Foreword What is public space? This magazine has always had its roots in the reclamation of public space. Subverting the silent takeover of the world around us by corporate entities that tunnel into the recesses of the subconscious and implant self serving templates of reality. Public space has always been more than a purely physical concept. It is an arena of ideas; the matrix in which identities are shaped and social connections are forged. The fundamental problem with such accepted norms as advertising is not so much that corporations have managed to hijack the right to dominate the cityscape with monumental shrines to consumerism, but that they hijack fragments of our consciousness as we pass. The argument that the owner of a building can auction off his exterior wall to the highest bidder on the grounds of property rights comes crashing down when we realize that that space transcends his physical wall and embeds itself in our minds. Who sold off our field of vision? Who sold off our primary interface with the outside world? Who sold off our synapses? There is nothing quite so paralyzing as acceptance. The surrender to ‘that’s the way things are’. Now we all know what we think about advertising and the plastic dreams they preach, and yet as a wider society, we have bought into it as a fact of life. Which is why street art is so critical to holding the balance between resistance and surrender – to reclaim those spaces – to throw renegade creativity up against the billboards – to take by right what huge budgets and corporate muscle buy by no right – to fight the guerrilla war in the fractured mists of midnight. To stake an alternative public space. Now let’s open up the dimensionality and the perception of public space to the internet. In one of the universe’s most mischievous twists on the linearity that convention holds so dear, the internet came flying out of the military industrial research complex and wove pure chaos into imposed order. Written into the early runes of computer technology was a universal language that was intrinsically and dazzlingly free. Spiralling into community fractals where like-minded individuals learned and shared a new means of connection that instantly dissolved geographic limits, a glorious anarchy burst forth and spun a new world - a new reality from the sub atomic genesis of each individual contribution. A vast cosmos of communication and open source creativity where in two decades, the human race built a gleaming new space for consciousness to flourish in; free from the strictures of existing, monolithic frameworks. It was as if the human spirit had mutated to survive. Faced by a closed, top down hierarchical reality driven by money and power - that seed; that human essence had migrated to cyberspace to thrive anew. As people dared to dream of settling other planets as the earth neared the apocalypse of systematic self destruction, the human mind was developing a new plane of consciousness online. Where you could be anyone you wanted to be, say anything you wanted to say – be as stark staring mad or as visionary as your imagination would allow. Where a teenager living in a rural village could express himself through any global subculture he chose. Where a street artist can paint something in Cape Town, have it painted over the next day and still have the message go viral across the world.
There are problems. Saturated content being the bastard child of democratized access. Musicians and filmmakers losing their livelihood to the torment of the torrent. Distasteful groups from the obscenely bigoted to the casually violent building their membership beyond their wildest dreams. Ease of access breeds indolence and attention spans have grown exponentially shorter, while projecting an identity through a carefully edited online profile allows people to claim to love, fight for and support things without ever actually doing anything concrete. But the strange attractors of any chaotic model always have a sting somewhere in their infinite tail. Would we have it otherwise? Having survived thus far in the crucible of complexity as control mechanisms designed for the physical world struggled to adjust to this flash of evolution, the reckoning has now come. This is the fight. This is right now. This is not an ‘accepted reality’. This reality is still in play. But not for long. ACTA, SOPA and PIPA were halted in the breach by web wide mobilization – perhaps the most telling contribution being that of Wikipedia which ironically few businesses and governments can now live without. But halted is the operative word. They will be back in perpetually shape shifting forms like the all too urgent CISPA, until statute takes hold and the steel shutters slam shut. The UK government has just announced sweeping plans for web monitoring with the CCDP and the shadows are looming large. But even without legislation, just look at data mining and the privatization of freely shared content where your very identity becomes commodified and sold back to you. The staggering subversions of privacy in a world where people feel free. The most dangerous occupation is always one that is invited in and just as advertising somehow managed to make itself an immutable ‘reality’, the idea of trading privacy and ultimately, autonomy for use of websites is rapidly becoming an accepted ‘truth’. A purely manufactured truth, but compliance will raise it to the pedestal of ‘definite truth’. We are witnessing power structures catch up with the lightning speed, open source dynamics of the net and their fightback is more advanced, more nuanced and infinitely more insidious than anything witnessed in three dimensions. The internet is the final frontier of public space. It is perhaps the most stunning testament to the human spirit in recent history and created an ‘anti-globalisation’ to economic and political currents. A global localization even. Public space is infinitely more than bricks and mortar – it is communal consciousness, it is the very neurons our ideas fire through and its nexus, its network – its last bastion of external freedom swirls through the synergies between technology and consciousness. Communication and connection are the patterns of life and the rhythms of knowledge and we still have a public space in which they can exist and multiply. We can still see it radiate with the quantum bolts of free exchange. It is still ours and perception is still fluid. Do we continue to shape it in our own image or allow the entire spectrum of possibility to be subjugated by governments and corporations alike? This is a window, a moment, a blink in time where we can keep the portals open and the connections flowing through the glittering circuits of infinity. So which is it? The red pill or the blue pill?
Wayne Anthony (Class of 88) + Sirius 23
Contents Don’t forget that if you are reading this online to go full screen and if you are reading on a pdf to press the automatically sized double page view - it’s in the view menu
P183 - Touching Russia’s Eternal Soul 9 27 Imaginary Commodities - RSH - shades of the obscene JFB - Scratching up a Storm 33 Above - Rising High and Letting Fly 46 Ask Auntie- Upping the Auntie 63 74 Don - Etched shadows of the Sublime Cymatics - Sirius 23 - An Introductory Wave 93 Portion Control - Matt Dopamine Goddard - Street Eatz 100 106 Slamboree- Neo Circus Balkan Dub Rave Biscuit 117 Playing with Fractals - Douglas Rushkoff - Sarah Sze Dal East - Synthesisied Organics 127 141 A New Politics - Carne Ross - Lessons From Occupy 151 Does Loveletters - Glittering Glimpses of Graff 167 Jaguar Skills - 23 Feet Fly and Rising Blek Le Rat - In Conversation with Le Parrain 182 210 Page 51 - Hacking New Mediums 221 London in Puddles - Gavin Hammond - Liquid Prisms 231 David kaiser - How The Hippies Saved Physics Unique 3 - Sonic Reprobate 256 271 The Death of Terrence Mckenna - Gyrus - Reflectionz Max Zorn - Repackaging Windows on the Noir 280 293 Arun Ghosh’s Odyssey - Justin Vigo - A Mesmeric Wind Arcadia - Urban Poetry in a cauldron of Contradictions 305 Time Travel Theory - Robert Williscroft - Ten Past Albert 327 335 Nice Up The Walls - Bless Up 346 Neosignal - Drum n Bass Soundscapes with Attitude 356 Logan Hicks - The Architecture of Art Bill Ayres - RSH - Talking about Occupy 375 ADW - Ronan Hickey - Assault with a deadly wit 384 399 Urban Knights - Audio Visual Onslaught 408 Astro - Swirling ribbons of spray
Courage - Ian Milne - Taking on yourself 421 Global Street Art - The Science of Documenting Street Art 427 440 Stylus Rex - Dancefloor Textures 448 My Morning with Brian - Justin Vigo - Brian Barnes 462 Dublin Contemporary- Ronan Hickey - Ireland’s Finest Attending to Dreams - Gyrus - Whispers of consciousness 471 Hudson Zuma - Not Crying Wulf 480 Eclipse of the Murdoch Sun - Prem Nick - Gotcha 487 489 Featured Artists - Artists featured in our Gallery Pages THANKS TO TEAM LSD Shrinechick / Busk / Andy Cam / Gay Lawlor / Elate / Ix Indamix Old Dear / Dominic Spreadlove / Freddy Phitness / Simon Carter /Coco Edwards/ Cain H Dhyani / BB / Tyree Cooper / Madeline Williams / 69DB / Debbie Griffith / Stray Wayward Front Cover / lsd ads : Coco Edwards - www.cocoedwards.com And Thanks to our Photographers 4foot2 - www.flickr.com/photos/61698472@N06/ Walls of Milano - www.flickr.com/photos/wallsofmilano/ Bombers Dream - www.thebombersdream.com Left Coast Letters - www.flickr.com/photos/gabemeier Spider Tag - www.flickr.com/photos/spidertag/ Nine-O - www.flickr.com/photos/paulo2070 Mr Klevra - www.flickr.com/photos/klevra/ Dave Desimone - www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1264341979 Gen Duarte - www.flickr.com/photos/gen_iu/ Claude London - www.flickr.com/photos/claudelondon/ Isaac Cordal - www.flickr.com/photos/isaacordal/ Miss Kaliansky Ronan Hickey Ron Copeland
And Big Love to anyone whose shots we hijacked - let us know and we’ll make it up to you
Deep beneath the snowstruck streets, the turbulent history and the shifting edifices of Russian power, the fire of conscious engagement and creative power is burning bright. Infiltrating the labyrinthine catacombs of Moscowâ€™s twilight, the shadowy P183 is bringing monumental installations and pirate spins on unquestioned truth screaming into focus. Extraordinarily prolific and always dramatic, yet conceptually razor sharp, his art, his resistance, his fight and his voice are tearing a new perspective into Russian consciousness. From haunting projections invoking the ghosts of struggles past and spirits eternal to all out visual assault with images of riot police bursting through metro doors. From ingenious transformations of the mundane and ignored into giant works of art to
the flames of the vox populi setting the cityscape ablaze. From lonliness and isolation abandoned in the ice to veiled mystery staring out of the concrete, his relentless flood of inspiration and targeted cries for change - often more universal than overtly political are simply breathtaking. A complex artist and a complex man - this is nothing quite so simple as political art. It is a proudly Russian voice striving for spiritual and mental freedom and the realisation of his countryâ€™s true potential. While creating some extraordinarily thought provoking art and urban interventions along the ride. We caught up with the man himself - despite the language barrier, itâ€™s a fascinating insight into a beautifully subversive mind and son of struggles past and present
How old were you when the old Soviet Union collapsed and how did that period feel?
How did Russian society change during the 1990’s?
My parents lived in a high rise block of flats on the Tinkers Embankment. I have distinct memories of that period from about the age of 4 and I am permanently struck to this day by the atmosphere of the Stalinist past that still pervades. I remember vividly how during my childhood, my great-grandmother would tell me stories from the mists of the Tsarist past and one that really resonated was the story of fugitive convicts hiding in the dungeons under Hitrovskogo market. Ever since that moment I decided that I would have an underground hiding place – a bolt hole of my own, and just before 1991, while I was looking for an entrance into the catacombs, I managed to infiltrate the basement shelter of a famous skyscraper. And there, in one of the old booths amongst a pile of photos of civil defence exercises was a picture of my father holding a gun.
There was despair and delight – often fluctuating through the exact same moment. People were so desperate that they were ready to take up arms and go to their death. Everyone had relatives, everyone had family at some level of hardship and tragedy. There were immense queues for food outside every shop, shortages were rife - we lived like holy fools, as martyrs to the light ahead of us, bound in suffering and an incredible unity, all to spit on their power.
It was a serious shock. And right around that point came the seminal shift in power as the Soviet Union fell. I was only 8 years old and I remembered that photo, and the intense spirit of my father’s lost era – it imprinted me and crystallised my emotional reaction to the Soviet period. I was at that confluence of time and events and it marked me for the rest of my life. There was both good and bad in the Soviet era – nothing is ever black and white, and the ongoing process of weighing facts, patterns, and currents of past and present has always stayed with me in my ongoing search for truth.
There was fear, hatred and anger, and as the edifices crumbled, chaos and boundless joy. But at the same time you saw all kinds of wanton stupidity as everything got looted and stolen – even from small, struggling businesses and aspects of society those same people relied on for their own protection and basic needs. Everyone tried to survive as best they could. There were dreams of the impossible, euphoria and joy. But that whole period is shrouded in a chaos I can’t believe I survived and yet perhaps the greatest time of my life. Somehow the whole country was tasting TOTAL freedom – even if it that optimism didn’t survive in the long run
Do you see your art as a form of resistance or as a form of reflection? Or is defining it missing the point? Every tool I use is a weapon. Living in an impoverished country and always battling to survive has defined my identity and so I can’t really conceive or discuss anything outside the struggle for freedom we have all fought so hard for here. For me, my art is a complete reflection of me and I am born out of resistance and struggle at core. That has been my life. So yes.... resistance.
How important is it to use existing features of the city in an unexpected way?
It’s absolutely natural for me, not least because I had no toys as a child, and I remember improvising hard with a knife, chopping out bits of fencing to construct my How much is street art a part of Moscow life? own ad hoc toys. When that seed is so deeply sown, the idea of transforming bits of the Street art first began to appear in Moscow urban landscape comes almost instinctively, in 2000 and really came off the leash and and anything, anywhere, over and above exploded in 2006. It has long been accepted and understood here and is certainly a part of straight concrete can be used as a tool and shaped into new meaning. urban life
How important is a child’s perspective to understanding our world? I’m very wary of any influence society may have on our children and that includes schooling to some extent. I know that’s probably a paradox – we aren’t living in a utopia but any form of coercion whether physical or mental shapes the open mind of a child into the mould of whatever viewpoint is being pressed onto them. Nowadays, if you’re not part of society you almost forfeit your right to live in it. And survive in it. And then there is no place to go. Thus you either end up as a slave or an outcast..... or a pirate.
Tell us about the projection work Once I started to venture down into subterraean Moscow and began immersing myself in the atmosphere of the past, I wanted something to create opportunities within it. But I hesitated to paint and leave a permanent mark as it would compromise that very atmosphere I found so fascinating. And then one day, down in the catacombs near a waterfall, a drop of water hit my torch and reflected the light through its prism onto the stone. Instantly – there it was a huge hole projected in shining brilliance onto the wall – almost looking like a portal. I realized then and there that I needed to build a fully autonomous, fully mobile projector that could operate from any voltage source – no matter how rough and ready. Once I had the tools
in place – I began projecting pictures and photos onto the dungeons, the catacombs and the abandoned shelters – images of the times when all those abandoned spaces were part of people’s daily lives. As time passed, I started doing whole panoramics with the projector and began bringing the ghosts of history back to life within their original context – and there it was - underground light art.
What do bridges symbolize for you? To me, the bridge is the ability to cross into something either new or old.
Where is the line between working for free and free expression Unfortunately, I depend on having some sort of income to have the means to implement my ideas. I have always held a clear line between art and earnings. And by the way, the same line exists between vandalism and art, because vandalism in its purest form is for me, one of the essential forms of expression itself. I want to carry the ideas and thoughts of the dead and the forgotten genius of my country, I want to raise their thoughts and the truth for which they fought. I want to help people to think and live better.
How free is a society based on money? You are free of the yoke when you let mind, reason, logic and ego go. If you surround yourself with ashes and refuse all that is material, you become truly free. Now, I have to live and I have to eat, but periodically I switch into a deeply ascetic lifestyle to center myself and remember who I am. At times, I need to become mere ashes, or just a splash of mud on the side of the road. There is such profound salvation in refusal.
How much of your work is intrinsically aimed at Russia I never consider myself to have done anything to harm my country in any way. I love my country no matter what. And the most faithful expression of that love is trying to change it for the better
If you were caught by the police – what would happen? Anything can happen – it all depends on the circumstances. Saying that, most problems can be solved without too much stress as all of my work has meaning and they the police do become aware of that meaning and treat me with relative care.
Do people actually believe government propaganda or are they just not angry enough yet to fight for a new world? I could write a book about what the state does to people in Russia but for obvious reasons, I can`t do it. I will say that for some reason people are forced to just barely live and survive
Is art a weapon?
What was the fork symbolizing?
Absolutely. A simple piece of chalk can be infinitely more dangerous than a razor sharp knife
The fork or rather the whole installation is dedicated to your shopping cart and consumption. A hand reaching for food – the huge fork in a pile of pasta that everyone wants to have before them.
How do you feel about the recent protests in Moscow? It’s a positive attitude!!
How important is it to film and photograph your work?
What was the reaction to the riot police on the metro doors?
The photo and the original piece work together in many ways. Video especially is a unique opportunity to convey much more than just the installation or design, and therefore a very has an incredibly important role in the process
It varied dramatically, but basically it was profound surprise and sense of satire. People almost reinforced each other’s reactions to them and you saw them exchanging glances laden with irony as they found a certain unity in reacting the same way as a total stranger next to them. I saw open fear and hysterical laughter. One guy approached the doors, saw the riot police and didn’t even go into the station. He just sat down, called his girlfriend and then actually began calling reporters.
What does 183 represent? 183 is a number I seem to stumble upon with amazing regularity in life. Add to that that I was born on 08/11/83, and it seemed futile to resist – so I took it as my name!
How important are eyes a metaphor and as a powerful visual tool? Eyes are my favourite part of the body as they convey so much more than mimicry. I love blue and black eyes. I learned a lot about people through different shapes and colours within their eyes, and I’m convinced that the eyes can say everything about a person.
How much time do you spend alone in your own world? Lately, I have been spending a lot of time in my own world. I pull out of it’s vanity, and material hype – everything that I cannot bear. But I know that the night will always come and save me and sleepless, I once more see the sun.
How do you see the future of Russia over the next 10 years? Well some of the best minds in Russia like for example Yuri Shevchuk have already helped awaken others. But exactly what it will lead to is difficult to say. The systems built over previous generations have clearly failed, so something will have to change. In any case, for me, Russia is the boundless forests, fields, mountains, rivers, and the depth of its soul. That will always flourish – whether the souls of people will also go on to such heights of liberty is impossible to say.
What does the future hold for you? I have a responsibility to all the people I know, to all those who are sadly already passed, and to those still living who help me always. I will continue to do what I do and bring the mass of ideas within me into a new reality
IMAGINARY COMMODITIES Over the course of the past 80 or so years
the art world has become something other than a conduit of cultural ideas. It has been infiltrated by banks and investors as a way to park huge sums of wealth in imaginary commodities deemed valuable by said banks and investors. Ultimately this means that a small handful of extremely wealthy individuals is choosing what our museums present as art, which artists are able to reach the public eye through exposure in a tiny clique of magazines, galleries and public and private cultural institutions like the Tate, MOMA, MCA, Whitney, etc. The decision to inflate certain artist’s value in order to make them investable commodities was something that meant they had to control the entire shape of how each of their chosen artists would be presented to the public. Since they were already the largest donors and board members of the major museums the ability to shape this flow of who is worthy and who is not was already at hand.
Artists who don’t make any of their own work, that pay others to produce it like a assembly line, are merely brand names created by weathly investors to facilitate the laundering of money. Brands like Mr Brainwash, Hirst, Emin and many of the supposed art world’s greatest hits of the 80’s and 90’s «born to wealth» spoiled kid who can buy their way into good PR and upscale galleries. This concept that its the ‘idea’ that is important, and not the execution, in the making of art is a ridiculous idiocy that has been perpetrated on the public as part of the process of eliminating any potentially ‘outside’ intrusions into the imaginary commodities market that is called the ‘art world.’ By eliminating the need for skill and talent the rich have made it possible that even the talentless can be deified as artists worthy of investment. Why elevate the poor based on their talent when you can elevate your friend’s spoiled children and their art school chums?
PROTESTORS AT SOTHEBY’S CONTEMPORARY ART SALE MAY 2012
Technology will eventually make the reproduction of any object down to the atomic level commonplace. Once we can scan a Picasso or a Miro and reproduce them as exact to the atom copies then what point is there in owning «the original»? Art has nothing to do with ownership, it has to do with experience. The experience of creating art, and the experience of perceiving art as a viewer. Beyond those two sides of experience everything else is conjecture and fabrication. As the resolution of digital recording of the physical world increases the concepts of ownership have begun to shift and societies understanding of ‘copyright’ has dramatically manifested itself as one large «meh.» Nobody gives a shit if its illegal to download a movie or album. The nature of technology is such that no measures to limit copyright infringement will ever be successful. At every point in the evolution of technology the drive to outsmart the limitations will always exceed the forces imposing those limitations.
Ultimately copyright is dead. Ownership is over. The contemporary art world we have now didn’t exist prior to the mid 20th century. The model of converting art into a commodity in which money could be invested is something that has infected the evolution of art itself. The rich have glorified the inept, deified the banal, and made the ‘spectacle’ the centerpiece of the art world in order to create an imaginary commodity in which to park their wealth. This has nothing to do with art, any more than a parasite has to do with its host’s life. It is an infection to be cured. Unfortunately an ever increasing number of artists who once were able to create without the boundaries and financial constraints inherent in the gallery system find themselves, out of economic necessity, signing contracts that prohibit them from doing even the graffiti work that had been the foundation of their notoriety. These gallery contracts stipulate that the artist can not give away
work, including illegal graffiti, nor work with others outside of the shadow of the gallery that contractually owns them. Violation of these rigorously written legal documents will not only lead to legal action, but may bar the artist from ever developing a relationship with another gallery or art buyer. Beyond the contractual basis for most artist/gallery relationships is the currently dominate form of art sales - the art fair. The «art fair» has become the prevalent model for the large scale sale of contemporary art. These short one week festivals are akin to an upscale starving artists group portrait sale at a roadside motel. They charge galleries/artists incredible amounts to rent a cubicle style space and reduce art, its public consumption and its sale to an overpriced boot-sale. Art fairs are the horrible by-product of the capitalist driven model of art investment, like the slave trading markets of ancient Rome art
is bought and sold far from the eye of anyone but the 1%. The art world and those who would practice its arcane rituals have fully become the playground of the rich spoiled investor classes. They have so thoroughly invested in the ownership of art that they control who is seen as popular, who is getting attention in the media, who can make a living at the making of art - completely without thought for talent, skill or soul of the true artist. When art can return to the practice of art making, to the experience of the process of creation, it will begin again to breath a new life. Free from the constant recycling of past ideas, the stagnation of spectacle, and the banality of appropriation art will then be capable of changing the world - and not a moment too soon. RSH - 1 MAY 2012
RSH PRESENTS ORLD’S THE W
O N LY I FFIT GRA L A IV FEST
JUNE 1 - 2012 The streets are our canvas, The world is our museum.
NO PERMISSION, NO SPONSORS, NO FEES, NO SALES. JUST PUBLIC ART.
Two time winner of the UK DMC championships, improvisational bad boy and all round dancefloor mischief maker JFB is scratching up a bassline storm sixteen ways to sunrise.
up the breaks, ripping up the drum n bass and laying down the funk, he is a proper party DJ .
Long time collaborator with Beardyman on the legendary Battlejam nights, JFB rode the Thereâ€™s always been a not so fine line wave of new DJ technology into a furious between ruffing up the lightning trix and matrix of cutting edge improvisation where the crowd were sampled in and scratched up sublime flicks of a turntablist showcase and on the fly, where video scratching flew into rocking a dancefloor and JFB is the master of surfing it into pure, bass drenched party the mix, where beatboxed beats were turning mayhem. Irrepressible energy, killer flows digital cartwheels within seconds and where a genuinely interactive feedback loop with and silky skillz slam hard into scratched up fills and epic thrills as the breaks fly scorching the crowd locked everyone into a renegade into the next rampaging bassline. Pioneering freestyle groove. And all laced with a massive swing hop - a gloriously twinkling mix of wink and a sunshine sense of fun and electric swing and upbeat bassline hip hop, smashing good times. We caught up with him for a chat
What kind of scene did you start out in I started going out to raves when I was about 16, so what with it being the early 90’s I was going out to old skool hardcore and early jungle nights on the South coast of England. To be honest, I was into a bit of everything, and once I was going out raving properly, the next step was to score a pair of crappy turntables and get stuck in.
Were you crate digging for old funk and stuff back then or going with all the new white labels etc Truth be told, I didn’t really know much about funk at the time. I mean I liked it in a sort of passive way, but it’s only really been in the last 7 years or so that I’ve realised where all the samples in the hardcore and jungle tunes actually came from. So it was mostly contemporary tunes that I was buying and getting to grips with.
So you’ve got some decks and you’re getting some beat matches together. How did it suddenly take off into turntablism proper.
Did you literally just lock yourself away for a couple of years? I didn’t really scratch at all for the first year and a half – just straight up mixing, but I was so into it, I didn’t get round to doing much else. I suppose the first real sort of breakthrough was when myself and an MC mate of mine got a slot on a pirate radio station, and that became our thing, our project and it basically added in that element of actually playing to people rather than just a bedroom lock in. So that was a great learning curve before landing my first few club gigs. So one day, a mate of mine drops round the house and showed me how to do a bit of basic transforming, and from there I began practicing a few baby scratches and stuck with them for a few years, not really pushing it much further than that. The same mate also lent me a few DMC videos which obviously buzzed me right up, but the decks I had were so shit you could just barely scratch on themand beat juggling was way out of the realms of what they could be relied on to do. Needles jumping all over the pace, general wobbling – it was a nightmare. But then I was skint and just messing about anyway, so they served their purpose.
Once I started playing out at loads of drum n bass parties and bar gigs and reached the point of being able to half squeeze my rent money out of gigs, my scratching had improved and my overdraft could just about take a caning from a new set of decks, so I got back on the DMC videos, kissed the shit decks goodbye and started having a serious go at beat juggling.
