Less Common More Sense 13 | Cyber Issue

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The Students’ Union Magazine University of the Arts London *the cyber issue

NEEDS YOU! 'Less common More Sense' is a magazine that explores the art created by the students and alumni of the University of the Arts London. The Students' Union are looking for students for our new LCMS Volunteer Team. Here are the roles on offer; Deputy Editor An ideas generator on content, themes and decision making for the publication. Designers To make new and exciting design layouts for 'LCMS'. Arts Sub-Editor A content generator for the magazine related to the Arts. Design Sub-Editor A content generator for the magazine related to Design. Journalism Sub-Editor A content generator for the magazine related to Journalism. Fashion Sub-Editor A content generator for the magazine related to Fashion. Online Development An explorer of creative ways to publish 'LCMS' online. Marketing & Advertising Tackling old and new ways to market & advertise the 'LCMS' brand.

Proof Readers Gain experience working with copy. A finisher! To apply for one of these roles or find out more go to



Promotion & Events A promoter and awareness raiser for 'LCMS'.

Less Common More Sense The Cyber Issue


CLICK HERE For Sizzling Cyber Content This issue of ‘less common’ magazine, created for and by Arts London students and alumni, showcases emerging and established talent in the fields of art, design, performance and writing, whose work touches on the Cyber theme, literally or laterally. Between these covers you’ll find arguments for and against the technological tools so readily and democratically available to all (bar the technophobes) for creating, disseminating and accessing a multitude of ideas and information, without hindrance, censorship or copyright protection, and seemingly with impunity. In a world where gamers demand and get the most realistic graphics possible to fuel their fantasy ‘drive by’s and sword fights, while the elders of society wonder if there is a causal link between violent role-playing video games and real life violent crime, we ask: “Is it really all that bad?” And when real-life fashion houses and name brands who ventured so publicly into Second Life not so long ago have already been quietly closing their ‘in world’ shop doors, we ask: “Can it really be all that good?” We take a look back at some pretty influential Cyber artists from the ‘60s. And if it’s Cyber porn you’re after, you’ll find that here as well: not counting the naked man multiplied on the cover (OK, it’s 18— I did count!), check out our X-box playing centerfold with the cute little bottom! Eldi Dundee Arts Sub-Editor Less Common More Sense

PS… LESS COMMON NEEDS YOU The future is now. Be part of ‘Less Common More Sense’ (open to all Arts London students). To find out how you can be part of this magazine to highlight the emerging artists of the future, visit: www.suarts.org/ lesscommon less common more sense issue 13 the cyber issue Publisher The Students’ Union University of the Ar ts London 65 Davies Street London W1K 5DA


GET INVOLVED / SUBMIT YOUR WORK Visit w w w.suar ts.org/lesscommon to submit your work or find out how to become par t of the magazines volunteer team. You must be a current student to be par t of the team. You must be a current student or an


alumni of the University of the Ar ts London to submit your work. COPYRIGHT 2008 The Students’ Union, University of the Ar ts London and the authors. No ar ticle may be reproduced or altered in any form without the written permission of the editor(s). The views expressed by the contributors/ writers are not necessarily those of the editor(s), the publishers or the University of the Ar ts London.

11-14 BUNKER 17 5001 Chan Hei Shing Lead Designer Tatiana Woolr ych Designer Daniel Camacho LCMS Logo Design Hannah Devoy Proof Reader Louisa Koussertari Proof Reader

Alex Linsdell Proof Reader Amelia Davis Adver tising ad@bamuk.com 0845 1300 667 Guy DeVilliers Production Advisor

Chris Ackerley_MA Journalism Rachel Brown_BA Photography Chuk Ikeh_FDA Journalism Amanda Johansson_BA Photography (Alumni 2006) Costas Kontos_BA Sound Ar ts & Design (Alumni 2006) Sebastian Muravchix_BA Sound Ar ts & Design (Alumni 2005) Toby Smith_MA Photography Tatiana Woolr ych_BA Typographic Design Norman Wilcox-geissen_ ABC Diploma, Photography Ba Photography (Alumni 2006) vvDaniel Camacho_BA Graphic Design Alex Linsdell_BA Media & Cultural Studies


CAMBERWELL COLLEGE OF ARTS Chan Hei Shing_MA Book Ar ts Daniel Swan_BA Graphic Design



Ann & John Ar t Kaligos Hear tbreak John Bloomfield Johnny Eveson Andrea Strachan Denise Heard

Jonathan Krawczuk_BA Product Design Kaoru Murakami_BA Fine Ar t Karl Grady_FDA Fine Ar t Skills & Practices Tomas Rydin_PG Dip Fine Ar t (BYAM SHAW) Hannah Devoy_BA Product Design Robert Logan_MA Fine Ar t Evgenia Pukhova_BA Fine Ar t Alice Wang_BA Product Design Joe Collins_BA Fine Ar t 4D

LONDON COLLEGE OF FASHION Huma Humayun_BA Fashion Studies Louisa Koussertari_Fashion Marketing and Promotion Online Foundation Degree




Ronan Haughton Editor-in-Chief Rachel Brown Deputy Editor Chris Ackerley Journalism Sub-Editor Eldi Dundee Ar ts-Sub Editor Huma Humayun Fashion Sub-Editor


You Only Live Twice: Second Life TEXT BY_ CHUK_ IKEH_ FDA Journalism_ London College of Communication ILLUSTRATION BY_ TATIANA WOOLRYCH_ BA Typographc Design_LCC


Sk ytower or Kelber witz? City Chic or Boy Next Door? Creating an alter ego has never been such a dilemma. Usually it is just a case of closing your eyes and imagining your head superimposed onto the body of your childhood idol, but when you are about to embark on an adventure into a dreamed up world, in which the division between imagination and reality is somewhat hazy, you are going to need a name that stands out and an image to match. We’re talking about a realm that can transform you into something close to a deity. Equipped with just a keyboard and a mouse, you can traipse (or even fly) over vast makebelieve landscapes and achieve practically impossible feats of ar tistic, scientific and creative brilliance. In this world, the laws of physics – or even the laws of the land – have no influence on your capabilities. Vir tually ever ything you can do in real life can be replicated here, and then some.

