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IN THE BEGINNING was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and God was everything unknowable and mysterious. God was all the forces of the world and all of its natural laws. The Word grew to describe more complex elements of the world; situations, dangers and tools. The Word kept expanding, naming people, places and inventions. Describing emotions and relationships and beginning to portion off the first Word, God, into manageable portions to be studied, analysed and understood. The world was losing its mystery, thanks to the Word. The Word trickled down from the high priests and theoreticians and found its way into the hand of the masses. Then it became everything. The Word described sex positions and feelings of comfort, obscure animals and plants and items necessary to living a fruitful life. When it came time for man to discuss himself, to analyse his own existence and search for purpose and for structure, it was to the Word he turned. The Word flowed easily from the mouth of man and for the educated few, it flooded out of the ends of their fingers. New words came thick and thin and at the core of each new Word was a unique perspective around which the Word was built, like a pearl around a grain of sand. The Word was high and low, used for both lofty theories and pub debates, as dear to the King as to the Farmer. Within the English-speaking world, the final stage of dismantling God, the first Word, came with the publication of the King James Bible, handing into the hands of every literate Englishman the blueprint for understanding the world as it was then conceived. The Word reigned for centuries, the only tool we had for pronouncing our thoughts directly to one another, for the trading and sharing of perspectives. Once upon a time there was a bet in America about the manner in which a horse gallops, and most importantly if, at any point, all four of the horse’s hooves simultaneously left the ground. The men who made the bet were Muybridge and Stanford; remember these names, for one day they will ring out through history like the name Prometheus, he who gave man fire, the tool of the gods. In order

to ascertain the truth, it was necessary to find a way to slow down time. So was born a new tool and a new art: the moving image. Within 50 years, Film, as it was now called, became the most popular form of entertainment. Like a virus, Film spread through the world chasing the Word. Slowly encroaching on the territory of the Word, Film began to take on the role of a second language, used to express perspectives and argue opinions, to inform people of the turning of the earth. Like the Word for a large part of its life, Film was in the hands of the few ‘high priests’ or ‘filmmakers.’ When it made its way into the hands of the masses, like the Word before it, it became everything. Film was no longer only for telling pretty tales or constructing complex and illuminating portraits of the world. It had become the second tongue of man, the second tool for the trading and exchanging of perspectives. Like the Word before it, Film was high and low, a lens through which to view the world to make it more palatable, through which to chip away at the remaining portions of the first Word that still held some mystery. But Film was also used every day to solve problems, to remember things, to arrange and order history and plot the future. Within a century of its discovery, man was on the edge of becoming fluently bilingual, of having two parallel languages with which to understand the world and everything in it. Film is the tongue of the Internet age. It is as attached to the Internet as the Word was to print. We are at the precipice of widespread democratic Film literacy, we are moving beyond choice phrases and pretty parables into the deep of language, into colloquial cinema. Everyday new Film-Words are born. The relation between image and our eyes is evolving; Film is the second tongue and the third eye of mankind. The connections are getting tighter; our brain’s ability to process information visually is expanding. Film as shopping lists, Film as pub banter, Film as notes to yourself and love letters, Film as receipts, Film as contracts, Film as essays and textbooks, Film as newspapers and journals, Film as graffiti scratched in toilet doors, Film as Word. JOE COPPLESTONE ILLUSTRATION BY AMIGO DE LOS INSECTOS


CONTROL. ALTER. DELETE. In the egalitarianism of the blogroll, in the twinkling night of flashy appin’ pappin’ camera phones and post-hangover Photoshop facelifts, we try our hands at things we’re not very good at. contrast. the greatest resource humanity has ever known. backspace. a network of interconnection, drowning in debates of sticky flummery spewed back and forth between ignoramus and obnox with the intellectualism of a food-fight. hillbillies with computers! hillbillies with computers! that’s what we’re up against! unending pages of vacuous comments, talentless pixels and the unedited duplicates of selectiveless snap-happy shoot-me-in-the-facebook profiles; worse than gran’s slideshows. a result of the undiscerning abundance of megabits. whatever happened to Bill Gates’ prediction of an economical 17kb one-size-fits-all allowance? shift. stuttering vitriol. can’t hack it. capitalised sentences. google whack. the spaces in the clouds get exponentially bigger. more and Moore. tubes, tunnels, pipes and wires. cathode rays. electron guns - it all seems so retro sci-fi. Internet cafe time-out. circumventing illicit words in emails the same way i look over my shoulder to see who might be listening. the walls have ears, and your screen has eyes because “don’t be evil”-sloganned google is shifty. do you remember when CCTV cameras started to appear on every street in the country? no, neither do i. our keyboards bear the symbols of a paradigm (shift) in semantics and sneaky syntax. worlds of new alpha-beta-gamma-deltas babbling codes and subliminal secret languages that i don’t understand (f#@k it). trapped in the web. try to escape, space. or maybe, enter, home. hyper text mark-up tangents. shift. 10,000 years of warfare on land, 1,000 at sea, 100 in the air and 50 in space have led us to

cyberspace. “the fifth domain of military operations”. that’s what the US defence secretary said. anonymous wars in a terrain that defies topography. the aethernet. i’m scared. omgwtfbbq. post-modern goldfish attention-span globalisation cults for cut and paste generation-X-Y-Z. De1337 yourself. Internet protocols like impossible etiquette. shaking hands. makes me nervous. slash. back(s) lash. drowning in i-scream. promises of the lowest possible mortgage and the most enlarged penis possible. adverts all over my user inter-face. web 2.0 is a skynet of interactive coercive logic gates. we live in boxes. Josh Harris was right. Warhol was right. everyone can have their 15 minutes of fame and anonymity will become a commodity that only the rich can afford. fakebook, me-me-mespace, googly all-seeing eyes. they all go to Bilderberg meetings and sit next to the the chairman of the federal reserve. David Rockefeller. Henry Kissinger. ACTA, SOPA, PIPA. shift. 1,000 friends makes you a loser. so well connected. extended, nuclear and now cellular families. there’s no place like home, insert, end. Control. Alter. Delete. the war is on (line). DOMINIK BROTHERTON


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Film is changing: within the next decade we will undoubtedly see the overthrow of cinematic oligarchy! Finally the dinosaurs and titans, dictators and high priests will be dethroned! Their olympia dismantled! Their tools and long-coveted precious techniques democratised! Pseudo dogma aside, we’ve seen a huge change in the means of cinematic production and the mode of presentation, and there is more to come. With the Internet providing an immediate outlet and audience for films, we are beginning to live in a world that is finally enabling everybody to create. While many bemoan the decline of the established outlets and forces of production, the move towards a D.I.Y attitude has given the film industry a much-needed boost. The explosion in affordable technology couldn’t have come at a better time. We live in a world that values the moving image more than ever, we’re soaked in it; a world of walking sponges waiting to be squeezed. It’s an exciting era for cinema. The new world needs a new breed of filmmakers, ones who are riding this wave of change and creating work that challenges convention. It needs mutating filmmakers to keep pace with technology and the ever-changing demands of an audience that is rapidly gaining an advanced level of literacy in visual language and a wider taste for non-literal and non-narrative filmmaking. The Internet has given birth to a new age of short cinema, a form that has for long struggled to find a place of its own, but which suits the epileptic attention span of the Internet perfectly. Each one of these filmmakers brings something new and unique; they are Brain Wash’s pick from the forefront of the film revolution. LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH! JOE COPPLESTONE TITLE BY PETER EDWARDS, PHOTO BY RICHARD MANDERS

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is a self-admitted detail addict. Pop culture-literate and trend-conscious, his cinematic eye builds characters from the scraps of the 20th Century rather than viewing films in a traditional manner. Conway has something of a collage approach to construction, valuing the names and costumes of his characters as vital semiotic tools used to a creative rather than realistic end. “I’m obsessed with details… I could watch a whole film and if there was one scene where a kid is wearing a great hat or a vest or tin foil shoes, then that would make the film for me,” he says. What jumps out in Conway’s films is his pure imagination and his guts in following it; he’s not constrained by the usual low budget dogma or fear of being inventive, his films are high-concept and he seems to have a gung ho approach to practicality. In Conway’s work, the colour and flavour of the gritty hyper-modern world his characters inhabit is fed to us through dialogue, which balances stylistic word choice and colloquial poetry with exposition. But his word games go further. Names play a vital role in his character construction, with ‘Aristotle’ the rudeboy jockey and ‘Baby Shoes’ the scooter-riding zelophile. “I love names,” he explains. “Sometimes it’s the name that comes before the personality.” In amongst the glut of one-character, one-set shorts, Conway’s films have burnt a unique hole. He’s also had his first book, Son Of Steve, published by Revenge Ink and it’s as brilliantly lyrical and profane as his films are.

Sean Conway celebrates the short as a medium of its own. By not trying to make mini features, his films display an understanding of the limitations of the form but also of its freedoms. “With a short you can afford to be a bit more experimental… I love it when something happens in a film and you just think ‘where the fuck did that come from?’ I suppose it’s a bit of mischief during the shoot, I get bored easily, like a child.” If Tarkovsky was right and filmmaking is the art of sculpting in time, then Conway is an ADHD Dada Punk sculptor. Rather than the cocaine jump cuts that have become a mainstay of post-MTV cinema, Conway attacks time with his style, getting it drunk and slurring on the edge of a k-hole in Sloe Gin Nights, a film that revolves entirely around the activity of two men (genuine cinema martyrs) slapping at each other’s genitals while a crackling voice describes details of the world outside the scene, the race and size of their dealer, the fact that this event is routine. Sloe Gin Nights comes off like a highbrow YouTube video, and in that manner strikes a significant chord for the new wave of filmmakers who turn their backs on the serious and dramatic dogma that has dominated cinema and kept short film down. When watching any of his work, it’s hard not to feel that Conway is at the front of the queue and that his cinema is an indication of what’s to come. No more of the drab philosophising or pseudo poetic shots of clouds and leaves, this is visceral modern cinema at its best.


rector with a wide-ranging talent and fingers deeply in many pies. Verging (as nearly all THE NEW FLESH do) on being a modern polymath, Wilson is not only a director of some of the most innovative and fascinating music videos of the past couple of years, he’s also a veteran VJ. Last year, he had an installation displayed at All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Alexandra Palace. We’re in favour of these new ubermensch, the oversaturated children of the Internet, and Wilson is a filmmaker acutely aware of the wave he’s riding and the change occurring all around him. As he himself admits, the Internet is a doubleedged sword. “I’m not sure if I’d have a career if YouTube didn’t launch in 2005,” he says. “My first commissions came straight off the back of my YouTube channel. However, I feel like the Internet’s severely affected my attention span. I can only fully sink into a feature film if I’m watching it in the cin-

ema, and my work process is constantly halved between my trail of thought and Facebook. The amount of visual stimulus I digest on a daily basis, compared to a few years ago, is kind of scary.” Watching the work Wilson produces, you get the feeling that he’s the rare type of filmmaker that successfully manages both a diligent commitment to preparation and planning, as well as a belief in his own creativity and imagination - he draws his own storyboards and advance plans camera movements in After Effects (Kubrick eat your heart out!) David Wilson is a well-rounded storyteller, with a background in drawing and animation. He has gradually found his feet as a writer of visual language and it shows in his work, which makes use of a wide range of mediums depending on his necessities, and more importantly the necessity of the narrative. There is no aesthetic that ties together his work, no overarching style that shouts DAVID WILSON in your face, but there

are some running themes - in particular, an attention to the uses and functions of symmetry and mirrors in his music videos, as well as a neatness and appreciation of the natural beauty of faces, whether they be animated (Japanese Popstars) or real (We Have Band.) It’s a dangerous time to be an old-fashioned film director. Animators are inclined towards a model of practice that values economy and visual inventiveness above all else, and this makes them juicy alternatives to producers and audiences alike. In this increasingly visually-stuffed world, the last currency is unique creativity, not just when approaching narratives, but form itself. “Sometimes it can be hard to whittle down a complex piece of work into a single genre or form” he says, “and of course there are pieces of work which straddle different formats, but what’s interesting is to see is that the new formats will be formed as a further extension of technology shaping how we view films.”

