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Pixel-painting, or Pixelism, brings the commodity aspect of televised imagery full-circle. Now, the pixels are frozen in time and captured in oil paint. Just as the French Neo-impressionist and pointillist painter, George Seurat, captured the flickering color, light, and movement of the world seen by 19th century Parisians, so this painting of a 1980sTV newswoman captures, for all time, a momentary glimpse of the daily world seen by 20th & 21st century television viewers, filtered through an endless grid of red, green, and blue pixels.

When the home video-tape recorder became common in homes worldwide in the early 1980s, televised imagery began being marketed as a commodity, a possession everyone could own. Viewers were no longer limited to passively watching whatever the broadcasters beamed their way. Viewers could now 'possess' the video images by recording, purchasing, or renting whatever their hearts desired.

A brief explanation of the concept behind Lambert’s pixel paintings.

Courtesy of © 2008 James Carroll Lambert

Cover Image

Roland Barthes


The neutral doesn’t refer to neutrality or indifference, it is an ardent, burning activity. NEUTRALMAGAZINE.COM Other


Ingenious Playful Expressive Connected Cultured Desirable Burning Ardent Honest Awkward

Opinionated Critical

Pilot Issue_0.01_2008


Neutral was started, as a germ of an idea, over pre-performance drinks at the Comedy Store in Manchester. It was born out of a discussion led by students who felt they needed an outlet for their ideas and opinions that reflected their intellectual capabilities as much as it did their interests and activities. These students felt they produced considered and energetic arguments that would be read by their tutors, be graded and then disappear. Where, they wanted to know, could these opinions find an alternative outlet, how might a different audience require them to write from a different perspective. The world was being deconstructed within the walls of the university and the feeling was that this needed to be taken back out into the world with which they were engaging. It took some time and considerable work to come to fruition but the first, pilot edition is here now and we feel very proud of the end product. It is important that we state from the outset that this is a pilot edition and that future editions of Neutral will continue to develop some of the themes you see here and that students will continue to respond to the world around them, not as mere consumers but as active participants and critical voices.

The innovative design of this pilot edition showcases the talents of our first contributors. Adam Edwards explores the mobile communications revolution in the developing world, Brendan James asks who is the new ‘new man’ and Svenja Hintz considers the everyday relationships between man and machine. The art pages showcase the visually creative talents of Anna Forrest and Dan Keane. Anna has been a central part of the Neutral team over the last six months and her input perfectly illustrates the collaborative nature of the production.

Indeed quite the opposite. Editorial

Neutral is a magazine by students of Media with contributions from Fine Art and Literature, it has been supported by students of Film & Television Production and Music. These students have worked alongside staff from YSJU, C4C/CETL and with publishing consultants and designers. It is this collaborative and creative approach that we sought to encourage from the outset and which we hope to see develop in future editions.

Q&A | Simon Micklethwaite

One Step Beyond!



Dazed + Confused 24. 25.

Watching Big Brother

Tracey Emin 22. 23.


Cut _ Paste 20. 21.

Confessions 14. 15.

Dan Kane

Living Doll 12. 13.

Education Inc. 9. 10.

Machina Sapiens

Africa Calling 6. 7. 8.


Editor Svenja Hintz

Editorial Contributors Claire Adams, Brendan James, Samantha Richter, Karen Walter

Research & Administration Pam Bustard, Laura Reed

Marketing Director Claire Davies

Marketing & Communications Stacey Lane, Ashley Lowe, Alex Smith, Charlotte Swift, Karen Walters

Art Management Anna Forrest

Neutral Consultant Carolyn Donahue

Neutral Directors Judy Giles, Sunil Manghani Stuart Page

Design LazenbyBrown | 01904 622999 Neil Fletcher - Substance

Print North Wolds Printers | 01759 303944

Stock Strand Paper

For submissions and enquiries about Neutral please contact:

Special thanks to Julia Smith and Rebecca Reese and the rest of the C4C CETL team


4. 5.



Barthes is highly regarded as a key theoretical thinker for media and cultural studies, known most commonly for his early book Mythologies, which presents a systematic framework for cultural semiotics. However, his late writings, includingThe Neutral, began to creatively undo a lot of the structures of meaning that semiotics typically exposes. As Barthes explains: ‘I define the Neutral as that which outplays the paradigm, or rather I call Neutral everything that baffles the paradigm’. The Neutral, he suggests, ‘doesn’t refer to “impressions” of grayness, or “neutrality”, of indifference. The Neutral ... can refer to intense, strong, unprecedented states. “To outplay the paradigm” is an ardent, burning activity’. When we read sentences upon a page our eyes are accustomed to glide over the empty spaces between words.Yet those ‘neutral’ spaces are precisely what allow the collection of letters to become words; those burning white spaces are what force meaning to arise. Our magazine is committed to get in amongst not just the debates of media and culture, but in-between the spaces of debates, to locate what makes them arise and what new possibilities are on the horizon.The contents of this magazine, and all subsequent editions, are to be viewed as being far from neutral or bland, rather baffling, ardent and resourceful.

Welcome to Neutral. ‘The Directors’

9. 10. 11.

The title is inspired by the lecture course on figures of the neutral by the French cultural critic Roland Barthes (1915-1980), which he presented during the height of his fame at the Collège de Franc in the late 1970s.

16. 17. 18. 19.

In choosing Neutral as the title of the magazine our intention is far from producing a collection of dispassionate, impartial articles.

Neutral is not just another student magazine. Yes, it is produced primarily by Media students, it also includes pieces by students of English Literature, images and artworks have been created by students studying Fine Art. But Neutral also encourages submissions from outside the University sector and will be actively seeking wider contributions for future editions. Added to which Neutral benefits from the design expertise of our partners LazenbyBrown. The visually striking and radical design of this magazine reflects the ambitious approach of the designers and the students in their desire to see Neutral as a contemporary brand that will have a wider reach than the university sector. Neutral has the ambition to become a national magazine.