choose to use it as a showcase for their talent. Others opt to tr y out things that they either couldn’t other wise achieve or wouldn’t have the testicular for titude to attempt, such as sk ydiving, building Grand Design-esque architectural designs or even indulging in vir tual orgies. A number of capitalist-minded inhabitants have been drawn in by the dollar signs and have seized the oppor tunity to star t building megabuck empires. This is the one place on ear th – or not, as the case may be – where business and pleasure fit together with the simplicity of Lego blocks. In case I have lost you, let me explain. I am talking about a 3-D vir tual experience built and inhabited entirely by real people. It is called Second Life, and depending on whether you are a half full or half empty person, it is either an exceptionally innovative creation or an accident waiting to happen. The masterminds (or the culprits) behind this successfully popular Internet venture are San Francisco based Linden Lab, who, by their own explanation, have set out to “connect us all to an online world that advances the human condition”. To understand what this means, you must change your way of thinking slightly. If you are picturing some kind of twisted computer game, then you may be forgiven because, to the newcomer looking on the surface, this is exactly how it appears. However, this is not the case. There are no points to be gained in this world: no levels, no winners and no losers. Perhaps the best way to look at Second Life is as a “creative social space”, more or less free of constraints, policies and judgement. It is a world created for ever ybody by ever ybody else. Secondly, if you are going to get anything positive out of Second Life, you need to have some sort of agenda, otherwise it does become just a twisted computer game – but without the rewards.

Your motive might not necessarily be commercially orientated, as a lot of people are just in it for the hell of it. Second Life, in many ways is the ultimate social networking tool. It is a chat room on narcotics. You will probably find yourself walking up to everyone and anyone, and not being worried about having to think of an excuse to strike up conversation. The liberation and anonymity that the make-believe environment offers means that it won’t belong before you build an entourage of friends and acquaintance’s. There are numerous hangouts and rendezvous points such as bars, clubs, and parks where you can meet people of similar mind and exchange ideas without feeling embarrassed, arrogant, or inadequate. Freedom of expression is a common theme in Second Life and you will find ample ser vices to facilitate this. Walls are adorned with adver tisements for ever ything from more realistic skins for you avatar (your vir tual representative) – including hair, clothing and even genital detail – to cars and furniture for your vir tual home.

Of course, this has opened up a market for the ar tistic, creative and businesssav v y among the world’s inhabitants, which has been exploited to the full. Budding fashion designers need not pray for their big break at London Fashion Week; they can simply turn their haute couture visions into vir tual models and then sell them and watch proudly as people parade their creations. In-world currency (Linden Dollars) is fully exchangeable for real US dollars and you can even retain the intellectual proper ty rights for what you make. Becoming the next Alan Sugar or Richard Branson has never been presented so invitingly on a plate. What’s more, you need not break open the piggy bank to achieve your dreams; all you need is a computer and a little bit of dedication and self-belief. Just ask Anshe Chung, alias of Ailin Graef of China who, with a modest investment of $9.95, became the first online personality to achieve a net wor th of over 1million US dollars entirely from profits

earned inside Second Life. Anshe/Ailin achieved this by making small-scale purchases of vir tual real estate, subdividing them and then developing them with landscaping and themed architectural builds for renting and resale. She is now the proud owner of several million Linden Dollars as well as a healthy number of vir tual shopping malls, vir tual store chains and she has also established quite a few of her own vir tual brands – just like that. And she is not the only one with a success stor y. For example, many others have come into money by making in-world movies and opening up galleries and exhibitions. However, according to Dr Julia Gaimster, Head of eLearning at London College of Fashion, those who will have the most success in their commercial ventures in Second Life will do so not because of business know-how, but out of a passion for what they are promoting. Says Dr Gaimster: “Many people have failed because they do not understand the environment. I think making money comes second to doing something you enjoy – then the success follows.” Indeed, not ever ybody does understand the environment and beneath the surface there are repor ts of sordid happenings. Second Life gives ever ybody the power to govern and map out their own destiny. But with millions of people playing God, too many cooks can spoil the broth. The misinterpretation and consequent misuse of Second Life poses a number of social, moral and ethical issues. There have been murmurings of disapproval regarding things like tax-free commerce, child-porn distribution and other seedy shenanigans.

In fact, some people have gotten so worked up about it all that a group known as the Second Life Liberation Army went as far as gunning down virtual shoppers at American Apparel in 2006. This, in itself opens up another can of worms - one labelled ‘online harassment’. Some allegations of wrongdoing and tomfoolery have been serious enough to get the feds involved. Last July, Second Life was made to shut down its casinos because online gambling is illegal in the US. As well, police in Germany are investigating claims that inhabitants are trading pornographic photographs of real children, whilst several European authorities are concerned about rumours of adult avatars having intercourse with child-like ones. These revelations beg cer tain questions: Should vir tual environments like Second Life be allowed to continue running with the kind of freedom that they do at present? Or should activities be limited to harmless deeds like attending mass and choir practice? Let’s look at it objectively; on one hand, Second Life is a haven for the socially curious, the would-be entrepreneur’s and the modern day hippies of the real world. It provides a space where a person can remove the leash from their imagination and let it run wild. It’s like walking a young child into Hamleys and telling them they can have anything they want. But on the other hand, it puts users in a Garden of Eden situation with a forest of trees to avoid. The minimal restrictions that are in place may simply be playing into the hands of those with real-life criminal and perverse disposition.