So you finally enter the DMC – what’s the vibe like – is it hyper competitive between the DJ’s or is there a friendliness and a sense of unity
obviously very talented DJ’s, but if you looked at places like France, the level of technical skill on show was just that much higher. Which is not to say that it was better – just technically more advanced, and some of the really skilled turntablists in the UK weren’t even bothering to enter the UK finals. Can’t stress enough that none of that is to say that the people competing were shit or anything – they were seriously good, and anyway, technical skill and a top routine aren’t always one and the same thing.
Well this is the thing – there is a definite difference. How did you find your balance Everyone was really friendly, and while I between showcasing skills and rocking a suppose there’s always going to be an element dancefloor. of competitiveness in a…er.. competition, I Well you see - I was used to playing out at think it was more a case of people shitting themselves than giving it the large. There was gigs and mixing records to make people a definite sense of intimidation about people, dance rather than to pull off some hyper slick routine. So those were my roots – dancefloor and that may possibly have had something orientated mixing. Problem was, that when to do with the fact that the guys competing I started getting deeper into the whole DMC in the UK DMC maybe weren’t quite as good side of things and developed my turntablism as some other countries. I mean they were
skills, I‘d find it massively frustrating that I couldn’t really use them in clubs without risking a bit of a downer on the dancefloor. It was actually Beardyman who suggested putting together a list of tunes that could work as kind of ‘get out of jail free’cards. Guaranteed stormers that you couldn’t go wrong with so if you felt you were maybe losing the crowd a tiny bit, you could slam em back into gear with one of these strategic tracks everybody likes. So the next step was to start creating some simple turntablist routines out of this list so I could start to rebuild the tracks with scratching carved into them. My first routine was Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of that was super simple, yet still quite impressive to watch for people who don’t know much about scratching. The idea is to keep the arrangement of the original while working in turntablist elements that flow with it instead of jarring it into a stop start thing. It’s a way to do it while keeping people’s heads bopping and there’s always a drop to get people moving.
The idea is to keep the new version as similar to the original as possible so people can still feel their cues and sing along, and I do pretty much the same thing in virtually every gig I play. You get the relevant elements of the track – chop them up in whatever music editing software and loop certain sections which gives you your basic ingredients. Then whack them into Serato and fuck about a bit until a sort of plan and an order emerges to bounce back and forth between the elements and create a new whole.
How much did Serato revolutionise what you do Shitloads. As soon as I got it, I got so much better within literally a day. The sheer increase in skill within 24 hours was mental. I suddenly had access to everything in my itunes, my computer, my record collection that I then recorded in, and don’t forget – for beat juggling, you need two copies of the same
tune, and there were so many tracks on vinyl that I only had the one copy of, that having the digital world of possibility open up was massively liberating. I ransacked the internet for days buying tune after tune after tune and scratching after I got hold of it – it was awesome.
Tell us a bit about the Battlejam days – how did all that come about and start to evolve Right – so…. I’d just got Serato and my flatmate, shit hot producer Ed Solo is looking over the tech specs. ‘Oi’ says he. ‘It’s got a record function’. ‘What?’ I say. ‘You’re fucking joking’. ‘No’ he says. ‘I don’t joke about shit like this’
Obviously there was nothing for it but to record Ed’s voice saying something stupid. Had to be done. So we recorded it in and bang – there it was – loopabale and useable in a split second. Now Ed’s a blinding producer, and a top bloke but probably not winning any vocal awards anytime soon, so I rang up Beardyman and started shouting at him to get round sharpish with his microphone. He didn’t know what the fuck was going on as I hopped around telling him where to plug it in, and as soon as he beatboxed a beat, I instantly started beat juggling it. We were all totally blown away by the whole new world this was gonna open up so we locked ourselves in and set about the serious business of being really silly with it and seeing what it could do and how far you could push it.
It was really positive for Beardyman too as he could see what his beats sounded like straight away and hear them instantly scratched and bounced about freesyle without having to record into a computer, press playback and start methodically doing stuff on the edit. I think it helped him develop his skillset – he’s amazing at vocal scratching, but a lot of that is from hearing me sample in his voice and scratch it straight up which allowed him to emulate the effect vocally and get him into a live digital mindset maximizing real time features. I mean he would have got there anyway – not trying to steal his thunder here, but I think seeing it definitely helped.
Yeah - people in dance music can occasionally (shock horror) take themselves a bit too seriously (unlike my last question obviously). How important is having a right old laugh to keeping things fresh Mate – forget dance music – having a sense of humour is the key to human survival
Speaking of survival – bootlegs. Right. Are they wicked new creative reinterpretations of classics or are there way too many of them and a bit of a cop out from writing a new hook
Hmmmm. Well considering I’ve just released a bootleg EP and doing them myself regularly, So then you started doing these freestyle I think it’s a bit cheeky – no doubt… but also nights with all kinds of real time sampling really fun. There’s loads of different factors and crowd interactiveness – how did all that in play – on the bad side, yes it’s naughty happen – was it to build a revolutionary new – you are basically nicking someone else’s vector for improvisation, feedback loops with music and putting a beat and a bassline on the crowd and a new chapter in electronic top of it. BUT…but but but… you’re also live performance. taking those tracks and working them to today’s dancefloors. And the crowd love it. Nah – we did it cos it was funny
Especially when you get a crowd that is really unresponsive to something entirely new – drop a reworked classic and watch them go nuts. And when it goes past the obvious classics, it gets more interesting because you’re laying down dancefloor versions of tracks people had forgotten even existed – let alone how much they loved them. And so ultimately, you throw a couple in here and there alongside the newer stuff – and you’ve got a party.
Social Know How – classic track – that EP in fact… where did you get the idea to whack some swing on a dubsteppy bass and a hip hop beat – it was next level electro swing.. When I first got a computer and started messing about making tunes, I was really into putting old jazz samples over hip hop beats with drum n bassy style basslines over the top. Which is essentially what I’m doing now, but at the time – no-one was really that into it. And also, I’d just started making music, so let’s face it, it was pretty shit. I did put out an EP on that tip in the same year which did alright, but after that, I developed a bit of writer’s block and concentrated on my scratching, honing my DJing and getting deeper in breaks and drum n bass.
Then one day, I got asked to do a battle against DJ Switch in Brighton for an electro swing night using only the tracks they sent me. They were all electro swing, and I was sat there thinking ‘fucking hell – that’s what I always wanted to do and it looks like now is the time’ So I did the battle with Switch, and as he pulled out all his world DMC finals routines, I managed to take it with flurry of video scratching routines with some seriously hard disses built into it - thinking that because it was crowd responsive, I may be able to see his World DMC juggles and raise him a good scratched up slagging. It was a bit harsh on him, but it was funny and he actually saw the funny side too. So I wanted to make some electro swing tracks at that point, but couldn’t find the time, but I got booked a couple of months later to go play an electro swing set in London. I was up for it, and they sent me loads of tracks which – if I’m honest – I wasn’t massively impressed with the production on, so I dived in for a quick editing session. Got some of my old
beats together, razzed up some basslines and basically nailed one track in a couple of hours and made a decent start on a second. The feedback was great so I sent it off to Freshly Squeezed who said they wanted to release it. I’m working on another electro swingy track – well I call it Swing Hop with some guys called Dutty Moonshine so there’ll be a new collaboration out soon!
so when you scratch the sound – you scratch the video. Now unless you’ve done a bit of strategic planning – just grabbing a random video file and throwing it into the mix means that it won’t be in time unless you’ve been properly flukey, so I throw audio and video into an editing program – time em up and render it as a movie file – so audio and visual synched in one file, and then throw it to one of the decks and get stuck in.
Just to rewind (feeble pun shamefully intended) to the video scratching bit – can you just explain what that actually means
Speaking of flukey – do you find some of the best breakthroughs happen by accident
Well in a nutshell – it does exactly what it says on the tin. Instead of scratching with sound – you’re scratching with video. Imagine rewinding and fast forwarding a video really fast in time with the music – it’s wicked. And you can do it all through Serato because that has a video scratch option on it – so you’re using a piece of vinyl to scratch images. And you can have sound and audio on the same deck – so you have a tune playing and you can throw a piece of video onto the same channel,
There are still an awful lot of vinyl purists out there – especially in turntablism. Are they their own worst enemy cutting themselves off from instant dubs and about 90% of the new music out there?
Not at all. If I’m honest – when I’m scratching with a bit of vinyl, it’s so much more of a pleasure because it’s so responsive by
comparison to Serato – but then Serato is still very good and getting better. Saying that – the really sick turntablists –the super super sick ones still do use real records because there is that slightly different feel. Now I don’t think I’m that good – yes I can scratch and beat juggle and all that – but the guys at the absolute peak are pulling off the most intricate, tiny hand movements and I think at that point – real records do make a massive difference. I get DJ’s coming up to me going ‘How can you scratch on Serato – it must be so annoying’ at which point I can’t help thinking that maybe I’m just not as good as them and all their ridiculously intricate hand movement stylings.
How do you feel about autosync Don’t know much about it – think it’s more a Traktor thing because there isn’t an autosync function in Serato
Well basically – you press a button and your
tracks sync into time. Do you think that removing that factor frees you up to get creative in the mix or is just a total cop out Erm…..well it sounds pretty gay, but I can imagine it can be used to do some interesting stuff with. Anything like that can always be used to do something cool with, but equally – there’s going to be loads of people who use it because they’re shit and never put the hours in.
So look – do you find that the moments on stage when you’ve stopped thinking and going through all kinds of logical processes and just lose yourself are the best Definitely – I just get really drunk so I don’t have to worry about all that logical shit
And you hold it together OK when slaughtered? Never had any complaints – but maybe I just can’t remember them in the morning
So what’s the plan for the next few months Well I’ve got a few tuney type project things which hopefully people will see once I’ve actually done em. I’m playing at the Olympics doing video scratching at the BMX arena doing little routines to their routines – so fat scratches while they’re doing massive aerials. I’m doing a tour of Canada and then playing in Japan with Beardyman and the Chemical Brothers which may lead into an Asian tour off the back of it. And I’m doing loads of blinding festivals in England with this wicked, wicked crew called Chai Wallahs. They’ve got a brilliant tent and always got amazing acts playing in it, and are usually in the best parts of the festival – so that is going to be awesome – really looking forward to that
www.facebook.com/pages/ JFB/43664287875 www.youtube.com/ watch?v=2jFJmZrTN5o Thanks to Eye of the Mind for some of the shots
Driven by an unrelenting nomadicism that echoes the ephemeral essence of street art itself, Above is driving the power of art as a way of life ever deeper into international consciousness and the global landscape.
he goes - he goes BIG. Denial may be an option. Ignoring him....not so much. Sticking a massive indictment of blood diamonds up on the wall of the biggest diamond exporter in the Southern hemisphere - just class.
Monumental wordplays up to 100 metres long, site specific subversions slamming into straight up heists, raw, charged stencils and the circumnavigating arrows juddering out of walls in electric colour all sizzle in his perpetual wake. Oscillating between the abstract, the socio-political, the elementally human and the wry conceptual flicks writ giant, Above is on a serious mission. Skewring injustice on a grand scale from the diamond dealers of South Africa to the bespoke suited, Wall Street pimps of industry, when
Chiselled by the endless road, windswept into new cycles of ideas and shaped by a constant flow of experience, Above lives his life firmly outside the box and that spirit - that dynamism, bursts unyielding out of his art. From the arrows that became his trademark, pushing ever higher to the vibrant funk of his dancers to the imprinted words sculpted from paint, concrete and restless neurons, he is always pushing for the next epic piece, the next slippery idea trapped in a vice of expression. We managed to catch up.
How much do your nomadicism and the ephemeral nature of street art feed back into each other.
The arrow symbol for me is a constant reminder for me to ‘Rise Above’ my challenges, adversities and keep pushing myself. I have high ambitions and with those high ambitions comes equal if not more Well I am nomadic and constantly travelling challenges. If the road to ‘success’ was easy due to that simple fact you just stated; that then everyone could do it, so the arrow art left in the streets is ephemeral and not symbol and desire to push through difficult permanent. Say I’ve been to London putting situations and keep persevering. The arrow as up lots of street works in 2010. Everyday an icon is quick, easy to digest and understood thereafter the works start to decay, get buffed, regardless of what country I am in. It’s one stolen, crossed out or if lucky actually survive of the oldest symbols known to man and if to live another day. If I return to London you think about it on your day to day life you in 2012 I might not find any of my street probably see an arrow symbol some 100+ actions still on the street so it evokes me to times per day. I enjoy a great deal traveling so return, and to take it a step farther and keep the journey and more over the process of the spreading the circle of my artworks in new journey are all the excitingly random aspects I cities and countries around the world. Time enjoy. makes things grow old so for me I feel it’s important to keep my feet moving and my hands busy making artworks.
How much does the arrow represent a personal journey and how much is it just a great template for street work
How much have your travels connected up local experience with global currents – political, social or economic I have always aimed towards having my artworks be as site specific as possible. Whether it be a hung arrow, a word play painting, or a full colour stencil it’s important for me to connect and relate the piece to either the city, country or particular environment it’s painted on. For instance the most recent wordplay I did was in Johannesburg, South Africa on the exterior of the southern hemispheres largest diamond exporter. Since I decided to travel to Johannesburg to make a wordplay statement that was social and political against the illegal and unjust blood diamond trade the enables African wars. I hijacked the wall as I had permission to paint “ Diamonds are a woman’s best friend” but I lied to them and added “... and a man’s worst enemy!” This piece would not have had the impact if it were not site specific and executed in the manner done. So to answer your question, yes travels keep my mind and imagination active to incorporate as much as possible the current global, social and political events partaking in that specific city and country.
How aware were you of the Occupy movements as they developed – and how much did they inspire you to get involved however you could. I had first heard and knew about the Occupy movements in early October, 2011. I was in San Francisco and leaving for Miami the next day. On the plane flight I read an article in the San Francisco chronicle that was very informative. 1 week later already in Miami I searched for a creative spin on some ideas I had and furthermore the wall which I could manifest this idea. As time went on the numbers and mainstream attention of the Occupy movement grew immensely to a
worldwide issue. Cities from all around the world were experiencing protest, marches and upheaval from the citizens. Like the previous question answered I aim to make my street works current, social and political so the occupy movement was a great platform to make a bold statement. Have bankers hung themselves or did everyone else get hung but them. Well seeing how the appropriated proverb usually goes: Give a fool enough rope and he’ll eventually hang himself.” I reckon that it’s the banker that hung himself.
How do you decide whether an idea is best expressed in word or image: I determine it by how many letters it has. No just fucking around, I try to feel how to best communicate and represent the sentiment and message I’m wanting to convey. If a figurative gesture, or image of a person can convey this message then I will choose to paint something in a figurative form. If I don’t feel I can properly deliver this message then I will literally S-P-E-L-L- I-T O-U-T in hopes that the viewer knows how to read?! How much do you find a location to fit the work and how much does a location inspire an idea. Like any real estate owner will tell you it’s all about the 3 L’s. Location, Location, Location.
In street work – where is the balance between making people use their imagination and making something clear enough to impact someone’s understanding as they walk past. It’s a balance for sure, a balance I have fun trying to conquer. Situations change and so does the balance point. It’s challenging as I see things naturally from my perspective. I must take a step out of myself and imagine you the viewer and try and decide if I should leave room for imagination or literally make it so visible that even a blind person could see it. How lonely does it get on the road or is it about people as much as places. Quite honestly I really enjoy being alone. However 98.7% of the time I travel I have a
friend(s) waiting for me to arrive to their city. I’ve been extremely fortunate (and want to take this time to thank all of you who have welcomed me into your home) to have a large network of friends, crazies, junkies, thieves, and suits so I’m fortunate to have local company showing me their city when I arrive. How important is movement in your stencil figure. That depends on what I’m trying to convey. With the recent large dancer works in Miami it was crucial. In my opinion dancers stenciled or painted on a wall with no movement is like painting a hummingbird on a wall with it’s wings visible, It just doesn’t make sense.
How does reaction to your work vary across the world – and do you stick around long enough to find out.
Melbourne, Australia for an ambitious solo show of mine opening in July.
I really don’t know most of the time as I usually spend most of the time in the city walking the streets, brainstorming then conceptualizing the piece. After
How optimistic are you about the health of the world we live in;
What are your current projects. Just flew from South Africa to here in
sheâ€™s right on one
thanks to lsd!
ore m s b o j r u o ES THIS MAK difficult!
This bit will give our targets ideas
From the tropical jungles of Borneo to the wastelands of East London pouring out new paintings like a man possessed, Don is one of the most prolific artists in the UK right now. Breaking out from his roots in the original graff scene, his work has ridden an evolution from the traditional, through the organic and balls deep into a ramraid on the figurative. Dreamlike shades of white and light are etched with careworn lines - almost like an urban woodcut spiralling into concrete and canvas. Portraits fly thick and fast, emotive and vicerally edgy, as a scratched out punk dynamic pervades their underlying beauty and throws iconic images into a raw new perspective. Taking on everything from the Queen to post apocalyptic paganism, from
urban webs to bombed trains and the very essence of British life itself, there is an uncut torment to his work, wrapping itself around vibrant, positive bursts and rattling into intriguing complexity. Ideas wrestle with portraiture - words burnt into visual anarchy -- holding the balance between a soft grace and a biting, jagged insight. Metallic twists and macabre shadows flicker through the faded layers of each piece, cuting through texture and feeling into powerful swirling wholes. Riding the line between graff and street art despite whatever artificial divides tribalism throws up, Don is creating some deeply individual and devastatingly penetrating work. We caught up with him for a chat
Tell us a little about growing up in Borneo – what are your memories and how close do you feel to it Very cool indeed. I lived there for about three years, but they were the most important years of my life, and as I was old enough to take it all in, I remember it like it was yesterday - hanging out with the village kids and the vast jungle next door with all its stories of headhunters to freak me out. What with the animals, the life, untamed nature and the adventures with my brothers, I became a little wild, - which is why hip-Hop interested me too, - it had adventure written all over it. How did you react to the UK cityscape It was wonderful to see London for the first time when I was old enough to really get it. BUSY. But the most impressive city I first clapped my eyes on was Singapore’s skyline in 79, just so clean. In a funny way I could compare it to life-sized Lego. I still have to get myself to the US, never been; and then I’ll be shocked again, then Japan and China - Sao Paulo, so many cities to see.
How did graffiti start to enter your consciousness Hanging out with friends as the Hip-Hop scene was breaking out - it was incredible to try out the elements, the Dance the Music or the Art. I steadily gravitated to the art side of the culture and both Beat Street and Subway Art were my first insights. How much of an outsider were you when you started I was a day dreamer, but not an outsider everyone was getting into the Hip-Hop scene which by its nature brought kids together. My brother FIRESTUSS, friends MARTY, PAC, GANJA, HASH, that was our group / crew
How did you start to evolve your writing style My early work was traditional graff until I went a bit quiet in the mid- nineties. But when I started writing again in early 2000, I guess I
went a little organic, buds, branches, kinks, and explored the randomness of natures flow and how it adapts to the environment…..we are survivors.
How much is graffiti written into the soul It’s a tormented one – which is why graffiti found a place there early doors. The craze coming over and spreading across the globe scooped up the daydreamer and the misled youth, and focused them for a while - nano seconds, Graff is sugarcoated, dig deep and it has a dark-side, a load of tormented souls together, so you mixed with all sorts of people. In mid 2000 I gave up being angry, so I embrace all sorts of mediums, art and people now. Paint us a picture of your full blown bombing days. Well I owe most of it to Ganja - he had the balls to drive forward and he I guess took me under his wing. We were partners for a little while in 85/86 rolling with the YDS crew – but we were loose cannons. We would fight and everything – it’s like I said, graff brings
tormented souls together. I would have loved to have gone ALL-CITY, but I stuck to West London RICHMOND - BARNES (the Boogie Down, great Quote from Zaki-Dee).
Pac too for the website/graphic guidance and support and Matt at ohfolio for website hosting
How do you feel painting more figurative What drove the process of moving away from stuff has impacted on your creativity straight writing That’s something I missed out on doing earlier I suppose if I can’t do steel anymore, I’m on in my graff career, so great to be doing banging my head against a brick wall. Graff is it now. An audience loves to see a portrait kinda dead for me personally because I dont painted, we identify with it straight away do it illegal anymore and wont do prison - its a young peoples game,. When graff dies, I think that it passes within you; it will never die as a culture, it may just leave you, like a loved one, so it upsets me to think about it. It has become like a granny I see from time to time. You have to hand it over sometimes… a bit like the film The Gunfighter, graff is cursed and full of bad karma. Graff-wise, I thought I would turn my attentions and see if KING DUSTER would like to come over to grace the United Kingdom, these writers are the ones that should be nurtured and there are other Old Schoolers too that we should entertain... we pushed through with the UK show for Duster and Phil, and Tina at London Miles helped us in a massive way to help me curate the show - but it was never going to be easy with something like this. DUSTER put his full time and effort into it - no contracts - just his and our word..and we did it. Huge thanks to him and a big shout out to ROME ACR/UA, could not have done it without him, amazing artist.
How much of a political artist do you see yourself as Not much, just a little social commentary mixed up into my work, here and there. The BANKER / Moneyman, the silhouetted figure I paint with a bowler hat, Victorian tap, is the economy banker, releasing money into the economy, more / less, hot / cold, pressures on /off - they say money is a metaphor for water and it’s interesting that so many banks invest in water companies. That was new news to me, bit of what came first, the chicken or the egg, but in this case its defo water rather than money. What does the queen actually symbolize these days We need an Ambassador, it would be boring if we just had Parliament I think…suits battling it out all day. A monarchy was created, it must stay, it’s all about the show, then we leave.
How do you feel about the apparent ‘street art / graff’ divide No divide to me - not after, as a graffer, I put a brick through a gallery window after drinking with graffiti writers that slagged down street art that has made it into galleries. They went home, I broke a window and titled it as my installation ‘BROKEN WINDOW’ opening a gallery so the street could enter (Street Art). No one saw it, just me, late at night, a One Man Show. After that day, I did penance, because of my mistake and started to contribute to the wonderful world of Street ‘Gallery’ Art. It’s all art and all music to me, you like it or you don’t (check PERSONL TASTE a Hirst piece I did on the ‘Other Criteria’ Mayfair shop.) I rolled with a few people, been in small crews, It was never in my mind to start any witch hunt or revolution or to change people’s minds, but that’s what’s happening here. A clique has got together and it’s a shame when old schoolers are part of it. For me the younger generation can make that mistake and learn, like a parent sees their kids learn. They need to make the mistake like we all have to do and graffers are the best at making mistakes, then we grow-up.
What’s your take on Hirst and the cult of celebrity artists
Like I said graffers are great at making mistakes and some of that was a real mistake. I got into a little trouble because I had no Like the Queen, these figures are in place for freedom to do it at all. At the beginning it a reason – it’s about money, I do feel we all was small on the Gotham train, then it went benefit and without us realising - seriously - a massive on the set, which halted shooting for market place is born. It’s about getting people a morning. Big chrome tags did not go down out of the pubs and off their arses. too well with the Director and HOD’s and to this day I thank Nigel and Suzie for their support and sorry for letting them down. What’s the reasoning behind painting celeb types like J Lo and Brad n Angelina Well J-Lo was for a client, Latino Bar in London Bridge, they wanted it and I gave it to them. I like the NY feel to this too in my style - Brad and Angelina, I love their films and I think they are an incredible couple Tell us about the Batman set painting – how much creative freedom did you have and how much of a rush was it doing Gotham
How much do you plan a piece and how much is it an improvised idea A graff piece….. as soon as I hit a wall, no real planning, just freestyle with a fat-cap and maybe a banana nozzle for dessert - a street art piece, takes DAYS (idea, preparation)
How critical are your colour schemes to the vibe you’re looking for in the paintings Not too critical, I am so broke that I use whatever I can - pen markers, scraps of paint – whatever. That’s why I am influenced by South American graffiti or any country that can’t use the graffiti art supplies most of us can get hold of, its street art, vegetable dyes, blood maybe, I remember breaking a razor to get the blade to cut a stencil and using the cardboard from a cereal packet.
Does location play a part in subject matter A massive part, it needs an audience, I need feedback and I get it. A lot of my work is getting written over in the past months, even writing over my work saying ‘CEASE PLEASE’ so I guess I have someone’s attention, but what they don’t realise is that I am a fulltime artist. I vote broke to do my craft 6 days a week, like I did when I was at school, so I guess I am the real deal - the haters are the ones that are helping graff die. I am a mark, you scratch it and it will keep coming back, maybe bigger How do you feel about the current state of ‘street art’ Incredible. I would like to mention photographers who play a massive part and they have always been part of the Documentary of it. It’s a two/three way thing, for example, Style Wars, Beat Street
and Subway Art, as long as there is some dialogue with the documenter and artist, its good karma if a show or book is made. Like the ALL CITY WRITERS book, my experience with that was that book was handled very well - The birth of me deciding to create artwork for what an audience would like to see was in 2008 at the Banksy’s - CANS FESTIVAL, I managed to paint in the crowd area, (the organisers were very cool) and I could not believe how outta touch I was, Artists, pulling off incredible pieces of work, I met a great artist there FARK FK, he looked after me and we went to gigs, it was very nice of him to give me some time, Thank you.