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is a filmmaker with an unnerving imagination. His films make non-linear use of visually inventive setups and well-realised collages of sound and music. No wonder he’s found such success as a director of music videos. A true child of the new age of cinema that we at Brain Wash revel in, from the very beginning we’ve been suckers for his work. Ian’s short 1/4 (Quarter Inch) is a perfect example of his talent for using a range of technology and techniques (mediums even) to realise a unique idea and perspective. The short, in which a sound recordist is haunted by her own recordings, is an anxious self-reflection on the act of cinematic creation. In the first section, the character is depicted seeking sounds to capture, voyeuristically wandering the streets of London. Then we go inside her dream, in a world that creaks and stutters, where stop motion-animated dead fish crawl and writhe, bringing to mind the master of stop-start himself, Svankmajer. Every edge of 1/4 (Quarter Inch) is perfectly polished, an amazing feat for a film that uses multiple techniques, and although the narrative separation allows for a disjointed aesthetic, in this case the transition is smooth and perfectly handled. 1/4 (Quarter Inch) is one of those shorts that are so original that you only realise it afterwards. The idea in itself is so innately fascinating that even for seasoned film cynics, like us here at Brain Wash, it takes multiple viewings to begin dissecting it. Once you do you realise what a jack-in-the-box of tricks Pons

Jewell has unleashed, the film is not only a disturbing exhibition of animation and sound design, but also a reflexive look at creation and its relationship with the unconscious. In his shorts and his music videos, Pons Jewell shows a sense of humour and fun, of playfulness in the medium which is, if anything, a defining marker of the new generation of filmmakers we’re spotlighting. They don’t take themselves, the world, or their work too seriously. A quick browse of his Vimeo account and the breadth of Ian Pons Jewell’s talent and interest is apparent. Alongside music videos for the likes of Jehst, Teef, Crystal Fighters, DJ Shadow and his award-winning effort for Jargon ft Tinie Tempah, sits comfortably a short film, Dreamt in Flesh, that showcases modern dance in an incredibly simple but visually exciting and well-executed manner. As part of studio MURMUR, he’s produced one of Brain Wash’s favourite ever Christmas films, Red Nose Murmur, as well as a unique perspective on the London G20 protests, The Circus, a film that makes use of real footage and manages to construct an entirely truthful narrative from a fictional perspective, a strange hybrid of doc and drama which encapsulates exactly what makes Ian Pons Jewell an exciting filmmaker.

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ROBERT MORGAN started out as a painter

and sculptor with a keen interest in the moving image, and made his first forays towards sculpting in time as an animator. His background in art is readily apparent in his work: in his fantasy-cum-horror short The Cat With Hands, he uses traditional animation techniques such as model-making and prosthetics in combination with digital effects to create an atmosphere that compliments perfectly the film’s dark humour and genuinely unsettling atmosphere. There is again an ingrained sense of humour in Morgan’s work, which he somehow manages to handle in a manner that doesn’t overwhelm the other themes or mark him out as a ‘funny’ filmmaker. There has always been a freedom granted to shorts due to the lack of a commercial imperative. What Morgan’s shorts display is the increasing ability to create without much, if any, outside financial assistance. “You can make films for very little money now,” he says. “And you have an immediate international audience in the form of the Internet. It can only be a good thing – it makes the process more immediate and democratic. If I want to make a film, I don’t necessarily have to ask a bunch of suits for an obscene amount of money anymore. The whole idea of having to gain permission to practise your art form always seemed ridiculous to me – I always used to fantasise that filmmaking would be as accessible as painting or writing or any other art form, and now it’s getting to be more and more like that, thanks to technology.”

Morgan’s short animations often stand at the edge of horror, the characters themselves are misshapen and ugly, misfits, freaks and outsiders. There’s a gothic undertone to his work, but he keeps it in check and stops his films from becoming pigeon-holed, always managing to balance tones and not allowing himself to be seduced by any one genre. Although traditional mainstream animation has fallen by the wayside in recent years, Morgan’s visceral work in the medium has caught the attention of the film world. His latest film, Bobby Yeah, has garnered widespread praise and had a Sundance screening. But Morgan isn’t constrained by animation either; many of his films use live action all the while maintaining a cinematic perspective, proving that he genuinely possesses a rare cinema eye, not merely an interesting aesthetic. Morgan has talked about enjoying the ‘Frankenstein’ element of animation, bringing the inanimate to life, and that’s something we like to celebrate here at Brain Wash: Cinema as magic. Not Disney or Potter magic, not turning spoons into flowers, but MAGICK, stealing someone’s eyes and bits of their brain and taking it for a wander, film voodoo - and there’s a lot of it around, dripping from TVs, forming pools of oily liquid on the floor of every house in the world, shiny and black almost reflective, a terrible modern mirror. We need all the magicians we can get - Alchemists and VJs! Sorcerers and Editors! We need more Morgans, we need more Necromancers and Animators!


is a one-man D.I.Y. animation house; he’s been responsible for producing a rash of animated shorts that display a particular brand of idiosyncratic humour and aesthetic. His work subverts the traditional expectations of what animations should be, and he has created shorts that have attracted praise on the international festival circuit and garnered a large online audience. But what marks O’Reilly’s work out is a stripped-back verging on minimalistic style, a far cry from the polished mainstream computer animation of Pixar. O’Reilly combines a classical eye for composition and narrative with a unique understanding of where animation has come from, where it is and where it’s going (as can been seen in his Boing Boing TV commission, a potted history of animation). You get the underlying feeling that if he wanted to, O’Reilly could make a shiny and easily palatable animation. When his films

verge on turning themselves inside out, it’s not from lack of skill but from him wearing the seams and stitchwork on his sleeve as a badge of pride. There are familiar elements from mainstream animation in O’Reilly’s work: he commonly uses animals as protagonists - WOFL2106 could be parodying the death of Bambi’s mother, possibly the most emotionally-charged scene in all of the Disney canon, a scene burned so deeply into our shared consciousness and memory that it has become almost heresy to be unmoved by it. This material is putty in O’Reilly’s hands and he quickly drags us from the serenity of his peacefullygenerated vector-world into a strange and chaotic collage that incorporates chip tunes and classic 8-bit glitch-style animation alongside the first man of meme culture, Brian Peppers. All of these elements are responsible for making David O’Reilly’s hands one of, if not the most exciting, things in animation today. Like most of THE NEW FLESH, he can’t

be contained in one box; you could call him a video artist, a filmmaker or an animator and each name would be equally just in describing an element of his work. As well as his excellent shorts, The External World and Please Say Something in particular, he has produced an episodic film animated on Paint (Octocat Adventure) envisioned as a way to test the YouTube audience, created visuals for M.I.A and a video for U2. It’s really quite hard to describe his work without using that horrible word ‘postmodern,’ but it really does deserve the tag. Computer animation is the most modern form of moving image and his films are reflexive and deconstructionist in their approach to the medium itself, but above all they possess a huge sense of humour, fun and even improvisation - a very rare quality in animation, as he explains himself: “every time I start I have no idea how I’ll finish, and by the time I finish I always forget how I started”.

18 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - death to videodrome

We revisit David Cronenberg and the film that inspired this whole magazine with its cult line:


Long Live the New Flesh” - a turning point in the plot that represents how we feel about the mainstream media. It says “out with the old and in with the new,” it champions individualism and rejects conformity; it gives us hope in a new age of democratised media consumption and production.


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THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE Civic TV is the brainchild of Max Renn, a television programmer always in search of the next big thing. The channel shows everything from exotic soft porn to hardcore violence, but just like us, Max lives in overstimulated times. Waking up every morning to a televised alarm system, he spends his days wading through a pile of outdated erotic shows, unsatisfied. Thanks to a pirate bootlegging operation his geeky buddy Harlan runs in the basement, Max finds Videodrome – a haunting 53-second video signal that shows a woman being beaten and whipped against an eerie orange backdrop. Could it be what Max has been looking for? That night, he goes home with the sulfurous Nicki Brand – a radio personality who meddles in callers’ personal lives through the airwaves by offering them advice in a strangely sexual manner. She immediately starts looking for porn in Max’s VHS collection and already, the biological act of lovemaking is infected by the screen. Videodrome is much more than a TV show. When Max sends a colleague to enquire about it, she comes back with a disturbing message. “It has something that you don’t have Max, it has a phi-

losophy. And that’s what makes it dangerous.” But Max is already addicted. He tracks down a media philosopher who calls himself Brian O’Blivion and hasn’t engaged in conversation in 20 years. Instead, he talks in video letters – precursors to tweets, our beloved 140-character monologues. It soon transpires that O’Blivion has been dead for months, and that he exists only within the realm of technology. Whether it was murder or a deliberate choice to dedicate himself entirely to his theory, he’s attained a status of immortality, with his daughter Bianca acting as his screen. “The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain,” says O’Blivion, a character based on the philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who also suffered from a tumor and called the media, “the extension of man.” McLuhan’s theory, the medium is the message, focused on technology’s impact on long-term structural changes in society rather than on the content disseminated by the media, and mirrors Cronenberg’s investigation into television as a power tool. O’Blivion and his daughter run a sort of soup kitchen where people come in to consume televi-

Videoprojection with sound, 14’, 2009. Courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium & Haunch of Venison, London

sion in order to help them reinsert into society. A mediately engaging their destruction after the first control asserted with no Orwellian manipulation: viewing. “North America’s getting soft...” A critique here, television has simply become the opium of of America’s drug-infested early 80s? the people. Videodrome was released at a paranoiac time O’Blivion helped to create Videodrome. He saw of mixed fear and admiration for the small screen. it as the next phase of the process of man becom- Cronenberg’s vision is even more prophetic coning a technological animal – an upgraded version sidering less than half of US households had a telof Aristotle’s theory, if you will. But something went evision set at the time of the film’s release. Today, wrong. it’s present in our everyday lives and remote conEnter the hallucinations trols or smart phones have “VIDEODROME IS A REAL and the sinister synth music: become an integral part of the suspicion that the image ORGANIC DISEASE AND MAX, our hands, like Max’s monhas become an unreliable ITS RECEPTACLE, CAN DO strous gun. guide to the world creeps “Soon, all of us will have NOTHING BUT WATCH THE in. A VHS cassette takes a special names, names deTRANSFORMATION.” life of its own, inflating like signed to cause the cathlungs, its plastic exterior beode-ray tube to resonate,” coming like a skin that covers an organic interior. says O’Blivion. Anyone who had an email address It turns out that Videodrome creates a tumor in in the 90s or visited a chat room can recognise the brain of anyone who watches it, perturbing himself here... Today, we are all the new flesh: the their version of reality, as well as the boundary be- physical embodiment of the metamorphosis that is tween flesh and technology. Max himself becomes going on inside Max’s head. We live in realities dica programmable killing machine as his stomach tated by a bombardment of messages and images, opens up like a VCR to receive tapes and his hand and where our provisional identities adjust to the fusions with his gun. ever-developing technology. Our creative survival Videodrome is a real organic disease and Max, depends on our ability to become the new flesh its receptacle, can do nothing but watch the trans- entirely and to welcome a world of new artistic posformation. The only images linking him to reality sibilities. are those of Nicki, who’s been digested by VideCronenberg himself embraced the irony of makodrome. The television set and her body have be- ing a film that mirrored the violent and sexual sigcome one, and they’re begging Max to come to nal of Videodrome with a lot more wit and intellithem. His inability to resist her, even in this shape, gence than he’s been credited for. He knew exactly shows that his transformation has already begun. the type of viewers he would attract by choosing But the new flesh didn’t appear by mistake. It’s of the gore horror genre and by casting Debbie Harry. an entirely human conception, just like the technol- The same, perhaps, who’d watch the fictional Videogy of today. Forget robots and aliens, this is the odrome. In fact, the credits are the same in both fruit of our own making and Videodrome marks a the film – which was heavily censored at the time new kind of science fiction, which doesn’t take its of its release – and the film inside the film. root in a galaxy far, far away, but right here, right “Why would anybody watch a scum show like now. Videodrome?” asks Convex as the plot unravels. Is Toying with rumors that extremist groups tried to he speaking directly to us viewers? The film’s endcontrol people through the television’s airwaves, ing couldn’t be more ambiguous and foreboding... Cronenberg introduces a conspiracy by Spectacu- A note from a Videodrome test screening reads: “I lar Optical – an eyeglasses shop. The plot thickens fail to understand what would be accomplished by as the retina of the mind’s eye gets new frames. releasing such a movie on the public. What sort of The boss, Barry Convex, wants to get rid of the person could enjoy it?” scum of the Earth. And Videodrome is the ideal vessel: it attracts the perverse and the impure, imPAULINE EIFERMAN