Creative Knowledge


Almost everything is now available online, or in the process of being digitized. Wikipedia has become a feature of this evolution. But what exactly is it? A ‘wiki’ is a type of collaborative website and ‘pedia’ is taken from the word encyclopaedia, so as the name suggests it is an online, collaborative encyclopaedia. Wikipedia was started in 2001 and to date publishes articles in more than 250 languages, which includes dialects such as Twi, spoken by around 7 million people in Ghana. At the time of writing, Wikipedia listed an apparent ‘2,282,375 articles’ in the English language alone. It provides accounts of all kinds of different topics, written by millions of writers, many of whom may not have a chance to ‘publish’ their writing anywhere else. Yet what is so different about a site such as Wikipedia is the way in which it develops a body of knowledge through collective ownership. It can be instantly updated at any time and is open to all sorts of new topics. In a test, conducted by PC Pro magazine, subject experts were asked to assess how Wikipedia fared against the professionally edited encyclopedias Britannica and Mircosoft’s Encarta. Across all three the results varied. The historian, Chris Clark (St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge), whilst critical of inelegant writing on Wikipedia, praised it for its detail. Wikipedia works well, he suggests, “where providing a good service is a matter of compiling as much relevant contextual material … and providing a clear outline of key milestones’.

However, by the site’s own admission, “Wikipedia’s most dramatic weaknesses are closely associated with its greatest strengths. Wikipedia’s radical openness means that any given article may be, at any given moment, in a bad state”. The self-creation of Wikipedia reflects a trend in our digital society. Such ‘media’ provide outlets for people who want to create things for themselves but also for others. We need to understand it for its faults, but equally, Wikipedia is a place that welcomes a creative audience. Emma Jenkins

i-Culture: The txt gener8tion

edits from the blogosphere Since its invention in 1992, txt msgin has bcum the nu way of communic8ion 4 the younger gener8ion. Altho initially invented as an accompaniment 4 fonecalls & aimed at businessmen, it has been adopted by the younger gener8ion as a cheaper means of communic8ion. Most people now receiv and send more txt msgs than fonecalls on their mobile, wiv reports of 1.2 billion txts bin sent evry wk. Its influence can b seen thru the nu language tht txt msging has cre8ed, where words r shortened & lettas replaced in orda 2 save space. This has bcum the nu language for the younger gener8ion, leading 2 investg8ions in2 reprts of illiteracy as the correct spellin of words appears 2 b irrelevant now. This is a huge impact for 1 form of media 2 cre8 on society, it has changed not only the way we communic8, but has affected the language we use 2 do so.

Yvonne Blenkinsop

Our choices in coordinating and controlling what we listen to, like an electronic memory, makes our identity ever more mobile. This little piece of technology is a microcosm of our subjectivity. The vibrations of the click wheel make the device feel alive, as if it is part of our own body. M.J. Thackray

more visit:


A person’s music collection can be seen as a facet of their

the BA (Hons) Media Programme,

According to Simon Fanshawe, author of The Done Thing, a book on 21st-century manners, the iPod is no different to the Sony Walkman or mobile phone. Yet, it has blurred the boundary between public and private space in a new way. Like the Walkman the iPod re-inscribes the experiences of commuting, but it has also dramatically changed the way we can manage our mood and orientation to space, including a dynamic process of sharing music. The American phrase “feeling free to jack into my iPod” describes the phenomenon of new acquaintances listening to each others iPods and exploring new musical tastes.

York St John University.To access

With over 100 million Apple iPods sold worldwide many of us are now moving to the beat of our own iTunes. Visibly our public sphere has seemed to have been refashioned and a new etiquette born. Once upon a time, it was hats that were to be removed indoors. Now, those tiny white ear-buds throw up all sorts of conundrums: should you remove them when walking alongside someone you know? Can two iPod users stroll together through the park while independently engaged in their own playlists? Is it rude to interrupt someone listening to an iPod? How loud can you go when travelling on a train? Whilst the iPod has become a normal sight in our day to day living, it remains a social and cultural fascination.

for the ‘Creative Audiences’ module on

Social networking sites, video uploads and blogging have become very much a part of social movements, helping to bring people together in protest and keeping many informed of events in ways that formal media outlets are unable to. A good example of the importance of the Internet for social reporting is media coverage of the protests in Burma towards the end of 2007, when tens of thousands of monks and civilians went on a protest march against the military government. The website, for example, was set up for people internationally to leave messages of solidarity. “The media spotlight may have moved on but we still care”, they write, and ask their contributors to “Be Creative, be witty, show hope!” Yet, in this case, it is not simply that reporting on Burma may now have vanished from our Television screens. Even at the time major media outlets were reporting the events, it was only the information obtained from blogs and video uploads that allowed those outside of Burma to know what was going on. One blog entry by a Spanish reporter, living in Burma at the time, gives a vivid account of the situation: “He is just a teenager, with his head shaved and his body draped in redsaffron tunic that has given its name to the revolution. The Monk gets up from the floor in a cloud of tear gas and picks up his glasses, broken by the impact of a rifle to his head. Disoriented he asks me. ‘Who is going to help us?’ Do they know in your country what’s happening here? Why is nobody coming to help? ” Whilst many may roll their eyes at the mention of blogging (wondering why people want to share all their secrets and day to day ‘news’), it is fast becoming a powerful medium for today’s journalism. | Amy Wood

blogs written during Autumn 2007/08

get a coffee. 20 minutes in the other direction on Venice beach, home of Los Angeles’ hippy community, is a Starbucks on the beach. Surely, you think, this one only sells iced teas and there’d be no laptops in sight? Wrong! I decided to confront these wi-fi fundamentalists, though I soon discovered a certain method to the madness. As one woman explained to me: “I find it quite liberating to get away from home … I can’t focus at home because I’ve got two kids so almost every weekend I leave them with my husband and come here and then walk along the beach”. It is fascinating to see how people are adapting to new technology.The option of taking a laptop to a cafe was not available 10 years ago, now that it is, people are making an active choice to enjoy themselves elsewhere.You are forced to watchTV at home because that’s where your television is, nobody is forcing you to go to Starbucks. | Stuart Saw