The other worr y is that Second Life, for some people, does exactly what it says on the tin and has become a realistic enough replication of real life to the point where the two have merged together. In a world where not ever ybody is of sound mind or good intention, this could have devastating consequences. After all, the men behind the September 11 attacks used vir tual simulation software to plan their operation, and we all know how that stor y ended. Despite these ver y serious concerns and the controversy it stirs, the general consensus among hardcore users seems to be that Second Life and other vir tual environments are innovative enough to justif y their existence and popularity. How else would those who are socially isolated in the real world – due to location, personal circumstances or other wise – be able to positively interact with others? What about the people who wouldn’t other wise get the chance to exhibit their talent on such a large scale? Something that has the potential to change lives and solve realworld problems should surely be given the benefit of the doubt. You could flip the coin and look at Second Life as the lesser of two evils, as a way of weeding out negative behaviour from the real world and providing a harmless platform where it can be confined. Whatever your opinion on vir tual living; evidence suggests that ar tificial worlds like Second Life may be set to take on the baton from Facebook and Myspace, as the next generation in social networking environments. The kids of yesterday were mesmerised by the arrival of the mobile phone; vir tual poking has charmed the kids of today. But the kids of tomorrow will have spent a considerable amount of their childhood in Barbie World and Penguin Club. As the Internet and technology move towards a new dimension – a third dimension – the vir tual sk y will become the limit for dreamers and thinkers. With solutions still to be found and discoveries still to be made, perhaps we should welcome the change in the wind with open arms and more impor tantly, open minds. After all, you only live twice.

Real life self or an alter-ego: Not quite either. He’s primarily designed to embody an idea. A description of why I look the way I do in 100 words: I’m intrigued by our nature as a species, on the one hand as aspirational creatures, drawn towards beauty and ar t, altruism and truth, compassion and love, yet simultaneously as degenerate beings, with a propensity for ugliness and destruction, selfishness and lies, violence and murder. My avatar was constructed to reflect that duality. A ‘Dark Angel’ who has a pair of fabulous shimmering wings, but also a pair of high powered guns worn on the thighs. Wings and weapons, a tension of opposites, one pulling towards the light, and one against it, downward, to darkness. He is the human condition incarnate.

ROL AND MATHEWS_ ONLINE NAME:_OBVIOUS SCHISM University of Brighton “As far as I’m concerned, my avatar is still fundamentally human, but it is wearing some rabbit clothing. Therefore, I don’t necessarily class myself as par t of the furr y community; I once wore a rabbit suit to an event in the Nevada deser t and that is the inspiration for my avatar. I find that other residents of Second Life warm to the gentle nature that rabbits are perceived to have. They like my big blue eyes and twitchy nose, and there is the tongue in cheek aspect of it all. You would be surprised how many carrot jokes there are.” JULIA GAIMSTER_ONLINE NAME_LULU MINNELL University of Ar ts London “Lulu is more adventurous in her dress sense than I am - probably because she is younger, has better legs and doesn’t have to run for the train, so she can wear super high heels. The dragon was the nearest thing I could find to a gecko (my pet in real life). The hat is by one of my friends in Second Life (Megg Demina). They are exquisitely detailed and I don’t know how she finds the time and patience. I have tried other avatar forms including being a gecko and a dragon but somehow they just didn’t feel right. I have spent a few Linden Dollars on Lulu; a new skin, hair and clothes but nowhere near what I know a lot of people spend. I also enjoy designing and uploading clothes for her myself. She has definitely become my online persona, not just in SL but also on my blog and the social networks I belong to. I just hope people aren’t too disappointed when they meet the real thing.

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INTERVIEW by_ CHRIS ACKERLEY_ MA Journalism_ London College of Communication

Me and My Avatar

FRANK RICKET T ONLINE NAME: FRANKIE ROCKET T Do I like my avatar: Yes, I love him.

Bunker 17/5001

TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHY by_ TOBY SMITH_ MA Photography_ London College of Communication

Erich Honecker led the German Democratic Republik of East Germany from 1971 until 1989. His leadership represented the period of history in which the world lived under the threat of Nuclear War and Mutually Assured Destruction. In the 1980’s Honecker remained defiant of Gorbachev’s reforms and the GDR became more independent of Soviet Control.

The bunker is over 96,000 sq m in area, divided into 300 rooms across 7 floors. The decontamination processes and sophisticated engineering were designed to suppor t life for 60 days. There is also machiner y, weaponr y and detailed militar y intelligence to mount a successful repopulation of a decimated landscape. The evacuation and sealing of the bunker corresponded with the end of the Cold War in 1989. The current entrance is concealed under a picturesque virgin pine forest and renewed access has been created via a 45m long, 70cm high, unlined tunnel. The location remaining secret prevents vandalism but

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In 1983 Honecker commissioned what is thought to be the largest defensive nuclear bunker in Europe. This massive underground structure was designed to ser ve as his base of communications across the GDR in the event of nuclear attack. Eleven minutes from Berlin, Bunker 17/5001 would ser ve as refuge for 350 people, including members of the National Defence Council, members of the Central Committee and Erich Honecker himself.

The bunker in its complete, preser ved state, represents a unique microcosm of what was the last day of the Cold War; this is seen at a technological, cultural and aesthetic level. Starkly it illustrates the severity of preparation that was needed for only 350 people to sur vive the unthinkable. With an archaeological

approach the images are taken level, from as far back as space allows in reference to cultural memor y. They also fit into the niche of “late photography� as described by David Campany. The now pitch black, damp, decaying empty spaces have been lit atmospherically to illustrate memories and perceptions of the soldiers who tread its corridors and maintained its machiner y. Images were chosen from a larger body to illustrate its link to the modern world above and also its primar y functions when operational. The control

room would have been the hub of activity and monitored the status of all the machiner y including the power supply to the communication equipment. The essential life suppor t systems of water and oxygen are also shown. For those 25 and under, a demography to which I belong, the Cold War is a mysterious conflict to which we were not exposed nor sufficiently educated on. A critique of current politics and conflicts can be aided by studying and considering the structures and traces that remain.

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access is forbidden as German authorities press for its destruction. A fate shared by the majority of Cold War architecture in Europe, reinforcing a need to document.

students in the red: the future of creative education is under threat Fees seem like a given in today’s Higher Education (HE), and with the costs of materials, living in London, and frequently doing large amounts of work for free to get a foothold, creative students feel the pinch more than most. 10 years ago, New Labour promised not to introduce top-up fees. The research they used to justify students paying for their education, said that HE should be funded by the state and UK business as well as students. In fact, Labour’s own report suggested that students should contribute around 25% of their tuition costs. The reality now is that the average UK student pays approximately 80%, and if the cap on top up fees was lifted this could more than double.

The currently high Student contribution is justified by the so called “graduate premium” - the extra wealth a graduate is likely to gain over a lifetime, compared to individuals with lower level qualifications. Yet for the average arts graduate this extra wealth amounts to a mere £35K advantage. Even now, this premium is eroded by the debt built up as a student (including living costs, material costs, and the income lost from not working during time spent studying).