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LOW-BROW, HIGH CONCEPT Since my exposure to Videodrome, I’ve been poking around the back catalogue of the Canadian director’s low-brow, highconcept features, testing the flippant theory that this guy just isn’t all that good a filmmaker. No speculation is ever too far from being bullshit, so I take my own mouth to task. Here is David Cronenberg, master of the ‘body horror’ genre, a controversialist with love of all things FLESH. He’s had a great career, consistently making the films he wants to make, but has never moved into the big time dollar-orgy world of James Cameron. In a simple, almost harsh way, Cronenberg’s lack of mainstream appeal is due to his style of storytelling. His films wander around, leaving you asking where they’re going... To which the answer is usually ‘the end’. But what is a great director? One with super flashy wanktastic shots? No, because that would make Michael Bay a cinema god, when we all know his films are shit (except Bad Boys, obvs) and he’s probably a dick. Cronenberg is quite a basic filmmaker with a limited shot selection and a lessthan-engaging method of delivery, but he can pound your face off with gnarly visuals. Do I want to watch 40-minute car chases or alien robot wrestling matches? No, not really. But do I want to see some arsehole being shot with a cancer gun and exploding into a mess of bloody tumours? Yes, sounds really good. That’s not to say that Cronenberg films look great all the time. Crash resembles 90s softcore porn, and pretty much is just that.

Although the source material for the script (a JG Ballard novel) is probably terrible, that’s no excuse to continuously cut from one bang to another and decide to put no decent actors in the thing whatsoever (credit to the janitor from Breakfast Club, I believed HIM). eXistenZ is similarly awfullooking and badly cast but maybe we’re just not nostalgic about the weird gloss of the 90s yet.

“THE THING THAT WILL ALWAYS COME THROUGH A CRONENBERG FILM IS A GREAT IDEA” Scanners has a real B-movie vibe, exploring a telepathic concept in a typically cumbersome way. But with a limited budget and a head full of insane ideas, Cronenberg delivers something that isn’t at all conventional or predictable. If he were a novelist, he’d be labeled a writer of ‘difficult’ books. But where he may fail in curving a perfect narrative, Cronenberg throws in exploding heads and bursting bleeding eyes that entertain everyone. Speaking of expanding faces, I wish he’d have got the Total Recall gig he failed to land in the late 80s. But then again, that would have hindered his making of Naked Lunch, which I think is great. Not only is the screenplay a good reworking of an impossible-to-adapt book, but it also makes use of Peter Weller – and having Robocop high as balls is simply genius. As far as I’m aware, Weller has been good in two films, one as a robot and the other as a heroin addict of sorts.

I’d like to see these two ideas brought together. Maybe robots shooting up information, getting blissed-out on pure brown INTERNET. Just as this is a great idea, the combination of Burroughs and Cronenberg was a perfect marriage. Cronenberg knew that a literal adaptation of Naked Lunch “would cost 400/500 million dollars and be banned everywhere,” so he transformed the idea. He said that he created “a third thing that neither he (Burroughs) or I would’ve done on our own.” The thing that will always come through a Cronenberg film is a great IDEA. Yes, he gives us gore and violence and an abundance of tits, but he also drives thought. As much as I’ve drifted around his narratives, I have not stopped thinking about the concepts on display. I’ve seen incredible effects and audacious story-telling. Would I lose any of this for a more conventional narrative or some over-elabourate camera shots? No. I like that Cronenberg doesn’t treat the viewer like a complete retard; he respects that people need not be spoon-fed. There is empty entertainment elsewhere. On the horizon, we have the return of Cronenberg. Having not written and directed his own screenplay since 1999, he’s been in the wilderness, making other people’s scripts. Cosmopolis sees him adapting a novel by the masterful Don Delillo, in what could be the most Cronenbergian film in a long time. I’m excited, because I’ve been exposed, I’ve transformed. CRAIG BALLINGER


24 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - death to videodrome

NICOLAS PROVOST Somewhere in between cinema and video art lies a world of strange beauty where walls collapse into seas of gushing glitches and women turn into butterflies. This world is the retina of Nicolas Provost’s mind. For the past decade, the Belgian artist has continued to amaze and surprise audiences with his unique vision and Final Cut skills. His piece Long Live The New Flesh is a 14-minute datamoshed medley of iconic horror films, and it inevitably includes a scene from Videodrome.

Videodrome depicts a society so saturated by the mainstream media that people have to find their fix elsewhere. Do you agree with this vision? I agree and I am almost shocked to see that mainstream and political correctness has grown in major dimensions everywhere – not only in culture like cinema, popular culture and fine arts. What drove you to challenge traditional film language and become the new flesh of filmmaking? I wonder how long cinema will continue to be the Dream Machine as we know it today: on a 2D screen, telling stories from left to right with moving images and sound. One day, the spectator will have the choices to view a story, or to be part of a story. He will probably be able to become a character who interacts with other characters in a story. But I think that traditional film language still has so much to offer, and I try to use it to make poetry. I think the idea that we are all part of a collective memory through film language is very moving. We are all raised in the same Dream Machine and every story in that machine is always everyone’s story. When using images of old films, do you feel like you are defiling them? Embracing them? Revitalizing them.

Would you consider datamoshing high or low brow? It depends how you use it. It’s like the mirror effect you find in every editing program. Everyone can use it and get an easy result that is not really thought through. But the art is to use it to make something that becomes timeless. You’re working on your first feature, can you tell us what to expect? The Invader had its world premiere in the Orizzonti competition of the Venice Film Festival. It had a very good theatrical release in Belgium and in the Netherlands. We’re still looking for international distribution. It’s the story of a charismatic African immigrant looking for paradise in Europe. Everything goes wrong for him and he turns into a monster. It questions our prejudices against the outsider. You might not expect this from me, but it’s a very mainstream and accessible film. PAULINE EIFERMAN

Videoprojection with sound, 14’, 2009. Courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium & Haunch of Venison, London

Why Videodrome? I wanted to do something with cinema horror footage and work visually on the images until they transcended the horror. With datamoshing, it also felt as if the images were eating each other. I was curious to see if I would be able to tell a story with only horror moments. I believe in serendipity and almost by coincidence, the first experiment I made for this piece was with the end scene of Videodrome. So I decided this had to be the end of whatever story my film would become.

26 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - film is dead!


Growing up as a kid in the early 90s, drunk on bad TV whilst the rest of the world was coming down from whatever the fuck they were putting in the water in the 80s, I soon found myself drenched in cynicism and dwarfed by the Internet. Now I have this whole recession thing breathing down my neck. I don’t think the brief brushes with postmodern literature as a self-indulgent student helped, nor the endless nights I’ve spent watching the web eat itself through red eyes. I have long since worried if originality is dead, but stumbling through the Internet wasteland, it seems more alive than ever. There has been endless talk about the digital age and the democratisation of film. Well, it’s already happened; the Internet has become the ultimate distribution medium. Audiences don’t have to pick from a curated selection of content anymore, everyone is creating and everyone is consuming, audiences are as powerful as they’ve ever been. The studios don’t know how the fuck to respond or keep up. The creative apocalypse is upon us. The revolution is here. But with great freedom comes great responsibility. Different people respond differently to freedom. Some are lucky enough to embrace it, whereas for others such as myself, it can cause a great deal of anxiety. I like boundaries, impositions that I can resent and have to fight to change. I think invention needs resistance. Freedom can be a threatening thing to a filmmaker. I feel like I’ve been shouting to be heard through a crowd and sud-

denly a spotlight shines on me and a big voice says: “go on then, what is it that you want to say?”... and I fall silent. I now face more competition than ever and feel like I’m chasing an unattainable zeitgeist. So how do we create in a post-modern world? If we are or want to be professional filmmakers, how do we stand out amidst a sea of other creatives? Andy Warhol said ‘in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes’ and he seems to have been proved completely right. How can we be original when we have unfettered access to unlimited content, when everyone is constantly borrowing and sharing from one another? According to Jim Jarmusch,

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what JeanLuc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.’” Brilliant. At first this seems like something I can embrace, but then my paranoia kicks in again and I start thinking - Jarmusch is about 50 million years old, if he is stealing and regurgitating and I start stealing from him and regurgitating, is it like when you make a copy of a copy? Is this process refining film? Or will distinction just begin to fade away? Will media become homogenised when everything starts to resemble everything else in a huge grey amorphous blob? Theatre practitioner, madman and all-around bad boy Antonin Artaud famously said “all writing is pigshit” and strangely I think there is some merit in this. What he was trying to say is that art is pure and irrational, any attempt to understand or anticipate one’s work is reductive - it turns work into the biproduct of a process. In this analogy, the process is the digestive system and the bi-product is shit. It reminds me of Salvador Dali’s portrait of Pablo

Picasso, where Dali shows Picasso as a grotesque figure whose brain is fed solely by a long spoon that protrudes from his mouth. Is creating in a postmodern world simply a case of eating existing content and then shitting it back out? If so, I’d hate to think how many gastric tracts some of my ideas have passed through. How can I shake these ghosts? How can I be original? I feel sometimes that I spend so long worrying about what other people expect of me, or what would be successful, that I forget to enjoy myself. Creating is playing, it should be a personal, honest and puerile act centred around expression and selfdiscovery. However, with such uninhibited access to democratised content, we are constantly under pressure to compete with hit counts and anticipate viewing trends. But what does all this sharing and awareness do to us as creatives? Isn’t the artist supposed to be the outsider, commenting on society from the sidelines? And if this is the case, how does one get out from under the Internet? The answer: by being single-minded. The over-saturated Internet wasteland is too formidable to compete with. By all means, enjoy it and engage with it but never set out with the sole intention of trying to please it because it will never be satisfied. The most important thing is striking a balance between self-exploration and self-promotion. Of course, we would like to be noticed for our work, everyone is seeking approval in some way or another (whether it be financial, emotional or even sexual) but it’s important to try and put this out of our minds. At the end of the day, our decision is not whether we want to be successful filmmakers but whether we want to be filmmakers at all. If filmmaking is the medium through which we have decided to communicate, we should rejoice in that fact! Although we may not yet have been heard, or even found our voice, at least we have decided on a language! The decision to be a filmmaker is a commitment, for better or for worse. Of course we should try for success, but filmmaking is not a means to an end. If we treat film only as a vessel through which we can attain recognition or approval, we relegate success to a by-product of the process, and those of us who are lucky enough to be successful will be left stood around wondering why we can’t get the taste of pigshit out of our mouths.

For years, people have been conjuring But what makes a film post-apocalyptic?

1 - The Coen Brothers’ unique blend of film and philosophy examines some very important post-apocalyptic trends. It seems that a suitcase full of money is the perfect tool for exploring themes of fate, chance and consequentialism. Their films undermine traditional preconceptions of causality and narrative providence. Whether it’s the cat and mouse chase of a cowboy and an indian in a morally bankrupt wasteland as featured in No Country For Old Men; a disenfranchised Jew’s search for answers from a higher-power in A Serious Man; the efforts of a government organisation to attach meaning to the disposable narrative and inexplicable cluster-fuck witnessed in Burn After Reading or a hippie slacker’s meandering detective efforts in restyled noir The Big Lebowski, each film, a MacGuffin in itself, challenges our ideas of what a story should be whilst constantly toeing the line between enlightenment and meaninglessness.