Electric Coffee In their collective madness the Laptop Club will flock to Starbucks to get a coffee and use the internet. Is this not the craziest thing you’ll ever see? I went to the heart of the problem, Starbucks in Santa Monica, California, to investigate and the problem was worse than I could have imagined. I opened the door and there they were: 10 bright white Apple Mac laptops and their owners.The store could maybe have seated 20 people, so 50% of the customers had brought their laptop with them on their epic voyage to

i-Culture articles taken from student

Pod Phenomena

Don’t Forget Burma


Whilst the emergence of an African market may be of obvious benefit to multinational corporations like Nokia or the Vodafone Group, one might question what advantage the increasingly widespread use of mobile telephones offers the world’s poorest continent and its people. Yet, mobile phones and the Internet are making it possible for African businesses to keep in regular contact with suppliers and retailers and access information from across the globe in order to benchmark ideas or identify niche markets. A significant benefit of new communications technology is the speed and accessibility of information on market prices. Many in Africa are reliant on either agriculture or fishing for their survival and typically receive very little for their produce through middlemen, with who they trade. However, farmers and fisherman are increasingly using their phones to bypass middlemen, sending texts to network providers to discover the prices certain commodities are selling at in different towns across the region. It works in a similar way to how


Of course the potential that mobile phones and other related technologies have to offer has still to be realized by the majority of people from developing countries.The cost of mobile phone handsets and computers are perhaps the most obvious barrier preventing access. Mobile phones are more expensively priced in African countries like Tanzania, where the majority of the population earn less than $1 a day, than they are in countries like Britain, where network providers subsidize the cost of handsets. Further constraints result

Various organisations researching into the effect mobile phones and the Internet are having in developing countries argue that increased access to communication technologies has the potential to transform the economies of developing regions. Carlos Fortin, the Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Conference onTrade and Development argues that mobiles “have the potential to assist developing countries ‘leap frog’ entire stages of development.” Research carried out by the London Business School supports this idea, indicating, “that an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country increases GDP growth by 0.6% points”. On the page this may read as only a fairly low rate of growth. However, if one considers that 23% of Kenya’s population is believed to own a mobile phone, the figure actually equates to an increase in Kenya’s GDP of nearly $1 billion per year. Illustrating the potential mobile telephony presents regions like Africa, and in particular, the poorest members of society, such as farmers or fisherman.

Safaricom launched an innovative new service known as M-Pesa which allows mobile phone users to transfer small amounts of money (between 74p - £259) to other phone users through text messages. The system can be used to pay for items in shops in much the same way as a debit card.This service has the potential to transform banking in countries like Kenya, where fewer than 20% of the population have access to the formal financial sector.

Developing countries are appropriating technology like mobile phones in other unique ways. For example, mobile phones are being used by conservationists trying to save Africa’s endangered elephants, with the phones being used as low cost alternatives to radio collars. In Kenya and Tanzania doctors based in big cities are using mobile phones and email in a scheme piloted by the African Medical and Research Foundation to help diagnose patients living in rural areas, whom would otherwise be unable to access high quality medical treatment.The phone is also starting to be used as form of payment. In March 2007, for example, the Kenyan network provider

many in Britain, for example, can text “football” to network providers to find out the latest football results. By texting “tomato” or “potato” to one of the African networks, farmers receive information which can transform their lives, allowing them, rather than middlemen, to make a profit on their produce by selling their goods in the town which will see them realize the highest prices.

In light of the recent tribal violence in Kenya, one could be mistaken for thinking nothing changes in the so-called “dark continent”. News reports and documentary programmes are constantly compounding the stereotypical perception many in the West have of Africa as a land of conflict, poverty and starvation, bypassed by the modern world. However, whilst such issues remain a concern Africa is also experiencing a technological boom, which is playing its part in transforming the region.

Africa has become the fastest growing market for mobile phones in the world. In Kenya, for example, it has been estimated that the number of mobile phone subscribers rocketed from approximately 15,000 in 1999 to around 8 million by early 2007. During several recent visits to South East Africa, I was astounded by the ubiquity of the mobile phone. Within relatively poor and underdeveloped communities, in which many people rarely have televisions, radios, or even basic necessities such as shoes, the presence of the mobile phone is clearly visible. In Kenya, for example, advertisements for mobile phone manufacturers and network providers never seemed far from sight, as multinational telecom companies grapple for their share of this lucrative emerging market.


Only 3% of Africans have landline telephones

The first mobile phone call in Africa was made in Zaire in 1987

Adam Edwards gives an account of the telecom explosion taking place across the world’s poorest continent.

Africa Calling!

In the early 1990s the cost of providing the modern technology that was needed for a more up to date education was exacerbated by crippling budget cuts in America. Suddenly, schools who couldn't afford text books were expected to provide video cameras, class room computers and the latest educational software. As a result many schools were left with no choice but to look for alternative sources of income. This is how multi-national corporations were able to gain access to schools. With the introduction of fast-food, sports and computer companies came a new educational agenda, in which certain brand names become the centre of attention, the subject of education. Far from opposing learning in schools, these companies proactively encourage it. For instance, instead of learning about European history, why not learn about the history of a sponsoring company; or for your next art class, why not design your sponsor’s new advertising campaign? As the KidPower Marketing Conference Brochure points out, "the youth market is an untapped wellspring of new revenue”, with a youth market that “spends the majority of each day inside a school house”. The question is simply: “how do you reach that market?". The idea that building brand awareness could go hand in hand with education led to Channel 1, the self-proclaimed pre-eminent news and public

affairs content provider for teens, being broadcast to classrooms across America and Canada. In exchange for audio-visual equipment and, in some cases, computers, students are exposed to two minutes of television advertising in-between twelve minutes of current affairs programming. For this level of exposure, companies can expect to pay Channel 1 twice the normal television advertising costs. The station now boasts a presence in 12,000 schools and reaches an estimated 8 million students. When they've finished watching Channel 1 students can turn to their textbooks which, thanks to Cover Concepts, are covered in advertising slogans. Around 30,000 schools in the U.S.A use books with wrap around advertising. And it isn't just restricted to the classroom. In 13% of schools, cafeterias franchise out to fast food chains like Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Taco Bell. These kiosks don't accept federal lunch vouchers so the poorer kids eat standard school dinners while their richer classmates get to tuck into burritos and burgers. Some cafeterias have even been made to sign documents saying they won't sell pizzas or cheese burgers as this constitutes competition. Greenbriar High School in Georgia, whilst taking part in a Coca Cola competition to come up with the best way to distribute Coke coupons to students, held an official Coke day. This featured guest speakers from Coca Cola,

Motorola have reated handsets for Africa which for less than $40

Motorola have created handsets for Africa which retail for less than $40

Why not help?

OXFAM are collecting old mobile phones to send to Africa and other developing regions.