The government has indicated they want to bring a market into Higher Education, and if the top-up fees cap increases, the costs to London students could rise to more than £37, 000. This means that choosing to study an arts subject at degree level The situation for students in general is grim. could actually leave creative graduates with a We’re an easy target, and with the mess they’ve financial deficit over their lifetime. made of the economy, it’s difficult to imagine a structured and realistic scheme for industrial investment in HE emerging, before the damage to our education system is irreparable.


What’s does this mean in practice? The UK’s creative industries would no longer present a viable income for graduates, and creative degrees could become the preserve of the rich; those with enough finance to already support themselves, and no real need or desire to engage in the growth or strengthening of the creative sector as a economic driver. SUARTS believes that arts students have the right to practice and profit from their talents, not merely be decorative elements for an unsustainable economy. The concept that encouraging students, at whatever age, to sign up high levels of debt is inexcusably flawed. A better system must be found, and quickly.

ACT NOW: We believe students have the right to study the arts as a viable career option, not just a hobby for the rich. SUARTS is organising students’ unions across London for their National Day of Action on November the 5th. If you would like to get involved in this activity, or to get involved our Education Funding campaign in any capacity, e-mail the Campaigns & Communications Officer, Kit Friend, at k.c.friend@suarts.org or visit the campaigns section of our website...

WWW.SUARTS.ORG All figures used in this text are taken from NUS’s “Broke & Broken”

Sincere Synthetic Seduction


It was a mild night in February, and the setting was one of those trashy rock bars in London’s east end, packed to the brim with sweaty and bleary-eyed indie-kids. This was to be the first time that I would see Heartbreak - the first act in a showcase of newly signed bands. The audience consisted mostly of hyped-up teenagers hungry for the nextbest-generic›››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››››› rock-outfit: it was clear from the energetic tension that Heartbreak were set to disappoint the majority of these young revellers. This was confirmed as a group in front of me started to jeer and throw their beer, and it was only the first song.

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It’s this relationship between the overt theatricality of the performance and the simplistic rawness of the music that creates such a captivating act. Stripped down to its essential elements, the steady 4/4 rhythm of the music (a persistent and primal electronic beat) does as much to pin down the audience as Sebastian’s

performance and vocals - its vivacity fuelled by synthesis. Their sound is distinctly ‘bedroom’, in the sense that it is crafted through minimal and simplistic means; seemingly influenced by the dark and industrial ‘bedroom’ style of early Detroit techno. It is interesting that there is as much consideration given to this aspect of the production as to every element of their output: As Sebastian stated in a recent correspondence, ‘…there are many people that produce their work on their home studios but aren’t necessarily looking for that bedroom sound, we definitely are.’ He seems to imply the strong significance of the amateur aesthetic within their work, to the extent that this characteristic becomes an essential and core ingredient within their output. Undoubtedly it is the degree of consideration that goes into their act, which makes it such an enchanting one to watch. Even Sebastian’s movements seem somewhat contrived and thus share parallels with the production of the music, as the more I watch him the more it seems that his pin-point routines have been crafted through endless sessions in front of his bedroom mirror. Yet, the seemingly rehearsed and artificial nature of the performance does not detract in any way from its presence, but in contrary works to enhance my experience of total fascination, in much the same way as the synthetic processing of Sebastian’s words enhances their impact and meaning. This must be what Sebastian implies when he later talks of their shared belief in the potential of synthetic sounds to form new perspectives.

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It might have been the fact that Sebastian (the fronting face of Heartbreak), decked out in a white synthetic suit, bearing a schizophrenic glare, and enacting a series of wonderful and energetic power-dance routines, is the antithesis of these kids’ macho icons. Drawing inspiration from the airbrushed figureheads of Italo Disco - the glossy faces that represented the European disco movement of the early 1980’s - he has appropriated their essential characteristics and pushed it one stage further, such that his persona is the distorted nightmare vision of these smooth, Latin songsters: a postmodern mutation that is far darker and seductive than the original. It is a persona that demands and commands the audience’s attention; whether loved or loathed, Heartbreak are undeniably captivating to watch. On this occasion, their high-energy performance would provoke a reaction that was to be reminiscent of the late 70’s ‘Disco Sucks’ movement, in which hostility towards the expressively liberal sentiment of popular disco, erupted in an outpouring of white, macho, rocker hate. Nevertheless, on this night it was to be the heckling, in tandem with Ali’s raw, synthetic beats, that would work to power Sebastian’s angry performance.


Flash forward four months and I am again watching Heartbreak perform in a small club in the east end. Heartbreak are entertaining a modestly sized but enraptured audience, and I look around to take note that every young face in this place is directed at Sebastian. For it is an overtly, natural condition to desire to be something or someone outside of oneself; to slip into a persona that would allow for a release from the world of our rational reality into one of pure sensation and liberation. Heartbreak, and in particular Sebastian’s persona, speak to this desire at the same time that they express it, and this must undoubtedly form part of their appeal. It is uncommon to find an example of the synthetic and the natural orders existing in such a harmony, whereby each element enhances and compliments the other. I would like to conclude that it is the overtly synthetic character to the expressions of this captivating act that allow for the natural to really shine › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › › ›through: that kind of balance is a very seductive formula.


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Heartbreak are Sebastian Muravchik and Ali Renault. Their single ‘We’re Back’ is out now on Lex Records, with an album to follow in early September. Many thanks to Sebastian, Ali and Piers.


ARTWORK by_ DANIEL SWAN_ BA Graphic Design_ Cambwerwell College of Arts

ARTWORK by_ EVGENIA PUKHOVA_ BA Fine Art_ Central Saint Martins

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Before the cyber age, the computer age and even the space age, there was Sun Ra. Possibly the most complex figure that has emerged from black musical history, Sun Ra claimed he was born on the planet Saturn and was sent to Earth to save it through the power of jazz.