How much do you feel you’re constantly evolving I am for sure. I am starting to creat SPIDER DON’s, spinning webs with my name in it across London, Spider webs are very graff – it’s a piece of art, they spin a web for food, their temporary homes, and can be destroyed with-in seconds. I feel like a Spider at times in Urban and Suburban spaces. I think butterflies and Spider webs are metaphors for illegal Graff pieces, most don’t last, then nothing ever does.
What’s the plans for the future MORE X Shout out to PAK, Adam Bloom, DUSTER UA, DOZE, MR MET, TOUCH, DEKT, UA Family, WRH Family, RFK crew. NLZ crew, Banksy, Snik, Fin DAC, Orticanoodles Inkie, REQ1, Eine, Elk, BLEK, SHOK1, SPLAT, ACID 16, TOM C, BUSK, Freddie, Tony, Grafter and the Team at LSD for this interview GET WELL ROBBO
A lightning introduction
What with this being a magazine that tries in its own way to synthesise art, music and conscious thought together into a creative matrix, I thought a lightning introduction to Cymatics may be in order. It does after all tick all those boxes in some fleeting way. If all the world is energy vibrating at different rates thus defining matter’s myriad states, then Cymatics provides a wonderfully visual insight into the gorgeous physics that flow through the vectors of life. Pioneered by Swiss scientist, Hans Jenny as a study of wave phenomena, Cymatics explores the effect of vibration on matter by recording visual representations of a wave run through different states of matter. Sound waves were perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the
experimental process as fluctuating frequency recorded stunningly geometric results of absolutely pristine beauty. So you take a ‘something’ – anything fluid or powdered – be it water, sand, cornstarch – you name it and whack a sound wave through it on a certain frequency. Then you stand back and let your jaw drop at the effect that wave has on your ‘something’. Dazzlingly complex patterns of pure beauty crystallize organically as the wave passes through and any adjustment to the experiment, be it a different wave, a different frequency or a different ‘something’ will alter the nature of your pattern. Low tones tend to result in simpler patterns, higher tones plot a more complex course and turning the
Image - 34 HZ Triangle wave and alcohol
Top - 22Hz Sine wave and alcohol. Bottom - 16Hz Sine wave & water.
Top - 14hz to 30hz sweep. Square wave. Bottom - Over amplification
amp up to 11 results in storm clouds of still awe inspiring muddle. It paints a picture of physics at work and instantly opens an orgy of questions about the nature of the universe. Geometric art in whatever form is always based in mathematics. Now whatever your personal take on mathematics – whether it be stomach churningly dull or the poetic blueprint of reality, the fact remains that all patterns, all rhythms and all aspects of geometric beauty are representations of a rational equation. The magic of course – the non linear epiphanies that define a moment of true art happen in the intangible vortex in the left brain / right brain – conscious and subconscious relationship where logic dives through the rabbit hole and becomes experience. Before the trance scene and the hippy scene caned fractals to within an inch of their life and quite frankly devalued them by pressing the overkill button, they were the ultimate expression of mathematical aesthetics. Chaotic equations endlessly fed back into themselves to create psychedelic tunnels
through scale and magnification – repeating patterns with minute changes that blossom into perpetually unfolding art. Cymatics is a much lesser known example of the same idea – that allowing physics to paint a picture creates art – primal art. They make the invisible visible – and open a window into synesthesia as we ‘see’ sound in its naked form and watch the interaction of two universal elements – sound and matter distill into pure alchemy. The art forms that infuse our senses made one. It’s a fascinating example of the interconnectedness of reality and the universe and just plain fucking stunning. This article just wrote itself in about 10 minutes, so I fear it’s a tad short on method, process and genuinely probing commentary – but there are some wicked pictures that as far as I’m concerned….speak volumes.
Sirius 23 Thanks for the photos www.cymatics.org
Top - 40Hz SIne wave. Alcohol & water mix.
Portion Control Street food is all about a relaxed, informal dining experience and I love it. It doesn’t have to be something you purchased on the street, although it often is. For me it’s about eating with your hands sometimes, sharing with friends, diversity and usually something local and close to the chef’s heart. In Asia you find street food everywhere. I fell in love with the hawker centres in Singapore and realized this is something I grew up with in Sydney’s Chinatown, only we called them food courts. A great way to get a cheap feed by a chef or family cook that specializes in one style of regional cuisine or to some extremes only one dish albeit with a few variations. I recently moved to London and have noticed it’s starting to catch on here in a big way.
A large part in helping this happen is the trendy Brixton Village which houses loads of small pop up style eateries and market stalls. With an emphasis on casual dining and quality, the ‘village’ has a strong street food vibe. Most places don’t take bookings, or credit cards so you’ll probably have to queue at the more popular spots and have a few quid in your wallet… but not much. Pretty much everything here is under a tenner or not much more. It’s a fun night out, not knowing exactly where you will end up as the queues at your usual place might make you wander around till you find a table elsewhere and discover a new favourite. Obviously a place like this can’t be kept a secret for long as you can see with the ridiculously popular Honest Burger, which
have made their reputation with an excellent quality burger and triple cooked chips for under a tenner. Made all the more popular by the burger revolution which happened recently, the attention to quality ingredients and sound cooking skills are what’s made this place what it is. Juices from the aged beef cooked perfectly medium run down your arm while you scoff every last bit before your partner does the same, so you don’t have to share… or maybe that’s just me. You’d be lucky to waltz in and get a seat during normal dining times now though as every blogger and their DSLR has written about this place in the last few months, including myself.. and I’m doing it again. I know, I’m a fool…. but the queues have spurred me on to try new places.
A great example is Elephant, a Pakistani street food restaurant run by an untrained cook, Imran Bashir. He cooks family recipes which have no doubt been tried and tested for generations, and you can tell. There’s passion on the plate yet it’s completely unfussy. Décor is minimalist like most of the other places, each with their own design quirk. The building itself has an industrial yet market-y feel which no doubt resonates with the hipsters and young families alike. Perhaps you’d like to know what kind of food you would find on the streets of Beijing? Mama Lan is a family run café with a limited seasonal menu of handmade pan-fried dumplings, noodles and cold dishes. I love Chinese food and this brings me back to my time in China with the dumplings being prepared right in front of you. Hang around late enough and you’ll be treated to a band from Agile rabbit next door on Thursday nights. The amount on offer under one roof is amazing here, you have access to great coffee, a tea room, Thai, Italian, Japanese
(specializing in okonomiyaki), Jamaican, Caribbean seafood and loads more, including the market stalls. Itâ€™s not just here this kind of dining has taken off either, pop over the road to Market Row and things are looking up there too with Franco Manca making exceptional sourdough pizza and a bunch of other places doing everything from tapas to proper Mexican and Brazilian cuisine. Just as I found in the food courts of Sydney, the hawker centers of Singapore and on the streets of China, the people serving this food are doing what they know and love. It certainly resonates with my love of street food and apparently itâ€™s doing for Londoners as well.
Matt Dopamine Goddard
streetfoodlondonuk.blogspot.co.uk www.facebook.com/pages/Dopamineofficial/121055861263423 www.facebook.com/mattdopamine
We do love our nutters here at LSD and when we ran across self styled â€˜Neo Balkan Circus Dub Rave Biscuitâ€™ crew Slamboree we simply had to have a word. Relative newcomers to the scene, Slamboree took the festival season by storm last year with a dizzying cocktail of velvet meets velcro burlesque, breath defying circus stunts, teardevil acts, mimes, rhymes and gorgeously diverse musical elements chucked into a blender and whipped up into a bonkers, bass driven hybrid of everything from gypsy to dubstep. Oh and seven shades of lunacy, a fat wink and a rampaging dollop of roaring good times lashed into the mix to keep things nicely volatile. With a 10 piece live band, and a gloriously eclectic crew of talented showmen and
women, Slamboree whisk a crowd into intoxicating nights of intense, up front madness as insane beats drop with furious irreverence, fiery explosions warp the stage and all kinds of precision mayhem rip through an electric atmosphere. This is all out performance rave - take a deep breath - and pile in. We caught up with Freear for a word as the 2012 festival season starts to gather momentum.
Where did the idea for Slamboree come from and how did it come together Well quite a few people involved came from a live band background and had all sort of independently reached the conclusion that they wanted a lot more going on as a show and a lot more live visuals within a new concept. At the same time, there was a big collective in Leeds of theatre and circus performers – the live visual arts, and we were looking for a way to combine the two into an overall show where there was always something grabbing your attention and some new dynamic going off. Something maximizing creativity and live performance with a real perspective on it and a very real feel to it.
How much history did the core crew have with each other before embarking on such a big mission We’d all worked in similar circles. For example – there are 2 central circus crews called Surefire Circus and Happy Slap Boutique who we collaborate with on Slamboree. We’d be supporting each other’s events on a regular basis whether it be a cabaret night, a circus night or a band night, and when the energy is there, it just becomes a question of working out the logistics of how putting all the different strains together was going to work. The first real practice / brainstorming session we had about 15 people at it, and it was a really intriguing concept as we all tried
to balance out our own space and our own roles within it, while equally looking for ways to work off each other and bring it all together as a whole.
As such an ambitious project – and with the sheer numbers involved and the space needed for bands, circus acts and all the rest of it, it must have been quite difficult to find venues that would take a chance on you and people willing to invest in booking the whole crew. We played a variety of sized gigs over the last year from a 150 capacity boat gig with no stage, 10 performers and about 2 inches of space between the hula hoops and the main crowd, to a crowd of about 5000 at Boomtown with 25 performers on stage. Because of how interchangeable the act is we’ve been able to adapt each show around the venue and stage space. The promo video we made from our first gig to about 200 people really helped to get across what the show and concept was about. A lot of the first bookings came off the back of this video being passed around social media networks and being spotted by potential promoters. The most unique gig for us was on Arcadia’s Afterburner stage at Electric Picnic because it was a 360 circular
stage about 10 feet above the crowd. A lot of nights and promoters have been really welcoming to the concept so we‘ve worked really hard with them to make the show work in a range of different shapes and sizes. This adaptable nature of the act is the most exciting thing for us and we feel there’s great potential for the future.
Obviously now you’ve got a very strong musical identity – but was that there from the beginning or did it evolve out of the nature of everything that was happening within Slamboree It’s definitely taken shape along the ride. I used to write a lot of breakbeat, dub and glitch hop, but when we integrated the brass section, it took on a much funkier vibe and suddenly added in this depth of soul. And by the time the strings hit the mix, with the violins coming into play – it hit a whole new level of possibility as the Balkan and gypsy lines started flowing through it. And that just drove it to this mad mix and cacophony of styles bringing together drum n bass, breaks, Balkan, gypsy, dubstep, techno and electro swing.
And did that whole Balkan, gypsy feel click instantly with the nature of the performance – that outrageous, extrovert, half circus half cabaret vibe and help unite the different elements
It fit perfectly straight away. The quirkiness of the performance – never taking itself too seriously the sense of upbeat colour bursting out really works beautifully with that jump up Balkan / gypsy style. And a key factor is that it also encourages audience participation and gets this sense of euphoria going in the crowd as they become part of the performance – so it’s been great to nail a crossover sound using all these wildly different elements into something that brings the crowd out of themselves rather than take them deeper into themselves.
How much do you feel like a very modern part of a very ancient folk tradition It’s almost like a reappraisal of it. The essence is totally in that spirit, but we’ve brought our electronic influences to the table and wired everything we’ve learned through it.
How important is the comedic element in what you do
on the social media sites looking for local circus collectives in the Exeter area. I got in touch with a few of them and we worked out Because the whole thing is very visually based, some parts where they could collaborate, by there’s a lot of slapstick in the performances, emailing them audio from our previous gigs to but equally, there’s a lot of daredevil moments discover which parts of the show could work with people doing some really mad things best for their styles. Once they’d decided what but always with that quirky edge to it that they were going to work with, it meant they compliments it brilliantly and gives it an could practice independently leading up to it – original spirit. do a quick rehearsal on the day and then bring their own vibe onto the stage that night. How much is planned and how much is improvised within a night. I’d say about 50 / 50 nowadays. We have a very open mic philosophy with the live performances and part of what we’re about is leaving a lot of room for improvisation both musically and theatrically. Another huge aspect of what we do is to integrate local performers into each show, so while you always have a core crew, each town – each night has different collaborators on board. We did this one gig in Exeter where I sat down
Is that a massive rush in itself? That instead of knowing precisely what you’re going out there to do, having this spontaneity built in Hugely - each show has a different voice to it, and it keeps it so exciting for us. I guess we tread a fine line between petrified and excited before every gig as we’re never sure how it’s going to go, but that keeps the whole thing buzzing. And new performers at every gig create a new energy at every gig and that’s what makes it so special to be a part of. It’s become part of the very nature of Slamboree.
For you personally who’s doing so much of the music production – how much of it is collaborative with the live musicians – in that they have the freedom to riff on the basics – and how much do you know that you need a trumpet part that needs to follow certain progressions and ask them to lay it down like you see it. It varies depending on the piece of music or the circumstances. We’ve got a drop in studio
that we’re renting in Leeds where people can lay down new lines and do a few takes on a theme, or just throw a range of ideas down, send them to me and we can bounce the ideas back and forth. I use an application called Dropbox online where people can upload takes into an online folder – and it will appear on my hard drive in the same folder. At that point – I can make any edits, or drop some beats onto it and send it back – they see what they think and maybe do a tweaked take or whatever, and we can collaborate virtually like that.
You’ve had a blinding summer at the festivals and now the music side has gone off in its own right with Zorba hitting number 6 on Soundcloud’s hottest tracks. Are you gobsmacked by how quickly momentum has built Absolutely delighted. We can’t believe what an incredible year it was and how fast things took shape. No one was more surprised than we were to be honest and we can’t wait to see
what happens next. But what a summer. Our biggest Summer gig was Boomtown Fair, who I’d sent the promo video I mentioned earlier, they got back straight away saying it was right up their street and managed to crowbar us into the lineup for the main stage before Goldie Lookin Chain where we ended up playing to a crowd of about 5000 people. That really launched us in the South of England and to have that much exposure so early on in any project is just amazing. Off the back of that, Arcadia got in touch and got us out to Ireland for the Electric Picnic festival and incorporated our show onto one of their stages which are just mind blowing. Pyrotechnics you wouldn’t believe – awesome engineering and Tesla coil technology sending lightning bolts through the structures.
There’s nothing quite like Arcadia is there It’s next level. Playing on Arcadia was like a dream come true, and at the moment, it’s looking like we might be working more with them in the future. So we’ve got a few months to up our game as much as possible and really focus on making the show work organically with the structures, weaving the pyrotechnics and the Tesla into the show and creating something really extraordinary to take to the next wave of festivals we do together. It’s beyond our wildest dreams.
How’s the album coming So far so good, it’s taking shape nicely. I
moved to Bristol recently finding it to be the perfect, central place for me to be pulling in the performers I’ve met in the last couple of years that I want to be working with on it. So I’ve moved into a new house, set up a new studio, got loads of new hardware and we’ve got a really interesting collective album coming together with a whole range of different styles in play.
What else does 2012 hold for you We’re going to really try and up the ante on the live side. One of our performers works at a circus supply warehouse, so we get access to all these new toys which we’d like to start basing creations on and pull together hybrids of other circus tricks to really hone a totally individual style. We’d like to really push the envelope in terms of unifying music and performance and drive the improvisation to new heights, focus on bringing in even more audience participation, and create a really next level immersive experience.
Playing with Fractals
The Art of Sarah sze
I first encountered Sarah Sze - whom I hadn’t yet heard of - at a cocktail party in New York. She was about to leave for Paris to do an installation “with ladders.” “Ladders you can climb?”I asked. “Like a jungle gym?” She smiled, politely. No, one couldn’t climb them. Not physically, anyway. For Sze’s sculptural works are, indeed, playgrounds. Monkey bars for the mind. Invitations to play, and, in doing so, to comprehend the nature
of play in an entirely new context. These are seductive and deceptively unthreatening vehicles for transformation. They force to reevaluate the role of play in the evolution of species, culture, and spirit. We can’t reckon with the implications of Sze’s transformative energy by getting abstract or exploring historical precedents. No, we’d just get lost in the morbidly retrograde cartography that passes for contemporary art criticism these days - a booby prize if ever there was one. Instead, we have to go
inside, to our own experience, and trust that what we’re feeling and thinking actually matters. And when we go there - to that place Sze’s work takes us if we let it, something remarkable happens. Sarah Sze’s work helps us make sense of the world in which we live through the fanciful celebration of the utilitarian. Her pieces allow the manufactured objects of our everyday reality to transcend their intended contexts, and find a new, organismic relationship to one another, and to us. Sze is both discovering and developing the kinds of repetitive patterns that give human beings the reference points they need to resonate playfully rather than strategically with the material and visual world. Or, to put it much more simply, Sarah is recreating nature out of the unnatural - and beholding these natural systems - these imaginative playscapes - changes us forever. Perhaps the best metaphor I can use to explain the odd reassurance I feel on encountering one of Sze’s installations is that of a fractal. Fractals are the computergenerated graphic representations of nonlinear equations. Unsatisfied with the overdetermined and oversimplified techniques of traditional linear math and reductive calculus, new math theorists sought to find ways of representing the genuine complexity of our physical world in the perfect language of numbers. They found that by representing the fractional dimensionality of the real world, they could reckon with the roughness of reality. Of course the billions of calculations required to iterate fractals must be accomplished using a computer. They are products of the computer age. Yet, surprisingly, they yield forms that exemplify the most natural of living systems. Fractals are self-similar. This means at one level of magnification, you will be able to see certain shapes that are repeated again at much higher levels of magnification. Just as
the shapes of veins in a leaf reflect the shapes of branches in a tree or trees in the forest, computer-generated fractals reflect the selfsimilarity of numbers. As above, so below. The networked systems that fractals represent also tend to have what are known as “remote high leverage points.”Although these systems might be extremely stable, profound change can come from extremely remote places, if conditions are right. My own work in cultural analysis has been largely informed by these discoveries and intuitions. Like the ocean and the weather, our society has been networked together through the media, economic, and telecommunications infrastructures. We
experience ourselves in a kind of fractal, with our television screens displaying images of television screens with television screens. And our interconnectedness allows for remote high leverage points: a single, tiny media event in a remote location - like a camcorder capturing the beating of a black man by white Los Angeles cops - can lead to full-scale rioting in 12 American cities. A fractal sensibility helps one orient to the modern, mediated and non-linear landscape. As humans, we strive to find patterns in the world around us - especially in the seeming chaos. Just as the regularity of waves turns a threatening ocean into a reassuring rhythm, our ability to perceive patterns and selfsimilarity in the manufactured world of cities and objects helps us understand that there is an order to our existence. A plan. A design. Sze introduces these sensibilities to all
who encounter her work. Our only choice is whether to revel in them, or reel back in horror - our critical presumptions about the shortcomings of the man-made forever altered. For Szeâ€™s pieces are, themselves, fractal in nature. She takes a common household object - something known more for its high frequency than its scarcity - and iterates it with others, thousands of times. Dozens of cotton balls, lined in little rows. Matchsticks, glued together in strands like ladders - no, like DNA helixes, the component codes of cellular reproduction - the genome-based time machines that nature uses to communicate the qualities of her creations through the eons. Sarah serves as the computer. Instead of churning numbers through equations, however, she arranges objects in sequences.
In an ode to obsession that would make HAL proud, Sze constructs fractals out of mankind’s most plastic and mass-produced objects - and then these constructions take on the qualities of natural phenomena. Consider Still Life with Flowers(1999) (right). Swirling ladders of matchsticks and rulers, interspersed with photos of sharks, mice, monkeys and other species, living twigs, and the tiniest components of artificial plants. We can’t look at the piece without thinking about the artist herself, repeatedly breaking the heads of matchsticks and gluing them together - those hours, days, maybe weeks of cyclical, repetitive tasks. The result of her toil mirrors the DNA molecule - an evolutionary tree explicated by photos of the various species along its branches. Yet this genomic map is only secondary to fractal, natural, and fertile quality of the installation’s overarching form. This is the primary fruit of Sze’s labor: no matter how manufactured these objects may be, when they are iterated enough times they
produce natural meta-forms. Fractals. In a nod to remote high leverage points, Sze places C-clamps or spring clips at critical junctures. These tiny and quite deliberately disclosed lynchpins are what hold the whole world together. Or take a look at her studio piece, Untitled, 1996 (overleaf). A stepladder-as-skyscraper overlooks an urban grid of everything from Hershey’s Kisses and Lifesavers to photo slides and tennis shoes. Again, chain ladders of matchsticks and toothpicks grow upward from the two-dimensional grid as if groping for three-dimensionality. Climbing up the stepladder and through the air, like creeping ivy. This delicate, dynamic, and fractional dimensionality; this teetering at the brink between worlds of factory-made and spontaneously alive - this is what we get when we push through chaos to the other side of order. And, most strikingly, this new order is utterly unrecognizable to those who refuse to play. A cartographer, who can only understand the ocean as a series of longitude and latitude
lines, cannot even converse with a young surfer who understands this same water as a pattern of waveforms. In fact, he will assume the surfer is hopelessly lost. Yet the surfer, by immersing in the water, experiencing the waves, and turning this interaction into a game of balance and motion, ends up with a much more intimate and lasting understanding of the oceanâ€™s very personality - its life. As an artist teasing us into re-examining our relationship to the manufactured physical world, Sze surfs her materials in much the same way. Like a skateboarder re-contextualizing the curbs, banisters, and benches of the urban terrain as an obstacle course, Sze uses the multitude of objects passing through our hands each day as Tinkertoy. And her play - I mean, her work yields forms that exhibit the repetitive, selfsimilar, and networked properties of nature. Manufactured objects + iterated play = fractals.
Part automaton, part god, Sarah is both a slave to her taskmaster vision, and the human hand intervening in its mechanized execution. She is the delightfully autonomous being who dares to create worlds within worlds, and the autistic match-gluer who churns out the sorts of iterations most suited to a Pentium chip. As our eyes dance over the results of her labors, forced to retrace the swirling lines and self-similar visual echoes manifesting at every possible level of detail, our only choice is to play along. We are engaged in the interdimensional game, incapable of maintaining our objective vantagepoints, yet rewarded in our surrender with something so much greater: the reassurance of pattern recognition - of nature - in a realm where weâ€™d least expect it. This is what makes Sarahâ€™s new work on the Bard campus so very compelling. The three excavations sneak up on you, disguised as little work zones marked with cones and protected by disheveled tarps. Yet once you approach and peer inside, you find multi-tiered cities
of plastic, wood, tubing, and water. Entire worlds, and worlds within worlds - a seeming infinity of detail, and in each detail, yet another world, and another world still. No matter how microcosmic these craters of infinitesimal plastic civilizations, it is still impossible for the viewer to stand outside them. For to look down into one of them is to be surrounded by the others. There are three of these tiny meta-cities, each throbbing, pulsing, and gurgling in its own corner of the grassy knoll. Seemingly linked -- networked to one another and in constant communication - the replicated plastic galaxies challenge our arbitrarily superior vantage points. Who is the artificial stranger, here, and which is the life form? Sze’s latest works most directly explore the relationship of the fabricated to the natural, and the utility to the toy. By inverting one for the other, she demonstrates how the manufactured object reaches the realm of
the natural when utility is exchanged for play. Play is portal from the lower, survival-based levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs , to the romantic, nurturing, and spiritual realms at its top. It is play that fuels the marathon iterations of Sze’s labor-intensive creations. Play that transforms matter into life. Play that leads life forms to reproduce, create their cultures, as well as the many artificial and manufactured forms within it. Finally, it is play that - when taken too seriously - recedes from our view as surely as God himself has withdrawn from human affairs. And it is play that returns when we topple the tyranny of utilitarian survival with the dangerously revolutionary spirit of fun. Jokes are what bring down holy empires, because they let everyone see what’s really going on. Playful humor serves as a fractal, adding dimensional perspective - drawing a proscenium arch around a social construction that seemed so very real, and turning it into a divine comedy. Play is the source of life.
Sarah’s hand-made fractals allow us to experience the cogs of our highly artificial culture as the seeds of an entirely natural system. They make us question the foundations of this very distinction. For what, ultimately, is not natural? Bees make honey, beavers make dams, and people make plastic. Why should our structures have any less geometric intention than a honeycomb? Or any less right to a place in the ecosystem of physical reality? Is human culture any different, fundamentally, from a yogurt culture? If there is a difference, it lies in our human ability to see the similarities - to recognize the patterns. Sze’s creations are not imitations of life, but living forms. Not metaphors, but selforganizing and artfully contagious thought structures. Sze’s work is alive.
Douglas Rushkoff www.rushkoff.com
Chinese artist Dal Eastâ€™s intriguing work whirls into a swirling, spiralling dance between the archetypally natural and a searingly modern synthesis of materials and perspectives. Deeply distinct, profound and hypnotically fascinating, his primal dive with a gleaming twist through layers of skeleton, DNA, and intangible movement whips together a powerful prism through which body and spirit alive come alive.