If you have any unused or broken mobile phones, which you no longer need, please either drop them off at your local Oxfam charity shop, or post them free of charge to:

Oxfam Bring Bring Scheme Freepost LON16281 London WC1N 3BR


Machina Sapiens

 UN estimates suggest there were 12 million Internet users in Africa by 2003  Grameen Bank found that in Uganda a mobile phone is often shared between 71 people  The first mobile phone call in Africa was made in Zaire in 1987  97% of Tanzanians live within range of a mobile network  Morrocco has gone from no mobiles in 1995 to 24% of the population owning one by 2003  Motorola have created handsets for Africa which retail for less than $40  Philips are working on a new range of chips that will take handset prices below $20  By 2005 the African mobile phone industry was worth $25 billion

Svenja Hintz asks whether we are now machina sapiens instead of homo sapiens and if so, what does that mean for us?

Alex Castle uncovers the impact of corporate sponsorship on public education

Between 1998 and 2003 mobile phone subscriptions in Africa increased by 1000%

Only 3% of Africans have landline telephones

Did you know?

Companies and charities in Britain are reconditioning unused mobiles, which are then sold at a reduced cost in Africa, thereby providing individuals from countries like Kenya with the opportunity to access information on health, business or agricultural practices being used in other parts of the world, which have the potential to drastically improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

£ducation Inc.

from poor infrastructure in developing countries, which can hinder potential consumers, especially from rural areas, from being able to participate in the telecommunications revolution. Nonetheless, technological advances and strategic initiatives have the potential to address such constraints. In Kenya for example, some people living in rural communities with no electricity are using solar panels as a means to charge their phones.


10 /scientists-discover-way-to-reverse-loss -of-memory-775586.html

Reversing Memory Loss:

Medical Research &Technology:


The Machine is Us

Abbot J. (2005) The Corporation. Metrodome Distribution.

Armstron F. (2006) McLibel. Revelation Films.

Olman D. (1999) TheYes Men. United Artists.

Documentaries to watch:

If the issues raised here have interested you,the following offer further discussion:

technology is us.

Within our individual lives we can do little things to resist the march of technology, for example making a choice about what to watch on television, walking to work instead of using the car and switching off our mobile phones. Within the global context it is more difficult because global technology is part and parcel of global capitalism that disguises itself as a basic need. It is like a brave new world, in which we are kept happy and thus do not question things. Fortunately there are social activists who inform us about some of the costs of technology, for example the working conditions in sweatshop factories and the use of antibiotics and pesticides to increase our food production. Being aware is the first step to making conscious decisions that can allow us to take back some of the control that technology has taken.

It is important for us to recognise that we can shape technology at the same time as it shapes us. Moreover since we are part of technology as a system and increasingly intertwine with machines that take on all sorts of shapes and patterns, we could argue that we have already turned into a hybrid of technology and organism. Our urban infrastructure is based on technology: streets and signs tell us when and where to go and how to behave. Workspaces have become technological and mechanistic cubicles that estrange us from physical contact with each other and the leisure industry is dedicated to entertaining us with films, music, and amusement parks. Supermarkets and take-aways are embedded in technological processes that feed us. Technology can enhance our lives but it can also result in a stifling of individuality.

Technology is all the objects that have been produced + the system of manufacture + all the knowledge that is needed to use them + system of use = human beings as inextricably intertwined with technology;

In 13% of American schools, cafeterias franchise out to fast food chains like Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonalds andTaco Bell.

For their 'donation' the Haberdashers Livery Company receives absolute control of a school that is predominantly paid for by taxpayers and is attended by taxpayers’ children. The company appoints the head. It dictates the curriculum, the management, the use of resources. It can name the school itself. A controversial issue has centred upon the fact that if a fundamentalist Christian group becomes the sponsor of an academy, it can choose to teach pupils about creationist theories alongside Darwin's theory of evolution. Several allegations of creationism being taught in biology classes, for example, have arisen in relation to a number of Academies run by the Emanuel Schools Foundation.

as the objects themselves. Technology is not just tangible objects but is something that we perform with our minds and bodies.

For example, the academy that replaced Islington Green School changed its admissions policy to suit their sponsor, City University and the Corporation of London. This meant that instead of places going to local children, the sponsors wanted to offer places to an increased number of children from across the City of London. Whilst the majority of Academies cost upwards of £25 million to build, only a maximum of £2 million of this sum originates from the sponsors. The Haberdashers Livery Company, which put in just £295,000 for its academy in Lewisham, pays nothing at all towards the running costs.

The most obvious dimension of technology is its physical realm: technology as hardware. On one hand it is all the objects that are produced: kettles, digital cameras, remote controls and even pens and cutlery. At the same time it is all the machines, people, resources and processes that are needed to produce the hardware. This is called the sociotechnical system of manufacture. However, technology is more than just objects and systems of production. All the things that we’ve invented and produced wouldn’t be worth anything if we didn’t know how to use them (the sociotechnical system of use). Knowing how to use technology as well as the social activities and human needs that make us use the hardware, are as much a part of technology

Although this level of in-school advertising is yet to hit Britain, the Government’s initiative to create 400 City Academies is a move towards corporate sponsorship. The Academies are publicly funded independent secondary schools who specialise in a particular area of the curriculum. They are largely developed in poorer areas and are designed to replace the existing, often dilapidated and poorly equipped schools with brand new buildings and facilities. They receive sponsorship from the private or voluntary sectors or from religious faith groups. Academies can select up to 10% of pupils on the basis of an aptitude for the academy’s specialism. Sponsors include HSBC, Manchester Airport, BT, The COOP, JCB and BMW. However, it is argued that, whilst this brings improved facilities to poorer areas, there is the potential for the interests of the sponsor to take priority over those of parents and local students.

That isn’t necessarily negative because the more we intertwine with technology the further we enhance our human capabilities. The 21st century is peopled with ‘super-humans’, that think it is entirely normal to speak to someone in Australia right here and right now despite the barriers of time and space. We also see self driving cars (VW Golf GTi '53 +1) or ‘intelligent’ clothing (Adidas 1) as normal aspects of our lives. And potentially more profound, is the recently discovered technology that may find a way to reverse memory loss and cure Alzheimers. Similarly, there is a machine at the University of California that makes it possible to look into your mind. At this stage, it can ‘only’ identify the images that the respective brain is looking at, but it won’t be surprising if soon it can read our minds. This raises many problems about privacy when we imagine a future in which these technologies can be merged with CCTV. I’m not sure how comfortable I feel, knowing that my thoughts and my movements could be constantly under surveillance. One problem is, however, that we live with an ideology of technology that makes machines look so normal that we rarely question them.