Getty Images

AP Photo/Stefano Paltera


28 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - film is dead!

2 - Charlie Kaufman’s brand of deconstructionist screenplays are undeniably post-modern. No matter who seems to direct his scripts, they never fail to retain a recognisably Kaufmanesque sensibility. From puppeteers controlling well known A-listers as in Being John Malkovich to the struggle of a scriptwriter to adapt a book on orchids in Adaptation, Kaufman’s films strut around with their insides on display like the Pompidou of mainstream Hollywood cinema. They constantly blur the boundaries of fantasy and reality, making you aware of the creative processes and mechanisms at work while their quirky stories unfold. Most notable is his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, which he describes as an existential horror film and is exactly that; its telescopic narrative is like looking into an infinity mirror. He perfectly sketches the mental state of a rapidly aging creative trying to put on a play whose scale matches the scope of reality, and in doing so, gets to the very heart of the anxieties of mortality, creativity and existence.

dystopian futures for the entertainment of the masses. I’ll tell you for free - it’s not by setting it after the end of the world.

3 - Harmony Korine makes the list not for his more abstract cinematic endeavors, such as Julien Donkey-Boy, a personal favorite of mine, but for his more recent abstract un-cinematic abominations like Trash Humpers, which is just over an hour of rerecorded VHS footage of three people (including Korine and his wife) rolling around in wheelchairs dry-humping bins, smashing lights and screaming. Whilst being about as infantile as shitting in the bath, films like this add fuel to the fire of the question ‘what is cinema?’ They challenge our predetermined notions of taste and the purpose of film as art. Enfants terribles like Korine ensure that the debate rallies on as petulant anarchists spit for the cameras whilst the high-brow elite line up to be offended.

4 - Retro-centric films such as The Artist need to be noted here. Whilst we have always been preoccupied by stories from the past and regurgitating history in the cinema, our current contempt for the present has encouraged a new breed of films.The Artist not only tells the story of silent cinema, but also adopts the aesthetic of the medium. As we’ve grown up with film, we find it is now old enough to be history. In Scorsese’s Hugo, a love letter to cinema that dramatises the life and times of George Méliès, we see iconic moments of cinema replayed on the big screen and converted into 3D as cinema distorts and redefines the past in order to cope with the present. Recycling and the re-appropriation of value is unavoidable as we scavenge for meaning in a post-apocalyptic scrap heap of broken toys and forgotten memories.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images


Ari Marcopoulos


5 - Last on my list is Michael Bay, for his achievements in maximalism. In a creatively-bankrupt world, franchises, sequels, remakes and adaptations have begun to dominate the market place, and although Bay is not entirely responsible for this,Transformers is an exemplar case. Based on a toy franchise, which grew into an animated TV-series and was latterly adapted into live action movies, Transformers has grossed in excess of twoand-a-half billion dollars worldwide. Comic book adaptations are doing well too with this year set to see four separate franchises coming together into The Avengers. High-octane effects-driven thrills for a postMTV generation with the attention spans of mayflies have become the bread and butter of the studio system. Filling plot-holes with car chases and explosions, we watch as narratives give way to the immediacy of experience and cinema turns into a theme park. Soon, feature films may literally begin to resemble virtual roller-coasters or at least remakes of adaptations of virtual roller-coasters.

30 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - simulacra and stimulation



“In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that… the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that the vast Map was Useless.” Neither Jorge Luis Borges in 1946, writing the single-paragraph fable from which the quote is taken, nor Jean Baudrillard in 1981, turning the allegory on its head in Simulacra and Simulation, arguing that the modern world is modeled on our perceptions of it and not the other way around, could have envisaged that such a project as Borges had conceived could ever literally be undertaken. In 2012, not only does a map approaching the scale of the allegorical one exist, but we have also come to expect that wherever we are in the world, and whenever we need it, the map should be available at our convenience and should fit comfortably into our back pocket. The map in question – Google Earth – would cover more than half the landmass of the United States if printed in full at the size of its highest scale. The difference between the day-to-day experience of a person living in the 21st century from that of their 20th century counterpart – at least in the developed world – can largely be accounted for by the action of a single force: the exponential growth rate of computing power and with it, data storage and handling capability. The most profound effect of this change has undoubtedly been the transformation of our relationship to the media, and whilst it would be easy to imagine that the birth of social media has been the major constituent of this change, in actuality the shift in our relationship to pre-existing media has been no less profound. The migration of classical media into the digital world has changed their nature fundamentally and irreversibly. Before the In-

So, long live the new flesh, eh? But before we begin waving our underpants around our heads victoriously, like a deranged extra from Braveheart, we should first stop and consider what democratising the image really means, and what the true implications of this are. At its simplest, it refers to the way that the Internet has fundamentally altered the way we both access and create media. The positives are obvious: the World Wide Web gives creators the freedom to exhibit their work to millions via the simple click of a mouse. Filmmakers are free from the restraints of tricky distribution deals and the interference of cigar-smoking studio big-wigs (see Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog), novelists are no longer bound by the snobbishly elite publishing houses, and music can be distributed without the interference of pesky record companies. At a glance, it would seem that it’s a win-win situation, but look hard enough and the negatives are there – you just have to stand back and squint a bit. Sure, this ‘new flesh’ may have certain advantages but, like any form of meat, it also has an expiry date. Some, like me, would argue that it’s been rotten from the start, and if the maggots weren’t sickening enough, the stench is finally getting to us. Back in the old days, the only way to get that groundbreaking footage of you jumping from a roof into a skip seen by anyone was to send your clunky old VHS recordings off to Jeremy Beadle. You’d likely get rejected, but the lucky few would earn themselves a nifty £250 and more importantly, a place in TV history, amongst the hallowed elite that had forsaken their dignity in the name of entertainment. Now, in the dazzling 21st century, we have YouTube, and with it a seemingly endless supply of morons who are more than willing to film themselves being set on fire, being run over, or even being shot , all in a desperate attempt at getting their five minutes of fame. It’s the Victorian freak-show all over again, and we’re all too willing play a part, whether we’re the exploitive showmen, the audience, or even the freaks. Of course, not all the Internet is full of such disposable trash: the phenomenal success of Freddie Wong’s YouTube channel, an inventive mix of action-comedy spoofs, is the perfect example of how the democratisation of media can allow new talents to flourish. However, there’s no escaping the fact that the majority of video uploads fall into the former category. If television was the idiot box, then the Internet, with its infinite supply of homemade movies, personal blogs and other miscellaneous tripe, is the moron museum: a vast, constantly growing, ever-evolving dumping ground for every shit that the human race has ever taken. This alone wouldn’t be a bad thing. Museums have their cultural worth, not least because they’re usually free, meaning it’s a cheap date,but it’s irrevocably altered our viewing patterns. There’s so much content

32 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - simulacra and stimulation

ternet, access to these media was limited literally by world was one of easy access to resources that in the physical constraints of space (the information ca- every other place, and in every previous era, would pacity of a physical object such as a book, a tape, or a either have been hard won, or else unobtainable. library; the specialist locations required for the display This state of affairs may have been gratifying, but it made us reckless and of certain media, like film) and time (library opening “SUCH UNFETTERED ACCESS TO wasteful consumers. The only difference as we hours, film screening times AN UNLIMITED STORE OF ART, and most obviously, the unENTERTAINMENT, AND INFORMA- enter the 21st century is that the same ease of acremitting and irreversible TION MAY SEEM ON THE FACE OF cess now extends to conflow of broadcast output). IT, ALMOST UTOPIAN, BUT IT ventional media. This may seem an esoteric Such unfettered access point, but the implications SERIOUSLY RISKS DEGRADING THE to an unlimited store of are profound: now, due to QUALITY OF THE EXPERIENCE” art, entertainment, and the Internet, its exponential growth rate, its random access search capabilities information may seem on the face of it, almost and its ubiquitous availability, our access to traditional utopian, but it seriously risks degrading the quality media is, to all intents and purposes, no longer con- of the experience. Many factors formerly synonymous with media consumption have been all but strained at all. This is a problem. We are all taught as children eliminated by digital availability – anticipation (crethat we will appreciate something more if we have ated by temporal constraints), sacrifice (temporal, either to work or to wait for it. As unconvincing as monetary constraints), travel (spatial constraints), this may have sounded to us at the time, it is wise and community (social constraints). The risk is that counsel. For the best part of the 20th century, the ex- as the personal cost of media consumption – as perience of living in t h e measured against these various metrics – plummets, the value we assign to it, the respect we afdeveloped ford it, and the benefit we accrue from it will similarly decline. Ease of access is only half of the problem – the other is mode of access. The debate around the relative merits of different platforms, and the necessary technical specifications required for a “true” (or at least sufficient) experience of sensory media (film, music, etc) long predates the digital revolution. But whilst the breakneck race to the top spins out technologies to satisfy even the most hypercritical of the video- and audiophiles, the devices we use to consume media have undergone more fundamental changes. They have become portable, multifunctional, and able to perform multiple operations simultaneously; they are also common enough that we frequently find ourselves with multiple such devices within our

grasp. The dues for all these developments are paid with the price of our attention. When we consume media on any modern electronic device, we are never more than a click away from distractions that offer instant gratification. We always have the option to search for the answer to a question that has been raised (an answer which may well have been intentionally withheld); to provide a running commentary via social networking; or even to shift our focus to something else entirely whenever we find content challenging. Whatever the distraction may be, any instant gratification or relief will always come at the expense of delayed gratification or catharsis. The availability of the Internet at all times and in all places means the digital world maps as completely onto the physical world as Borges’ map did to the empire, but that doesn’t mean the two are the same. Borges’ map had no function: every point in the real world mapped precisely to a single, identical point on the map. What it added was precisely nothing. The digital landscape is the very antithesis of this – every point in the real world maps to every point in the digital world, and vice versa. The effect of this is that both landscapes have become homogenised: content that has moved to the digital realm is now less distinct, whilst in the physical world, coordinates of space and time mean less than they did twenty years ago. In the physical world, which sociologically and politically has always been defined by its inequality, there are clear positive effects to this increased homogeneity, which are already beginning to show. Conversely, the homogeneity of media – of art and information – is clearly not to be desired. The conclusion therefore is this: if we wish to continue to enjoy and benefit from media in the unconstrained digital landscape, we must somehow learn to impose constraints of our own. It is as imperative now that we learn to control our consumption habits in the digital world, as it is in the physical one. JON PLANT

available that, if the viewer grows tired of whatever trash they happen to be watching, the next fix is only a click away. This culture of instant gratification means that any content that fails to satisfy within a limited amount of time is quickly dropped in favour of something more instantly appealing. Our attention spans have been attacked and brutally damaged, and we can only hope they can survive the assault. Media itself has also become devalued. “10 Cutest Cat Moments” has over six million views on YouTube, easily beating the domestic ratings of critically acclaimed shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire and even Mad Men. Now, sure, it’s far easier to watch a five minute clip than a fifty minute piece of drama, but that’s half my point: when you truly democratise the image, you’re essentially surrendering control to people with the attention span of a pill-popping raver surrounded by shiny lights and lava lamps: they don’t know where to look first and, consequently, don’t look properly at anything. Inevitably, quality is being be sidelined for two minute clips of dogs on skateboards and chimpanzees using frogs as sex toys. But the fact that there’s such an appetite for this type of material is what’s truly worrying. The media will always be a dirty little whore out to take your money, so the demands of these new viewers will inevitably end up shaping, and even dictating, the landscape of this supposedly free market. Just like MTV infected the late 80s zeitgeist with its quick cuts and flashy images, YouTube is anaesthetising our own generation. The documentary is poisoned with the aesthetic of homemade movies (see Don’t Tell the Bride, or any of BBC 3’s ‘documentary’ output), and ‘found footage’ films have become a genre unto themselves, despite being as visually appealing as an obese person doing a pole dance. Films employing a classical style are often labelled as boring and old fashioned, making little money at the box office, while Michael Bay’s notorious technique of ‘fucking the frame’ (bizarrely, a term he coined himself) proves more profitable than an ambidextrous hooker with no gag reflex. Worse still, a vast majority of television programming seems geared towards the attention deficit masses, with almost every commercial break followed by a recap of the programme’s events up to that point, just in case you weren’t paying attention or, as is more likely, you’ve been treating the television like you do the Internet, switching channels the moment you get bored. It’s terrifying to think that, in today’s cultural climate, challenging dramas like Battlestar Galactica and Six Feet Under, with their slow burn approach to narrative, would struggle to maintain an audience. So, if this is the cost of democratising the moving image, I’m not sure I’m in favour of it. As Winston Churchill once said, “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Well, the best argument against the Internet is simply five minutes spent surfing it. DEAN THREADGOLD