The raw violence of the natural world surges into focus - always imbued with a soft sense of wonder that penetrates through the surfaces and opens up a multi dimensional, fluid perception.
Shadow kissed channels into the nature of mind and body - of nature and nurture - movement frozen in the eye of the storm as sacred geometry feeds back ever deeper into itself, rippling with the currents of a Glittering blacks revel and unravel into the black chrome moment in time. We caught mysteries of 3 dimensional form. Movement up with Dal for a word - there is something and dynamism sing soul into mechanics, wonderfully poetic about his English so we as his pieces harness chaos into precision resisted the urge to strangle it with a rational through extraordinay nuance and complexity. edit.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to leave China I was born as a human on this planet in China. I still think that I was really lucky to land in China which has an amazing history and stories and also a lot of problems. That warm land can always bring you both inspiration and worry. I studied sculpture at the Institute of Fine Arts there, but I dropped out of collage one year before I finished the degree. I lived there as an artist that was deemed to a vagabond. I left China because I fell in love with a girl who lives in South Africa, she is also an artist that likes to hit the streets, her artist name is Faith47.
How much are you influenced by Chinese cultural identity and how much have you found your own hybrids If you go to China, you can see that the new China is breaking down the old Chinese culture, just as they are breaking down all the beautiful traditional Chinese architecture. The Chinese of my generation are growing up with a degenerate Chinese culture and
a variation of western culture . I am finding out how much nutrition is in the old Chinese cultural and eastern philosophy as I get older and older. I like to say that I am influenced by them, but I am also finding out they are really deep, so I only can say I am starting to be influenced. I like to make my own hybrids as a big cup to fill up, but use simple and light way to express.
When did you first truly start to express yourself artistically
Where is the balance between a sense of realism and the abstract for you
When I have discovered that I will tell you!
Most of the time how we see things confirms what those things present to us. For example, we see few pieces of metal with some screws and rubber and plastic and glasses together, it is quite abstract scene. But in the other hand, we also can call them ‘a car’, it is realism. So I think realism and the abstract is the same thing for me.
Tell us a little about the relationship between the organic and the synthetic in your work Synthetic as a bird, organic as flight. When the sky is filled with different kinds of man made flights, then it is time for us to realise that we are missing a great variety of birds. Most of the time organic and synthetic are hard to live together, so I want to create a fantasy that mixes them up into one thing.
There is a skeletal feel to much of your work – that somehow spirals into a whole – can you give us some insight into that Skeletal as foundation framework, spirals as the ever growing trajectory for the material elements. They are naturally work together create our body and the physical world that the body can feel. So I just learn from nature about that.
Tell us about the metallic black – almost vinyl colour scheme I just use normal black.
How do you feel about the geometry and patterns of nature I always think that nature is the best artist and scientist which can naturally create images with romance and wisdom.
What significance do abandoned spaces have for you i think abandoned spaces have more of a special energy than normal places. You can feel some memories there, but the memories are strange for you. It reminds you of something you are losing.
How surprised have you been by the way some of your work interacts with the space itâ€™s placed in I do get surprised sometimes when I finish my work and see how the work interacts with the space, because I like to change my original plan when I am painting the wall if I have some new inspiration suddenly emerg. Walls are also like a person, I need to meet him and talk to him for a bit, then start to know what he wants from me and what I can give to him.
Is the rigidly 3 dimensional world just an illusion I think it is. It is an advanced technique movie that we are in. we believe in our 6 senses working through body to perceive the environment, following and creating a story, expect and upset, laugh and cry. We going to leave this scrap body when we die, then live in another body to play another game when we are reborn.
What is the essence of creating a spiritual experience out of material elements I think on our level of life form, spiritual and material have a precision relationship, they are both important, material can be the boat that brings us to experience the spiritual. But material elements are also insulating us from creating spiritual experience, but in another way, we also can say they are from one source.
How much did your sculpture background influence your painting I got to know the 3 dimensional world better and what lies behind the surface when I was creating sculptures, I think it has influenced my paintings, also itâ€™s changed the way I see things around me.
What does painting animals mean to you
How important is movement in your work
I like painting different subjects not just animals, but I am painting a lot of them because I love animals, they bring this world more vitality, also animals show the onlooker the condition of the world. It is so rare to see them around now. You may feel cold and sad If you land on a planet which only have one kind of creature with their machines, so painting animals is a carrier to share my mind and momentos.
I think movement shows life energy. It is important to create illusion.
Tell us a little about your video work My video work is from special times that I saved on my camera - in fact, I edited photos into video. I give each photo time to show how it can turn into different lineaments, it is about light, we can see one thing have different lineaments, because the light changed, but each photo is based on a story line to connect to each other, so each video has a story.
Tell us about your use of symbolism The different symbols that I use are based on the subject which I paint. The eye in the pyramid I painted in U.S, the work called â€˜Imperial Blindâ€™ - the image is a Chinese blind dragon chasing the eye in pyramid symbol. I also like use third eyes, I think it is a sealed window for creatures.
What is your experience of South Africa South Africa has a beautiful amazing landscape, you can feel the soul from nature. People are always friendly here, but it’s also really easy to meet criminals though I have been quite lucky in this respect.
How much has travelling shaped your perceptions of your own work Travelling helps me to keep a clear mind and to intake nutrition for my work from new things. It is important to experience the earth as a round ball.:)
What does the future hold for you The exciting thing about the future is that I never know what is going to happen. Reality always bears testament to a Chinese folk saying which is that ‘The plan is not as fast as the change’. I am trying to just live in the moment.
Occupy and a New Politics for a Disorderly World
The global financial crisis has provoked a profound and necessary questioning of the prevailing political and economic orthodoxy. So pervasive is this disillusionment with the current order that it is hard to find anyone prepared to defend it. Disorder is the new order; disequilibrium rules, and old assumptions no longer hold. As Kuhn’s theory might suggest, the rank contradictions of the current politicaleconomic paradigm—gross inequality and
massive environmental destruction—are so great that a new paradigm should emerge: a system of thought and method of political action that can address these ills, and indeed offer a better method of organizing and understanding human society. As a diplomat in the British foreign service, I served deep inside one bastion of conventional politics—the world of international diplomacy. I helped propagate “top-down,” government-dominated
politics across the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. I resigned because my government ignored available alternatives to violence and dissembled before the Iraq invasion (I had been Britain’s Iraq expert at the UN Security Council). This breach triggered a deeper questioning of the way things are done. I concluded that top-down management was not working and that conventional political models, including representative democracy, were producing not stability but its opposite, an increasingly fractured society at home and around the globe and a perilously vulnerable environment. In my former career, I saw how governments attempt to enforce order on a world that resists their methods. But complex systems, such as a world of billions of dynamic connections, cannot be frozen as if on a chessboard, intelligible and susceptible to step-by-step command and control. Indeed, governments by their own admission are less and less able to control the massive, heterogeneous forces now making our world: dramatic economic transformation, mass migration and climatic change.
Worse, and this helps explain the failure, these attempts exclude the people most affected— ordinary people. It has become clear that even in our supposedly iconic democracies, government decisions do not reflect the needs of everyone but rather those who enjoy privileged access: large corporations, the superwealthy, the elites—the 1 percent who benefit from this disorder, like the speculators who play volatile markets, companies that profit from the absence of price on environmental destruction and the cynical politicians who exploit the growing anxiety and disaffection with crude and atavistic certainties. *** A new politics is needed, and in the early weeks of Occupy Wall Street, I saw signs of its emergence. Some would see the Occupy protests as yet more evidence of disorder, not its solution. But to my jaded eye, the beacons pointing to a better method were bright indeed. At the UN Security Council and other diplomatic forums, I had taken part in high-stakes negotiations on everything from Iraqi WMDs to Palestine to the future of the Balkans. But the experience of hundreds of people listening to the voice of one—anyone!—through the “people’s mic” moved me more than any of those worldly negotiations. This was a politics of the many, included at last, at least in the small square of Zuccotti Park, if not in our distant capitals. Here I saw true respect, not the pretend respect of diplomacy. Here I saw involving
and passionate debate, not the childish antagonism of Internet debate or the partisan rancor of Washington. The crowd was gripped by an unfamiliar emotion, a shared sentiment that others were listening and that their decisions truly mattered.
This is a politics of the many for the many, rather than that of a small clique of elected representatives, co-opted by the powerful few. It requires patience and work, as the Occupiers of Zuccotti Park have learned. The consensus principle is vital, and prevents the “tyranny of the majority,” but it must (and can) be engineered to allow fast decisions and discussions of complex issues. In Porto Alegre, Brazil, mass participation in decisionmaking has succeeded in deliberating the affairs of a city, and the results clearly indicate more equal provision of services, better environmental protection and an improved political culture, one that is open, nonpartisan and uncorrupted.
This is the start of a new politics, but obviously mere meetings and protest marches are not enough. There is nothing certain about the future, save that it is our actions that will create it and that others are already exploiting our inaction. It is no longer sufficient to appeal to government to put things right; a corrupted system will not reform itself. We must create new systems, new modes of decision-making and interaction, and new forms of economic Once decisions are made this way, they behavior to replace the old. have immense force. Unlike with the distant Occupy Wall Street demonstrated some of machinations of government, all participants the necessary elements of this new politics. feel that they have been consulted. Everyone Anyone who wished to participate could do commits. so. All had a voice in decisions. These are the features of “participatory democracy,” which, when practiced more broadly, delivers outcomes unfamiliar from our own corrupted democracy: equality (because the interests of all are accounted for); transparency (and thus less corruption); and a civic culture of respect, not ugly partisanship.
Participatory democracy should be promoted for every public setting, from our neighborhoods to our cities and counties. As turkeys will not vote for Thanksgiving, politicians are unlikely to institute such systems. Instead, we will have to set them up ourselves, starting local—our street, our building, our school—and in doing so establish legitimacy from the ground up, a legitimacy that today’s politicians evidently do not enjoy. *** The second element is equally critical: this is the politics of the personal. Our political goals must be embodied in everything we do, for this is the most direct way to produce necessary and urgent change. Despite its perpetual encouragement by over-promising politicians, the habit of asking government
to produce the ends we seek is out-of-date. Given the way that Washington (and indeed London or Paris) works, there is zero chance that any politician, even one with the best intentions, will deliver a just society, where the weakest are properly cared for and where the earth that sustains us is itself sustained. Personal action is also the most effective means of influencing others. Forget Internet petitions, tweeting, writing to your Congressman or other formats of usually fruitless complaint—what you do will have the most persuasive force in encouraging others to do the same. Think of “the wave” in a sports stadium. This is the way to change a complex, highly interconnected system, not top-down management, as network theory and social research are demonstrating. And throughout, an older maxim carries an eternal message: the means are the ends, as Gandhi taught. If you use violence, you are likely to get violence. Like his famous Salt March (or Salt Satyagraha), the ideal political protest is the one that embodies the change you wish to see. Do it yourself, and nonviolently. Self-organized, nonviolent action by the many, consulting all those affected: some would call these methods anarchism, but if so it is a very gentle kind. In fact, these techniques amount to a politics of modernity, of complexity,
a politics most appropriate to our current state. These methods also inhere in a new economics, for Marx was in this sense correct: the economics makes the politics. You cannot have a fair, cohesive or happy society when a tiny few hold the vast bulk of the wealth and where companies are legally bound to maximize profits over all else, ignoring any uncosted effects to the environment or society. There are forms of business that in their very design make up a better politics. Cooperatives share ownership among their staff as well as agency—that sense of control and participation that contemporary society denies us. As Britain’s massive retail giant John Lewis has shown, cooperative companies can be just as successful, and can endure much longer, than the merely profit-driven. “Triple bottom line” companies give equal weight to their social and environmental impacts alongside the profit line. Such companies can be founded. They can be competitive. And we can support them by choosing them over more negligent
businesses. In the OWS Alternative Banking working group, for example, we are building the elements of a new Occupy Bank [see Carne Ross, “Revolution Through Banking?” TheNation.com, December 22], which would be democratic, transparent and egalitarian, and would offer better services than for-profit banks. *** Finally, it’s not just a better political system or a better economy that the new paradigm promises; it is also a richer aesthetics, a better culture. The ghastly homogenization and banality of consumer culture undermine our experience of life (this is perhaps the reason for the weird idol worship of the aberrational design fetishist Steve Jobs). The rabbit-hutch geography of the office combines with the humiliations of corporate culture (for bosses as much as the bossed-about) to alienate and demoralize everyone concerned. How we crave escape—pharmacological, alcoholic or virtual.
The current malaise is thus existential as well as political and economic. Nonetheless, this collective crisis can be captured in one word: agency. Control. We have lost it. We need to take it back. The methods proposed here flow from an appreciation of society and the human project that differs fundamentally from the assumptions that underpin conventional neoclassical economics and representative democracy. The premise is that people are not merely self-serving but value other qualities—compassion, meaning, community, beauty—at least as much. That they can be trusted to run their own affairs, a trust that is repeatedly undermined in today’s fear-based culture. Hobbes’s “state of nature,” of war of all against all, is a bogeyman belied by real-life experience, which suggests that after disaster strikes, people facing common hardship collaborate without need for overweening authority, as Rebecca Solnit has eloquently
written. Human nature is more beautiful than we have been led to believe. But perhaps because the human is a rather subtle and undefinable beast, these methods, and this new understanding, may never make up a complete new system or structure, in theory or in practice. Marxism and neoclassical economics sought comprehensive explanatory systems of society and indeed of human behavior. Both in their ways proposed complete accounts of the human project, with all loose ends neatly tied off. But if 1989 marked the end of communism, the global financial crisis and the insistent drumbeat of environmental disaster should mark the end of the political and economic orthodoxy that brought these perils about. The presumption of completeness inherent in both these thought-systems was their downfall because, inevitably, they left out crucial factors.
Marx failed to foresee that totalitarianism was an intrinsic risk of a self-appointed vanguard movement. The rationalist models of neoclassical economics failed to take account of the influence of irrational human behavior, like that witnessed in the credit bubble’s credulity, as well as the revealingly named “externalities” like social and environmental costs. Unpredicted and unmanaged economic volatility, mounting social fragmentation and grave environmental damage are now overwhelming the appealing but simplistic “internal” logic of equilibrium-seeking markets and utility-maximizing consumers. Indeed, the pathetic human need for a complete explanatory system needs to be resisted, for no theory can offer a full account of a world that is already massively, and yet also increasingly, complex, where any event, from the destruction of a job to war, is the subject of countless factors, all in constant, dynamic interaction. We hunger for a detailed map of the world, but the best we can hope for is a general understanding of a new dispensation: complexity. And complexity does not demand management by authorities; it is instead best influenced by individual agents,
acting by themselves at first, then with others, carrying the potential to affect the whole system. This, then, is the new politics for a disorderly world. The defenders of the status quo claim that only their methods can maintain order. They are, in fact, achieving the opposite. The politics proposed here, and already evident in Occupy and elsewhere, can foment a deeper order, where people are connected to one another, reweaving our tattered social fabric, where work is fulfilling and responsible, and where everyone in society is given their proper voice and their interests are accounted for. Our current political and economic forms have made avowal of these ideals seem archaic, almost absurd. How ridiculous to wish for such virtues! We cannot let such cynicism triumph. A new way is possible, but it has to be enacted, not asked for.
Carne Ross Originally published in The Nation and republished with kind permission. http://www.thenation.com/article/166122/occupywall-street-and-new-politics-disorderly-world
Whipping together dazzling dynamics, razor sharp lettering, penetrating dimensionality and an extraordinary depth of colour, Doesâ€™s hypnotic flows are truly a breathtaking window onto the power of the letter form. Gorgeously nuanced detail and geometric spins wrap themselves sensuously around melting angles and jagged bursts of serpentine shape. Twisting, turning and sinuously curving, Does has an amazing ability to bend staccato lines and sharp cuts into an unfolding sense of freeform whole. Cracking perspectiveâ€™s rigid mirror, much of his work almost feels like an epic modern remix of cubism.
Starting out life as a professional soccer player, Does rapidly evolved into a master of the graffiti art form. Founding the Loveletters crew with Nash in 2006, the crew has set sublime standards of spray, now laced with immense poignancy from the passing of Dare. Today, both the crew and Does himself are a global force. Does paints monumental pieces the world over, injecting a scintillating rush of mesmerising funk and glittering flow into every last drip. Loving his precision inscisions into the frontal lobe, we caught up with Does for a word.
What does the power of the letter mean to you.
Sittard, so although the scene is quite small nowadays, we certainly make the most of it!
Letters offer a strong basis from which you can experiment freely and discover many different Tell us a little about your time as a forms and shapes. While I experiment with professional soccer player and how that forms and shapes, I always try to stay true to reconciled with your growing interest in the basic form. graffiti What were your early experiences with letters When I was fifteen I started taking my sketches to the wall and play around with letters. I mainly did tags and throw ups back then and it was more about vandalism than anything else. I also started a mini crew with my best friends and we had lots of fun together. I did my first real piece in 1997, my best friends were patrolling for me. How much of a graffiti scene was there in your home town when you were younger When I was younger the Campina factory was a place in Sittard that many writers from all around Europe visited to leave their mark. I never got to paint these walls unfortunately, it was before my graffiti days. In surrounding cities there used to be quite a big scene, but from what I know the scene died down after a major arrest. Nash, Tumki and I are all from
I entered into a talent development programme when I was 10, was selected for the national team at the age of 12, signed my first contract when I was 15 and made my debut in the fist team at the age 16. I started tagging around my 15th birthday. I guess I needed some kind of relief from all the routine and discipline. I had always been drawing a lot without a particular purpose. When I discovered graffiti I really stared to take the drawing very seriously as I felt that was my basis. Throughout my soccer career I continued to draw a lot. Especially during my darker moments, which where mainly related to knee injuries, drawing really helped me to stay positive. Is playing soccer professionally as glamorous as people believe It can be glamorous when you are successful. When you are being bashed in the press or when the team is not delivering, the glamour fades very fast.
Bottom - with Nash
How did you start to move into more complex pieces You get to a point where you have the basics under control. With the basics I mean letter shape, colour combinations and the balance and flow in a piece. From that moment on I felt like experimenting more and more. That has led to more complex pieces. When did you start to really play with colour combinations In my view, I really started to go crazy with colour combinations when I lived in Sydney. Whereas I was used to doing collaboration walls with Nash and Tumki, I was suddenly on my own and unrestricted in using colours and shapes. Where is the balance between the legible and the abstract The balance is in the shape of the singular letters. You can add many elements to a letter
without bending it out of its basic shape and balance.
especially like popping colours on rough walls in abandoned places. And the location can make your piece more interesting. For example, looking at a piece in on old abandoned church is much more interesting than looking at a piece on a standard wall. How much does a wall itself have an identity before it is painted The identity of the wall is determined by its surroundings and its location. A wall in an abandoned factory has great character as it is often rough and of course there is the history and the memory of a place that once flourished. Of course, a wall in modern glamorous loft can have great character as well.
To what extent do you paint a piece to interact with its location I donâ€™t take the location as a starting point when I decide on a design for a piece. I do
How important is a dynamic sense of motion in your pieces and how do you craft it A sense of motion, or flow, is very important in any piece. It makes or breaks a piece. How to craft it? It takes practice.
Top - with Smug - Bottom - with Nash
How much do you weave symbols and characters into the lettering itself That depends on the piece. Currently I add quite a lot of symbols to my pieces, such as crowns, stars, hearts, drips and wings. I donâ€™t necessarily incorporate these symbols into the lettering itself as I feel the letters should always remain readable.
How do you paint funk and soul into a piece It is often the flow in a piece that does the trick. How has Ironlak sponsorship changed things for you
Being sponsored by Ironlak has broadened my reach. More people know about my work Are sketches a guideline or an exact blueprint through Ironlak. The new friendships are the most valuable part though. I really admire the Ironlak team for being so dedicated to the Sketches have grown to become guidelines writer scene. It hasnâ€™t been easy for them, for me. It is nice to work from a basic idea the competition can be pretty nasty. The guys and let the piece develop while working on behind Ironlak try to stay away from all of that it. Sketching will continue to be an important negativity and focus on their own goal: make tool in developing my style. good paint available at low cost for writers all over.Â How much are you constantly learning and evolving Has travelling had an effect and an influence Sometimes you take leaps and during some on your work periods you take little steps. All in all I am The possibility to travel and meet new people constantly learning and evolving as a writer inspires me. You can basically go anywhere and as a person.
How differently do you approach a canvas I need a different mindset when I work on a canvas. On canvas I mostly work with brush and acrylics which makes for a much longer process. The level of detail is higher as well.
Tell us a bit about your time in Australia I had a great time in Australia. The memories that stand out are the exhibitions that I did in Sydney and Melbourne and the roadtrips that I did with my girl. We bought a white Toyota Hiace with good rims - those rims were really what made the van stand out from all of the other backpackers vans! - and we drove around Australia. We visited places like Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands, Magnetic Island, beaches around Sydney and the outback. My greatest personal victory was sleeping outdoors in the outback, I really had to get over my fear of spiders and snakes.Â Tell us about the Love Letters Crew
in the world and there will always be a writer that is willing to show you around town and have you over for a few days. Travelling has broadened my mind and the experiences on my travels are a great source of inspiration.
In 2006 Nash and I initiated LoveLetters. The name, quite obviously, refers to our love for letters. The crew is a creative collective of ten European writers from Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. We started out with 4 members - Tumki, Chas, Nash, Does and expanded by inviting individual writers to join the crew: Dare, Dater, Ozer, Sean2, Rusl,
Biser and Puaks. Puaks recently joined the crew and we are very happy to have him on board. Dareâ€™s passing is a great loss; his work will continue to be a great inspiration. All the crew members have evolved from graffiti writers to creative artists. Their current activities include, amongst others: graphic design, web design, tattoo and clothing design, photography, gallery exhibitions. Each writer has his own expertise and talents, which makes for a truly unique and diverse crew. Being involved in this crew and seeing people around me grow inspires me. It keeps me motivated to work harder and to improve my personal style. The fact that everyone has a different focus besides graffiti is interesting as it helps you generate new ideas. Is graffiti finally being accepted as a specialized art form by a wider public and what are the positives and negatives of that process There are more and more projects that give street art the position that it deserves. I believe the general public opinion is slowly changing. I donâ€™t see any negatives in that process.
Where do you go from here â€“ what does the future hold I hope the future holds many more surprises. I would definitely like to go to Australia again. It would be great to visit and exhibit in the States as well. The year 2012 started off quite well with a few weeks in Melbourne painting an underground car park together with 70 international artists. And there is plenty more to come, such as the Melbourne Art Fair, a big art project in Bologna Italy and mind blowing assignment in Beirut where I will be painting the outside of a freshly built club together with some of the best graffiti writers around.
23 feet fly and rising, Jaguar Skills has been tearing a ninja shaped hole through musical consciousness with an all out assault on beat heavy history laced with the stealthy spin of shadowy mystery. Infamous for his 10 minute bursts of rampaging sonic mayhem on Radio 1, his mind bending mixes and his outrageous live heists, Jag slices through styles and wiles, tribes and vibes to distil every dusty corner of the musical spectrum into sizzling flashes of precision controlled chaos. We’re talking some serious ADHD shot through sublime style here.
up into dancefloor lash up - party grooves at relentless pace - hands in the air slammed with an underground bass. Liquid slides through memory and rollercoaster rides through the moment - sample chop into karate chop with a fleeting nod to dubious pop - this is a ninja on a seriously barnstorming misson. Dangerously wicked, Jag’s ramraiding the gaff on 2 slices of fat black wax, harnessed technology, and an irrepressible love of music.
We had no idea what to expect from the man behind the mask - was this all going to be jousting on ninja jokes and a top laugh Ripping through the hallowed halls of hip but leaving the shroud intact? Was he hop at light speed, switching up on a knife suddenly gonna feel the love, break down edge into banging drum n bass, rifling the and admit he’s actually a keen trainspotter crates of funk soul pressure, opening out called Gerald? Well as it turned out - this into dubstep’s hypnotic spacial warp before diving down into reggae’s sun kissed soul and was a wonderfully open and free flow chat. Reflective, thoughtful, insightful and honest, torching the gaff on the way out with some pumping 4 beats. Breathless? Course you are. we genuinely came away from this interview with respect redoubled and a real depth of feeling for Jag. It’s all laid out here - what a Remixing on the hop, he don’t stop. Edits lovely bloke and what a class fucking DJ... flying thick n fast through a scratched up storm of irreverence - mash up, thrashing
Cracking straight in on a tangent- tell us a little bit about your experience on this side of the conversation – doing hip hop interviews in the 90’s. Hahahaha…. Well it’s quite nerve racking isn’t it, and it’s doubly weird when you’re doing them by phone because you’re never quite sure what the person on the other end is going to sound like, let alone be like. So you’re there thinking to yourself – ‘shit – what’s Jaguar Skills going to sound like’ and then once I’m on the line or whoever’s on the line, it so often throws you a bit. There’s that moment of awkwardness before you try and settle into some kind of rhythm. I used to really stick to my questions – you know, the wooden classics like ‘How did you get into hip hop’ right down to ‘Do you like cats’ or ‘What’s your favourite colour’ kinda territory. Problem was of course that if the guy’s answer to the first question was ‘Well, I was on Mars yeah, and I learned to rap standing on my head’, instead of responding ‘Fucking hell – you what??? Let’s dig a little deeper into the whole upside down on Mars
scenario’, I would just move straight onto his potential love for cats or the colour scheme he was feeling at the time. It may sound obvious, but actually listening really was key instead of just staying heads down on the talking points. After a while though, interviewing rappers just became really boring. You’d be talking to Memphis Bleek or someone – ask em about their album and the most you’d get was ‘Well you know man – it’s like, like, like my fucking album’. Listening or not – where do you go with that? So I decided to flip it so they didn’t know who they were talking to or what to expect, and I came up with this character – an MC called Pedigree Chum. And he had this ‘yout t’ing gwan’ ‘wot ya chattin blud, ya get me’ sort of style, and you can talk like that to American all day and they won’t have a clue what’s going on. Giving it all. ‘Tell me ya cunt – is it like propa sick den blud or is you just a bare wanka’. So you’re out and out cussing them in the questions, but they wouldn’t get it, and so seeing as I wasn’t exactly getting profound insights out of the interview anyway, at least this way I had something funny to play to my mates. It was
classic – I remember speaking to Jay-Z off my tits and doing his head right in, but you know – it was a top laugh and there was the serious angle of altering perceptions about interviews, stardom, formulaic patterns and so on.