Moreover, technology and humanness are no longer separate entities.

We know that technology ‘as a whole’ influences and controls us but thinking about it critically is uncomfortable because it means facing the fact of our dependency on technology.Technology ‘as a whole’ has become a huge and opaque system, whose advantages are instantaneous and obvious and whose disadvantages are hidden behind bureaucracy, public relations and advertisement.

In an age of advanced technology we have many machines that help us carry out basic tasks. We often forget these machines are technology, for example we have alarm clocks that tell us when to get up or showers that keep us clean. Coffee machines, toasters and microwaves prepare food and drink; trains, cars and buses take us to work and the elevator takes us up to our office. Technology has become an inevitable part of our lives.

photographs of formations spelling 'Coke' and every student was required to wear Coca-Cola t-shirts. In an act of rebellion one student turned up to school wearing a Pepsi branded shirt and was promptly suspended.

UK, the fear is that as soon as the door is opened to corporate sponsors a number of contentious political and ethical issues arise. For example some universities are using their resources and students to help companies design more efficient ways to advertise products, build factories and extract oil, all in the name of education. Education should be for the public good and not a corporate money spinner, but as long as commercial interests are present within our schools and universities there is always the risk that these interests remain at odds with the public good.

Whilst we may accept that there remains big difference between the branding seen in American high schools and what goes on in the


Photography by Anna Forrest

Charles Dicken's 1805

A living doll, everywhere you look: It can sew, it can cook, It can talk, talk, talk. Sylvia Plath, 1966,The Applicant

13 12

“The distinction a lot of us have been talking about between art and pornography is ultimately down to the viewer”.


Stacey Lane “Not always. The artist/photographer, whatever, has an intention, wants to get a particular reaction from the viewer”.

Joe Carton “Pornography is produced specifically to arouse, art can have multiple interpretations”.

“I do wonder whether some of these images depicting sex have become quite bland to us. Had we been sitting having dinner and drinks looking at violent images from Iraq it would have all been too uncomfortable. It would be unfortunate if we were simply consuming these images rather than engaging with them”.

Stacey Lane

“I found this exhibition extremely challenging on many levels. I take the Dworkin view on pornography; it is exploitative and oppressive. However, many things in this exhibition were extremely beautiful, revealing the very fine line between art and pornography. I also think that the work was not about mutual pleasure but male pleasure and I have to ask myself, this is the Barbican, did they really forget about lesbians?”

“What I find interesting in the discussions so far is that there’s a focus on sexuality, particularly female sexuality, that is concerned with the pubic area. Pubic hair in painting and photography seems to be a signifier of sexuality that is much more disturbing than the smooth, cold marble representations that you get in renaissance sculpture and 17th/18th century paintings. The reaction is very much like the one attributed to Ruskin on the discovery of his wife Effie’s pubic hair. He was supposedly so horrified their marriage was never consummated”.

In charting this age-old preoccupation with sex and sexuality the exhibition also revealed the various methods used to document, record and represent the act itself and in doing so reflected the technological advances that have offered new ways of documenting historical and cultural attitudes. Following a visit to the Barbican, students and staff joined together for a champagne supper to discuss the issues raised by the exhibition. The debates went on for over four hours. In an attempt to capture some of the views expressed, a Confessions diary room was set up to record opinions, a selection of which you can read here.

Sex, and particularly its visual representation, is often thought to be a concern of artists and cultural producers of the modern world. Our preoccupation with sex in film, television, advertising and music, amongst other things, is often seen as a reflection of a contemporary liberal attitude that no longer concerns itself with the potential disturbing qualities and challenging aspects of sexual imagery. The Barbican Art Gallery exhibition Seduced: Art & Sex from Antiquity to Now explored and charted the development of sexual iconography in artistic form from the cold marble of the ancient world to the playful pastiche of the photography of Jeff Koons.

Stuart Page

Saffron Walkling “I really liked the intimacy of the Nan Goldin exhibition. It was showing real couples being close and not relying on gratuitous sexual interaction in order to convey emotion. It was a representation of being a couple that included sex but wasn’t just about sex”.

“The Robert Mapplethorpe room was interesting but the most disturbing out of the whole exhibition. I couldn’t see the art in the work and because of that it all seemed unnecessary”.

Students and staff from theYSJU Media degree discuss the Barbican exhibition Seduced: Art & Sex from Antiquity to Now.

A Banquet Debate


“The Nan Goldin photography interested me because it seemed more natural and less set up. It was like documentary photography”.

Jodie Nichol “Yes, it was artistic in the recording of couples just being together, not being paid to have sex for audience gratification”.

Joe Carton Nicola Bell

Ellie Hiscox

Sunil Manghani 15

16 17

of dripping paint onto a horizontal canvas is reminiscent of Jackson Pollack and aesthetically the paintings draw on the works of CyTwombly, Franz Kline and Gerhard Richter.

The process

Dan Kane


18 19


The tie as a mark making tool seeks to subvert its status as a symbol of anti-creativity and it is the juxtaposition between the tie as a symbol and the gestural language of painting which is at the heart of the work.

I feel a swelling rage when I watch a size 4 woman take a bite of a bagel, a light sweat breaking out on her brow at the mere thought of a carbohydrate penetrating her body. I hate the media for doing this to me. It’s degrading and I know better. I should be stronger and not let it get to me.The world represented on screen is one big advertisement: a distorted mirror-universe for people’s lives where more often than not, they find themselves wanting. It is from this discrepancy between reality and fantasy that the pain and conflict comes; conflict which, we are told, can be alleviated by purchasing the suggested product, by literally buying the ideology being presented. In my darkest, most secret places, I want to be a pencil-thin beauty queen because that's what TV has taught me to want. I am jumping through their hoops, just like all the half-starved women I've been freely criticising in this piece.

So, my sisters, my poor degraded plastic sisters, I'm still on your side. I still love you. But couldn't we see just a little bit more of you? 20

Oh, and what, you may be wondering, is my actual stance on nudity in the media? It was born free, so let it hang free!