34 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - cover brief



36 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - return of the living dead

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Certain classics will always retain status and popularity. Films like Casablanca or The Godfather are ingrained in our collective cinema-loving consciousness. In fact, we don’t even need to have seen them: their quotes and stills have been used so much that they seem familiar to us regardless. But today, it’s the alternative films from the past that are seeing a resurgence in popularity. Many of these much-loved titles have always held prominence for cinephiles, yet the increase in releases of re-mastered, limited editions and anniversary editions has made them accessible to a whole new audience. In fact, it’s becoming a big business. ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANTON GARBER and RICHARD MANDERS

38 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - return of the living dead

The resurrection of forgotten cinema owes a lot to exhibitors who seek out films from our pasts and screen them for the audience’s pleasure. Midnight Movies is one such collective who have made their name in hosting screenings of cult and underground films. The Londonbased team, Nadia Attia and Michael Pierce, have been running their events for the past four years, after being offered a latenight slot at the art-house cinema chain Curzon, where they previously worked. Nadia says they wanted to use this opportunity to show films that were “falling through the cracks.” Their patron, the film critic Kim Newman, describes the Midnight Movies projects as “cinema for the after dark people,” and it is the team’s belief that they kickstarted the trend for late-night cinema by finding a modern day crowd decades after the initial popularity of such events in the 1970s. To attract an audience to their first screening of Society, the pair worked on creating a wider event, a strategy they continue to this day that includes a prescreening party with music, decor and fancy dress, which draws on the featured film’s themes. In this way, they see their events as tributes, whilst also creating an immersive atmosphere for their audience. As film fans, Nadia and Michael occasionally infiltrate the programme with their own personal favourites. However, some of their most successful screenings have been audience suggestions, with the team

encouraging feedback and recommendations. One of their most celebrated events was for the little-known cult Japanese film Hausu, a recommendation to Michael and Nadia, whose gamble was rewarded by a sold-out event. They exhibited the film a second time at End of the Road festival. While they don’t restrict themselves to any rules about what they will or won’t show (they both feel it’s important not to have “snobbery about it”), they’re insistent that they must both agree on any potential screening. At times, their opinions will overrule the savvy business decision: they were offered the much-hyped The Human Centipede upon its original release but turned it down as they didn’t think it was well-made.

The duo admits to being more businessminded on occasion, keeping an ear to the ground for recent trends and releases with which a screening can coincide. They are often approached by distributors who seek them out to help promote DVD releases by hosting special screenings – an indication that the industry has cottoned on to the popularity of this new underground cinema trend. Just like the successful immersive screenings put on by the Secret Cinema team, Midnight Movies like to create authenticity in their events, albeit on a tighter budget. “Secret Cinema is an amazing theatrical experience” says Michael, “but we’re on a much smaller scale. Midnight Movies is more personal, we’re about the community rather than putting on a show.” This sense of community and audience response is paramount in the purpose of Midnight Movies, and they evoke this reaction through different means. They had scratch and sniff cards at a screening of John Waters’ Polyester to replicate the cinema-going experience at the time of its release and enhance the sentimental value of the event. As Nadia says: “Nostalgia’s seen as this marketing tool and why not?” Indeed, 20 and 30-somethings nowadays are a generation raised on nostalgia. In our childhoods,


films were readily accessible thanks to VHS and video rental. We watched films from such a young age that we became familiar with a time and era we hadn’t even been alive for. It’s possible now that subconsciously, we yearn to seek comfort in a past we’ve only experienced through film. The popularity of Midnight Movies’ retro film screenings could be seen as a general dissatisfaction with contemporary cinema. As is symptomatic of nostalgia, audiences are now looking to the more desirable past of filmmaking as they tire of regurgitated franchises and sequels. However, Nadia speculates that it is the success of modern-day cinema that’s sparked an interest in past cult classics. She explains there is a “culture of recycling” in Hollywood, with many recent films being parodies or paying homage to classics. Film lovers grow curious of the forgotten originals and seek out these films, which are referenced so frequently. Through the manipulation of such a strong human emotion, nostalgic cinema should be an easy business; audience gratification is guaranteed from a product they already know and love. But despite its willing audience, Nadia insists it can be tricky getting it right. They have to work hard to promote certain films. Additionally, the Internet is an obvious and fierce opponent, which means the experience of actively going to the screening has to be a big selling point. The trend for retro cinema screenings continues to grow although the future is uncertain. Audiences may get tired of this niche exhibiting as more and more film clubs pop up promoting the same old favourites. Yet for Midnight Movies, retro cinema has been a platform to introduce alternative cinema to a new audience. They hope to branch out into short films and film exhibitions, as well as experiment with new media and original venues, including music festivals. In a way, screening retro films has enabled Midnight Movies to encourage audiences to look to the future. KERRI SANDELL

40 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - return of the living dead

Think you know your Giallo from you bodyshock horrors? Your Black Christmas from your Female Convict Scorpion movies? Fear not, Cigarette Burns are here to reignite the silver screen with the forgotten gems and cult classics from the bygone era. I seeked out for Josh, the man at the end of the fag butt, about cult, nostalgia and the cinema experience.


How did Cigarette Burns start out? I guess it was born out of a sense of boredom with what was on offer, as well as the realisation that we are now over 100 years into the moving picture as an art form, so why concentrate on the films that are coming out now – films that for the most part are drawing on what came before, and ultimately are significantly less rewarding? How do these “cult classics” inform today’s filmmaking? Cult – or whatever you want to call it: edgy, horror, extreme – cinema is the genre that always pushes the envelope, challenges the accepted norms and drives innovation, from early silent films like Edison’s Frankenstein. These films brought interesting things to the table.

There’s been a rise in retro centric screenings celebrating the trashy lo-fi beauties, like the Tarantino/Rodriguez collab’. We even got spinoff feature films from the fake trailers Machete and Hobo With A Shotgun. How long till we see Werewolf Women Of The SS and DON’T? You can’t force cult. It’s an organic thing, and almost by definition, if you market something as cult, it loses that title. I really enjoyed Machete. Hobo with a Shotgun... I had a few issues with that one. I think the best of the bunch is House of the Devil, which ultimately is a period piece, much more than it is an homage, and that’s the key I suppose: approaching the subject with seriousness instead of nodding, winking and laughing every two seconds. A film that has a good chance of being enjoyed in later years is the recent Conan film. It was such

a misguided mess of a film, it’s an absolute wreck. If it was an Italian production released in the 80s, we’d love it. Right now, I think we’re a bit too close to fully appreciate what a truly enjoyable film it is. But sit back after a night at the pub and watch Conan, you won’t be sorry. You recently did a screening of Videodrome, what made you choose this particular Cronenberg film over any of his others? Videodrome felt like it would suit a midnight screening best, and as expected it went down a storm. People really enjoyed the chance to fall into the big screen once again. We can’t talk about nostalgia and retro centricity without mentioning last year’s major project you were involved in, Scala Forever. Were you surprised by the public’s interest with classic films? I can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s certainly rewarding and it shows that people want to revisit these films. The thing that can’t be stressed enough is how different a film can become when you see it with 50 to 200 others, as opposed to just you and your mates or on your own. Everyone is taking the film in differently and you start to feed off those responses, so films become scarier or funnier or more intense when experienced with a crowd. What does the future hold for retro centric screenings? Fuck man, who knows... Every year that passes adds more film to the back catalogue, so I suppose it may never end! LIAM ACHAIBOU


42 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - return of the living dead

SMASH TV consists of Brendan Shields and Ben Craw, both video editors and cinephiles who met in New York through a mutual friend about 5 years ago. Their first collaboration, a mash-up much like Skinemax but Westernthemed, is yet to be fully realised. Ben is currently hard at work editing to Brendan’s sound mix. In the meantime, Skinemax was “cranked out.

As I write this rather long overdue piece on Smash TV, I’m listening to Brendan’s Space Oddysey mix with my little neck hairs on end. I’m listening to soundbites of HAL giving an interview, over music bringing about a melancholy feeling in my heart. The mix creates a tapestry of images in my mind - ginormous tearful machines crushing swathes of their human creators under their feet. I was born in ‘84, and Smash TV’s epic Skinemax brought about a nostalgia of sadness in me, like the sobbing robots I imagine, going forward inevitably into the future as they involuntarily destroy the past under their metal boots. There have always been arguments against nostalgia, but it’s a cinematic fact that films now look very different from what they used to. I miss real effect work, and maybe that’s why Skinemax is such a treat for me, and why I hold it so dear. It’s also a historical document of a certain period of time for so many people. I have heard it described as like being taken on a tour of childhood memories and cinematic archeology. Interestingly, what started Skinemax was the viewing of Thebestvideoyouwilleverseereally. Check it out... plus their wonderful blog and the amazing sparklemotion mixes. IAN PONS JEWELL



Kirby Ferguson is the guy behind “Everything is a Remix,” a brilliant fourpart web series in which he argues that everything we create is a slightly altered copy of something that already exists. We got locked inside a New York bakery and talked about nostalgia, Cronenberg and conspiracy theories whilst a massive poodle gave us an impressive jumping spectacle. How did you get the idea for “Everything is a Remix”? I started thinking about the series about five years ago during during the copyright hysteria. There were these crazy lawsuits happening everywhere and I felt people didn’t recognise how indebted they all were to each other. It’s a weird mentality, but people forget they’re all taking things from each other. As I researched Led Zeppelin, George Lucas and Apple, I found that these stories were not only interesting, but also visual and complex.

will encourage us to start thinking more creatively? Ah, Videodrome. Cronenberg’s best film for sure. Most of his movies before that were completely incomprehensible and badly made. But in Videodrome, yes, I think the themes are pretty prophetic. People will always look for authenticity, but it’s a mirage. As soon as there’s a camera there, it’s not real.

What’s the future of remixing? Will copyright laws block it from growing? What kind of response did I know that there are some people out there “MOST OF THE who are playing with the idea of an Internet you get? I got thousands of emails STUFF PROTECTED constitution. I think the Internet will assert and messages. I’m especial- BY COPYRIGHT IS itself as a community. This is totally speculy popular with librarians for but it might become possible for nonSITTING THERE, lative, some reason. And I also get commercial remixing of media to become some hate comments from COVERING DUST. legal. What I’d love to see is them getting rid people who are really into of software patents and shortening copyright MOST PEOPLE Led Zeppelin, for example. DON’T SEE IT AS laws. It won’t happen but imagine if it did – I’ve got my fair share of hatGoogle books would become a gold mine. A RESOURCE” ers, that’s for sure. Most of the stuff protected by copyright is sitting there, covering dust. Most people don’t Is remixing the tool of the new filmmaker? see it as a resource... They think it’s just books and Remixing is one tool but there are limitations to shit. But for me, having a vast amount of weird 50s it. If there isn’t the right thing out there for you to movies at my disposal is really useful. use, then you’re screwed. But if you have a good idea and you can string together things that are What’s next for you? happening, it’s great. I would say do it without fear. I’ve started working on This is not a Conspiracy The worst thing that can happen is someone ask- Theory, which will be a political series. The idea is ing you to take the content down. to give people some context about where we are in history, to pull back and look at the global picYou talk about loss aversion, the concept of ture and connect things together. I decided to give creating to preserve what we admire. Can we it that name because once you start talking about get past this obsession? the big picture, it’s the risk. Today, most people just The driving force is that audiences want little twists say “he’s an asshole” when they don’t agree with of what they know. They don’t want to reinvent someone. I’d like to provide the reasoning behind the wheel every time they watch a film. And when the fact that “he’s an asshole.” times are tough like now, filmmaking is even more conservative. Awareness of loss aversion helps a Is it going to be anything like Zeitgeist? lot. I’d basically like to make a good version of Zeitgeist, the episode number one is just crack pipes. In Videodrome, the mass of the readily avail- Or bonkers, as you British people would say. able content pushes some people to look for content elsewhere. Do you think the Internet DANIEL NICKSON and PAULINE EIFERMAN

44 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - oracular memetacular

You might not know what a meme is, but you’ve definitely been exposed to one. Don’t worry, there’s no need to scrub your mitts or burn your clothes; your meme-exposure, although viral, was of the safe, electronic kind. Memes are pieces of online content, often humourrelated, that are shared via email and social networks. If you’ve been RickRolled, listened to Keyboard Cat or know what Charlie bit, then you know meme. And to know meme is to love meme. Still none the wiser? We’ve distilled the muddy world of video memeculture into FOUR kinda-distinct categories to help you navigate it.