Being young and into hip hop, presumably a lot of these guys were people you looked up to at the time– how much did some of them take themselves way too seriously and how much did others surprise you with how open and genuine they were. What I found was that the guys who you thought were going to be really serious and a bit up themselves turned out to be really nice, and the ones who you were expecting to click with turned out to be arseholes. Naming no names, you’d get some wicked MC on the phone – someone who you really liked and they would just be unpleasant from start to very quick finish. And then you’d meet someone like Tim Dog from the Ultramagnetic MC’s who’d make you tea, sit you down, cross his legs and start asking you questions about your family. And then there was Primo. Proper
hardcore. Now his press officer was falling all over himself to warn me that Primo was a real arsehole who hates journalists, especially white English ones and that he was in the studio making a beat, so it was pretty much guaranteed that after 5 minutes I’d be told in no uncertain terms to fuck off. Get yaself ready for that bombshell son. I finally left about 9 hours later after a beat session with him and Guru who came in halfway through. It was mental. I was sat there at the desk being shown how to make my first beat by Gang Starr with Primo grinning at me shouting ‘Yo…. You know who’s sat in that chair before you? Biggie Smalls. Big Daddy Kane. Jay-Z’. Madness. As an artist and a DJ now, I look back at 10 years of interviewing people and I can’t help but feel that those experiences have rubbed off on me – almost by osmosis rather than conscious focus. That works both ways – obviously it colours how I approach interviews now it’s me on the spot, but it’s the little things you pick up from people in the game
from extreme examples like Primo showing me how to make a beat to far more subtle influences from conversations along the way that have all distilled somewhere, somehow into how I work as an artist.
Absolutely. And during that period – how much were you pure, dyed in the wool hip hop where nothing else mattered and how much did you access and embrace all the varied musical styles flying through your stuff now You’ve got to remember that back in those days, it was fundamentally harder to get hold of music. You’d have to go to a record shop and stand around like a punter who’s wandered into a private club. You had to know the guy serving up the vinyl, you had to know what you were looking for, you had to know so much that you had much less chance of just stumbling across stuff. And then of course as a teenager – you’re always heavily into one scene, one style – be it rock, dance or whatever – I know I was a super B-boy, but there was one aspect of my musical life that
underlay all of that….my dad was a DJ with a vast record collection. So I grew up almost without realizing and for a long time, without fully appreciating that I was living in a house with a massive record collection. It wasn’t until I was well into my teens and deep into hip hop, that I began to look at the back of album covers like A Tribe Called Quest and the penny dropped that the track I was loving had actually sampled this other guy I’ve never heard of. And I’d start flicking through my dad’s collection, and sure enough – there was the original, right there at my fingertips. He had all the breaks.
And then suddenly, all these records I’d seen as a bit of a waste of time and just clutter around the house turned into this goldmine. There was no hip hop in there so I didn’t give it the time of day – and then in that instant, the light above my head starts flashing, that eureka moment drops hard and it’s like ‘WHAT???????’ I had the breaks man. I had the breaks. A treasure trove of the craziest shit you ever heard. And that opened my mind well beyond any musical spectrum I’d been working off up to that point. Next thing I knew I was dusting off some BBC theme tune album, slapping it on the deck, sitting back and thinking ‘fuck me, this is wicked’. I don’t really want to tell my mates I’m listening to this shit – bit of a guilty pleasure, but sat there with the cricket theme tune or that trippy Kojack theme by John Love and his Orchestra going off, all I could think was – this is amazing. I think that was one of the characteristics of hip hop though. As soon as you probed past the surface, it opened you to other styles of music because by being into hip hop, you also took a heavy interest in everything they were sampling which in itself took you on a journey through the crates of the 60’s and 70’s.And if you were even semi interested in any level of production or DJing, you not only knew
the breaks, you made damn sure you had the breaks. So you’d get hold of say, Apache and from there your musical knowledge would grow until you were ransacking the record and tape exchanges or car boot sales on a full blown digging mission, then scouring the length of the record for the pure break. And I became a crazy digger, putting in all day shifts down at the car boot sales hunting down some obscure 80’s pop instrumental or some random acapella. For no other reason beyond loving doing it. There was no sense of building a DJ arsenal, or strategically arming myself for some future killer set – I simply loved records. I guess I was still expecting my journalistic career to miraculously take off, but I didn’t really have any actual plan over and above that slightly vague hope. And the irony was that the longer it went on, the more I was doing the writing and the interviewing solely to get the promos and the free 12’s. Getting paid was way down the list of priorities. Free tunes, free tickets to nights - as long as all the freeness was flowing – it was all good. I was the blagmaster. But there’s eras. And you know who’s ridden them all – certainly in hip hop terms? Westwood. It’s amazing to really reflect on how much influence he’s had over hip hop. Less so now – but back then….wow.
Absolutely – and people may take the piss now, but he introduced so much hip hop into wider consciousness – as you said – it was difficult to find music and build a knowledge of the underground stuff coming out – especially records on limited release in the States – and he just amplified all of that and made it accessible. Dude – I’ve got tapes of his LWR show from 83 where he’s going ‘Yo – there’s a new group with an album out. They’re called Run DMC and I’m gonna play you one of the first tracks off the LP’. And then he’d go into his gig guide which wasn’t just this night or that night – it was 3 o clock here for the breakdancing competition and then 5 o clock there for the scratch competition. That guy has been at it 4 or 5 times a week since 83. And before – the whole jazz funk, rare groove and northern soul thing – ‘Yo yo – I’m playing the jazz funk soul party at Butlins’ or some shit. And the deeper you dig into Westwood back then, the more respect he warrants. Because let’s face it – he’s a bit the new Jimmy Saville now. But fuck me – respect. Anyway – I digress - what was the question again?
Can’t remember, and anyway - who cares!! Love a good bit of freestyle spin on things. So let’s see….a question. Right – mash ups. Now hip hop mixing seems very quick cut, scratch and bounce into the next beat and that doesn’t really allow for long beat matches and layered up tunes running together. Did you start discovering unconventional mash ups by laying 2 tunes across each other in the mix or was it more something you would work up in the studio even before all the technology went mental and opened the editing floodgates. Hang on though. Look at Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel. 15 minutes mashing up all the latest disco tunes. And that was 81 or some shit. All the Steinski stuff. I even remember listening to Yoda’s first mixtape which just blew me away with its creativity and Spinbad’s mix of cut up 80’s pop tunes. Fucking unbelievable. And so much more so when you bear in mind that all of this was happening with 2 bits of vinyl. What a nutter. Duran Duran cut up with bloody T’Pau. On 2 Technics.
Residency. Sounds great – but unless you’re Carl Cox at Space, what it basically means is doing the warm up and the graveyard shift. So you’re doing all the worst slots – but then it’s training – that’s how I always looked at it. But you’re not allowed to play any of the big songs – there’s no stealing of big name, middle of the night thunder or you’re gonna get sacked, but at the same time you’re desperately trying to find a way to get people dancing to you and doing something fresh without getting in trouble. It’s a fine line. So this one night, Mark Ronson was on after me and after a couple My point is – all of this shit’s been happening of hours of dancefloor deadness, about 10 in hip hop for years. Nothing I’ve done is minutes before he came on, I suddenly found new. I think that for me it all just fell into myself with this full dancefloor. And it was at place as the technology came about, the time that point that I realised how critical those 10 seemed right and a whole bunch of things just minutes were – that was it – that was your organically came together. When I first started moment, so from then on I’d always try and having my stuff played on the radio – it was play a few sneaky massive records to get the somehow the right time. Had it been a couple vibe jumping. So I’d do something like take of years earlier – it may have been a different a big tune and change the acapella on it, so story – who knows. Annie Mac was doing while it had all the instant recognition and mash up mixes – so was some dude from XFM. vibe factor of a big tune, I’d changed it just But I arrived at the mash up primarily through enough to get away with it. doing the residency at Pacha. So I’d be knocking out versions and edits into There was this tune by the D and D All Stars called 1, 2 Pass with everyone who had recorded in the D&D studio coming together on a beat. You had Doug E. Fresh, Fat Joe, Jeru the Damaja, KRS-One, Mad Lion, and Smif-NWessun. But on the B-side, you had this mad remix where the DJ had flipped the beats and so each rapper’s section of flow was riding the beat from their most famous tune. And then the DJ would switch it out the second their verse was done and drop what the next rapper was best known for under their bit.
my own dubplates – and again – you talk about what’s new and what’s pure original – but that’s what reggae has always been built on – myriad versions of the same basic tune cut as a one off dub or limited press. And then Serato came out, so I was able to play my edits out of the computer using vinyl. That was the only thing that convinced me to go digital – because being a straight vinyl DJ, Serato kept all the elements of playing on vinyl, but with all the flexibility the computer brought to the equation. So I think the technology really did play a massive role in making DJ’s like me.
Because suddenly you don’t actually have to cut your dubplate – with all the time and expense that involves – they’re good to go the second the edit’s done. And that opens up incredible potential. Exactly. And nowadays, I’m making edits and rerubs in the hotel before the gig. Sometimes I’m making them 5 minutes before I go on. Suddenly I’m thinking shit – what a cool idea – let me loop this up, give it a good old chop in Ableton, and bang – I can play it as
a record there and then. On vinyl. And that gives me the freedom to be as creative as I can be. Because as a creative person, it can be intensely frustrating when you don’t have the tools or the know how to fully express your ideas. And now that my creative ideas and the means to express them have totally unified – it’s amazingly liberating.
On the mash up front – how important is a fat wink and a cheeky grin. The unexpected. The idea of laying something really fucking naff over something really underground and injecting a bit of humour and pushing the boundaries of what’s seen as acceptably ‘cool’ If I fuck a tune right up and mess with an acapella – and you don’t know those tunes, you’re not going to know what I’ve done. I could take 2 underground tunes, mash em up, re edit them – whatever you want to call it, if you don’t recognise at least one of the ingredients, you’ll think that’s how it’s meant to be. So if I want to show how ‘clever’ I’m being, the only way is to take a
tune that you know really fucking well and an acapella that you know really well – or even just one of those that you recognise, and put them together as chalk and cheese. And when it works.....then that’s something genuinely interesting to listen to. But that often only applies in short bursts - there ‘s always some people who don’t get it, and of course it only works if it really works. There’s no point chucking any old shit together if it’s cacophonic or out of tune I love the idea of making people nod their heads to something they really hate. You fucking hate this tune, but for some reason you’re dancing to it because of some subtle change I’ve made to it. I love taking something really famous and at some point in the tune, making a legitimate beat out of it. I love that moment when people are thinking to themselves – should I like this or not. I love fucking around with people’s expectations, and you know – why not have a laugh? A lot of people don’t like to laugh with their music – it’s a serious thing. And I understand that. In a club it’s deadly serious for me. But seeing as I’m doing so many mixes, why can’t I
do one in the style of an old radio pilot or the 60’s Batman show? It’s all about pushing the boundaries, but it’s always dangerous territory up near the frontiers and I do have to pull myself up and think – hang on – have I gone too far here. Is this too much? But then I’m thinking no. It’s trial and error, and I have to push myself and keep it personally interesting to have any hope that other people will find it interesting too. Some people diss a lot and others love me loads. I do feel like a jar of Marmite now and again, but as long as the people who don’t like what I do understand that I’m doing it wholly for the love and there’s no agenda, then I’m happy. I just love music. I love the fact that I can play an old record to someone who’s never heard it and making it a new record for them just by playing it. Not even touching it on the edit. Or re edit it and even if you do know it, it’s new. I never want to limit myself. I like MacDonalds and I like Japanese Wagu beef. I love baked beans on toast, I love the finest foie gras and I love everything in between. So why can’t my music ride that analogy? And it works. And er...if you don’t like it..fuck off...
Do you think that after a very splintered and very tribal period in music where you just went to a jungle club and thought househeads were all lightweight wankers, or you only went to hip hop nights or reggae soundclashes or whatever, we have reached a point of maturity, depth and openness where everyone wants a bit of every flavour chucked into the mix. People going out to the clubs these days have grown up listening to music in a totally different way to how I did and probably a lot of your readers did too. No-one’s listening to albums any more – they’re cherry picking one track from here, one from there, loading them into the ipod and shuffling. I don’t have to go to a rock record shop to buy a rock record anymore – I can just buy it online alongside soul, funk, drum n bass, hip hop – you name it, so I do think that the supply of music has had a direct effect on how it’s experienced and understood. There’s still jungle raves and purist nights, but I think that the return of the multi genre DJ comes down to the very simple fact that people don’t want to listen to one style of
music all night long. Or maybe attention spans are getting shorter – I know mine’s pretty limited. The lay of the land as it stands with no one wanting by buy albums or having the patience to get into a 12 track ‘concept’ could either be the downward spiral of music as we know it, or a whole new way of listening to it. You can view it either way, but to me it’s exciting, vibrant and interesting. If you do it in a non corny way. And that’s critical, because it can easily become like a wedding. You’ve got true multi genre DJ’s and then you’ve got wedding DJ’s. And there’s a line. There is a line But it’s still a fine one. Ish. My sets at Pacha were actually called Edgy Wedding. That was how I named my style. Class Slightly left of centre wedding tunes you wanted to hear – guilty pleasure type shit. But that’s a very UK take on it. Go to America and that’s how it’s always been. Electronic music is a much more recent phenomenon over there – at least in the mainstream and before that – it was always multi genre. A hip hop party DJ would always play loads of different styles.
You’d play breakbeat, Michael Jackson and all the funk classics – the hip hop mixed in with the disco stuff. And that’s what the art of DJing originally is at core. It’s only recently that it’s gotten so specialised within styles.
But you know, people have only really heard about me in the last 3 or 4 years, but for the 12 years before that I was deep, deep in training. Learning, honing, practising, fucking up, having mental breakdowns - the lot, to the point that now I feel totally confident I find it interesting now when I find out who’s in what I do because of those foundations. played my records or who’s trying to change And when you look around, producers who their sound to incorporate a bit of dubstep have hit songs are getting thrown up in front or whatever. Because while I think that what of massive audiences when they’ve only I do is a wacky evolution of what’s always physically been DJing for a year or so. I feel been – some people see it as completely for them – because they must be shitting revolutionary. I’ve got a show coming up on themselves. And we’ve reached this point Radio 1 with mixes by some amazing dudes. where someone wrote about me recently – I’ve got a mix by Carl Cox on my show. Carl Cox ‘Jaguar Skills – what a joker – he just plays is down with what I’m doing – fucking hell!! everybody else’s tunes’ And David Guetta played my tune. You’re joking Seriously. David Guetta played my tune!! People like Eddie Halliwell, Michael Woods and a bunch of these progressive house DJ’s are playing my tunes, and it does make me stop and think – the guys who you think will be really set in their ways are the ones on the lookout for new elements and new grooves to keep changing up what they do.
Talk about fundamentally missing the point of DJing in this producer led age Know what I mean??? But with all that training – all those years of graft, I feel like I’m ready for warfare and I do sometimes feel like I can take anyone. Maybe I can’t – maybe that’s big headed, but if I can put myself in that headspace – it takes on a certain power
that comes through in the mixing. When I do a mix – it’s like going into battle – fucking come on then. I put my mask on and it focuses me into this mindset of a total different identity. To the core. I’m not that guy now sat here talking to you, but when the mix is on, it’s like pulling on a silent ski mask and going out on a heist. It just takes me into this totally energised and focused place. And then when I’m finished, I can take my mask off, go out into the audience and no one knows who I am. It’s like a complete theatrical bug out that takes it to a whole new level.
up – Japan, Asia, the States a few times, heading to Australia a couple of times – few European dates. Basically I’m just insanely busy. I’ve seen my schedule and literally every single day is timetabled for the whole year – it’s pretty surreal actually. But it’s so exciting, and to be able to do my hobby and my love to this extent is something else. I never in a million years thought I’d be here and I am just so, so thankful. Shit man. This is the dream...
with thanks to Mr Jones Photographer for his photos At this point, while we’d love to probe the split personality dynamic deeper, we’ve had a https://www.facebook.com/PhotographerMrJones great chat, and it might just be worth leaving some mystique out there. So just to wrap it all up and seal the deal, just tell us what 2012 holds for you.
Well I’ve got some fresh tracks coming out and I’m working with some really fucking cool producers so hopefully the original production side of things will be playing a much more prominent role. I’ve got a load of tours lined
Blek le Rat
In 1981, the rats scurried out of the sewers, the metro tunnels and the labyrinthine catacombs of Paris. Rifling through bourgeois sensibilities, they brought with them a new urban virus - the universal pandemic of ideas, voices, images, emotions and pirate creativity that we now know as ‘street art’. Call him a legend, call him the ‘Godfather’ or just call him Xavier, Blek le Rat created an infectious new paradigm both in the understanding of art’s role in society and our everyday interactions with the once numb world around us. Harnessing fine art, an intangibly French hue of imagination, a hint of mime, a profound channel of shared humanity, a whisper of faded memory, mirrors onto the absurd and a transformational idea, he hijacked art from the sterility of clique, money and cultural arrogance and sent it coursing through the streets and the veins of modern life.
As the symbolism of the rats slowly took hold in the shadows of the Louvre, Blek pioneered myriad incarnations of the stencil as the tool of the artistic heist. With a wry wink to pop art, fascist propaganda, and the liberte, fraternite, egalite that rang so hollow, he created a searingly human language of visual poetry - as much a product and a part of its environment as those who viewed it. His art transcended barrier after barrier, always one step ahead of originality’s curve. Everymen melted into pathos, taboos were broken, the halos were rattled atop cultural paragons and sepia monochromes breathed life into the rat race. Piercing figures bursting out of cold concrete bathed in the light of life, and the blight of strife. He fundamentally changed the way we see art and ourselves and a few paragraphs could never do it justice. So over to the man himself with immense respect.
Could you tell us a little about your family’s histories and how much they shaped your identity? You have to remember that I was born in 1951, six years after the end of the Second World War, so my parents were born right at the beginning of the 20th century and into what was effectively, a 19th century education with all its’ strictures and focus on detailed erudition. They were well versed in art and literature and certainly cultured people, but they didn’t have a lot of money. I come from a family which had quite a few artists within it, especially on my father’s side. There was a tradition of architecture, decoration and design – both my grandfather Maurice Prou and his brother René were famous decorators in the 30’s - René actually did the interiors for the Orient Express as well as one of the lavish transatlantic ocean liners. So you had that creative vein within my family while at the same time, my aunt was an integral part of Surrealist circles and a close friend of artists like André Breton, Max Ernst, Dali and Picasso. When I was young, my aunt Colette, who didn’t have children, would take me with her when she visited Marie Berthe Aurenche, Max Ernst’s second wife. Almost every Thursday we would go to her place, settle in for tea and I would listen as they discussed art and literature. I was still too young at the time to actively participate, but it all created an atmosphere around me. Aunt Collette would also take me to a steady stream of galleries and museums from about the age of 12 until well into my teens. I’ll never forget the moment when I saw my first Dali on one of these cultural outings. It was large painting of a piano and across the length of the keyboard sat six small heads of Lenin – I think it was called Six Apparitions of Lenin and that was a seminal moment in my perception of art. I also had an uncle who was an engraver, another uncle who was a painter, and while my parents weren’t artists, my father had studied architecture. But history took its’
toll on his generation and the seismic, indescribable effects of the war changed their lives beyond measure or comprehension. My father had been a prisoner in Germany and when he returned to France at the end of the war, he had to help to rebuild France, which had been completely destroyed. They were sacrificed on the altar of the Second World War both during and after and people like my father could never express themselves or have the freedom to pursue their dreams. In his case it was architecture that was his unfulfilled calling. He was forced to work very young as the economic fallout of the First World War hit families and his priority had to be putting food on the table. And you can imagine what having your true identity frustrated and forced into an endless cycle of responsibility will do to you. So the cultural influence really came from my aunt Colette. She was an actress and beyond the museums and galleries, she would take me to the theatre and the cinema....oh and to put it delicately, she was also André Breton’s mistress… My insight, my feeling, my references and my confidence came from her.
What was the state of public art when you were coming of age? In 1968 we couldn’t really talk about public art in the sense we understand it today - the only public art in Paris would have been large murals with heavy official backing. It started more during the seventies. But I don’t really relate to or particularly like huge painted facades. I just don’t think it’s that interesting in a city – it’s way too big and impersonal and certainly doesn’t touch me personally. I think the real question is the state of art in 1968, a momentous year in France that saw something close to a revolution with huge student protests and a vast number of strikes. At the time, the students of the Beaux Arts school of Paris created workshops where they did revolutionary posters to stick all over Paris
throughout the month of May. I was 17 years old, and when I saw them, I was genuinely moved by them. It was mostly screen printed black and white posters with very strong messages, and they were my first insight into what a revolution could be. They definitely left their mark on me and they were the artistic reflection of a tumultuous, exciting time. Beyond that, I’d say street art didn’t exist in Paris in any form apart from the stock murals. It existed in the US, it existed in New York but it didn’t exist in France. I don’t think London had any either. I mean during the 70’s there was maybe one or two artists that would work in the street but that’s about it. I used to go to London during the 70’s and I don’t remember seeing any public art - and there was no graffiti in the streets of Berlin, in Italy or in France. It’s really a movement that started in the US, from New York and that arrived in Europe during the 80’s but not before. I can’t really talk about public art unless you call public art the statues they put in front of schools - state driven and entrenched in an agenda. When I speak about public art, what interests me is an art that is free, a bit rebellious and forbidden, a forbidden art that is done secretly in the street.
Actually there was a form of graffiti back then but it tended to be heavily political. In France there has always been a great tradition of political graffiti throughout the centuries – where people would secretly air their views on the state, the king, the president or their neighbour all over a wall. When I was a child and the Algerian war of independence was raging over the embers of colonialism, I remember all kinds of messages and slogans appearing all over the city from both sides – be it ‘French Algeria” or “Algeria to the Algerians”.
Stencils were originally a political communication and propaganda tool. How aware were you of that legacy when you started stenciling and how conscious was that connection? I was absolutely aware and the connection was conscious. I discovered stencils at the beginning of the sixties during a trip to Italy with my parents. While we were in Padova, I remember seeing a stencilled portrait of Mussolini on the city walls. It wasn’t a new or even a recent thing - it was a relic of the Second World War. And it was actually very
well done - a profile of Mussolini wearing a helmet. I was maybe something like eleven or twelve and I asked my father why people did that, why did people paint directly on the wall, why they didn’t use posters - I knew posters but this I had never seen before. My dad answered it was propaganda, and that the fascists did it. During the Second World War, fascists did all their propaganda using stencils and they did it all with paint soaked rollers, as spray paint didn’t exist back then. When I enrolled in the Beaux Arts in Paris in 1971, I met an American guy named Larry Wolhandler. Once we became friends, he convinced me that I should come visit him in New York during the holidays, and really stressed that it would be a great experience for me. I knew the place only by name, but once he’d persuaded me to go, I started working and saving money to pay for the trip in July and August 1971. I stayed a month at his parents place in New York and there I discovered the first graffiti on the walls of the Village. There was already graffiti over there and I remember the sheer shock of that moment. And I asked Larry “But what is it?