I know that nude scenes can be uncomfortable as they may reach beyond what is culturally deemed as modest, but why is it that the naked form in such a day and age should still evoke such fervent debate? Have we not progressed, are we not all now party to transgressive images of gender and sexuality or are we really still so prudish?

I doubt that the widely suggested link between anorexia and the media will ever be proven. Neither do I believe that violence in films causes violence in audiences. But I do know this: if you're one of the million people worldwide who has the odd bad day, or the odd depressive episode, the smallest incident onTV can be enough to break you, or at least to draw water. What is this insidious power of TV, to worm its way into the most intimate parts of your identity and wreak havoc?

after all, the original focal point of the debate.

I'm talking here about a stomach-churning, bone-deep chill of self-loathing, usually lasting only a second or two, but exerting a damaging influence long after.This is my shameful, secret reason for objecting to on-screen nudity. And now for the big question: is it me? Or can I blame the media?

This raises the question do we react differently towards the screen nude and the ‘everyday’ nude? If one is objectifying, then why is the other not? Why is the older lady in swimwear, smiling at the camera, not as sexually suggestive as the bikini-clad girl?

Why do I still feel insecure, fat and ugly when I look at the women on my television screen?

an even more opinionated rant by Claire Davies

But I have to make a confession.


I am an intelligent woman with working knowledge of how the media operates, how it carefully manipulates its audiences. I can see the gaps between the crafted fantasy world and my own. I know when something is unrealistic. I know when a director is taking liberties. I also know that I am generally a reasonably happy, active, healthy young woman.

If it were possible to ban nudity in the ladies changing room what would your reaction be? Mine would be ‘oh thank god! No more saggy breasts and wrinkled bums in my face!’ I don’t (nor ever hope to) even see my mother or sisters in such a state of undress.

I could - but I won't.

For if we are debating the merits of nudity on screen, I could bore you with a speech about whether there is a line between obscenity and art. But if we are instead discussing the weight, beauty and plastic attachments of the nude then I suggest we start again, under a different guise.

So what is it that is found to be so offensive, the sight of a nipple or the prettiness of its owner?

I could say this is because it objectifies people. I could say that it reduces people to mere chunks of flesh. I could say that it panders to the lowest common denominator; audiences who need a certain level of titillation to keep their interest.

So let’s abolish nudity, let’s cover up those charlatans of the big and small screens, and while we’re at it, someone get those page 3 girls a nice jumper – they look a bit chilly. As for those hot sunny days on holiday The focus appears to be on the young Hollywood starlet. Perhaps then this is a case of double with women parading standards? We cheered on Jerry Hall inThe Graduate, salutedTrinny and Susannah and around in a mere thong, their hordes of braless followers and pinned up The Calendar Girls, but present us with a topless Natalie Portman and we recoil in horror. join me chasing them down the beach, towel But then perhaps this isn’t a debate about nudity on screen at all. in hand ready to wrap Perhaps this is about media representation, size zero or women’s unrealistic expectations of round the offending themselves. But this isn’t, however, a justified reason for banning onscreen nudity, which was, body parts!


an opinionated rant by Katie Smith

I object to nudity in films.



By Sam Richter

Watching Big Brother

TheYork City Art Gallery held an exhibition between October 2007 and January 2008 of one of Britain’s most prolific artists:Tracey Emin. The work on show is owned byTim Dickinson who started collecting in 1995 and has since built up an established collection.

Emin, sympathy almost arose within me. All the works on show were pleasant to look at and there was nothing in my mind which provoked the question, “How is that Art?” So what is the issue with Emin’s work? Maybe the reason why people hold such a prejudice is because she is stark and honest and we all know almost everything about her. But isn’t that what today’s celebrity-obsessed culture loves? To know everything about everyone who is in the spotlight? Maybe one answer to this is that Emin exposes something personal about the viewer. Maybe she arouses something and brings to the forefront of the mind something we’d rather forget. Let’s take for example her most controversial work, My Bed, 1998, which was exhibited for theTurner Prize in 1999.This unmade, stained bed was exhibited at Tate Britain for all to see. By looking at this bed, doesn’t it expose something which could be said to be true to us all? After all, haven’t we been in that unmade, dirty, troubled bed? Not wanting to awake and face reality. A bed is a site where the best of us and most certainly sometimes the worst of us is released. A place where we’ve sunken so deep we can’t see a reason to even want to get out.The bed can be a place where a whole human life-cycle can take place: copulation, fertility, sickness and loss. Not to mention those dirty sheets that remind us of emotions, some of which we’d rather forget.The whole body and self can certainly get lost in a bed. So just to look at a bed is, yes, just a bed, but if by viewing a bed we are remembering something of the past or an emotion is aroused that we thought was long gone, then isn’t that bed worth something? What it arouses or what is remembered will be different and personal to every one of us.

From this exhibition it is hard to understand why the popular press and general public have a prejudice to Emin’s work.This exhibition showed a vulnerable side to

Other works here include an appliquéd travel bag and a tea-pot, specifically designed for Longchamp races.These soft, stitched almost child-like works seem to provide comfort against such harsh, honest monoprints and self portraits.

Sometimes I feel Lonely But Its OK, 2002 depicts a single, lonely bird on a branch, evidentlyTracey herself from the use of ‘I’ in the work’s title.The same bird then also reappears in the monoprint, Broken Heart, 2003 but this time crossed out with a single X as a black hawk that hovers over her. Again there is a sense of vulnerability, of her not minding being on her own until something comes along and breaks her down. It feels like a deletion of her own secure being and she puts herself out there, on show for everyone to see.

The exhibition was on the second floor, tucked away in a small room, almost in isolation from anything else in the gallery. I was expecting the exhibition to be in the main room of the gallery, on spectacular show for all to see.This was not the case. When entering the crammed room I felt as if I was pushed into Emin’s work; I was part of its space, intimately involved, if you ignored having to carefully manoeuvre around the crowd that is.The first works I came upon were a series of monoprints.The monoprints were of (presumably) Tracey herself sat in a chair and next to her is a smaller chair with a smaller, childlike person, presumably a youngerTracey. What hit me first was the harshness of these images but also a vulnerability that almost made you feel sorry for her. But this can’t be right can it? I mean we all love to hateTracey Emin. We all love to instantly make a comment and demand ‘how is this Art?’ when faced with her work.

Tracey Emin

If I didn’t understand Tracey Emin before, then I do now.

Isn’t this a result of having gone to see and experience the work?