46 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - oracular memetacular

MUSIC Musical memery has been a staple of virally distributed content before YouTube was a glint in an Ethernet cable. If you had an email account in the mid 90s you would have certainly been treated to the sight of an oddly animated baby dancing to ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ by Blue Swede. Since then, the advent of webcams has seen a peculiar sub-genre - Lip Dub - create net celebrities. People like the Numa Numa guy and Keenan Cahill (a teenager suffering from Mucopolysaccaridosis) have seen millions of views on YouTube with their webcam mimed renditions of pop songs. The technique wasn’t limited to individuals, with the ‘office lip-dub’ proving popular after Connected Ventures unleashed their rendition of ‘Flagpole Sitta’ (so popular in fact it’s been ‘homaged’ a few times, most notably in Wiley’s ‘Cash In My Pocket’ music video). Another musical aspect of the YouTube generation has been the clever use of pop’s best friend - Autotune. When the Gregory Brothers, a band from Virginia, took the producers’ tool and applied it to some impassioned political speeches, Autotune The News was born. Aping the content of FoxNews and the like, the web-series takes existing footage and remixes it into a song, making the news subjects more melodic in the process. In true meme-culture spirit, the G-Bros actively encourage the viewers of the films to remix their own versions and post them in the vids’ annotations. Combining clever technicality, catchy tunes and immediacy of subject, the films have achieved such a level of recognition and support that their ‘Bedroom Intruder’ song (starring Antoine Dodson, subsequent webstar in his own right) is the first YouTube track to enter the Billboard Top100. Chart success has been found by other breakout meme-stars too, most notably with everyone’s favourite song about a day - ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black - a track so terrible (and terribly earwormic) that it catapulted to over 30 million views in less than a week, and had more than 160 million before it was taken down. In distinctive meme-style,

the video was shared, reedited, spoofed and had numerous comedy photos created from it in a very short space of time. Ms Black’s spiritual forerunner was a talented chap called Tay Zonday, whose song ‘Chocolate Rain’ has clocked up 77million views due to its off-kilter style and Zonday’s peculiar performance process (he has to move his face away from the mic to breathe). In fact, it’s oddities like that that often go some way to creating a meme - an apparent bizarreness (Zonday’s singing style, Cahill’s diminutive stature, Autotune’s ... er... autotuning) that renders the viewer incapable of anything other than slamming it in front of their pals. The desire to share the action, to have others experience what you did, is a key driving force behind memes (in fact, the ‘reaction video’ is a meme sub-genre unto itself, with a certain Two Girls One Cup providing more clips of upset chums than you could shake a degrading sex-act at, but we’ll steer clear of that).

48 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - oracular memetacular

FILMS / MASH-UP Inevitably the ease of sharing and (recent) high quality streaming of sites like YouTube and Vimeo has made them a mecca for bedroom filmmakers. However, some have stepped out of the front door and set their filmic ambitions higher. Freddie W, a popular director of much-shared online mini-movies, regularly updates his YouTube channel with wildly ambitious action-comedy shorts. With fantastical ideas, themes particularly targeted at a male-teen audience and ridiculously good SFX for a relatively low budget, his channel has amassed a staggering 3m+ subscribers and over 571m views in his six years on the site. Some filmmakers without access to the effects know-how and slick locations of Mr W have found an alternative avenue for their auteurship - machinima. Utilising videogame engines, machinima films are basically nextgen puppet shows. The director-controlled action of the game avatars is captured by a virtual camera and edited and soundtracked like a normal film. Popularised by webshows like Rooster Teeth’s ‘Red Vs Blue’ - a Beckettesque series about two rival teams of soldiers endlessly trapped in a civil war - and the GTA4-housed featurelength ‘The Trashmaster.’ Both projects rely on the graphics and models of the games that power them, but have achieved considerable plaudits for their sharp scripts and narrative drive. Another technique that’s exploded in the YouTube era is the video remix/ mashup. Names like CassetteBoy and Pogo have established themselves as remixers of merit, with their chopped up versions of existing footage (British TV for CassetteBoy; films, particularly those of Disney, for Pogo) raising smiles and forwards around the net. One team making commercial success from it are VJs Addictive TV, who transferred their live mashup work to the net for clients like Red Bull, Adidas and Capcom. The video-remix is so popular nowadays that YouTube have introduced basic editing capabilities into their software to enable and encourage viewers to chop it up for themselves.

CATS “The Internet is a series of tubes and the tubes are filled with cats,” goes a well-known web adage. It’s safe to say that a discussion of meme-culture would be NOTHING if it failed to mention the popularity of our kitty pals on the net. Seen mostly as a mainstay of imageled memes (both I Can Has Cheezburger? and LOLCatz are hubs of feline funnies), the Internet video hasn’t been spared the invasion, with YouTube alone chock full of cat vids garnering millions of views. Meme-stars include Keyboard Cat, Nyan Cat, NONONONO Cat, Maru and OMG Cat - all of which have had the standard meme treatment of spoofs, tribute films and remixes (the 100-hour long version of Nyan Cat being a particular treat). Even experienced meme-masters have succumbed to the pussy allure, with Freddie W clocking up some of his biggest views with Medal Of Honour Cat and The Gregory Brothers melodifying an eHarmony viral for I Love Every Cat.



The first viral I remember receiving. Permeated everyone’s inbox, and Ally McBeal!!

2.BACK DORM BOYS When something is popular, it’s only a matTwo chinese guys miming to backstreet ter of time before it’s used to sell something, and memery is no different. “There is no quesboys. One of the first times I realised tion that meme culture – and the compulsively how amazing YouTube was. shareable content which courses through it – is massively appealing to brands and ad3.‘FLAGPOLE SITTA’ OFFICE LIP vertisers,” Will Sansom, Senior Consultant at DUB Contagious Communications, an organization I tried to convince my office to do this. that provides resources for the global marketing community, focusing on new technologies, They refused. told us. Indeed, the concept of the ‘viral smash’ is so alluring to brands that many have jumped 4.KEYBOARD CAT in without fully understanding the risks. “Meme My favourite of the cat memes, and content is typically user-generated, often subthat’s saying something. versive, and always grown organically,” explained Sanso. “Combine this with the fact that the brightest content always burns fastest, and 5.WEEZER’S ‘PORK AND BEANS’ you have rules of engagement which contraMUSIC VIDEO dict almost every stage of the established ad ‘Cause it’s every meme in one! planning process. For this reason, the list of brands which have managed to successfully pounce on memes and then bend them to their own will is limited.” However, that’s not to say that brands haven’t been able to co-opt some principles of meme successfully. Indeed, some act as catalysts for the meme they’ve adopted, as the T-Mobile campaign did for flash-mobbing, or become memes in their own right: The Old Spice Guy, Cadbury’s Gorilla and Will It Blend. Some meme celebrities have gone on to advertise products themselves, as Tay Zonday did with ‘Cherry Chocolate Rain’ for Dr Pepper and Keenan Cahill with Juicy Fruit and Havit Headphones. Love it or hate it, advertising has learnt a lesson from the explosion of web-content. “What meme culture has taught the ad industry is to be reactive, to prioritise listening over planning and to not be afraid of cultivating activity in niche spaces – all of which will only help brands as an increasing amount of their communications migrate from traditional media channels into more social spaces,” said Sansom . So what’s the key to a good meme? Humour seems to be a grand starting point, with a massive percentage of widely shared vids bringing on the chuckles. Even those that don’t necessarily have humour at the heart are made into comedic objects in later life with a spot of editing prowess and/or Photoshop knowhow. Also important, is a peculiarity that will encourage online whispers (upsettingly, at times much like an old-school freakshow). It’s heartening to see, however, just how much content is shared because it’s genuinely good - be it the musical musings of The Gregory Brothers and Pogo, the visual mastery of Freddie W and The Old Spice Guy or the sharp scripts of ‘Red vs Blue’ and ‘The Trashmaster’. All of these elements combine in content that people are keen to share. Because of this, more conventional media outlets are having to up their game in order to grab people’s attention. The meme-epidemic has hit and there ain’t no cure. JAMIE MADGE is the Editor of The Reel –

52 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - here’s to the mutants


Across the board, technology is changing everything: print is beginning to shuffle into the background and electronic music has opened the door to a legion of bedroom producers in need of bedroom music video directors. The makeup of the industry is shifting, the traditional roots and career progressions are mutating, the door is wide open. To quote Mao, “everything under heaven is in utter chaos, the situation is excellent.” ILLUSTRATIONS BY RICHARD MANDERS SOUTH BY BY SOUTH SOUTH WEST, WEST, SOUTH AUSTIN, TEXAS TEXAS - - This This year, year, AUSTIN, thehuge hugefestival festivalsaw sawaashift shiftinin the priorities. Film Film and and music, music, itsits priorities. whichused usedtotobe bethe themain mainfocus focus which theevent event(as (aswell wellas asparties) parties) ofofthe wereoutshone outshoneby bythe theinteractive interactive were showcase,which whichhas has traditiontraditionshowcase, ally integrated integrated elements elements from from ally theprevious previoustwo. two. This This doesn’t doesn’t the meanthe theold oldstars starsare aredying, dying,but but mean rather exemplifies an evolution rather exemplifies an evolution thecore coreofoftheir theirsurvival, survival,both both atatthe anartistic artisticand andfinancial financiallevel. level. ononan Nowadays,the theaudience audiencewants wants Nowadays, morethan thanaagood goodsong songtotopart part more withitsitscash. cash.There Thereisisaareal realdedewith sirefor formulti-sensorial multi-sensorialand andparparsire ticipatoryexperiences, experiences,and andaafew few ticipatory musiciansare areoffering offeringjust justthat. that. musicians Quite logically, logically, one one aspect aspect Quite musicians have have been been adding adding musicians somewow wowfactor factortotoisistheir theirininsome struments.Felix FelixThorn, Thorn,for for exexstruments.

ample, makes makes machines. machines. By By ample, assemblingparts partsofofpianos, pianos, momoassembling tors,guitars guitarsand anddrums drumsamongst amongst tors, others,he he creates creates intricate intricate and and others, fascinating mechanical fascinating mechanicaldevices. deAnd the part is that they vices. Andbest the best part is that are fully controllable with awith comthey are fully controllable a puter, blurring thetheboundaries computer, blurring boundabetween acoustic andand electronries between acoustic elecic, and make tronic, andinspiring inspiringhim him to make music that that only only he he can can create. create. music Another artist artist who who recently recently Another turned instruments instruments into into sound sound turned sculptures isis Bjork. Bjork. She She comcomsculptures missioneda aseries series of mutant missioned of mutant ininstruments to help compose struments to help compose and and perform heralbum, latest adding album, perform her latest adding exoticism and a good exoticism and a good amount of amount of sci-fi to sci-fi spectacle to thespectacle project. The the project. ThePendulum sizeable Harp, Gravsizeable Gravity ity Gameleste Pendulum Harp, theSharpsiGamethe and the lesteproduce and the Sharpsicord procord stunning sonorities, duce the stunning while while Musicalsonorities, Tesla Coils, a the Musical Tesla Coils, bass instrument, feels likeait bass was

instrument, feelsinlike was crecreated by Bowie theitmovie the ated by Bowie in the movie the Prestige. But Biophila isn’t only Prestige. Biophila only about whatBut Bjork does. isn’t Through aboutapps whatthat Bjork does. Through iPad allow us to recreiPadand apps that the allow us to of recreate remix songs the ate andit’sremix the songs the album, also turning the of specalbum, it’san also turning the Lotus spectator into actor. Flying tator into an actor. Lotus did something similarFlying for Cosmodid something forthe Cosmogramma, whensimilar he got programma, Aaron when Meyers he got the programmer to build grammer Aaronreality Meyersapp, to build an augmented this an augmented reality app, this time both for Mac and PC users. time Macrepresentative, and PC users. Fly both Lo isforalso is also representative, byFly hisLo recent collaboration with by his recent ofcollaboration the geniuses ANTIVJ, of with anthe geniuses another mutation.ofIf ANTIVJ, you go toofgigs other mutation. you musicians go to gigs expecting to onlyIf see expecting toyou’ll only see musicians performing, be surprised. performing, you’ll be live surprised. In the past few years, music, In theprojection past few years, live music, 3D mapping and 3D projection mapping have and large-scale light sculptures large-scale light sculptures have met up to create mind-blowing met up to create mind-blowing multimedia and artistic shows. multimedia and artistic shows.