Why do people put signatures like these in the subway?” I was a bit shocked as I thought it was vandalism, I didn’t understand at all why people put their names like that in New York’s subway. Larry replied ‘I don’t know, there’s some people who do that but I don’t know why.” He thought it was aggressive - he didn’t really like it. So it kind of embedded itself in my memory and when I started doing graffiti in 1981, it all came flooding back. I had always wanted to do graffiti after this American experience. I knew I wanted to; it had stayed in my mind for ten years. I wouldn’t stop talking about it. So it’s 1981 and I’m doing my architecture degree on ‘Fields of Adventure’. Fields of Adventure are a basically well thought out playgrounds – free spaces in every town where children can come after school to play under the surveillance of a volunteer adult. There is a place like that in each town where children can go play. So as I was working out at one for my studies, I noticed some kids who were stealing paint and brushes from a nearby shop and they were painting a little house in
the playground with children drawings. These kids were the final spark – what they were doing was brilliant. I thought to myself - I’m going to do some graffiti in Paris combining all the things I had learned over the years, what I had seen in New York and what these kids were doing. I started out with a friend called Gérard who was working with me at the playground. The first time was in October 81. A that time finding spray paint was a seriously hard task, the only kind that existed back then were designed to paint cars and were decidedly expensive. So we bought these expensive sprays and one night we went out to do an American graffiti because that’s what I had seen, what I had in mind. The American Graffiti, writing your name… But… We didn’t have the technique, the result was terrible really ugly. So on the way back I told Gerard that we should do some stencils because I also remembered what I had seen in Italy as a child. So this led me to do stencils of rats, of rat’s shadows, my friend Gerard helped me and we were doing rats, little characters, we were bombing Paris, especially the 14th arrondissement. We know you must be sick of this question – but it has to be asked – why the rats – what was the symbolism?
I was very shocked by the number of rats there was in Paris - when you took the metro in the evening, there were literally rats everywhere. These days I’m based in the countryside, but I imagine they’re still all over the metro – but in the 80’s it was just
incredible. There are a lot of subterranean dimensions to Paris, many of which were built during the revolution as hiding places and we call them the catacombs. So Paris is a kind of Gruyere cheese, peppered with lots of tunnels where the rats live and they come out at night. This image fitted very well with what I was doing because I was also going out during the night to do my painting and a definite comparison could be drawn. And there was something else that was really interesting: the fact that ‘rat’ is an anagram of ‘art’. All of this was very convenient; I loved to play with words. In a way I was living like a kind of rat and also, I loved rat stories. Around that time, there was a lot of rat stories, there was a comic book called Kebra, in which the hero was a rat. Rats were very much part of our world, they are a kind of reflection of the city, they can easily adapt to it and to our way of living. Also, by drawing rats, I wanted to show to the Parisians who are so proud of their city, Paris which is feted as the most beautiful city in the world, I wanted to show them the underbelly of their town, the part they deny.
It was also meant to shock the bourgeois a bit, well it wasn’t very violent, it wasn’t very offensive but it was a way of saying to them: yes, your town is beautiful but underneath...in the shadows... live the rats.
Was there something about the vibe and the rhythms of Paris that made you want to paint it or dictated the way your work or was it simply because it was your hometown ? Because it was my town, I loved Paris for a huge part of my life, but now I hate it. One of the reasons why I chose stencils was that I didn’t want to imitate American graffiti, I had given it a shot but I didn’t have the technique, and after reflecting back on it, I realised it had no relevance to our culture – it was a straight import with none of the context it had in America. It didn’t fit French life or French architecture. A graffiti piece in the US works beautifully because it’s tuned to the environment and the colours of US city. So it’s beautiful there, but imitating an American tag in a town like Paris, Rome or in London has no meaning
Why did Taki 183, Cornbread and all these American guys write like that? Because it was a natural evolution of their culture, of what they had seen on TV, what they had read in magazines, the music listened to and the complex cultural context that brought them to that point. Back then I thought it just didn’t work. I mean even if an American came up in a Parisian metro and put beautiful letters there, it wouldn’t work either. I thought I had to find something from our culture and I thought stencil were perfect. In a way it always existed here, during the Renaissance, they used stencils for their frescos when they were decorating walls. Stencils have always been a very European technique and I thought stencils worked better in France and in Paris than trying to do American style graffiti.
Is that part of the reason you worked in monochrome? Perhaps – but ultimately, it was a matter of security - it was faster. When you work in the street, it’s illegal so you have to be very
fast. Let’s say if one guy holds the stencil and the other sprays it, it takes just 2 minutes to paint a stencil. The reason why I chose to paint monochrome stencils is that I was very paranoid when I was painting in the streets, I was very afraid, especially in the beginning. For me it was always a massive effort to go do things in the street. I have always been more introverted than extroverted, so for me to go out and do things in the street was always a bit of a struggle. It wasn’t a pleasure; I never enjoyed the actual process though I know a lot of people who do graffiti have a lot of fun doing it, it’s a real thrill for them. But because the danger elements always preyed on my mind, I wanted to be in and out as fast as possible – but equally – it developed a distinct aesthetic. How much does street art owe to pop art In my opinion we are a continuation and an evolution of pop art and I think Andy Warhol pre-empted that very well when he worked with Keith Haring and Basquiat. He understood something was going on. Sadly, Andy Warhol died a bit too young.
He had grasped very quickly around 1980 that street art was a continuation of pop art and I profoundly believe this too. I’m very influenced by pop art. I would love to collect it but I just can’t afford a Warhol or a Lichtenstein. I feel really close to them. They are from my generation. I really discovered modern art through pop art during the 70’s. The music of the Velvet Underground, I was a fan of Lou Reed, the movies of Paul Morissey, I went to see all of them. I am at core, a product of pop art. I think ideologically we are really close to pop art and the situationist movement. The situationists wanted to create a revolution though art, I believe we are the descendants of pop art and all the politicized artistic movements that existed during the 60’s, the 70’s and the 80’s.
I imagine that for years, you despaired that the art establishment didn’t recognize the value and power of street art. Now that it has become such a darling of the establishment – how do you feel about it?
Unfortunately, it always happens this way. There is a saying in France that no one is a prophet in his own time which means that if you create something new, it will take time to be accepted.
People are not looking for new things and it’s generally difficult for them to accept at first. If you look at the impressionists during the 19th century for instance, it took them a century to be recognised properly. Today it’s the same, only things are going faster. Recognition still takes a long time but it at least happened while I was alive. If I had been living during the 19th century, that probably wouldn’t have been the case. Things are going faster, thanks to the internet and the media in general. But even so, things are taking quite a while, for me it took 30 years to get some recognition but I’m living it right now. If you are bringing something new it will take time for people to even consider it, especially if it’s very innovative, people don’t like to have their comfort zone disturbed. It’s easy to go see art you trust – a Renoir or a Van Gogh as it is now established art and there’s no risk in daring to like it. But modern art or graffiti is still something rebellious.
People still wince when they see a piece of graffiti. Even in music terms, if you consider hip hop and the first guys to start rapping in the seventies… It took 10 or 15 years for that to be recognised as a ‘valid’ musical style. With money flooding into the galleries, much of the art being taken out of context and recognition bringing negatives as well as positives – what do you think the effect of money and hype has been To me it’s a normal process - everything has a value and a commercial value will naturally attach itself to anything that is widely appreciated. I must say that when I started doing graffiti I didn’t have that in mind at all. I never did street art in order to make money but it is not a problem for me if it becomes bankable. Everything has a commercial potential.
How much does the context and the location of a work surprise you as the piece interacts with it over time?
messages and for me this is not art, these great political and social messages, to me it looks more like he is settling a score with himself. Personally I have no score to settle A lot, I’m always surprised by it and I think it’s with society, the police, the queen or Sarkozy, actually one of the most interesting aspects I have no score to settle. To me, this is not art, to street art. Once again I must say that I it is something else. My message, the way I don’t like big frescos, big painted walls in want it to work, is to bring something new, cities. Why? Because what I find interesting to communicate so that people evolve a little in street art is that it is a way of interacting bit in their own world, to make a change in with people, a way to communicate with the world in which they live. It’s a very small people from the street, with people from the thing but I don’t have any slogans. I look for city, with children... When an artist does a communication, I would like people in the big mural painting, he communicates alone cities to get closer to each others because I and that doesn’t interest me. What I find think loneliness, anonymity are real problems thrilling is for example if I make a stencil in San in the cities, something I felt deeply when I Francisco and someone else puts something was living in town. So that’s what I try to do, else just near my work, even if it is offensive bringing people together and make them towards my stuff, I like that. I don’t care if communicate. people say it’s beautiful or it’s ugly, I just like the interaction, the fact that something happens between me and this person I don’t But there is still a social aspect to your work, know who will add something, that’s what it’s the idea of giving a voice to marginalized all about. people, to the forgotten. Isn’t there? All the big messages that artists have to give to the world for example just don’t interest me. Banksy for example, he has these great
Not that much actually. The only message I had in my whole life was about war. That’s why I did soldiers. I have been doing soldiers
with weapons for a long time. I don’t have any big social or political messages because I’m disappointed by politics. I believed in it in my youth but I don’t any more. Through my work, I speak a lot about myself. Because I mean honestly that’s what interests us, ourselves, so that’s what I mostly talk about in my art. I talked a bit about soldiers and weapons too because I feel I was born in a world of war. I feel that I have only known wars throughout my life. My parents were always talking about war when I was a kid. Then there was the Vietnam war, the Lebanese war, the Korea war, the Algeria war… That’s all I know, everything I saw - perpetual war. Fortunately I didn’t have to fight in a war or to use weapons but my life was marked by it. It was the biggest influence I’ve had in my whole life, I feel a bit like a witness, that’s why I painted soldiers carrying weapons, it was a testimony of my time...But I don’t have a big political message or anything like that.
How does the whole ‘Godfather’ role actually feel ? Hehehe – well to be honest – it basically is my role! Back then, I immediately realized that the technique I had found and the way I used it in the city were interesting. It dawned straight away because when I started doing it, other people followed my example, in a matter of months, they were doing their own stencils. The first stencils I saw in Paris after mine were done by a guy called Marie Rouffet; he’s done it all over Paris. So I knew it was taking off, I knew it was going to become a movement, I knew it from the very beginning in 81. I didn’t have Banksy or Shepard Fairey in mind but I knew something was brewing. I was sure about it because for an artist it’s an extraordinary thing, you put something on a wall and the next day thousands of people get to see it. It’s fantastic, I knew it would work. I didn’t expect it to become a worldwide movement though. I thought it would only
happen in a few countries… But I always defended the fact that I was the first to do it, I defended it because it’s a pretty hard task, with time, people forget about it. There have always been people trying to take my place, so during 30 years I have always had to defend my “godfather” position if you will… The first person to call me the godfather of stencil art was Pure Evil, it was back in 2005 when he invited me to live at his place for 15 days in order to do stencils in London. One night he had invited some people and he told them ‘Let me introduce you to the godfather of stencils’. The name came from there. Are you optimistic about street art’s future ? Yes and no… Yes because it is really the most interesting art movement since the Renaissance … But at the same time no because it is the most fake art movement to ever exist. I use the word fake because there is a lot of guys who call themselves street artist but they are not real. They did maybe two genuine pieces in their lives and they immediately knew how to contact the media, get on TV, get journalists onside and pull some
very slick PR together. Suddenly they become great street artists because they knew how to promote themselves. But I believe time will cleanse all that and with time, only the real artists will stay. Guys like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Slinkachu and hopefully myself will stay. So I’m very optimistic yet very pessimistic at the same time. In the next few years there has to be a real cleansing. It’s like in music - there was a time when all youngsters wanted to be rock stars but only the good musicians remained, only the great rock groups, and all the bad ones faded into oblivion. All the bad ones, those who want to get into the movement to make a quick buck or get a magazine cover, all those need to be chopped away and forgotten. At the moment the problem is that we don’t know how to distinguish between good and bad because there is too much stuff going on. It’s so prolific that we don’t know who’s who anymore; who’s a good artist, who isn’t… We don’t know how to make the difference anymore but time will tell.
Hello again. Before I jump in and take the piss out of the various things that have been going on around me these past weeks I would like to ask a question: how are you reading this? Does it mean sitting with your laptop open or even sticking it on a second screen at work? Are you squandering office resources by razzing it off undercover through their laser printer network and binding the sheets? Would any of you be prepared to shell out the 15 euro’s or so per issue it would have to retail at to break even on printing off a 500 colour page magazine every couple of months? Well, something snapped in me the other day: I thought to myself, why is it that I only ever have a browse through this wonderful publication and never devour it in full? And
the answer I came up with is as follows: if I’m sat in front of a computer, and social networking isn’t stealing my time and soul away, the chances are I’ll be working on some sort of project or getting hints and tips from the mother of all tech forums that is YouTube. Where do I do most of my reading? Yes, you guessed it, either on the plane, train, bus, or of course, on the toilet. Now there’s something highly unpractical with all that; nobody needs a laptop weighing down across their thighs for the simple pleasure of reading, certainly not during the morning voiding session, so instead of actually getting down with something I want to read but never have the time because of where
I have to be to do so, I settle for something on paper, a book, or a magazine that I’ve either read a dozen times or just can’t get into cos it’s so mind numbingly boring. Then I discovered magazine subscriptions on the iPad. This is really working out well for me, as an Englishman living abroad. After having mastered the art of fooling my Internet router via proxy into thinking I really AM in the UK or USA to make it easier to stream content, I now turn to satisfying my reading fix and keeping abreast with developments in my career field. An airport or train station copy of ‘Wired’ or ‘Future Music’ for example, can set you back easily over and above 10 euro’s an issue, and being a “Viz” fan I had to make
do with begging anyone I knew that was doing a trip to England to pick me up a copy- and that is harder than it sounds if the person isn’t English, trust me on this. All these compromises have been done away with now that I have discovered how to get the latest issue downloaded straight to my tablet computer, after reading through the complimentary copy I was hooked! The way you can click on some graphics and they come alive at you, the ability to zoom in and read from further away if needed so as not to strain your neck, and that whole flick, flick, flick, stab and stop gesturing feels as natural now as turning a page. But the most attractive option of course is the price: for the same as shelling out for 2 or 3 issues of magazine of choice in an airport newsagents, I’m subscribed up for the year. Alerts as soon as the new one is out, the ability to archive them online for retrieval at a later date should you need the memory space for something else, it’s utter bliss! While moving house I dumped a load of magazines I had into a bag and lifted it out to the car, “bloody hell, what useless heavy junk is THIS? “ Is what I thought while doing so. Now a book is a book, you’ll
never stop me buying and devouring books, but magazines? Really? Tomorrows Fish wrappers, or appropriate collage fodder but never a source of timeless information and pleasure, so WHY BOTHER buying and hoarding them ? Most of what went in that bag was old copies of ‘sound on sound’, held onto for the tips sections, most of which have been republished in Paul White’s excellent ‘producer’s manual’, so short of butchering them with scissors and glueing them to card, the contents of this bag’s future seems dark indeed. Doctors or Dentist waiting rooms; tables overflowing with pages of yesterday’s news; tons of the buggers, never a damn thing in em you want to read, you won’t catch me picking the dirty things up anymore I can tell you! Really enjoying the way you can drag and drop anything that piques your interest or rattles your cage from the ‘iMagazine’ to the ‘Soc-Net’ platform of your choice ( did I just become the first to coin an abbreviated phrase there?) getting instant second opinions on the subject at hand. And so back to the whole point of this ramble: ‘what about’ I asked myself, ‘ This Magazine?’ It seemed easy enough to grab all the copies I could in .pdf format, but found myself having to google and dick around with FTP over Wireless trying to move the buggers onto my pad.Not exactly the one button download experience my subscriptions provide but I must say LSD mag translates seamlessly on here. The pages
fit on to the screen perfectly, and I can dive in between reading and writing articles just like I’m doing now. Obviously someone’s gonna come up with the no brainier that it sounds absurd to have to charge up in order to read something, but with a 10 hour battery life, and a way to carry nearly 50 issues of
different magazines or comics around with you on something 10 Inches long and a few millimeters thick, even the most techno paranoid luddite would have to see the benefits in all this while on the move. And you can do it in the dark without a torch, good news for kids tucked up in bed that’s for sure....if there are still any left on planet earth that read under the bedclothes after lights out that is...
for their various fixes of “Eastenders”, or “Doctor Who”, “Little Britain”or even Johnny Vegas or equivalent. The BBC iPlayer!!!! For a subscription half the price of a TV Licence ( they’ve introduced this in France now as part of your ‘Taxe Habitation’ now the slimy red tape lovin bureaucratic gits! I don’t even WATCH France2 etc) you can stream good ole home made entertainment from nearly any other country in the world, and let’s face it, the beeb does come up consistently with Saying that though, in the paperback world, things worth watching now don’t they. As I I’ve recently devoured the following: “Zero said before, if these companies are prepared History” by William Gibson, “Player One,” to recognize the needs of the modern content by Douglas Coupland, “Tell All” by Chuck consumer then of COURSE I’ll pitch in with a Palanhuik, all of which are works of utter few quid to make it work! It’s time wasting genius, and am about to embark on Neil and BORING going through the labyrinth that Stephenson’s “Reamde”, which promises to be is streaming sites finding the show you want a rollicking ride through the pitfalls of digital to watch online, and if a time saving platform society, if only I could fit the huge clumsy 1400 comes down from higher up, you KNOW page plus airport edition into my frikkin gig I’m on board. I mean, things like this have bag..... been around for a while now, ‘Graboid’ over On towards TV again, to get a bit of closure on here, ‘Netflix’ over there, never really got me the subject of a previous article, I’m delighted going though as I was still in the whole ‘ well I could just go and download that’ headspace to report that the BBC have recognized whilst reviewing what they had to offer: Most the needs of us millions of British “Idiots sites that deal in ‘quasi legal’ streaming via Abroad” the world over who are crying out
‘videobb’ and the like have a much wider selection of more ‘off the wall’ or ‘alternative’ cinema than media monopolists like ‘iTunes’ , only downside being that of finding out which of the 53 odd links they propose you actually works, then preparing your ‘sign up’ dodge to carry on with another provider once the ‘you have watched 72 minutes of video’ banner comes up. I actually came a cropper with some torrent site dedicated to British comedy and drama etc archives dating back as far as the 1950’s. I signed up, grabbed season 9 of ‘Grange Hill’ on the premise of sampling some choice quotes by Zammo or Mr Bronson, followed by all 3 seasons of ‘Titty Bang Bang’ as its one of my daughter’s favorite comedy shows, only to find a rude email in my inbox notifying me that within the 4 hours I’d been signed up I’d failed to follow the forum rules and was subsequently BANNED from using them again. Wanna know why? Something to do with an ‘upload/download ratio’. Apparently you have to upload as much as you download to maintain a ratio of 1:1. “And by the way, we only accept British tv shows!”Living in Marseille, I’m really gonna be able to do that now aren’t I. No reply to my email explaining my situation, just do like us or go fuck yourself.
Now THIS, is where I would have happily donated a bit of cash to help them tick along, but of course Noooooooo, can’t do that, we’re ‘underground’, and all sorts of other net pirate honour crap. And NONE of the files featured belong to them ANYWAY, rendering the whole thing , and the people who run it, decidedly ANAL to say the least! Makes you wonder when for a change it’s the little people that shit on you, and the media giants actually come through and deliver doesn’t it? Yet again, I don’t seem to be able to write a column without pointing out the irony in SOMETHING......
Now, all these alternative ways of getting content look like they have been put on hold for the majority of the wired populace due to the good ole fashioned pillars of justice and equality ‘sic’ that are the FBI!!!! What a lovely surprise I got the other morning as I attempted to login to my Megaupload account to retrieve some photo’s I had stocked there, only to find that the site and its assets had been seized by the US government, and the humans behind it all were now up for infringement of copyright, racketeering, money laundering, and actions perverting the course of justice!!!! I had a lifetime account with these people and seeing as they were not responsible for the content on their servers, just literally to provide space for paying members of the public to upload their stuff.
I found it rather offensive that a bunch of paranoid suits want to have the last word in what I’m allowed to stock or share! Is that it then? The only thing that stands between them getting powers of access to your home so they can confiscate your computer and examine your hard drive is some shitty little law concerning new official bodies such as ‘PIPA’?? The total deprivation of human privacy in your own home vanished away into a paperwork and ligitation nightmare all because you wanted to see the last episode of ‘Desperate Housewives’? And to kick a dog while he’s down, the ruthless and immediate appearance of ‘megaupload.bz’ put in place to rob unwary new subscribers of their bank details and rinse them of every penny they have or more; absolutely unforgivable, yet still operational, nobody seems to be chasing them as far as New Zealand to pick them up and charge them now DO THEY!!!! It really is one law for them and another for everybody else. Fair play to Wikipedia for going offline 24 hours in protest, and in the ‘can’t live with em , can’t live without em’ category, there’s nothing better to stand in the way of progress than the US congressman, and this time round, umming and ahhing and eventually dismissing the new white papers on file sharing, P2P, and the new organizations built to facilitate this latest attack on civil liberty
was a welcome move on their part!!! Wonder if this will eventually lead to the approval of stem cell research: the money they’d make off cigarettes alone!!!!! The Internet is a place where anyone can hawk or trade, pontificate, spout, share, provide, connect, discuss whatever you’re into and should remain so: You got a problem with your work being distributed to new potential clients, subscribers, fans, friends, lovers, and /or family without you getting a lookin from the get go, and aren’t prepared to entertain the fact that open access of this kind enables the very people you want to communicate your ideas to may end up supporting your cause morally and possibly financially . I dunno if anyone saw the latest advert on tv for ‘Google Chrome’, the one where the girl sits in her bedroom playing guitar and singing, gets put on to ‘mymajorlabel.com’ by request of a fan, gets funded publicly to record an album to find herself going double platinum and having a worldwide tour all in the time it takes the red progress bar of youtube to reach the right side of the screen,’brilliant’. If you’re suspicious of, and AGAINST all this, then WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ON THE INTERNET??????
That goes for you lot Warner Bros, Fox, Sony, et al: don’t you think you’ve got the monopoly on ENOUGH PLATFORMS without doing your utmost to render OUR ONE USELESS AND DEFUNCT???? Continue like this, go on, you’ll see. Take away the internet and the people will take to the streets, facebook enabled smartphone or not!!!!!!!!! In the meantime, its back to the dark ages of ‘bit torrent’ and P2P networks , so keep yer bloody machines switched ON OK? Yes that means you , the one in alaska who still hasn’t let me get the last 2% of Holger Czukay and
David Sylvian’s ‘ Flux and Mutability’: 3 years is a long time to switch off and go fishing mate…..
the pre security queue at about 2300, I kid you not, this queue is 1.7km long and I’m at the back!!! Oh and while I’m at it, happy ultimate year for mankind: have a good one, it may be Well, I guess this is a good place to sign off for our last... Mind you, they made a film about this issue: it’s not like any of you blighters read it though didn’t they, so I guess we’re safe, it anyway is it? I say that because for now I still Hollywood and the weather forecast having appear to have a job here at LSD magazine. more in common than you’d like to think........ Time to stock the drinks cabinet thanks to the duty free Babylon that awaits me the other side of security control. Could be a while though, for a country that has pretty much been bankrupted by its previous head of state, everyone and their mums wanna get on an Sent from my iPad airplane. ESPECIALLY ON ASUNDAY!!!!Here at Milan Malpensa, I stopped the head count of
London in Puddles Gavin Hammond
We were instantly mesmerised when we stumbled across Gavin Hammond’s London in Puddles series. Classic London symbols coaxed gently through the rabbit hole into a rippling dreamworld of sepia tones and haunting memory. Patterns and perceptions reshaped in the synthesis of London’s heritage and the puddle, an age old fundamental of our fine city. As one of the key members of film-noir, vintage pop group, Sweet Tooth, Gavin sought to forge a new aesthetic in Lomo and one of the resulting offshoots was this stunning series of physical and metaphysical reflections. Tantalising textures, fractured windows onto 3 dimensional reality where brick, paving stone, sky and sea distil into fragments of silent, emotion laden beauty. We caught up with Gavin for a word.
Tell us a little bit about Sweet Tooth and the creative elements within it Well, Sweet Tooth is the reason I began this series of Lomos. I had taken a lot of photos travelling around Australia and Asia a while back, and I wanted to begin to join that side of me up with my music. We are a very cinematic band, and have a distinctly film noir but London flavor (we call our sound blue suede shoegaze), so those images wouldn’t have been appropriate. When we started putting together some shows, and needed some visuals, I thought it would be a good idea for me to have a go at it. We are also an independent band so it had to be something that we could afford. I decided to do a series of triptych Lomo images that could be projected over us as we played. Our
singer, Fleurtini, has a very unique voice so it was important that people just got lost in her beautiful vocals. These images were taken to draw the audience into our heartwrenching and seductive sound live: http:// www.flickr.com/photos/sweettoothlondon/ sets/72157626286357651/ Lomos were the perfect format for our look and sound. Now I am doing more and more photography and film work for the band - and my other music projects. I’ve produced all our band videos and am increasingly getting into that side. Every day I seem to see something amazing to photograph in London.
What is the essence of photography for you Capturing the moment. The photography I love makes you wish you’d been there when that fleeting second was witnessed; that you could have seen what was just outside the frame. I like images that let you know something special was happening and you are lucky enough to have had a window into that experience. Which is kind of how I see recording music – capturing or recording an amazing performance is everything to me. I want technology to be invisible. What I care about is what happened in that room. How the sound was captured. And for me, photography all about capturing the light. That one wonderful instant when everything is illuminated perfectly. I don’t think in terms of subject or framing – I see fragments of light. And London can be a very ugly, brutal and grey city at times, so I try to find little fragments of beauty and wonder where ever I can. Just to stay sane. After 20 years of living in Australia (where the light is incandescent) I need to still feel a little bit of that sense of wonder.