From his emergence in the 1950s, till his death four decades later, his writing, polemic lectures and music foresaw space travel, cultural vir tual reality and the rise of electronics, in both music and a wider cultural context. His futuristic performances were famed for their eccentricity but behind the flashing head lights, reflective clothing and cosmic sound was a man with serious ideas on race relations at the height of the American Civil Rights movement. Some called him a Charlatan and others called him just plain crazy, but if only one thing is for cer tain, it’s that he was out of this world.

Like many African Americans during the 1930s Sun Ra boarded a train and headed to Chicago, in what became known as the Great Migration. Escaping white supremacist lynchings and Jim Crow segregation, hundreds of thousands of blacks followed the Mississippi River to the cities of the Nor th looking for a better life. But these

Living Chicago’s South Side until 1960 and then moving to the run-down East Village in New York, Sun Ra composed and rehearsed with an ever evolving ensemble group he led, named the Arkestra. By adopting the hippy ethics of communal living 15 years before such a thing existed, he rented cheap housing for his entire band in the most impoverished ghetto and rehearsed tirelessly, paying for rent and food communally with whatever money the group earned from playing. By giving many young black men the chance to play in his band, Sun Ra gave them a direction in life and a source of pride. Although many of his Arkestra turned out to be among the most respected musicians in the histor y of jazz, Sun Ra also took in drug dependents or those with emotional problems, often without much talent. Band member James Jacson remembered, “Sun

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Sun Ra was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914 as Herman Poole Blount, but eventually denied that this was ever his name, that he ever had a family or that he was in fact from the planet Ear th. He grew up surrounded by the American swing music of the 1930s Big Bands, an ensemble size which he favoured throughout his life, even when unfashionable, feeling that black big bands represented microcosmic utopias in which individuality was cherished within the scope of a wider cooperative community. This ideal of race collectivism and unity informed Sun Ra’s musical and social ideology throughout his entire life.

aspirations of assimilation and freedom were quickly wronged and the actual ghettoisation that occurred in Nor thern cities made living standards there worse than in the South. Supremacist employment practises left blacks with the lowest paid jobs and racist housing schemes placed newly migrated families together in the most run down areas of the city. Chicago’s South Side was no exception and was the largest of the Nor th’s ‘black belt’ ghettos. It eventually became a hot bed of black-nationalism and violent radicalism during the late civil rights movement, but Sun Ra was a staunch pacifist and used music as his weapon of choice instead of guns in the African American struggle against the oppressive power structures of society.

Ra sensed who would have the will power to give up ever ything and star t a new life.” Long-time baritone saxophonist with the Arkestra, Pat Patrick, went fur ther in admitting that, “Sun Ra was another kind of being, he was educational, he helped you to grow and develop. He was a self-help organisation run on a shoestring. Black’s don’t have many people like him.” By the 1960s ever y aspect of Sun Ra’s music and personality had become influenced by outer-space and what he would call ‘Afro-futurism’. A usual Sun Ra gig was a sensual feast on ever y level, garnering a huge cult following on the New York avantgarde scene. Sometimes as many as 30 musicians, dancers and singers were involved in the extravagant performances, which included elaborate chants about the cosmos, metallic cloaked instrumentalists playing explosive (often atonal) free jazz, and Sun Ra himself improvising the most ‘out there’ solo’s on his electronic synthesisers or reading poetr y. Although the performances contained some of the most complex musical arrangements of the time, it was the look of Sun Ra and his Arkestra par ticularly, which puzzled those who saw him. Many new comers saw Sun Ra’s fascination with outer-space as a flashy gimmick and often treated him like a vaudeville clown, but this was simply untrue, and criticism of this kind cost him the credibility that he deser ved until he was well into his later years. However, he did gain a following of loyal fans who during the 1960s were won over by his innovative compositions and intelligent social ideas. Both musicians, who appreciated his unwavering dedication, to pioneering new approaches to harmony, and a burgeoning hippy community who were attracted to his psychodelic performance style, began to respect and understand Sun Ra on a deeper level. Now after his death, musicologists and cultural historians have given Sun Ra’s ‘Astro Black Mythology’ much more gravitas and consider his obsessions with outer space and the future to be serious metaphorical motifs, that when fully understood, reveals a musician with a deeply socio-political message.

By placing the African American freedom struggle within the metaphorical realm of outer space, Sun Ra was able to create an ar tistic vision of a utopian future for blacks in America during a time of oppression. The notion that the Civil Rights movement was a useful or successful progress was alien to Sun Ra, who believed that Christian leaders like Mar tin Luther King striving for integration had offered blacks unattainable dreams and that the “black man has been fed upon the food of freedom and peace and liber ty” leaving him with an “addiction to freedom”.

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In 1974 Sun Ra co-wrote and stared in a feature film entitled Space is the Place, which satirises low-budget science fiction movies from the 1950s such as Invasions of the Body Snatchers or The Day the Ear th Stood Still, and blaxploitation movies from of the 1970s such as Shaft or Superfly. Set in early 1970s Oakland, California, the film begins with the return of an enlightened Sun Ra who has been travelling through the cosmos aboard his Interstellar Space Ship for some time. He offers the ghetto blacks of America a chance to go with him to a new planet: “to see what they could do with their own planet in outer space, without any white people.”