Think Amon Tobin, Sufjan Stevens, Mira Calix and so on. But 3D and live shows aren’t reserved to artists on the peak of modernism. Classical music is trying to jump back to life and into the 21st century, and has inspired filmmaker Julian Napier to become a contemporary Dr Frankenstein. He turned the Royal Opera House’s productions of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Bizet’s Carmen into movies shot and screened in 3D. These new and captivating hybrids of cinema and live shows, where the past melts to embrace the present, invite the audience to feel like a member of the cast, on stage with the performers, in a way that only this format could allow. When it comes to the relationship between our old stars, something rather intriguing has

been happening lately. Musicians ema and to genuine collaboration seem willing to go live for cinema, is missing, and that is dialogue. Thankfully, it’s on the horizon. and a lot of gorgeous pieces have been composed for performanc- There is a desire for more comes in front of an audience, while a bination and less layering, for a movie is being projected. But just bunch of creative people from like the aforementioned 3D films different fields to come together are into old music, live-scoring and work on a project by comcomposers are into old movies. plementing, rather than comIn fact, the vast majority of such plimenting each others’ inputs. projects have involved silent Musicians and record labels are films. This could be due to our re- willing to go beyond traditioncent renewed love for old formats al music videos and cover art and aesthetics... the Return of the tools. Concept Albums are on Living Dead. A prime example is the verge of becoming a hell of the success of The Artist and its a lot more in depth than the crasoundtrack by Ludovic Bource, ziest prog-rocker’s dream, only which won both this year’s Oscar limited by the advances of techand BAFTA. But at times, it feels nology, artists’ imaginations, and almost like film is an excuse to record labels’ budgets. Isn’t that compose something pretty for the something to look forward to? background rather than creating a fully integrated piece of art. Something rather essential to cin- EMILIE LEVIENAISE-FARROUCH

54 / LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH - here’s to the mutants


What would have happened if Da Vinci had left his notebooks in a public library? According to Mike Winkelman, his alter ego BEEPLE was born out of a stuffed animal from the 80s. “The animal responded to light and sound and from there took on human form and began posing as Winkelman, a graphic designer from buttfucknowhere Wisconsin.” But BEEPLE is more than a man, more than a mutant-alien stuffed animal, BEEPLE is an avatar of the future through which Mike has created music videos for the likes of Flying Lotus and Erykah Badu, and has released work on the Brainfeeder label. But it’s not BEEPLE’s rise I’m interested in. On his website, all of his cinema 4D work is available for free and without copyright. This includes both visual clips for VJs and the source files for a few of his music videos. If I were to throw adjectives at the page in an attempt to describe BEEPLE’s work, I’d have to say his work is polished digi-psychedelia, in which geometry competes with colour for dominance, and out of which occasionally rises the recognisable outline of cities or galaxies. As many of you probably know, intellectual property is currently almost as disputed as the Gaza Strip. There are plenty of extremists on both sides of the fence and what’s refreshing about BEEPLE’s approach to the touchy subject is that he’s speaking in actions, not words. “I would say it’s a lot less altruistic than people think,” he explained. “I just feel like after I render something out, I have no use for the project files. So if other people can benefit from them, great. I also sort of feel like putting shit out there helps me move on. If your ‘secrets’ are exposed, it helps you move on and learn more.” Interestingly, the voice of creators is being somewhat drowned out by lawyers and theoreticians in the debate over a creative commons. I’ve never heard anyone suggest, like Mike Winkelman has here, that it forces creators to move forward and improve their craft, and that strong intellectual property legislation allows people to rest upon a few accomplishments and essentially breeds a lazy elite of creators. Mike Winkleman, aka BEEPLE, is the future of visual arts. That may seem like hyperbole and I’m sure Mike himself would shy away from such praise, but there is something in Winkelman’s approach that is refreshingly positive and forward-thinking.

“We live in a very visual culture, so it’s awesome to see electronic musicians realising that they can put on some fucking insane ass shows by combining visuals and music and technology,” he said. “I can’t wait to see where this shit takes us in 10 years.” The proliferation of technology has created a surge in demand for visual stimulation to accompany live music, giving visual artists an outlet outside of the established ‘art’ order. These artists, like BEEPLE, don’t cling to the term ‘artist’ in the way the previous generations did (having no commercial outlet for their work, defining it definitely as ‘art’ and highbrow served as a defence mechanism and ensured their continued existence). “I would say I’m a visual artist, I guess,” Mike told me. “I don’t really think those terms matter that much except to help people quickly acclimate themselves with your work.” It’s a trend that’s been a long time coming: art moving out the galleries and into the clubs, away from the critics and towards the public. Many would have you think that a widespread audience and an unregulated approach to exhibiting and distributing would cheapen the work. But those voices don’t have art’s best interest at heart. Undoubtedly, they have their own. “I think there is some sort of hesitancy towards people giving shit away like I do, because I think people see it as devaluing art,” Mike said. “But I think most art has some fucking bullshit value attached to it which has nothing to do with its quality, which is of course subjective. When I hear of someone paying millions of dollars for a painting or some shit like that… Come on, it’s fucking retarded. I just want as many people to see my work as possible and to do everything I can to make visuals better; at the moment giving my shit away for free seems to be the best means to that end.” It’s a brave position that Mike Winkelman has adopted, risking imitation and being directly ripped off, but it speaks to a deep confidence in his own talent and imagination. After all, the only reason to worry is if you have a limited ability to produce high quality work, and one look at will show you why BEEPLE isn’t worried. JOE COPPLESTONE




Soho’s bricks reek of sex. Every wall in Soho is mortared and coated in fucking. The old whorehouses now stand as chain pubs, haunted by the ghosts of buggery. Signs proclaim “this world is rotting, I love you too.” The train rumbles below, fucking the city in all of its orifices. I’m waiting for the time to pass. For something to occur. For a moment to snap me out of my miserable stupor. A blow to the face or to the heart. Interaction is key and I hold this thought at the fore of my mind as I allow a thousand faces to skip my eye-line. Stuck amongst the motion. A solid face that brick-walls any smiles. I crack teeth on the pavement with my solid stare. A lifetime of city aggravation rushes through my veins and traces spirals in my iris. I move down the street, rushing towards the place where you get it fixed. I stand in line to be served and quartered, liquidated and redistributed in the coin sodden pockets of investment bankers. Stripped naked and spread tight over billboards, drawn between tube trains that rip the soul from the heart of me – they bring this city to its knees. So I stand in the queue for fixing, smiling at the pretty girls who smoulder in the lamplight and risk rotting in the queue. Even the beautiful are ugly by the time they reach the fixing spot. The fix comes in different shapes and sizes, but the many varieties share in common one unifying and holy quality. The fix will brush the cobwebs from your skeleton for a limited time and make fantasy tangible for a fleeting but pure moment. Longevity and intensity vary somewhat according to the market value of the fix in question. Some fixes are instantly consumable, some are absorbed over a period of days in manageable sections, others require a solid 2-hour session, sometimes longer. The cheapest fixes are instantly consumable and short in duration. Every man has his favourite fix and every woman hers. There are fixes designed for kids, mass market fixes, cult fixes, fair-trade fixes and an endless list of fixes waiting to be wanted. The fix is the wonder of our age. There are high fixes and low fixes, there are knock-off fixes sold over the greasy-fingered stands in unfortunate places, places the fix can drag you to should you let it.

Lining the high streets and high roads, the fixing spots are squeezed and stacked in a hectic order. So filled to the brim that they are forced in front of each other, like too many teeth crowding a mouth, like a graveyard. The fixing spots fill the pavement with obstructive signs and gaudy colours that make my eyes throb with desire and have transformed these landscapes into poxy sores. The words on these signs stick with you, they throb around your head and appear in your dreams, always floating just behind your closed eyelids. I collect my fix from the fixing spot (the only one I can afford in months like this, where the lottery hasn’t gone my way). I hold it in my pocket kneading it with my fingers. Excitement threads through my tendons, my face contorts in a twisted smile, my glee brings resentful glances from those still searching for their fix, still queuing or saving or waiting for the bus to some cheaper area where they can afford to fix themselves. When my fix is finished, I find myself riding the train and stealing glances at pornographic photos of expensive fixes above the heads of other passengers. My eyes drift down to the faces of my fellow hurtling voyagers, framed by the small windows of the train, static yet surrounded by cascading metal light and shapes. Mechanical moans and groans. I remember the fix last week, the one that made me feel like I was rubbing up against a Brazilian girl’s arse and made my cock and balls feel like a volcano. That was a good fix, not like this one, which barely keeps me from throwing up on the train. Eventually, I bore of teasing myself and head home – a small space I keep my trappings in, complete with a blank wall onto which I stare and project my dreams and aspirations. Lay them out in satisfying tetris blocks. I smoke cigarettes until the hours pass and envelop my thoughts in the comfy tunnel of self interest. One day soon, I’ll see my own dreams as the thread they are, one day I’ll be so scared shitless of my own insignificance that I’ll gesticulate frantically and cause some pain. Then of course there is death. I dream of the fix, rotate my memories and dreams through the stage in my mind, pausing to let each have its fluctuating moment in the spotlight until I drain it of all use and move on. In the end, I feel like I’m fall-

ing or running or falling and I can feel the texture of the good fix from last week in my hand. I wake up and ejaculate. I think only of the fix. Today I will make a change to my routine; I will seek out a new fix. Whether this decision is my own or the subconscious regurgitation of a seed planted in my cognitive function by the living advert I inhabit in my waking hours doesn’t bother me, the decision has been made and this makes me happy. I don’t even feel the coffee on my throat and the tube ticket buys itself and the first four cigarettes smoke themselves as I make my way through London’s densest muscle. So I stand here in the heat, looking at the back of an old lady’s neck ripple as waves of sweat roll down her spine, thinking about my fix and how she’ll have it before me. Thinking about how easy it would be to push in front of her, to steal her place, shake my own sweat on her. Then I think only of the fix as my vision blurs, I think only of the fix as the forehead itches. I’m shuffled along in the queue, I get very anxious all of a sudden and have to remove my shaking hands from my pockets so people don’t think I’m a pervert or a freak. I stand in line and wait my turn and think only of the fix. I fail to obtain the fix I desire for a reason that I will keep to myself, at least for the moment. So I stand in a second-rate queue, waiting for a fix I require but don’t want, and so I smoke in double pace with the sun’s heat peeling my skin. I think only of the fix and notice I’ll be out of cigarettes soon. I strain my eyes to breaking point in an attempt to see the place where I will be satisfied, but the fixing spot is out of sight. It’s hidden beyond the snake of flesh, which seems to be on the edge of melting in the heat, leaving nothing but a lake of fat between me and the fix. But the skeletons hold for now. I’m pushed tight and cosy against the backs of strangers, again I’m invited to intrude on their space as we all shuffle inch by inch towards our shared goal in selfish unity. A paradigm of the fixing spot, through our shared taste we are divided, and I hate the hand that receives the fix before me above all else! I stand. With my heart in my pocket, dried spit on my lips, the evening wind brings me down to the gutter where I cough city songs, waiting my turn.