I’m sure there’s much more to be revealed.

By Lisa Gorton Picture a modest-sized stage, a faded poster of Big Brother, and a telescreen hanging in the centre. Front of stage is what looks like a dentist’s chair, only the wrist and ankle straps give a far more sinister look. The lights go down and strange metallic music plays loudly. This was how the opening looked for a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 at the York Theatre Royal in March, 2008.

Most of the action and script was derived direct from the novel, yet on stage the story seemed to lack something. I’d suggest the literary form allowed me to create the action, to fill in the blanks by conjuring up my own horrifying images, which were truly dark because they were my own worst fears. Watching the story play out on the stage, the gaps were neither filled in with powerful effect, nor left big enough for me to fill them in for myself.

The main protagonist of the story is Winston Smith, who from the novel we know to be a 39 year old man with a varicose ulcer on his leg and five false teeth. He is malnourished and doesn’t sleep well. The description easily creates a picture of a man much older than he is. You can understand, then, my astonishment when the lights came up and sitting in the torture chair was a skinny boy not more than 20 years old. In fact, the entire youthful cast (no one member being over the age of 25) seemed at odds with the vision of an austere and passive society one gets from reading the book. It was not simply how the cast looked that let the play down. The scenes in which Winston interacts with the uncouth proles and prostitutes, for example, seemed to take the actors out of their comfort zone. Woodenness ensued when tacking anything remotely sexual. Whilst the actors playing Winston and Julia performed very well, the times when they were no longer comrades but lovers were at best unconvincing.

These criticisms aside, however, I still found myself on the edge of my seat from time to time and even shed a tear during the Room 101 scene. The harsh, minimalist style and faithfulness to Orwell’s own words helped bring the story’s menace to life. Yet, staying true to the text equally made problems for the cast. Perhaps it would have been more challenging to have re-interpreted the story from a modern, youthful perspective.


We live in confusing times!

Gender Dysphoria in the Noughties

Dazed + Confused

When societal trends change faster than the weather it’s hard to know what’s really going on. Brendan James charts the changing face of the British male. Society seems to be suffering from a free floating gender anxiety; men and women seem to be in a state of confusion as regards gender. In recent decades we have witnessed the birth of “the new man,” “the new lad,” and the “laddette.” We have seen the introduction of the “metrosexual” and the invention (or re-invention) of the “retrosexual.” Since the 1970’s we have seen great cultural changes in our society in the area of gender and sexuality. Male and female roles, and consequently definitions of femininity/masculinity, have changed again and again. This has led to a situation in which both sexes are left confused as to their place and role. What exactly is expected of men and women - and indeed, what does it actually mean to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman?’ Change has been driven by the great social upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s. Great gains have been made and very real

improvements in our lives have been achieved but there is still a long way to go before we even come close to achieving real sexual equality. A large part of this process had been the necessity for society to analyse the nature and structure of our patriarchal culture. A side effect of this has meant that, particularly during the 80’s and 90’s, men have had to re-assess their role and make amends for the ignorance and injustices of the past. This led to a response whereby (some) men became more sensitive to women’s, and indeed their own, needs. This produced the new incarnation of manhood known as the new man. The new man was characterized by a new caring, sharing approach in which men were expected to talk about their feelings instead of bottling them up. It also led to a re-assessment of men’s place and role in the home and he was expected to take on a larger role in looking after the house and raising the children. By and large men responded to the challenge of becoming the new man fairly well and many of us began to enjoy the benefits of our new found freedom to emote. In the arena of childrearing a whole

new vista of enjoyment and fulfilment was opening up. What man today isn’t happy to tell you what a proud father he is - and to tell you honestly how much he enjoys spending ‘quality time,’ with the kids? However, something about all of this just didn’t feel right. Men still wanted to be men and more to the point women still wanted men to be men. So, the reign of the new man was somewhat short lived. He was replaced by “the new lad.” The new lad was a reaction to the betrayal men felt over the new man. We had been sold a vision in which the caring new man would reap the benefits of getting in touch with his more emotional side and as a side benefit we would re-claim the respect and approval of women. But something odd happened. In the TV documentary What Are Men For, the psychologist Dr Aric Sigman refers to a study undertaken by the relationship organisation “Relate” which revealed that although women had said that they wanted men to get in touch with their emotions and share their vulnerability, the same women complained that they didn’t actually fancy the men anymore.

What a ghastly betrayal, you lured men into recreational weeping, only to say - we don’t fancy you anymore we’ve lost respect for you, please be a bastard again! Dr Aric Sigman

Reaction to this was to revert back to some of the behaviours characteristic of the traditional male. In the ethos of the new lad these characteristics were to be exaggerated into a kind of caricature of the traditional male and a definite sticking two fingers up to the new man and his proponents. The new lad made a mockery of the new man, ridiculing his pomposity and self righteousness with a non stop orgy of booze, birds and football.

‘He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference’. Simpson

Women, eager to prove that anything men can do, they can do better, responded with the curious action of emulating these men and becoming the female equivalent of the lager loutish new lad – the “laddette.” The laddette resembles the new lad in every respect including the post-modern ironic defence of her position. Although both the new lad and laddette survive they have both been completely eclipsed by a

The metrosexual is an advertising construct, an impossible ideal to aspire to in order to get us to buy more “stuff.” As Edward Norton’s character says in the David Fincher movie Fight Club, ‘we used to look at pornography – now it’s the Ikea catalogue.’ Maybe the metro-sapian is an attempt to reconcile the touchy feely, caring sharingness of the new man, with the overt masculinity of the new lad – or even of the retro-sexual.

The retro-sexual is the old fashioned, traditional male archetype. Surely metro-man has nothing in common with him?

Not on the face of it perhaps but there is something that metro has in common with retro, and it’s something that’s very important to men in these times of male insecurity. Metro-man offers men the very thing that women longed for in the 60’s; the freedom to define ourselves in some other way than by our relationship to the opposite sex. Metro-man doesn’t need a woman to validate his existence or his manhood.

Despite his stereotypically feminine traits metro man is also confidently and conspicuously masculine. The icon of metro-sexism, David Beckham, defines his masculinity in terms of how many women want him, rather than the reverse, or men for that matter. Beckham is comfortable being the object of desire for both sexes.