This utopian side of Sun Ra’s ideology harks back to the separatist views of Marcus Gar vey and The Universal Negro Improvement Association, back in 1914, who’s ‘Back to Africa’ campaign gained a large following during the Harlem Renaissance; the Black Nationalists of the 1960s led by the Black Panthers, or Malcolm X’s Nation of Islam. Obviously, there is a strong visual link between Sun Ra’s Interstellar Spacezz Ship and Gar vey’s Black Star Liner Ship; both offering safe passage to a utopian black future - Gar vey’s, back to Africa and Sun Ra’s, into outer-space. More often than not, ambivalent and almost always ambiguous, it is vir tually impossible to pin one set of coherent ideologies on to Sun Ra. On one hand he believed that integration had weakened the black community to some extent and that race unity was paramount, but on the other hand he agreed that it was planet Ear th as a whole that needed to change (citing whites and blacks as equal problems). It would be easy to write Sun Ra off as a strict Black Nationalist, but this would simply be inaccurate. He was never a person who conformed to the set political agenda of others; a perfect example being his deser tion from Bill Dixon’s Jazz Composers Guild - the free jazz cooperative set up in New York which attracted a new strain of politically militant black musicians - simply exclaiming, “They were doing their thing, but they were not talking about space or intergalactic things… they were talking about avant-garde and the New Thing!” This comment suggests that Sun Ra became uncomfor table with the Black Nationalist associations that he and his music had attracted, by aligning himself with the other militant avant-garde ar tists in the New York scene. Black Nationalist writer, LeRoi Jones once pronounced in a BBC documentar y that, “Sun Ra is fer vently anti-white, his music reflects the ultimate militancy in jazz.” But, although it is definitely true to say that Sun Ra held some separatist views, it is not fair to label him in such a precise way. When confronted with this idea Jones responded: “Some people have accused me of pulling him into Black Nationalism, but its not that simple, I don’t think anyone needed to pull Ra in to a sense of national consciousness.” As well as outer space, Sun Ra looked heavily towards new technologies as an influence on his music and socio-political ideas. Although outer space was just a metaphorical theme (bearing in mind the space race had not yet star ted when he began to use it in his music) technologically advancement could be a reality, and in Sun Ra’s eyes was a ver y possible way for oppressed African Americans to make progress in society. He saw computers, which were really in their infancy at the time, and electronics as the future, and believed that if blacks were to play an active role in society, it was by having an understanding of these machines. Keeping abreast of advances at all times, Sun Ra became the second person in the whole of the United States to own an electronic piano synthesiser (only to have been beaten by legendar y soul ar tist Ray Charles).

The use of electronic sounds became a key definer of Sun Ra and his Arkestra’s music. A truly pioneering approach was taken to the composition and arrangements of songs, which would be an intense experience to listen too; and even more intense to see live. The Arkestra would create heav y rhythmic textures on a range of African style percussive instruments; many of which were invented by Sun Ra himself. This would be juxtaposed with Sun Ra playing his electronic piano synthesiser, made up of incredible runs of modulated blips and beeps, deep guttural drones, and explosive free jazz solos. The overall effect was something reminiscent of the sound of an interplanetar y spaceship’s command desk or the electronic messages zipping around the future of cyber space. The influence of Sun Ra has been far reaching and the range of genres he helped stimulate, only reflects the complexity of the ar tist. Now, common in the twentieth centur y, use of electronically produced sounds in music back in the 1960s was groundbreaking. Sun Ra’s influence, alongside fellow avant-garde composers such as Philip Glass or John Cage, has been undeniable. The bleeps of Detroit techno or Chicago house can all be traced back to Sun Ra’s experiments with the first electronic instruments. Secondly, and along a different branch of the music family tree is the hugely vital role of Sun Ra’s approach on the development of the free jazz movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Ar tists like John Coltrane and The Ar t Ensemble of Chicago all owe Sun Ra and his Arkestra a debt of gratitude, without whom, jazz may not have developed into a complex ar t form, rather than merely enter tainment music. Lastly, the psychedelic scene that emerged with the rise of LSD in America can also tip its day-glow hat to Sun Ra. Bands like Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, shared a regular slot with the Arkestra at the cult downtown hangout, Slug’s. Here audiences, often with the aid of hallucinogenic drugs, were treated to the sensual overload that only Sun Ra’s warped music and colourful stage show could provide. Ultimately, Sun Ra was a man who dedicated his life to music and the betterment of blacks in America. His Arkestra was more than a jazz band, but rather a surrogate family of men for which Sun Ra became the father figure providing food, shelter, an education and spiritual guidance. As well as this grassroots aid, he was an ar tistic scholar whose metaphorical presentation of a utopian future for blacks, through the creative motif of outer space, enabled an authentic form of aesthetic resistance to take place in a white dominated society. Sun Ra’s quest to take blacks to another planet may not have been literal, but rather a form of cultural vir tual reality, acting as an ar tistic tool which allowed them to have their own creative zone (albeit metaphorically). For being a musical innovator and providing his ver y own style of social work in some of America’s worst ghettos, Sun Ra has to be remembered as one of the world’s (or in fact Saturn’s) most enduring mavericks.

ARTWORK by_ ROBERT LOGAN_ Central Saint Martins_ MA Fine Art_ www.roblogan.org


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Beyond Retro TEXT by_ HUMA HUMAYUN_ London College of Fashion

SPRING/SUMMER 2007 the streets and stores are awash with thigh skimming tunic dresses in graphic prints, floaty maxi dresses, high-waisted flared jeans and chunky wedge sandals. You’d be forgiven for thinking you had been transported back to the late Sixties or early Seventies.

Even the kids are doing retro; nu-rave was the biggest hit of Summer 2007, with acid colours and glow sticks filling the clubs and House of Holland reproducing the slogan t-shir ts of the Eighties.

Rave it might have been, but what exactly was ‘nu’ about it? For someone who had seen it the first time round, it was intensely boring. The 1900s saw a complete transformation in the Western woman’s wardrobe, taking her out of centuries of coverings and constraints, but it has been a while since there have been any developments that have significantly changed the way we dress. The last one I can think of was Lycra, which, in the 1980s, brought leggings out of the dance studio and onto the streets. On the whole, fashion since then has been self-referencing. While architecture and product design continue to evolve and innovate, mainstream fashion seems stuck on a nostalgia trip.


The season before and the season after, it was all about the 1940s, a homage to the heyday of Hollywood glamour and the silver screen, and this Autumn/Winter, the likes of Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi, Chanel, Dior and Ralph Lauren, will be celebrating 1940s and 50s silhouettes once again. Actually, that has been the ‘look’ each Winter for more years than I care to remember. Ever y six months, fashion dictates that the fashionable, from the couture clad billionaire to the high street shopper, rush out to buy a new wardrobe that reflects the new season’s trends, but are we really being sold anything new? When was the last time that you bought an item of clothing that wasn’t an interpretation of one from a bygone era? Wouldn’t it have been easier, and cheaper, if you’d just hung onto your Mothers or Grandmother’s wardrobe?


SCIENCE FICTION But while the biggest hit on the high street last Summer was the 60s shift dress, there was another shift on the catwalks that season. A handful of designers decided to break the mould, showing futuristic styles that wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction film.