I think of the fix and stare at the stars, but I can’t see any because the sky is horribly blue and clear. I recognise a man ahead of me in the queue, or maybe I don’t. Maybe I recognise the look on his face, or the spark in his eye, or that eager twitch that brings his hand out of his pocket then back in again. Basking in impatience. I begin to pick out my lottery numbers for next week, imagining I get a big wage and get interviewed on that show, Employee Of The Month, and after that I can head off to one of those prime spots I’ve heard about, where you can get the best fixes. They last for weeks and I’ve heard it’s like they are part of you; like you can produce all those good fixing juices yourself. Like you’re really about to fuck a Brazilian girl. Like the sky is beautiful. I notice the man craning his head back, watching the whole length of the queue and looking at me in particular. Taking it all in and laughing no doubt, laughing and reminding himself that he’ll be there before me. I do recognise him. From off the box. From a few weeks ago. The one who had my usual numbers and got a big wage. Employee Of The Month. He keeps touching himself on the neck and as I really try hard to stare, I notice the raised inflamed spot about an inch in diameter, the tell tale sign of a posh fix. Greedy cunt. My first thoughts, violence, maybe tear it from his neck with my teeth and swallow it. Or just wait till he gets his fix and take that from him. Here in the queue. Ahead of me, with one of them in his neck, the fix and him as one. Makes you sick these people, on a bad hot day like this, taking up a space that could be filled by someone more in need of fixing. I’m almost at the point now and he’s snuck off back to whatever palace he lives in to enjoy his fix. I pull my shrapnel out my pocket and work out what band I can get, I’m halfway to a C band fix and hopefully he’s got a payment plan I can sort out because I really hate the D fixes from this place. One last year made me cry, first tears in 20 years, shoddy merchandise that, bad craftsmanship, the whole team should have their wage cut. I’d like to see them down here on a bad hot day like today, queuing for a band C. At least this place is reliable and it’s not too far from my house; I’ll try a new fix tomorrow. I promise myself. I think only of the fix.



Jesus is a member of the large penis internet support group God’s fingers are like cow’s tits

I cool off my scrotum in a tub of tzatziki Joseph Priestley was a vegetarian like Hitler


DARKEN MATT SPRIGGS And it ends with a liquor store. A motel on the outskirts of a greasy city with the Vacancy sign ablaze. No one in the foyer. Okay. Not a problem. I already have the key. I am not a guest here. Long dark corridors with tessellated wallpaper, each square vaguely encrimsoned. The doorknob reflects my approaching hand. Gripping. Door slams. A corkscrew and an armchair. Stepping inside, there is a change of air and I am sharply alerted to the cavity beneath my eyes, growing coarser with the drawing of breath. The walls radiate frequencies of conceivable light not unlike my own. It’s true that photons have no owners; they escape commodification, give themselves to all things. And information, loathsome of barriers, spills through to animate the world. Yes, strange symmetries exist between the geometry of this abject space and the landscape behind my eyes: when I move the dimensions of the room move with me, furniture arranges itself according to my thoughts, time changes tempo. If the foundations give out, so will I. The television moves to reflect my image in its blank screen. I see the face that spent so many nights with you, the face that consoled you, the face that you eventually came to hate. And it sees me in turn. Memories are found in this silent exchange. I am reminded, in one explosive instant, of those green winter gloves you wore, like a surgeon’s; of your penchant for standing hipshot; of your unique sexuality, childish in its curiosity but so knowing, a playset of perversity; of your conscientious little fingers which traced with obsession the contours of my flesh (meaningless gestures that framed your person like parentheses); of how I never made love to you but rather to all the things you had ever been … Actually, you make love to a person; you fuck an object1. So maybe I never made love to you. But an object can’t betray its owner, can it? Ripples extend in chaotic patterns over the bedspread, more and more by the second. It looks like an open grave catching invisible rain. My cool and composed counterpart grows larger in the frame of the television screen. He tells me ‘it’s time now’ and motions towards the bottle cradled in my lap. He places the corkscrew in my hand, 1 Some French guy I read once wrote, “…nothing is not an object”. He was right in both senses.

closes my fingers around it and nods. In this sick biological game, helix follows helix, so I twist inside you like some connoisseur uncorking a seasoned bottle of wine. Albeit your season was not the finest by anyone’s standards and you certainly aren’t peaking. Had I the choice I would have plucked another bottle from the rack, something richer like a Shiraz or even a dessert wine, but it was near closing time and my pockets are shallow. Still, I held on to you like the most sacred of things, as I did with every one of your predecessors, solemnly aware that value isn’t fixed, that if tomorrow grapes refused to grow you would be dearer and more precious than gold. The glass beside me winks like a knife catching the sun. It is ready to be filled. One last twist and the point of the drill bit punches through that thick epidermic membrane to find itself dipping the surface of a vast red reserve. There is no fulcrum on this tool so it’s raw strength that gets you open. Musculature braces, veins undulate like telephone wires in an earthquake. The end of the struggle is celebrated by a loud suction pop. A few drops strike the egg-white carpet and vanish into it. (Jaw slackens as hands un-tense) You breathe and oxygenate for the last time. I bleed you into my receptacle and slowly rotate, summoning the vortex in my hand. First taste. In molecular explosions, you surrender to my tongue which engorges and burns in delight. My throat rejoices as its muscles stuff you gutward. Astonished by the sensitivity of my palate after years of smoking, I discover nuances, unexpected tickles of detail and depth…how much is at work here? There are worlds of flavour, a complete phenomenology that quickly transcends my presence. I long to sample more, to dissect and reassemble all these sensations so that I might glance some understanding—but lust works hard and fast. The bottle is empty now. I nearly cry. Very nearly. It is painful to resist. Outside, clouds gather to block the dying sun, inviting a premature darkness. My despair is soon outweighed by a creeping intoxication. The tectonics of the plasterboard walls creak as my skull contracts, grows heavier. For a moment I am satisfied, even content: the stupor, like a lampshade, darkens a light that so

cruelly illuminates nothing. It’s a foretaste of nonexistence. And who could say how much such a thing is worth? The sun is swallowed by the horizon, the windows are as black as the television and I am sharp again. Inside, that faintness is replaced by thumps of scolding light. Power surges. Suddenly I am struck by an overwhelming urge to force the cork back in, but I know it will never fit and anyway there is nothing left to staunch. All are stains now2, red but almost black for their thickness. You dry around my lips in flakes that sputter away like ash when my mouth is forced to part by lurid words, bursts of hot breath. Other stains are still in progress. A single droplet works over the sallow mountain range of my knuckles with glacial slowness, halting in each groove, pooling, before slipping over the next bulge, finally hanging like a fat stalactite (gathering weight in seconds or centuries) and then falling and shattering over the point of my shoe, revealing itself to be liquid in the end.3 There is a contusion rising out of the carpet beneath the fallen bottle, whose damp orifice faces away from me. Below the subtle curvature of the neck, I see a deposit of liquid still remains, held down by gravity. I watch it through dithering eyes, recalling that disarming look you fixed me with on so many failed evenings, but (ha!) not anymore. Now yours is as impotent as mine. Another stain is to be found smudged over transparent glass—therein lays my fingerprint, unique and beautiful for being so. Why would I ever wish to clean it away? And yet I do. It’s over now. Finished. Fatigue creeps in so I lie down on the bed, wiping the sweat from my brow against the over-starched 2 Stains are things that are hard to remove, things unwanted. Stains are only stains when they are in the wrong place. Art is a stain because it has no right place. Stains are but a fraction, a messenger for the horde; when the horde becomes a stain, it is called a mess. Stains rarely move of their own accord, they can, however, be transmitted, like Herpes or a commuter. Stains are never permanent but are tough to remove; most will fade with time, like a scar. Stains are vestiges that whisper of damaged things…the world is a stain. 3 Time is not uniform: when elongated, we perceive solidity / when condensed, all things show themselves to be fluid.


pillowcase, and then turn on to my back, eyelids hanging. I begin to sink through the mattress. So as not to drown, I take a deep breath and hold it. Still I descend. Intersecting thoughts and ideas pile over me until I am blinded, muted, deafened, indeed nearly suffocated by the tightening web of consciousness. Finally I manage to isolate a singular thread and I cling to it with fatal urgency. Of course, that thread is you. The walls move inwards and the bed closes over me. All is as it should be now—dark—coloured only by these vague words that slap against the void and vanish in a pathetic breath of energy. There is solace in this place, here, only it is hard to find. Two nights ago I dreamt that you refused to kiss me but told me you loved me. That was why you denied my kiss—out of a love that held sway far beyond the physical, out of a need to keep that moment pure by avoiding convention or platitudes. The night after that—which was last night—I dreamt of you walking away. It took all night. When I woke the following morning, dread crept along my spine for three reasons: First because it became clear that my dream machinery has dispensed with symbolism altogether. It no longer skirts around the trauma or reimagines the wound but instead says exactly what it thinks in Hemingway-English. This must be brain atrophy. Second because I realised that this time you were never coming back. And third because the two events offered no sense of equilibrium whatsoever: the horror of Dream Two did not counterbalance the passion of Dream One, it utterly negated it. It was disturbing in a curious way, like failing to recognise a close family member. Worse still, neither dream felt like a standalone. I perceived Dream Two to be a seamless continuation, even a consequence, of Dream One. As a result the two visions were lifted from their state of isolation and imbued with a sense of plot, as if I had done something to incur Dream Two sometime after Dream One. Of course this seemed unlikely because I had been awake, occupying a different world, so anything that did transpire—through the looking-glass as it were—was

outside of my control. The only explanation was that you walked away in the name of love, to spare me the brunt of your madness, thereby opening up the kiss-denial (Dream One) to new interpretation. But a selfless act of this kind would have been uncharacteristic. So what I realise now, standing by the window, red still dripping steadily from my knuckle, is that, were it not for Dream Two and the evincing of an ongoing psychic war, I would never have opened and drank from your bottle. There would be no stains on my lips, on my hands, on the carpet and the glass, and you would have remained on the shelf, away from gluttons like me, safe and sealed. This is something that a police psychiatrist will probably reiterate to me in the near future and I will nod him along and say, in a tired and obstinate voice, ‘Yes, yes, I know. I worked all this out shortly after the event in question. I’m not deluded. God didn’t tell me to do it. I didn’t mistake her for Hitler. But it did feel like a reasonable course of action at the time, mutually beneficial in a way. I may have responded unfavorably to the breakup. I may have taken my dreams too seriously—but that is a matter of philosophical importance. I know, stupid reasons to spend the rest of my life behind bars but we’re all victims of our own minds, right? You should know better than anyone.’ And he’ll blink and say, ‘Yes, yes I do.’ I’ll sigh, ‘Just be thankful I wrote in traditional English, with grammar and all, because usually I don’t bother.’ He’ll say, ‘I’m aware of that. We recovered two other documents from your apartment. I found them quite unpleasant to read. All those slashes threw me off. The ideas were often confused.’ ‘I know,’ I’ll say with a smile, ‘Life is confusing.’ ‘If you say so,’ he’ll begin, ‘I don’t agree with slashes. A cheap affectation if you ask me.’ ‘Aren’t you supposed to be analysing not critiquing me?’ He’ll shrug, ‘Is there a difference?’ I’ll shrug too, ‘I like slashes.’ ‘Why write it down at all? Why impute yourself?’ ‘I wanted to make sense of it.’ ‘And did you?’ ‘No.’






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Long Live The New Flesh  

Brain Wash present...

Long Live The New Flesh  

Brain Wash present...