Why are you so drawn to Lomo? I take photos because they are a great antidote to music. One click and you’re done.
It’s just so easy! I snap all these images as I move around London just living my normal life. I bung my films into a high street photo processing chain (because I use XP2 black and white C41 film). Gerry there does his thing and they’re done: up on the internet they go. No technology. No amplification. No months of editing and analysing. No arguments. No meetings. No time wasters. And I guess I just love the feel of film. It’s romantic and other-worldly. And the Lomo makes all my shots feel like something from another time. I love digital SLRs for film work, but that’s also because they are so liberating. But I love film on a Lomo because it’s mysterious and unpredictable. Yet you have so few options, you just have to take a proper good photo. I also like that a Lomo looks like a toy. You can point it at someone or something and nobody thinks of you as a ‘photographer’ so they stay more relaxed about it. I do like the egalitarianism of today’s imagemaking options. I can use film to take cinematic photos. And I can use digital SLRs make films.
Where did the idea of London in Puddles originate? Well, I’m a cyclist and one day I had my bike stolen with bolt cutters from my place in South London. So I decided to walk into town rather than take the tube. It began to rain but I was just happy to be walking along the Southbank with an excuse for being late for work. I hit the London Eye and suddenly there were tourists everywhere and I had to come to a standstill. I looked down because I didn’t want to feel part of that crowd and noticed a reflection of the Eye in a puddle. I pulled out my Lomo and began crouching and snapping like a madman. All the tourists must have thought I was a complete loony, but that was the beginning of me seeing London in a whole new way. It was like a door opened into a new, parallel perception of London. Suddenly (because it’s spring right now) these windows into an upside down London were everywhere - and I’d not noticed them before. I felt like I was in The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. And on a practical level, we have a drought right now, so I feel puddles could be about to
become a very rare British commodity. I want to capture them while we still have them!
What does London mean to you? It’s where I can make a living. I do music and media. Where else are you gonna be? There are so many opportunities here. And even if they are not all financial, they certainly are creatively. I’ve never been so inspired by a place before.I left Sydney where I had a perfectly comfortable ex-pat lifestyle to ‘make it’ in London. What actually happened is that I hit a recession and got really, really broke. But as a result of that, I’ve taken some exceedingly honest photos. And made some great music. And my dad was a cockney from Poplar. So I’m genetically linked to this place. I feel at home here precisely because it’s so inhospitable. And I love the diversity and mashed-up-ness of London. Australia is a nation of conformists; they’re terrified of ideas. I like to be an exile in my own city so I have time to think.
How much of a dreamscape does a reflection in water create? Well, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You can walk past a puddle and see nothing but dirty water filling a hole in the street, or you can take a closer look and discover a completely new world. Same with all the murky depths of London. Let’s make Buckingham Palace look like a dubstep album cover by shooting it upside down. Wikkid. Then let’s celebrate the glorious beauty of the unknown. Photograph that and bung it up on the internet for millions of people to share. Welcome to the 21st Century. Art is a GIF of a dream on Tumblr. A river of ideas washes across our screens... Which of these dreams reflects our social landscape? I don’t know, but I’m sure glad I have these opportunities. It’s a dream come true to have access to so many like minds without needing EMI or Viacom to tell me how or when I can do it.
What does looking at reality through strange prisms like puddles tell us about its nature? Well, like they say, reality is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. And the reality of London is that life is very expensive here, and it can sometimes be very hard. So let’s look at London through a prism. Let’s imagine it’s a romantic, timeless, boundless, glorious town.Then we don’t have to think about reality at all!
Where is the line between art and reality within photography? Well, I try to create a little every day and I like photography because it encourages me to make art on a daily basis. So for me, photography actually removes that line between art and ‘reality’. And I don’t see art as an elitist activity so why shouldn’t it be part of everyday life? It’s a reality that I have to work to stay alive, but if I take a picture on my lunch break then I am no longer a slave and
I am living my dream. I refuse to succumb to artists, intellectuals and free thinkers can take the realities of life. Photography and music are expensive photos of each other and put them my ticket to freedom. on Facebook to share with the world. What do they take pictures of? Trees, girls, cars, boys, dogs and parties. Who do they get to make the camera? Chinese Communists who also What makes something timeless? hate artists, intellectuals and free thinkers but Capture one, brief, perfect moment in a now want to be capitalists. It’s a mash-up, but private and special place, and it will say more - hey - this is the 21st Century. That’s the life than the entire history of that location or of a Lomo. those people. Life is short: let’s make it epic.
How does the intangible become tangible in its capture – or does it? Well, I’m no intellectual, but I find capturing arty photos with a Lomo a fascinating concept. And by using one, I feel like I’ve made something previously intangible - or at least pretty impossible - very real. Think about it: I use a Russian-made camera that was designed to help the KGB spy on artists, intellectuals and free thinkers operating in the Soviet era. God knows how many were put in jail thanks to the Lomo. Decades later, some capitalist takes that design and re-purposes it so that the next generation of wanna-be
How important is the sense of a transient instant? Well, for me as a Londoner, it’s everything. This city is constantly evolving, mutating and squirming with life. And if you don’t capture in immediately, it’ll be lost forever. That beautiful bit of photocopy art graffiti on a side wall in a dirty car park on the edge of Shoreditch? You’d better photograph it fast or it’ll be gone by next week. That protest outside St Paul’s which you thought would change the world? After a brief period in the media spotlight it was ignored in case it started an actual revolution. So photograph that too, before it’s forgotten and all the tourists and bankers
take over again. I still curse the day that I missed photographing a sudden rain storm that hit a few weeks back and illuminated the last building on Fleet Street as if it were on a movie set. The billowing rain and gleaming stone facades battled in a clash of black and silver that felt like the end of the world - or a scene from Bladerunner mixed with The Tempest. And where was my Lomo? At home. That moment will stay with me forever but it should have been on Tumblr...
What’s next? Well, I’m working on a series called London With A Hangover, which is a series of shaky double takes that I’ve been doing in the mornings. And I have a nice series on London In Fog, Sleet and Snow... But I’m really getting ready for my global project: Paris thru french knickers LA thru silicone NY thru the ring of a doughnut
Berlin thru barbed wire Milan in a mirror Texas thru the sights of a gun All I need now is a publisher to pay for this, as part of a series of books, and I’m living the dream...
How the Hippies Saved Physics
The Bay Area in the 1960’s and 70’s was truly a place of spellbinding synchronicity. Patterns of thought, connection, perception and conception were dissolving in the crucible of a new spirit of consciousness and being reforged in the flame of burning new questions. Linearity and convention were swept away on the swirling fractals of a new age as mesmerising dynamics penetrated every reach of human possibility. Boundless ingenuity and heady experimentation in the first flush of epiphany ran barefoot through the strawberry fields of spirituality; shattering barriers and reshaping profound notions of man’s relationship to the universe. In the midst of this vivid flash of creative evolution, the Fundamental Fysiks group was born. Scorning the dry sterility of the ‘Shut Up and Calculate’ school of physics, they thirsted for a golden age of science where metaphysics and mathematics danced long into the night. Bristling with PHD’s, they poured all their formal training through the prism of that brave new world and set about wrestling with the mind boggling implications of a quantum existence. Pushing every envelope imaginable, they flourished on the frontiers. No idea was too weird or too fringe, no universal question or kink in the fabric of reality was beyond debate, and ideas from ESP to signals travelling faster than the speed of light were hurled into the mix to be explored with a synthesis of scientific method and unleashed imagination.
A place of dreams and wonder anchored in empirical evidence.
MIT professor David Kaiser rescues the Merry Pranksters of quantum theory from the margins in his stunning new book, How the Hippies Saved Physics. A gorgeously colourful read that whirls through social, scientific, and personal histories alike, he opens a penetrating window into eternal questions and paints an intoxicating picture Now famous parallels with Eastern mysticism of intellectual endeavour clad in tie dye. A were drawn, psychedelics were flirted with as quite brilliant excerpt from the book follows research tools, philosophical breakthroughs before an interview with David. Our deepest in quantum theory and relativity were made thanks go out to him, and we’d ask anyone and science returned to its rightful state. who enjoys it to please go buy a copy.
Rarely can we date with any precision the ebbs and flows of scientists’ research styles or intellectual approaches. Yet these transitions—the how’s and why’s behind major shifts in a scientific field’s reigning questions and methods—have long held a special fascination for me. We see laid bare in these moments a messy alchemy, intermixing the world of institutions with the world of ideas. Brilliant insights and dazzling discoveries take their place alongside political decisions, funding battles, personal rivalries, and cultural cues. These many ingredients combine to make one agenda seem worth pursuing in a particular time and place—and worth teaching to students—while quietly eclipsing other questions or approaches that had beckoned with equal urgency only a few years earlier. In the case of the interpretation of quantum mechanics, which ultimately spawned quantum information science, we may detect just such a seismic shift in the 1970s. The physics profession in the United States
suffered the lashings of a perfect storm between 1968 and 1972. Internal audits at the Department of Defense led to massive cutbacks on spending for basic research, which had financed, directly or indirectly, nearly all graduate training in physics for decades. Desperate for more soldiers to feed the escalation of fighting in the Vietnam War, meanwhile, military planners began to revoke draft deferments for students—first for undergraduates in 1967, then, two years later, for graduate students as well—reversing twenty years of draft policies that had kept physics students in their classrooms. Across the country, the Cold War coalition between the Pentagon and the universities crumbled under wave after wave of teach-ins and sitins, ultimately lost in a tear gas fog. Amid the turmoil, the nation’s economy slid into “stagflation”: rising inflation coupled with stagnant economic growth. All at once, physicists faced massive budget cuts, a plummeting job market, and vanishing student enrollments.
As the Cold War nexus of institutions and ideas collapsed, other modes of being a physicist crept back in. The transition was neither smooth nor painless. Caught in the upheavals, a ragtag crew of young physicists banded together. Elizabeth Rauscher and George Weissmann, both graduate students in Berkeley, California, founded an informal discussion group in a fit of pique and frustration in May 1975. From their earliest years they had been captivated by books about the great revolutions of modern physics: relativity and quantum theory. They had entered the field with heads full of Einstein-styled paradoxes; they, too, dreamed of tackling the deepest questions of space, time, and matter. Yet their formal training had offered none of that. By the time they entered graduate school, the watershed of World War II and the hyperpragmatism of the Cold War had long since shorn off any philosophical veneer from physics students’ curricula. In place of grand thoughts, their classes taught them narrow skills: how to calculate this or that physical effect, rather than what those fancy equations might portend about the nature of reality.
The two students had ties to the Theoretical Physics Division of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, a sprawling national laboratory nestled in the Berkeley hills. They decided to do for themselves what their teachers and textbooks had not. Reserving a big seminar room at the lab, they established an open-door policy: anyone interested in the interpretation of quantum theory was welcome to attend their weekly meetings, joining the others around the large circular table for free-ranging discussions. They continued to meet, week in and week out, over the next three and a half years. They called themselves the “Fundamental Fysiks Group.” Their informal brainstorming sessions quickly filled up with like-minded seekers. Most members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group found themselves on the periphery of the discipline for reasons beyond their immediate control. Although they held PhDs from elite universities like Columbia, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Stanford, their prospects had dried up or their situations had become untenable with the bust of the
Top - The “new physicists” as counterculture darlings. Standing, from left to right: Jack Sarfatti, Saul-Paul Sirag, Nick Herbert; kneeling: Fred Alan Wolf, ca. 1975. (Courtesy Fred Alan Wolf) (page xix, figure 1.1)
early 1970s. Adrift in a sea of professional uncertainty, the young physicists made their way to Berkeley. Finding themselves with time on their hands and questions they still wanted to pursue, they gravitated toward Rauscher and Weissmann’s group. They met on Friday afternoons at 4 p.m.—an informal cap to the week—and the spirited chatter often spilled late into the night at a favorite pizza parlor or Indian restaurant near campus. The group’s intense, unstructured brainstorming sessions planted seeds that would eventually flower into today’s field of quantum information science; they helped make possible a world in which bankers and politicians shield their most critical missives
with quantum encryption. Along the way, members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, together with parallel efforts from a few other isolated physicists, contributed to a sea change in how we think about information, communication, computation, and the subtle workings of the microworld. Despite the significance of quantum information science today, the Fundamental Fysiks Group’s contributions lie buried still, overlooked or forgotten in physicists’ collective consciousness. The group’s elision from the annals of history is not entirely surprising. On the face of it, they seemed least likely to play any special role at all. Indeed, from today’s vantage point it may
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seem shocking that anything of lasting value could have come from the hothouse of psychedelic drugs, transcendental meditation, consciousness expansion, psychic mindreading, and spiritualist séances in which several members dabbled with such evident glee. History can be funny that way. While the physics profession foundered, members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group emerged as the full-color public face of the “new physics” avant-garde. Hovering on the margins of mainstream physics, they managed to parlay their interest into a widespread cultural phenomenon. They cultivated a new set of generous patrons, ranging from the Central Intelligence Agency to self-made entrepreneurs like Werner Erhard, guru of the fast-expanding “human potential movement.” With money pouring in from these untraditional sources, the Fundamental Fysiks Group carved out new institutional niches in which to pursue their big-picture discussions. Most important became the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, fabled incubator of all things New Age. For years on end, members of the group organized workshops and conferences, freely mixing the latest countercultural delights—everything from psychedelics like LSD to Eastern mysticism and psychic mind-reading—with a heavy dose of quantum physics. To many journalists at the time, the Fundamental Fysiks Group seemed too good to be true. What better reflection of the times than to see physicists grappling with the problems of consciousness, mysticism, and the paranormal? The earliest coverage showed up in underground arenas dedicated
to celebrating, not just reporting, the latest countercultural twists and turns. On the heels of his critically acclaimed filmsThe Godfather and American Graffiti, for example, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola bought the fledgling City of San Francisco magazine. One of its earliest issues after Coppola’s renovation devoted a two-page spread to several core members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, focusing on how the “new physicists” were busy “going into trances, working at telepathy, [and] dipping into their subconscious in experiments toward psychic mobility,” all the better to understand subtle quantum effects. A few months later some members of the group heard from Timothy Leary, the former Harvard psychology professor turned poster boy for New Age antics and all things psychedelic. At the time Leary was still in a California jail on drug charges, though he had hardly stopped working. Together with novelist and counterculture icon Ken Kesey (of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and “Merry Pranksters” fame, and the inventor of the “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests”), Leary was busy editing a special issue of the quirky Bay Area magazine Spit in the Ocean, and he was eager to publish some of the farout essays that the hippie physicists had submitted. Soon after that, one of the core members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, Jack Sarfatti, showed up on the cover of North Beach Magazine, another San Francisco niche publication, in full guru mode: framed by a poster of Einstein and holding a copy of physicist George Gamow’s autobiography, My World Line. When novelist and Beat generation hipster Herb Gold composed his memoirs of life among the likes of Allen
Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, the first off-scale personality to appear in the narrative was Sarfatti, holding forth on quantum physics in the Caffe Trieste, North Beach, San Francisco.
intellectual peregrinations. Virtually overnight, members of the informal discussion group had become counterculture darlings.
One might be tempted to dismiss the Fundamental Fysiks Group and its antics The media coverage was by no means limited as just one more fringe phenomenon: a to these “tuned-in” venues. Timemagazine ran colorful reminder of tie-dyed life in the 1970s, a cover story about “The Psychics” with ample perhaps, but of little lasting significance. After all, as a sociologist observed as early as 1976, space devoted to Fundamental Fysiks Group members of the group consistently posed participants. Newsweek covered the group a few years later. California Living Magazine ran questions and acknowledged experiences that would have “served to label the participants a long story about the “New new physics,” as mentally deranged” only a few years earlier. complete with head shots of several group Surely some cordon sanitaire separated the members. In May 1977, the group’s Jack group from “real” physics. Sarfatti shared the podium with eccentric architect Buckminster Fuller and “fiveWhen other sociologists turned attention to stages-of-grief” psychiatrist Elisabeth Küblerthe Fundamental Fysiks Group—and related Ross as a keynote speaker at a “humanistic outcroppings of activity, such as studies of psychology” conference. Not long after that, “plant empathy” or the international spoonthe San Francisco Chronicledevoted a halfbending fad inspired by the apparently psychic page article to Sarfatti, depicted as the latest feats of Israeli performer Uri Geller—they, too, in a long line of “eccentric geniuses” to set framed the matter in terms of “demarcation.” up shop in the city’s bohemian North Beach area. Even newspapers as far away as the New The eminent philosopher Sir Karl Popper introduced the demarcation problem in the Hampshire Sunday News covered the group’s Physicist John S. Bell in his office at CERN, 1982. Bell ’s work on quantum entanglement or “nonlocality” inspired members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group to explore the foundations of quantum theory. (Courtesy CERN) (page 39, figure 2.4)
middle decades of the twentieth century: how do scientists draw boundaries between legitimate science and something else? The issue had little to do with truth or falsity. Popper readily acknowledged that many of today’s scientific convictions will wind up as tomorrow’s forgotten missteps. Popper was after something else, some set of criteria with which to distinguish proper scientific investigation from unscientific efforts. He had some searing examples in mind. As a young man he had experienced the convulsions that wracked daily life in his native Austria in the wake of World War I. The troubled times had inspired all manner of dogmatisms. He
sought some means of separating Marxism, psychoanalysis, and astrology from the canons of scientific inquiry. What made the pursuit of those topics distinct from, say, Einstein’s relativity? Since Popper’s day, philosophers have spilled much ink in pursuit of those elusive demarcation criteria. Yet sociologists have countered with case after case, showing that scientists make judgments and draw boundaries in ways that rarely stack up with the philosophers’ rarefied notions. Who is to say where the line should be drawn in any given instance? Popper’s progeny never could establish any Maginot Line of legitimacy, some set of factors that might reliably separate real science from the imposter projects that had so exercised the great philosopher. The demarcation problem becomes acute in the case of the Fundamental Fysiks Group. Try as we might, we cannot cleave off the group or its activities from the “real” physics of the day. Many of the members’ activities placed them on one end of a spectrum, to be sure.
But no hard-and-fast dividing line separated them from legitimate—even illustrious— science. Members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group were entangled with mainstream physics on multiple levels, including people, patronage, and intellectual payoff. The group’s marginal position and its multiple interactions with mainstream physics provide a unique view onto what it meant to do physics during the turbulent 1970s. The hippie physicists of the Fundamental Fysiks Group help us map still larger transitions in American culture, beyond the shifting fortunes of physics. A few journalists in San Francisco and New York City coined the term “hippie” in the mid-1960s, searching for some way to describe the rising youth culture that was mutating beyond the “hipsters” of the 1950s Beat generation. With the media attention came the first waves of pushback. As California’s then-governor Ronald Reagan put it in 1967, after the hippie scene in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district had become a national obsession, a hippie was someone “who dresses like Tarzan, has hair like Jane, and smells like Cheetah.” Reagan’s quip lumped together groups whom scholars have recently labored to distinguish, often with Jesuitical precision. The left-leaning hippie movement, for example, had an uneasy relationship with the “New Left,” the campusbased liberal and increasingly radical political movement associated with the Students for a Democratic Society and (ultimately) the Weather Underground. Members of the New Left aimed at organized political intervention, inspired by the civil rights movement and stoked by the escalation of the Vietnam War. The campus radicals often looked with dismay
on their hippie counterculture cousins, for whom political organizations of any stripe seemed so very unhip. While the political types signed petitions and planned rallies, most hippies sought to “drop out.” The hippie counterculture sported a playful worship of youth, spontaneity, and “authenticity,” a personal striving often facilitated by heavy use of psychedelic drugs. LSD, synthesized in a Swiss lab in the late 1930s, was first outlawed in the United States in 1966; possession of the drug was bumped up to a felony offense in 1968. Until that time, the psychedelic had fascinated straight-laced chemists and psychologists as well as longhaired hippies. The Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army sponsored research on effects of LSD at government laboratories and reputable research universities throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Along with psychedelics enthusiast Ken Kesey, for example, the physicist Nick Herbert, who would become a founding member of the Fundamental Fysiks
Group, was introduced to LSD by psychologists at Stanford University. Only later, over the course of the 1960s, did the drug seep into wider circulation among hordes of “tunedin” youth. Long after the drug had been criminalized, LSD and other psychedelics, like psilocybin (from “magic mushrooms”), remained staple elements of the hippie counterculture. New Age enthusiasms had also been mixed up in the hippies’ heady brew right from the start: everything from Eastern mysticism to extrasensory perception (ESP), unidentified flying objects (UFOs), Tarot card reading, and more. Research on LSD during the 1950s was often reported in parapsychology journals in between articles on mind-reading and reincarnation. Americans’ awareness of Eastern religions and healing practices, such as acupuncture, grew sharply following 1965 revisions to U.S. immigration law, after which immigration from Asia soared (having previously been capped by tight quotas). Some of the earliest underground tabloids of the budding counterculture—newspapers like the Oracle, peddled in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood beginning in
1966—featured news about yoga, astrology, and the occult alongside information on where to score the most potent psychedelic drugs. According to close observers, the hippie counterculture and New Age movements in the United States had fused by the early 1970s, achieving a critical mass, selfawareness, and no shortage of critics. Even so, the boundaries of the counterculture remained porous. One analyst likened it to a medieval crusade, a “procession constantly in flux, acquiring and losing members all along the route of march.” The inherent tensions that historians have begun to identify within the hippie counterculture—leftist but not “New Left,” curious about the workings of the world but tempted by psychedelic escapism—help explain the wide range of followers whom the Fundamental Fysiks Group inspired. Their efforts attracted equally fervent support from stalwarts of the military-industrial complex as from storied cultivators of flower power, from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, and defense-contractor laboratories like the Stanford Research Institute to the Esalen Institute. Members of the Fundamental Fysiks
Elizabeth Rauscher, a co-founder of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, shown here in the control room of the Bevatron particle accelerator at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 1977. (Courtesy Elizabeth Rauscher) (page 50, figure 3.2)
Group exemplified these tensions themselves. Many threw themselves headlong into the New Age alchemy, even as they pursued serious questions at the heart of quantum theory. They shifted easily from weapons laboratories to communes, universities to ashrams. All the while, members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group pioneered a flood of publications about the new physics and its broader implications. Many sold handsomely; some netted national awards. Best known today are such cultural icons as The Tao of Physics (1975) by physicist and group member Fritjof Capra and The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979) by the writer Gary Zukav, at the time an avid participant in the Fundamental Fysiks
Group’s discussions and roommate of one of its founding members. The group also experimented with alternate ways to spread their message, inspired by and modeled on the counter-culture’s underground press. The group’s efforts helped to bring sustained attention to the interpretation of quantum mechanics back into the classroom. And in a few critical instances, their work instigated major breakthroughs that—with hindsight— we may now recognize as laying crucial groundwork for quantum information science. Reprinted from HOW THE HIPPIES SAVED PHYSICS: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival by David Kaiser. Copyright 2011 by David Kaiser. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
And now for a quick chat with the author David Kaiser.................... How much did quantum theory reshape perceptions of and approaches to physics. Tremendously. When quantum theory was being cobbled together during the 20’s and 30’s, the greats of that era – people like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger – were convinced that this was a deep, deep philosophical challenge to basic ideas of how the world works. Moreover, they all agreed that quantum theory had to be held up to philosophical tests as well as mathematical consistency and empirical experiments. The equations and the experiments were important, but not sufficient on their own, and they would have these great debates, not because they were skeptical of certain equations or feared loopholes within certain experiments, but because they worried about the philosophical implications, and sought interpretations to capture the metaphysical elements to these
questions. They would argue late into the night and hold these now famous conferences to wrestle with these fundamental ideas until dawn broke yet again. That characterized the work of a great many physicists who were pulling together what we now know as quantum mechanics into the 1930’s. It was an integral part of what it meant to be a physicist and what it meant to pursue quantum theory, and that kind of engagement – that philosophical dimension to the pure science – that was rapidly pushed to the margins in the years following World War 2. It was that transition that I found so interesting, and what happened when the new ‘normal’ broke down in turn 20 or 25 years later.
So it wasn’t so much that the Fundamental Fysiks group were introducing radical new strains of thought, but rather standing on the shoulders of that pre war core of physicists. That’s right. And many of them thought that way at the time. They wanted to recapture a way of doing physics that they found very exciting and read about, but which hadn’t been a part of their formal training. Many of the folks who joined this very informal, ragtag discussion group had been attracted to physics in the first place by reading these juicy, popular books written by the likes of Heisenberg himself or George Gamow that emphasized the philosophical stakes in play. That real break from our ordinary intuitions that quantum theory seemed to be putting on the table. So that’s what they saw physics as being all about. Those deep, universal, ‘what does it all mean’ questions; those metaphysical quests that drove their passions and drew them into the field. And then when they arrived at college and graduate school, they
discovered that those kinds of questions weren’t even on the radar. It just wasn’t how the post war textbooks presented the material or what their studies emphasized in any way. In fact, that interpretative approach was being actively belittled by most of their teachers as they passed through the various stages of their formal training, and the field that they had dedicated so much to no longer resembled the one they’d been reading about and based their assumptions on. By the time they emerged from their studies with PHD’s in hand, the physics world was going through a horrendous crash where funding was dropping like a stone, enrollments were falling and job opportunities were vanishing at an alarming rate. So in some sense, they felt as if they had nothing to lose. They weren’t going to carve a regular looking career in the field in the way they would have been able to do just a few years previously. So with their passions undimmed for those burning philosophical challenges, they figured why not start a
discussion group amongst like-minded young physicists and bat a few of these issues around. If the contemporary climate couldn’t provide the stimulation they needed, they would try and reawaken a style of physics that they had all found so magnetic in the first place.
dynamics connected them pretty quickly through happy accidents rather than any forethought.