So, what does metro have in common with retro? In the 70’s there was a lot of talk about what was called a “devil-may-care” attitude. Advertisers tried to sell to men by presenting an image of manhood that was all about being self assured and confident – this was the time of the Bond movies and the MilkTray adverts. “Denim” aftershave was sold with the tagline “for the man who doesn’t have to try too hard.”

Too cheesy a line for any self-respecting metrosexual of course. But secretly wouldn’t every metrosexual see himself as “the man who didn’t have to try too hard?” Men look back fondly to the more romanticized images and aspects of those days.This is most clearly reflected in the popularity of programs like Life on Mars. Interestingly, Life on Mars is as popular among female audiences as it is with males.

It seems that women would favour a world where men are men. Of course, Life on Mars is a fantasy but audiences still crave the fantasy world.

Image © Becca Gulliver 2007

The origin of the term metrosexual is widely credited to Mark Simpson. The first usage of the term dates back to Simpson’s 1994 article in The Independent newspaper entitled ‘Here Come the Mirror Men’. However the idea of the metrosexual as a concept, really took off when Simpson returned to the subject in his 2002 article, ‘Meet the Metrosexual’, published in the online magazine Taking David Beckham as his prime example of a metrosexual, Simpson classifies metrosexuals as young men with money to spend, living in or close to the metropolis, where they can find all the best shops, clubs and hairdressers.

However, the new lad was of a mind to take care that he wasn’t taken too seriously. Any criticism of the new lad and his behaviour could be deftly countered by a defence of post-modern irony. Everything was done (or overdone) with humour. The truth is that men didn’t actually want to give up a lot of the touchy feely stuff. We’d actually come to realise that we liked being able to talk about the things that troubled us and not just with women but also with our mates.

Men do not want to give up the freedom to express themselves and their emotions. Metrosexual man is the first attempt to bridge the gap between the old and the new, the masculine and the feminine. Perhaps we are about to see the birth of the ‘retro-metrosexual’. But the ‘retro-metro’ is nothing new. Len Deighton’s 60’s spy character Harry Palmer was the antidote to Ian Fleming’s 007. He was working class, had an eye for the ladies, yet was intelligent and sophisticated. He liked to cook and to listen to classical music – yet there was still something of the ‘Jack the lad’ about him.


new gender phenomenon – the “metrosexual.”


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*Subject to availability, offer excludes pantomime and some touring productions

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Emma Shahsvar is in the USA. After introducing the Fijians to Preston’s finest she is now shaking up the good people of NYC.

Qianni Zhang is studying for an MA in Media and Cultural Enterprise at Kings College, London.

Alice Hutt is also about to start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.

Brendan James is studying for an MA in Creative writing at De Montfort University and has written an article included in this edition of Neutral.

As I leave the band start their sound check and Simon is already away attending to other things. I hit the cool air outside and wonder what it might all mean for someone like me wishing to forge a similar career. The message seems to be that if you have the passion for it, the drive and the patience (and a realistic understanding of the finances) then you’re half way there. Nonetheless, in an industry that holds to the adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” it would also make sense to gain as much practical experience as possible and to network like crazy.

Joe Bruce is travelling and is currently in a camper van on the way to Brisbane from Melbourne.

Any words of wisdom, I ask? Simon laughs wryly, “Don’t expect an easy ride. Don't trust anyone but yourself. Work with people who are passionate about music, but who also have the sense to stay in the black, financially speaking. Try to have fun! I think that’s the main thing, enjoy yourself and the exciting music that is going on around. It’s may have to look for it, because it isn't necessarily in the charts or on MTV or Radio 1, but it is there”.

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Robyn Macnamara is working for a travel company that takes her across the globe. She is currently making sure passengers enjoy their trip across South Africa by steam train.

I wondered what kind of game plan one might have when taking on the running of the Basement and Apollo 15. “I have had no template to work from,” Simon tells me, “just my intuition and being able to listen to and try out the ideas of people around me. I think it is important that you have a strong individual notion of exactly what you want to do and work towards it. Take on board the suggestions of friends and colleagues, but only if you believe they can benefit a long term vision. The business is so fickle, if you have a few events that are unsuccessful, you can't be put off. You need to keep the long term vision in mind and persevere.”

Ruth Goldacre was awarded the Faculty of Arts Prize on graduation day. Ruth is currently working at Condé Nast’s HQ in London in their media research and marketing department.

Don’t expect an easy ride. Work with people who are passionate.

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The Basement is an unorthodox venue. It is an intimate space, but it suffers from its fair share of problems. The atmosphere according to Simon is “exceptional”, but the venue has limited capacity. “I also have to compete with York's two other full-time venues”, he points out, “I try to go for a more niche event and I rely heavily upon word of mouth and the venue's reputation for providing a laid back, alternative night out.” Simon is refreshingly candid about the difficulties of running his venture on a tight budget and with limited resources. “I can get the high quality of acts”, Simon explains, “but people are unaware that the Basement is the venue where they can see them.”

Students and Under 25’s Tickets just £5* Art is either plagiarism or revolution

Apollo 15 Promotions

Apollo 15 is a small, independently run live music promotion company, with regular events held at the Basement bar in York. As Events Manager and one of a handful of promoters in the area, Simon has been working hard to put on a variety of events for the past two years. Before Simon’s arrival, there were three or four nights of music a week held at the Basement, along with The Other Side Comedy Club hosting stand-up comedians on Sunday nights. Now the venue has six nights of music. “I’m still responsible for contracting the space to promoters and bands,” Simon tells me, “but I also started promoting my own nights. Hence I began running Apollo 15 Promotions as a separate entity.”

One Step Beyond! Recent Media Graduates from YSJU


When I first enter the Basement there is a smattering of people flitting round. Technical types are performing checks, diligently working away to get the levels right in this slightly awkward venue. Nervous looking band members sit to the side of the stage discussing their impending performance. Simon Micklethwaite of Apollo 15 Promotions walks over to my table, apologises for seeming stressed (though he appears to me to be as calm as pie) and pulls up a chair.


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How do you get into music promotions in the first place and what awaits you if you do? To get a better idea, Claire Davies went to see Simon Micklethwaite, Events Manager of the Basement bar at the City Screen cinema in York and founder of Apollo 15 promotions.


Neutral Magazine  

LazenbyBrown | Neutral Magazine

Neutral Magazine  

LazenbyBrown | Neutral Magazine