His latest collection, which includes breastplates and chain mail, takes inspiration from ‘the warrior through different cultures…from English knights to gladiators to Japanese samurais’, but what prevents it from being retro is all in the mix. It is like nothing you’ve seen before!

This may have been due in par t to the number of new, younger designers that were catching the attention of the mainstream fashion press, such as Central Saint Mar tins graduate Gareth Pugh.

Arora explains that ‘tapestries and prints from the 17th centur y Baroque period have been used as inspiration, with lion head and eagle motifs, being given a contemporar y twist…the collection uses new techniques of embroider y to achieve unique textures and embellishments.’ As well as incorporating traditional fabrics such as leather, velvet, silk, brocade and wool, he also uses metal films. He teamed up with avant-garde Japanese ar tist Keiichi Tanaami, resulting in ‘an explosion of vibrant and experimental graphics’.

Indian Designer Manish Arora produced one of the most striking collections, with a heady mix of Eastern embroider y, pop ar t, psychedelia and futurism. The looks had names such as ‘Space Tracks’ and ‘Massive Space Warrior’, a huge cape covered in giant 3-D sequins. Arora’s designs no doubt incorporate references to the past, even if it is a sci-fi past reminiscent of Barbella.

It’s not a look for the faint hear ted, but when an established designer like Nicolas Ghesquière sends out Terminator like models in skin tight metallic armour for 100 year old French fashion house Balenciaga, it seems like a change might be afoot.

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Sure, the Terminator look hasn’t been taken up by the masses, but that is hardly surprising when Primark was selling a £14 copy of a Chloe shift dress and the only way to get anything like Ghesquière’s leggings was to splash out thousands of pounds on the originals at Har vey Nichols. The shift dress also has mass appeal, precisely because it is familiar and anything truly new has to be worn first by fashion innovators, then celebrities, before it filters down to your average fashionable consumer. This can take a while…

THE FUTURE IS…BRIGHT? One would think that technological developments would inspire more designers to stop delving into the histor y books and look for ward to a hi-tech future. Ian Pearson is a ‘futurologist’ at BT Labs. His job involves examining technological developments and trends in order to predict how they might shape future societies. Pearson gave a briefing at London College of Fashion, where he outlined how technology might impact not just what we wear but our whole concept of clothing. Pearson foresees a future where the lines of clothing and technology blur. Gadgets, like mobile phones and iPods have already become fashion items, so why not wear clothing that becomes a gadget? He described garments that could incorporate tiny microchips containing masses of data and personal photo projectors, so that the wearer could project their chosen images onto the environment around them. No need to book a meeting room for that presentation then. Electro-responsive materials could change the shape of clothing during the course of the day, which would no doubt be useful in our erratic climate. But Pearson’s predictions go beyond simply combining form and function. He foresees a future where people would wear ‘ego badges’ that would act as identity badges

and allow them to digitally exchange personal information about each other. Chips built into clothing would be used not just to facilitate stock control but also to track the wearer and direct personalised marketing at them, Minority Repor t style. Digital bubbles would act as personal firewalls to prevent the individual from being bombarded with information and to protect his or her security, but if, like me, you find your inbox filled with spam each morning regardless of how much you tr y to filter it, you would find this concept less than reassuring. If this all sounds a bit too Big Brother for you, how about using your clothing to escape this new high tech realit y, by creating one of your own? An ‘active contact lense’ would allow us to superimpose digital images over real images, enabling us to choose what we see, so that we could in ef fect, make over anyone we f ind of fensive to the eye. At the same time, we might be able to transform our own appearance by transmitting a digital ‘aura’ and could design or buy fashions for our digital selves. Smar t make-up that becomes a liquid cr ystal display could change our faces at the touch of a button and we could design our own digital tattoos. It’s like taking Second Life away from your computer screen and into the real world.


FUTURE FASHION NOW Pearson’s vision of our fashion future might seem a bit far fetched but many of his predictions are apparently based on technologies that are currently under research. The idea of garment as gadget or of clothing that can transform itself to suit multiple functions is not that far off, in fact it’s already happening. Designer Stephanie Tsang has explored the idea of transformative, multi-functional clothing. She won awards for her graduate collection, which features dresses and coats that can be folded and zipped to create hanging storage bins or shelves and garments with built in LED lights that are powered and controlled by small devices hidden in the pockets. Hussein Chalayan, who graduated from CSM and has since gone on to win Designer of the year twice, as well as an MBE, has been at the forefront of exploring this concept. He has designed dresses that change the shape on the wearer or even transform from one garment into another altogether, with hemlines that rise seemingly of their own accord.

Although Chalayan uses technologies such as expanding electrical coils and remote controls to achieve these effects, the designs are more conceptual ar t forms than functional garments. But the themes he explores are ver y much to do with the body’s relationship with the environment around it, be that nature or architecture, and therefore not so different from Pearson’s predictions of fashions that we not only wear on our bodies, but project onto the world we inhabit. In the meantime, we are restricted to dressing ourselves. Can we expect to see anything beyond retro in the shops this season? While the high street stuck to the hippy boho trend for another Summer, the Autumn/Winter catwalks were an altogether darker affair, with Apocolyptic under tones. You might want to protect yourself with a bit of manish Arora’s glittering body armour, or choose Rick Owens, Christopher Kane, A. F. Vandevorst or Celine, who all presented futuristic shapes that spoke of a starker, harder future. ALL PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY_OF_BLOW PR

we are arts

...and this is your space The Students’ Union are proud to have opened the University’s first student led gallery spaces! The ‘we are arts’ galleries are available to any current University of the Arts London student or group of students . We know how hard it can be to get your work seen and how rare gallery spaces are, so we are delighted to be able to offer students this opportunity. We have three galleries across the University based at CSM, LCC and Wimbledon. All current students at the University are welcome to exhibit in any of the galleries, provided you submit a successful application form and we have the space!


Asimov’s First Law

TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHY_ by_ ALICE WANG_ BA Product Design_ Central Saint Martins

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‘robot may not harm a human being’


— the first law of robotics by Isaac Asimov.

or the next time you two meet.

