievably simple, but very striking and the reference to their colour by Moses is not only steeped in irony, but extremely funny and yet another example of the quality of the writing.

I am almost 100% sure that the majority of people who watch this will simply not get it, “Ya get me?”, but if you understand what I did there, you should definitely give it a try!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Attack-Block-DVD-Nick-Frost/dp/B004TQOVP6

Sexism and the City

Mark Kermode declares class war and lays into the vacuous, materialistic world of Sex and the City 2… quite funny, political and kinda feminist. Fair enough. I didn’t know he had it in him!

 

The Century of the Self

We’re big fans of Adam Curtis here at Red Eye. He is quite possibly one of the most important documentary filmmakers of our time. He uses historical news footage, interviews and a powerful narrative to draw lateral connections and reveal hidden trajectories in our recent past – trajectories that have shaped our present world and the way we think about it. His new series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, recently aired on the BBC, and is well worth watching, giving as it does, a unique angle on how computers have changed the way we think about the world. More on this soon…

The Century of the Self is now a cult classic, and probably the best introduction to his work. It was originally a four part documentary, but is included here as one file… I hope this doesn’t put people off watching it in full, as it is a work that really needs watching in it’s entirety. It draws a huge arc across the 20th century starting with Freud and how psychoanalysis began to be used by advertisers and the propaganda machine to control the population, the illusion of democracy, the rise of consumerism and individualism and the death of socialism. It is our history in the raw perfectly told. Essential viewing for all.

Strangeloop – ‘Fields’. Out on Brainfeeder 25/07/11

The most recent EP to reach me from Flying Lotus‚Äô essential label Brainfeeder is the epic and¬†beautiful ‚ÄėFields‚Äô by LA based VJ and producer Strangeloop. With an ongoing preoccupation with astral projection, mystical states of consciousness and the trappings of human perception, you can be sure that anything coming from Strangeloop will be deep and questioning, and ‚ÄėFields‚Äô does not disappoint.

Essentially it is a series of detailed sprawling loops and delicate sounds, with minimal beats and gentle bass, which builds up a hypnotic and authentic soundscape. Knowing that the writing of this EP was influenced directly by an experience during an altered state of consciousness gives this EP real depth ¬†‚Äď the first movement symbolising birth and constellation, the second death and dissolution, and the third a transcendental union of both. Unfortunately I have no clips to play from the EP, but here’s a Strangeloop track from earlier this year which will at least pass as a good introduction to his music:

And here’s another track which is possibly a better indication of the meditative feel of ‘Fields’:


He’s an interesting and awe-inspiring creative character: making electronic music since the age of 14; drawing, painting, VJing, and the cross-pollination of it all. His avant-sci-fi project ‚Äú2010: (or) How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Singularity‚ÄĚ helped to make him known in the UK electronic music scene with the support of Mary Anne Hobbes. Here’s the edited version of the film and mix he did for her show, which is well worth watching:

There are a load more videos of his live VJing performances and short films / visuals here which I would thoroughly recommend checking out.

‘Fields’ will also take the form of an interactive online AV experience once released, so keep checking back at Brainfeeder to get involved however you can!

Links:

Strangeloop TV
Strangeloop on Vimeo  
Strangeloop on Soundcloud 

MisinforMation Review

MisinforMation DVD
The first time I watched this DVD I was pretty stoned. One of my favourite pastimes is to put on a film, one with great pictures and no dialogue such as Koyaanisqatsi, or some old Buster Keaton movies, skin up a large one, and provide my own soundtrack to the visuals out of my sizable collection of electronic music. As the psychotropic compound hits the cannabinoid receptors in the back of my brain and takes hold, pictures and sounds become one, rhythm becomes serendipitous, and my senses and imagination work together to re-contextualise this information in any way they see fit.
Intracellular signal transduction pathways are activated! I drift off into my own reverie, the images become blurred, the sound becomes muffled, and I pass out on my bean-bag, fully satisfied by this waking dream. With MisinforMation it feels like the Baron Mordant has done much the same thing, except he has managed to stay conscious long enough to write some original music, bespoke for the occasion.

I decided to watch the DVD again, this time with a clear head. The box doesn’t give you much information to be misguided by, though I’ve now worked out that the DVD is a collaboration between the BFI and Mordant Music, edited and re-scored by the latter, using the former’s access to the archives of the Central Office of Information – the UK government’s marketing and communications agency, and producer of public information films.

MisinforMation Screenshot 1
Pressing play you are greeted with a stark looking menu with the cryptic option to view “Spools” or to “Spore All” – I chose the latter. You are flung head-first into a Hitchcockian nightmare-vision of invading magpies, which quickly reveals itself to be a crime prevention commercial, extolling the virtues of Neighbourhood Watch. The sound is synthetic and ominous, the mood disquieting. This sets the tone if not the main themes of MisinforMation from the outset, a work that is as interested in the mechanics and language of film, as it is with the content. Indeed, the frequent use of test cards, countdowns and grainy damaged reels, conveys a love for the textural quality of the medium, and how that can effect the mood and feel of the images, as much as the themes and narratives displayed therein.