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Scales, although don’t Artificial perform physical harm, intelligence is have been subtly damaging us psychologically. Should a topic widely objects like these exist in a complex society like ours used in the where people are more media, however, emotionally fragile? exactly how far are we from such WHITE LIES This scale allows one to lie technology? to him or herself. The fur ther back you stand, the lighter Are these fears you become. The user can towards robotic gradually move closer and closer to reality. developments necessary or HALF-TRUTH purely irrational? This scale puts your par tner responsible for deciding What is it about whether to lie or hit you with these currently the truth. fictional characters OPEN SECRET that scare us? This scale reveals your weight Are there existing ever y time you weigh yourself by sending a text message to domestic objects the desired mobile phone. The that already break receiver is then responsible to reveal the answer immediately this law?

Peter Campus is my Big Brother TEXT by_ KARL GRADY_ FDA Fine Art Skills & Practices_ Central Saint Martins – Byam Shaw

These days we’re almost anaesthetised by CCTV and video imagery, everywhere we turn in our daily lives we are constantly being filmed.

These early works stand in contrast to the new video tableaux. A fixed camera points into the landscape and doesn’t move. What appears at first to be a still photo mounted on the wall gives way to the small flutterings of incidental movement, a numbered buoy spins slowly in the still water and the picture comes to life. This illusion is made more of by the staging of the works, which are mounted into the wall, flush with its surface. The formal compositions employed in these images add to the sense of a picture in transition. Traversing between the bodies of work allows you to ponder on the evolution of technology. The early pieces do this with their stark two-tone, low quality appearance, the later works by their sharp focus on saturated landscapes. Film is now commonly seen as a way of being recognised, a way of showing others who you are and what you have to offer. Society is rapidly spawning a generation of wannabes who shamelessly jump into the trajector y of the nearest lens for their fifteen minutes of fame. I just hope when it’s my turn that Campus is behind the camera.

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This has even spawned a sub culture of hoodies. A phenomenon in itself, it appeared shor tly after the arrival of cameras being placed on street corners up and down the countr y. Wearing hoods became a way of shying from the lens. Campus invites us to disrobe our hoodies for a shor t time, in order to enjoy his prismatic, cinematographic images of us in his multi-layered world of moving images. Film has of late been manipulated to such an extent that we can send it via email, text, youtube etc. Campus takes us back to a time when video ar t was at its most innocent and direct, we know this because we are making it with him. The time specific pieces star t when you walk into the spotlight and end when you leave. His por trayal of us gives the viewer a rare option of deciding whether to walk onto the spotlight to merge with his work and become the star of the piece or to sit back and watch others in a voyeuristic way of involving yourself. In Optical Sockets 1973, you find yourself finding yourself over and over as each monitor captures you from

a different angle. The piece gives us the oppor tunity to scrutinise ourselves from all angles at once, never meeting our own gaze. As we spin to look for the camera that sees us as we are, we are destined to chase our own tail. The Hitchcockian Kaleidoscopes presented here give a new slant to the ever present, modern day obsession with celebrity for its own sake, giving us a low-tech version of high tech aspirations.

THE PAST SURE IS TENSE ARTWORK_ by_ ROB SHERWOOD_ Chelsea College of Art and Design

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ARTWORK_ by_ JONATHAN KRAWCZUK_ BA Product Design_ Central Saint Martins_ www.krawczuk.it

Revolutionary  Sharing TEXT BY_JOE COLLINS

Globally, millions of people are simultaneously downloading and uploading a multitude of free digital media amongst themselves. Sharers or peers on the internet use the BitTorrent system – an innovative 21st centur y communications network that efficiently enables the decentralised exchange of information. The ‘peer‐ to‐peer’ system provides peers (including ar t students) with an alternative platform for the distribution of uncensored work, whereby other individuals can informally experience, evaluate, distribute, promote and even utilize the work. Commonly shared media forms include pictures, video clips, films, music, sound clips, eBooks, audio books, comics, sof tware and games. Talented independent filmmakers are paradoxically benefiting immensely from having their movies distributed for free using BitTrrent. Films that might never have been heard of before are now being watched by masses of people. “The Man from Ear th” in par ticular has become widely popular, it went from being the 11,235th most popular movie on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) to being the 5th most popular one, and the most popular independent film in just a few days after it was uploaded. Jamendo.com is an oppor tune place for sound ar tists to circulate their work under the Creative Commons license. Visitors to the site can download work for free (using BitTorrent) but are limited from financially profiting by it – donations can be made directly to the ar tist. Individuals wanting to use the BitTorrent system initially need to download and install a BitTorrent client (like Utorrent for PC, Transmission for Mac or Azureus). A tracker or torrent website (for example Pirate Bay or Mininova) can then be used to search, download and upload torrents. Downloading a torrent from a tracker site automatically opens up the BitTorrent client, which

then receives and sends multiple pieces of the data from and to other online BitTorrent clients that also have the same torrent. “Steal this Film 1” and “Steal this Film 2” are documentaries that reveal information about the astounding significance the BitTorrent system is having on society and intellectual proper ty. “Steal this Film 1” centers around founders of the Pirate Bay website and their successful 2006 encounter with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA A), who represent copyright proprietors like The Walt Disney Corporation (with an annual net income alone of $3.832 billion). Apar t from ar ticulating a strong counter argument in the copyright debate, the documentar y also shows that young people and the general public are actively opposed to the hegemony and functioning of multi‐billion dollar media corporations. “Steal this Film 2” adopts a more objective presentation through exploring the socio‐cultural need for and evolution of copying and sharing. The widespread idea that throughout human existence, the act of copying is interpreted as a natural instinct or sur vival need, becomes the premise and documentar y’s star ting point. Undeniably, copyright proprietors actively and even lawfully oppose copying if it conflicts with their business interests. Copyright authorities are also shown to have been in strong opposition of new recording technology, like the video recorder and tape recorder, until a profitable outcome is developed. After establishing this, the film goes on to explore 15th centur y histor y, where the invention of the printing press proved the beginning of a revolutioar y transition, in the ability of the state to contain knowledge and in the way individuals perceived the world around them. This historical context seems to help define or highlight the radical nature of peer‐to‐peer file

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FISHBOWL _ KAORU MURAKAMI _ BA Fine Art _ Central Saint Martins

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