The Baron Mordant’s score emphasises this devil in the ambiguous detail. It is his music which becomes the constant thread, tying disparate pieces together. As many of the visual sources are from the 1970s and 80s, the nods to Vangelis and Eno seem highly appropriate – but it isn’t another retro pastiche. The sounds are pulled apart and elongated to form textures and drones. While at times it is Hauntological in the manner of Ghost Box or Boards of Canada, often the synths and effects are more akin to Autechre or Merzbow, noise and ambience are intense and lift the images to another plane. All works well until the Baron attempts a song – a somewhat naive blip on an otherwise flawless electronic score.

All the short films collated here are highly watchable, and interesting historical objects in their own right Рbut in MisinforMation they are re-purposed, obfuscated and altered Рthe new interpretation provided by sound alone. They are shown in a new light and this has a big impact on their semantic purpose. This is the main concept behind the project Рthat with only slight deviations from the original context, the meaning can be completely transformed. Sometimes this works better than others.

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A Dark Social Template¬†is particularly effective. ¬†The new soundtrack casts a bleak re-imagining of our past’s visions for the future, playing on our informed position of knowing exactly how certain ideas would end up failing. The concrete mazes and dungeons of 1960s new builds are underscored by itchy, nervous, analogue bleeps and tones, highlighting the inhumanity of such places – while the original film, blissfully unaware of their future failure, tries to persuade poor sods to up-sticks and move there. Animated sections in the film are rendered surreal, with human behaviour made to look alien and viral, cities emerge like infected wounds on the earth’s skin. A beat-less disco makes the revelers look like absurd maniacs and re-interprets an OAP’s conga-line as some bizarre satanic ritual. The only part of this piece that didn’t capture my imagination was watching the presenters talking without the original audio. It was as if I had turned the sound down on my own TV, and this made it feel a bit amateurish when compared with the perfect wedding of music to picture in the other scenes. This is executed better, later on, by replacing the original voice with another – a much more interesting use of such footage, and more befitting of the title.

Attenuated Shadows is another highlight. This short film about solvent abuse would have been profoundly disturbing without the new score, but the music here goes really well indeed – mournful chords and woozy soundscapes add melancholy to the shock value. The footage looks very real, and yet we’re told at the end of the documentary that the children depicted doing glue, did not inhale. This seems hard to believe – were the COI covering their arses for fear of being labeled exploitative? Was the original misinforming us, or has Mordant Music’s emotive scoring misinformed us into believing the illusion? Maybe we’ll never know. This is MISinformation after all.

Urban nightmares are then replaced by grainy pictures of Stone Henge and picture-book illustrations of early man. Ridyll was the weakest section for me. It didn’t feel as though it had been re-purposed as much as the others, and it did drag a little. However, it does benefit from being an interlude, and in contrast with the other more intense offerings, it paints a quaint picture of Britain’s ancient history. And the music is pretty good too, featuring a Moog wig-out in the style of Bo Hansson.

Elsewhere on the DVD we see the famous AIDS advert (from the 80s) in reverse, a suburban domestic version of Tron where nature fights back, a documentary on Ink Jet technology repurposed to reveal something dark in our nature, strange footage of nematode worms in a lab, and many other more abstract pieces, where music and visual mesh perfectly with no apparent agenda or message to be conveyed. The last film is pure audio-visual pleasure, as beautiful images of the sea and coastline are immaculately scored – the sound and picture relationship here is more precise than anywhere else in the work, with beautiful rhythmic editing and a sense of humour to boot.

In conclusion then, I simply can’t recommend this DVD enough – it is a work of art with very few aspects in need of criticism. It is both thought-provoking, emotive and intelligently complied. What I would say though, is that it is¬†best viewed instinctively, on psychotropics, so your own imagination becomes part of the work, and you get lost in the minutae and subtle inter-relationships that jump-start old memories and lateral ideas. You get lost in it happily. Watched in a sober, more linear fashion, you end up trying to second-guess the creator’s motivations, and I don’t think you get quite as much out of it that way.

Best served with 3.5 grams of “Blue Cheese”.

You can buy the DVD from Boomkat

Marwencol


Marwencol is the strange and wonderful story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who, after suffering brain damage resulting from being severely beaten-up by a group of drunken thugs, sets about creating his own very personal brand of therapy. This therapy involves revisiting his childhood passion for Action Man figurines. Mark creates and maintains a miniature, fictional WWII era Belgium town named Marwencol, and documents, in the form of highly accomplished photographs, the on-going narrative of its occupants, modified Barbie and Action Man dolls based on real people in his life. Eventually he and his creations are discovered by a curator, who is so impressed and taken-back by Marwencol that he proposes putting on an exhibition of Mark’s photographs of his town and its curious narrative.

A must see! Highly recommended. Link to full film bottom of post.

Speaks to the addictiveness, the catharsis, the unpredictability, and the eternity of the creative process. – Jeffrey Chen, Window to the Movies

Marwencol is a mesmerizing documentary, and like Mark Hogancamp it continually surprises you. It may also be one of the best films you’ll see all year. – Beth Accomando, KPBS.org

First-time director Jeff Malmberg does almost everything right in this stunningly empathetic documentary. – Jeff Meyers, Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Marwencol, full film stream.

Mark’s website, marwencol.com