They very quickly found common ground on these foundation questions, and one topic that dominated their interests was Bell’s Theorem. It’s named after a physicist called John Bell from Northern Ireland who spent much of his career at CERN (the huge particle So they form the Fundamental Fysiks Group physics lab and accelerator outside Geneva). and start to build an internal momentum. Bell had been frustrated by the lack of serious Can you tell us a little bit about the nature of attention to the philosophical underpinnings the problems they were beginning to address to quantum theory, and firmly believed that – problems like Bell’s Theorem for example. these questions had not been settled by the The genesis of the group itself only really looks greats – the Einsteins and the Bohrs – and were very much still open. He found hugely clear in hindsight. The accidents of history creative ways to make philosophical questions and the quirks of individual biography took more amenable to testing in the laboratory a hand through a series of twists where they and formalize them in scientific terms. He did each kind of bumbled along to Berkeley and this very much on the side, joking later in life began to find one another. Once they were that he’d hoped his colleagues would never all in the Bay Area, it wasn’t hard for them to discover his unconventional leanings. In the gravitate towards one another – they shared similar interests and passions and small world course of all this he found a remarkable result that he published in 1964.
What he postulated was that if the equations of quantum physics are correct, then it is inescapable that some very strange things should happen. Among them concerned the behavior of particles that had interacted in certain ways or been created as a pair. He deduced that making a measurement or observation of one particle would instantaneously change the state of the twin particle, even if that other particle was arbitrarily far away in the furthest reaches of the universe. The equations of quantum theory made this kind of entanglement a requirement rather than just a possibility. Now he wasn’t suggesting this was necessarily true – the core equations of quantum theory could be wrong, but that this had to be factored in and more testing needed to be done. So either we were in very bizarre realms that some likened to a form of telepathy, or quantum theory must be flawed in some way. Bell wrote a very elegant paper in a journal that very quickly folded and it disappeared almost without trace, until the Fundamental Fysiks group (and some other physicists not connected with the group) stumbled across it;
it absolutely lit them up. This was exactly the kind of thing they’d been looking for. It took real equations – not just airy speculation, but you also had to think deeply about what the implications were for the universe we live in. So this group in Berkeley became the early adopters of Bell’s Theorem – long before it became a mainstream topic, they wrote many of the first papers discussing it, and talked about it week in and week out.
How much do you think that psychedelics helped these physical and philosophical questions actually feel real and brought them from the mathematical and the abstract into the realms of experience. It’s really hard to tell. I didn’t want to overplay the psychedelics part in this story. Many of the group told me that they had experimented with psychedelics, and it played a greater or lesser role in the thinking of different individuals. Clearly it was a part of the times, the Bay Area was a hotbed of psychedelic experimentation and they hung out a lot in
Fred Alan Wolf taught physics at San Diego State College before leaving academia and joining the Fundamental Fysiks Group. (Courtesy Fred Alan Wolf) (page 60, figure 3.5)
places like Esalen, but the interesting thing is that some of the group were introduced to LSD through fairly formal experiments. Before it became illegal, LSD was considered by many to be a research substance to probe the powers of mind rather than a recreational drug, and there were many experiments in prestigious universities, research centers and hospitals leading up to 1966 when new laws started to come into force. So some found it by ‘above ground’ means, others through more unconventional channels and some never touched it at all. It’s not clear what role to give to it, but they were immersed in this amazingly vibrant culture and open to anything from ESP, to psychedelics to quantum theory. Experimentation was the norm, a flourishing counter culture was transmuting into a New Age enthusiasm and these folks had a front row seat for all of it. Some of them became enthusiasts and some became skeptics, and while they didn’t necessarily believe that LSD or ESP were a means to a new cosmic consciousness, they did know that something strange was going on and wanted to probe it using scientific methods. The psychedelics, the parapsychology and some of the occult stuff was open for debate, if only to see how these burgeoning currents could be linked
back to such equally strange-sounding ideas as Bell’s Theorem. So nothing was off the table. The idea was to pursue these strands and see where they led.
Building on ideas like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and the quantum effects of measurement in Bell’s Theorem, how much was consciousness itself being factored in as a physical element. Very much so. For many members, it was a real passion – not for all though. Again this was something that had fascinated physicists 2 or 3 generations previously and it wasn’t unprecedented by any means. They drew
great inspiration from the Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner. Wigner had really worried about the role of consciousness in quantum theory and he in fact argued that human consciousness was needed to complete a physical action on the world. Quantum theory is this dance of possibilities and play of probabilities, but how do we go from probable outcomes to one actual outcome? Wigner came up with a very different answer than most – that human
consciousness acts on the world and causes those probabilities to collapse into one real outcome. Now that’s a pretty radical statement. This was not from a long haired hippy at Esalen – this was from a European émigré trained in engineering and who had worked on the Manhattan Project – a practical, practical guy who had bravely pursued some very unorthodox ideas. The Fundamental Fysiks group just thought this was fascinating. Could human consciousness be molding the world of matter in some direct way? And if not – why not? And others inverted the question to ask how matter shapes consciousness, which is where something like LSD comes into play. Substances could clearly have a profound impact on consciousness – not just on grey matter per se, but on perceptions of reality. So with people like Wigner suggesting that consciousness may actively change the nature of matter, there was this amazing swirl of questions that some of the group got very excited about.
How seminal were the parallels that were beginning to be drawn with Eastern mysticism in breaking out of this idea of learning being a linear progression and beginning to unite cutting edge physics with archetypal spirituality. Again – for some it was a passion, while for others it made no impact. But again it was on the table for discussion and exploration. That was fundamental to the Fundamental Fysiks group in fact – that all ideas were open for debate, no matter how wacky they sounded on first blush. Most famously, Fritjof Capra, who was a central member of this group, wrote The Tao of Physics which is now in 43 editions in 23 languages, although at the time Capra really struggled to find a publisher. Capra had a PHD and had trained with various postdoctoral fellowships, including one in Santa Cruz where he started to develop a serious interest in Eastern spirituality. And again the Bay Area was the centre in North America for some of these ideas about Eastern philosophy. There were all kinds of lectures, discussions and experiential sessions that he found himself in
the midst of. He began to draw the parallels with quantum physics and wanted to argue that modern physics was in fact rediscovering ancient wisdom, and some of the very first meetings of the Fundamental Fysiks group were dedicated to Capra putting forth his ideas as the book was just coming out.
So with all these different ideas flying about and some pretty out there lines of enquiry, despite the underlying drive to try and grapple with these questions through the empirical methods of ‘good’ science, how did the establishment react. To be honest, what really amazed me is that anyone found out about them at all. One of the most interesting aspects of tracing all this out while writing the book were the various filaments that kept this group connected to mainstream and often illustrious physics. They were on the margins of mainstream physics, but not totally adrift of it. They would exchange essays and letters with people like Richard Feynman and John Wheeler who were off the charts in the scientific firmament. They
Jack Sarfatti taught physics at San Diego State College alongside Fred Alan Wolf in the early 1970s. He left the institution to pursue his research in the foundations of quantum theory and the wider implications of Bell ’s theorem and quantum nonlocality. (Courtesy Jack Sarfatti) (page 62, figure 3.6)
the other end of the universe, then the two pillars of modern science, quantum theory and relativity, appear headed for a collision. That’s the kind of thing this group wanted to focus on, these meta questions that few others were actively asking. But they didn’t just want to daydream about it, they wanted to calculate it. One of them began filing a patent disclosure form for a device he wanted to build to measure this kind of thing. It fell through in the end, but meanwhile, another member began writing up increasingly sophisticated plans for another device to force the philosophy into the language of hard equations and possible measurements. That’s what fascinated me so much about this group. They had PHDs from some of the most elite programs in North America, they were very well trained and quite capable, and yet open to all these off-the-beaten-track questions. So we have this kind of cat and mouse game where these very subtle and highly sophisticated thought experiments began had an active correspondence for over 20 circulating through underground networks years with Wheeler who was truly one of the greats of the 20th century, and while he would in the hard copy, pre internet world of far more labored communication. These would criticize several of their forays into areas like mind reading, he wouldn’t ever cut them off. It sometimes land in relevant hands because would be a case of – ‘I wish you wouldn’t push they were in touch with people like John that so much. But by the way, here’s my latest paper – I’d love your comments on it.’ He really was a consummate gentleman – keeping them at arm’s length, but always keeping a channel of communication open. The group came up with increasingly clever thought experiments to force the issue of quantum weirdness using Bell’s Theorem. So for example could one send signals faster than light? Well that sounds like a big no no – even the most passing glance at Relativity will tell you that the speed of light is supposed to be this sacrosanct upper speed limit. Even the neutrinos we heard about earlier this year seem not to actually have broken that speed limit, after all. And yet we have this notion from John Bell that seemed to be in conflict with relativity. If an action on one particle can directly and instantly affect its twin particle at
Wheeler, and sometimes they would ignite a really, really clever physicist to say ‘that can’t be right, let me dig in and find the hidden, fatal flaw.’ So there were these weak tethers that kept this Berkeley group in contact with exceptionally accomplished physicists. They sidestepped the usual forums of exchange like official conferences where collisions of ideas are meant to spark new insights, and carved out almost a parallel universe for themselves. They had their own patrons, their own sources of funding and their own highly creative but ultimately unstable communications network through charismatic individuals rather than regular journals. They had their own home base at the Esalen Institute where they could meet for days on end, soaking up the general spirit of counter culture’s cutting edge in all its forms and occasionally bounce an idea off someone who was not usually part of their world.
How much did this kind of open source approach to things influence other nascent sciences like say computing and create a new way of exploring cutting edge ideas I’m not aware of any direct influence, but there were a lot of people getting very excited about similar ideas in the Bay Area at the time. Stewart Brand was having all kinds of very creative ideas about interlinked communications and a commnunitarian ethos, trying to connect people directly rather than through some centralised, formalized system. Some of these folks had met Stewart Brand, though I doubt they had any real influence on him, but these ideas were around at the time and taking root in all kinds of different areas. What we now call Silicon Valley was just gearing up for the explosion of innovation we now recognize it for, and all these ideas were crossing paths and cross fertilizing in the same mix.
It’s not surprising therefore that some of the Fundamental Fysiks group’s methods of sharing and circulating ideas start to look similar to early forms of network communication. One of the figures I wrote about in the book – Ira Einhorn who had many, many facets to his life to say the least, was getting involved in similar ideas to Stewart Brand – non-fettered ways to link people together. He was doing something that looks very mundane today – something akin to email user groups – but using photocopy machines and postage stamps. The idea behind it however, of connecting people with ideas and catalyzing conversations that sounds normal today, was fairly novel at the time
So ultimately, what was the legacy of the Fundamental Fysiks group. It’s tough to say. There are a number of very specific ideas that we now know about because of these very intense exchanges between core members of the group and other physicists who began to pay at least a little attention. For example, as far as I am aware, every single demonstration that we have that Bell’s Theorem is compatible with Einstein’s relativity comes either directly from members of the group or responses to their provocations. And that’s pretty important. We know that these 2 central tenets of modern physics are compatible in part because this group wouldn’t let the issue go.
There were similar insights that came from the debunking of some of the group’s thought experiments, so while they didn’t actually nail those insights down, they forced the issues to the point where those breakthroughs happened. Again, that’s a pretty good legacy. I like to think of them as productive mistakes. They were wrong far more often than they were right, but so are all scientists and indeed humans, and some of their mistakes were remarkably fruitful: the very act of elucidating the error meant that the entire community learned something.
They’re interesting to me for another reason as well. They provide a window onto what it meant to grow up in the world of physics during a period of very rapid change, as entrenched assumptions of what it meant to do physics and the questions it could ask were suddenly up for grabs and were being redefined. So the group became helpful to me as a historian for mapping large-scale changes in history, politics and intellectual life by showing how these marginal figures could illuminate what was seen as mainstream. The point is not to argue that this group singlehandedly changed the face of physics, and the title is meant to be tongue in cheek, but I think there are genuine intellectual legacies that emerged from their efforts during a very colorful period.
And finally….just how much fun was it to write the book It was tremendous fun – the most fun I’ve had in my career as an academic. It was fun for a number of reasons, the first of which being that the ideas themselves are juicy. They are the deep, deep questions of modern physics that are endlessly fascinating to keep beating one’s head against. The detective story aspect to it was also a lot of fun. The events I was focusing on were happening 40 years ago rather than 300 years ago, and these folks are still alive. They were very generous with their time and while I could interview them in formal ways, I could also follow up in thousands of emails focused on tiny details. And don’t forget, they were operating in a preemail world, so they wrote everything down, creating a paper trail of tens of thousands of documents that if you know where to look, you can begin to unearth. The process of connecting those dots by bouncing back and forth between yellowing pages in an archive and actually talking to the people involved
– who are just as passionate about physics today as they were back then – was deeply gratifying. It was great, great fun.
www.hippiessavedphysics.com Click here to buy a copy
Top - David Kaiser - photo by Leo Rubenstein
I borrowed a key from the cleaner & entered Edzy’s Covent Garden hotel room somewhat apprehensively, fearing I might find him gnawing his way through the trouser press after 9 days straight awake. Alas my preconceptions were shattered as he walked me through a critique of the pastel curtains and dainty bedspreads, offering me a perfectly dressed lobster from the inside pocket of his overcoat. We knelt and prayed together. OK that’s bollocks. But you’re paying attention now. And Edzy is a class act. Unique 3 stormed the warehouses of the late 80’s with a torrid cocktail of Soul, Hip Hop, early Break-Beat, and the Bleep driven abstractions they became notorious for with seminal anthems like ‘The Theme’ and ‘Rhythm Takes Control’. Fast forward to today and Unique 3 have carved
themselves a place in every connoisseurs heart with a genre bending fusion of warm, enveloping basses, heady melodics, haunting atmospherics, shimmering textures and a sense of everything that made the birth of dance music truly special. Nostalgia free and gloriously unformulaic, it’s effortlessly soulful and utterly mesmerising stuff. Completely current yet firmly rooted in the original spirit of a musical movement, Unique 3 dances through styles, vibes, and flavours with the occasional ode to heartbreak thrown in to tweak the mix soulside. This is pure dance music laced with the ethereal. Champion of urban art since the start, total wrong-un in the finest sense of the word, old school reprobate, and a digital musician through and through, we caught up with Edzy for a word through the mists of mutual hangover. What a total diamond.....
Artist - Part2ism
How empowered were you by the DIY nature of electronic music? Very much so! When & where I was growing up, pretty much every little area had some kind of reggae yard band. EVERY KID in the neighbourhood wanted to make music, every kid in the neighbourhood wanted to play guitar …. Imagine THAT kids! everyone wanted guitars NOT audio controllers (notice I refrained from using that now passé word: turntables …) but while my ‘band’, like so many others, was rammed full of talent, we were also all lazy bastards with hardly any instruments, not much ‘get up & go’ and no real idea how to break out so nothing really ever came of it. I had missed the Punk wave by a couple of years which always pissed me off (and still does!). The Ska Revival thing arrived, dressed up to the nines and with a musical score that struck a massive chord with me, the fashion, the ethics and THE MUSIC were everything I was looking for and needed at the time but that too came and became ‘overground’ so very quickly that even getting on the coat tails of THAT movement wasn’t
going to happen. It wasn’t going to happen for us. Not this time. But another layer of music had washed over me and had taken a more than firm root, mixing up the already overflowing bucket that my musical taste resided in. By the end of the UK Ska Revival, music had got me, well and truly and it wasn’t going to let go. I suppose that we were lucky. The guitar shop, 4 towns over in the sleepy town of Bingley, was obviously doing well and doing it’s very best to stay at the cutting edge of music technology. One, then two keyboards appeared in the shop. My attention was quickly drawn from my first love: Bass Guitars to the new synths that were arriving into the shop. Synths and early drum machines too quickly took centre stage. Before you could say ‘Telharmonium’, there was a new ‘electronic’ area set aside in the shop, filled with wonderful bits of kit that we could hardly afford and could only ever dream of owning. On the days my pals and I accidentally forgot to go to school, we would catch 4 buses over to the shop and hide the day away inside big
can headphones, tweaking nobs & fading faders until our empty bellies told us, hours later, that it was time to go home.. And there it was…a brand new world. We’d lose days on end in there, school, quite easily slipping our minds. Fiddling, playing, twiddling – it was a very empowering experience.
So there you are – getting stuck in and messing about with the electronics, but your first forays were into Hip Hop – how did all that develop? Well we’ve moved on a few years now. School had crashed and burned, I’d left the north &
ran away to London to live and had soaked up everything the city could give me. It was here that I got the bug for deejaying, having worked the doors at a couple of illegal raves (I use the word rave in it’s original London form - it would be hijacked a few years later and become something slightly different) Poor & penniless I’d had to return north 2 years later but took back with me a rich culture of pirate radio, train & street art, unlicensed clubbing and a thousand other life changing scenes. So getting back to your question! Ultimately, our first forays into Hip-hop came down to what we were DJing – and that in turn was driven by what you could get hold of. At the time, what was available was 80’s Funk, Electro, Rare Groove and the more raw strains of Hip Hop that started coming through. There was a plane that flew into Manchester Airport once a week laden with fresh cut imports, and we’d make sure we did a bit of strategic loitering with intent around the stall that the imports ended up at. So while a lot of this stuff was like gold dust, we did have access to it, so our sets and our influences had some really broad, genuinely brilliant stuff running through them. And of course it’s only natural that the music you start out making is a reflection of what you’re playing and what you’ve grown up with. And we had grown up with diversity hardwired in. We came from
a very racially mixed area where you’d walk down a back street and hear Reggae blaring out of one house, Ska out of another, 60’s Pop, Elvis Presley or Country & Western out of the next. So it was a combination of those factors rather than any real grand plan that dictated Unique 3’s early output.
87 hits 88 and acid house starts dropping hard all over the country and of course especially in Manchester. Looking back – how do you see that movement – that moment? I have to say – it probably wasn’t as transformational or as valuable to us as perhaps it was to a lot of other people. Don’t forget, we’d been playing what we considered underground music for a fair few years before that, and I suppose that one of the principal effects of Acid House was to open underground music up to a wider and ….. I suppose….whiter audience. I know that must sound odd coming from someone with a big white face like mine, but almost all the underground music up until that point was quite frankly black and really hadn’t penetrated ‘Middle England’ at all. And again, while before there was about 3 cool clubs in the whole country that you had to travel to, within a few months, they were popping up everywhere, so it was suddenly far more accessible…..and then of
course the drugs came with it. Acid house is heavily romanticized these days, but when push came to shove – 80% of the kids in any given warehouse or club weren’t there for the music – they were there for the pills and the tabs. And so while it was a great thing in many respects and it gave underground music a massive boost on a number of levels, it also killed a lot of the reason why me and people like me were already on the scene.
That’s a really interesting take – so you didn’t see it is an electronically laced evolution of Funk, Soul and Disco – but as the downfall of a lot of it? Well in some respects it was. I know things have to change, but it’s an open question as to whether it changed for the better. There was a pretty lengthy period during that time when I was absolutely disgusted by the music - both the dance stuff and the Hip Hop stuff as it seemed to move from something with intrinsic value to a flood of throwaway tunes. And I suppose that there was an element of resentment that everyone was into it whereas it had been ‘our little secret’, and as soon as it went mass market, it did leave a bit of a bad taste …. Ahhhhh …. ‘The good Ol’ Days !
Totally understand that…. But look, as you said – your roots were in black music and all the earthyness, soul and funk that made it what it was. And then suddenly you’re doing all these very abstract, out there bleeps. Was that a conscious change in musical direction or a result of experimentation with new technology? It was basically down to the sounds that started spilling out of the synths. But some of the most interesting creative breakthroughs happen entirely by accident. And it got picked up on and shaped into something tangible. Rudimentary sounds being put together by people who weren’t musicians to be honest.
Did that give it a certain edge? Because all the ‘black’ music was very – well – musical. How did this new, basic loop based stuff fit with the more musical end of things? Well the progression of our DJ sets was really defined by the bpm’s. So we’d have a lot of deeply soulful and melodic stuff that had been fantastically well produced and then move into this industrial bleep house zone. You have to bear in mind that just getting into a studio was difficult back then. I remember going down to The Who’s old studio – the Town House (which Virgin had bought off The Who I think a few years previously) for a cut, and all the sound engineers were actually in white lab
Artist - System Street Art
coats. So you can imagine how they reacted to cutting our stuff – I doubt they even classed it as music let alone had any kind of feel for it. And in the middle of this slightly surreal, predominantly white scene was a young guy called Geoff Pesche, in many respects different from the 1950’s stereotypes in lab coats who were working there, supposedly shining up the cutting edge of music. Anyway – I think he probably got the job because he was young and the bespectacled cast of white coats probably figured he’d have a better handle on it than them – and they obviously didn’t want to know anyway…. Virgin was paying so that was probably good enough! Geoff did an amazing job with the cut. I remember walking into the cutting room one morning to find him on his hands and knees behind the whacking great big mixing desk with this massive glass valve in his hand. ‘Oh hello’ he says. ‘I just thought I’d take this limiter out so we can get a bit more bass’. He’d probably have been sacked on the spot if ‘the management’ had caught him taking out one of the pieces obviously there to stop everything blowing up, but you know, he’s now one of the chief cutters at Abbey Road Studios and one of the best sound engineers in the UK. It was just one of those moments where generations clashed, both culturally and technologically that really defined the late 80’s for me and the music coming through.
So The Theme takes off (what with the bit of extra bass n’ all) – it hits anthem status and it all goes mental. Next thing you know you’re on Top of the Pops. How did you deal with the headfuck of going from basement authenticity to that? It had only been a few years since I’d been watching Top of the Pops with my Dad and then before you know it, you’re stood up there doing it. Once you get your head round the shattering of any romantic notions of what it actually was by being fully behind the scenes – honestly – it filmed 2 days previous and the label locked you in a hotel room until after the broadcast – we knew that it was an amazing thing to have done. But by that time, our wave was already peaking and we’d played a few massive stages, so it wasn’t as big a shock as it could’ve been. It was something that we just had to take on board.
Was management entering the equation by this point or did you have control over your own destinies? We always had control and I always managed the band – which may have been to Unique 3‘s detriment actually. I thought that the plans Virgin A&R had for us were fundamentally wrong – things like insisting on vocals when
in pigeon holes, it all getting very specific, we didn’t really fit into any of the big four dance magazine’s sub genres and promoters had little idea what to do with us. Even as a production unit – there seemed to be too much diversity and too many influences to fit the rigid specifications of the day. Nothing’s changed in the way I approach things – the last album, ‘Invasive Signals’ had all sorts on it and the new one has all sorts on it too … And I’m past the point of caring, I’m not sure anyone is still listening!..
How did you see the transition from hardware to software? that really wasn’t what we were about. And that tied back into the TOTP episode – where we went on and did a B-side – Musical Melody - purely because it had a rap on it after we encountered massive resistance to playing The Theme – even though that was the track that was going down massively in the clubs. So I don’t know – maybe if we’d been with a different label or I’d have had a bigger pair of bollocks and stood up to the label a bit stronger – who knows what might have happened, but as young kids – it was a definite life lesson in how the music industry works or doesn’t work.
How did you cope with the splintering of dance music into highly specific genres as things headed into 93? Not very well! That’s always been Unique 3’s problem – we struggled to keep inside the outside lines of a genre. We played what we considered club music and our whole reason for being was to make people dance, when we did a night – there’d be a Hip-Hop crew at one end of the room waiting for us to drop some Hip-Hop and a Soul Crew at the other waiting for the Soul Anthems to drop. So when the ‘Dance Music Industry’ had worked out how to manipulate it, creating pigeon holes
I was all for it myself. You hear all these people moaning about the demise of vinyl, but I hated it. That’s right! I SAID IT! Obviously I used vinyl, and at the time I had one of the biggest vinyl distribution companies in the north with 6 vans out every week. Vinyl, the finding of it and the storing of it more or less ruled my life for many years. At least 2 flats and one of my houses were bought solely on the fact that they had room enough to house my record collection (I also made sure the kids got a bedroom!) When the vinyl tower eventually fell and all the new technology came along – I was glad to see it come but not as glad as my kids who then got their own bedrooms!
Tell us a little about your relationship with urban art over the years? I had fallen in love with street art when I’d ran away to London at 15 years old. The very first sleeve that Unique 3 put out was done by System Street Art, Jason McFee. I’d seen some of his work and tracked him down. He and Part 2 had come down to a night we were doing to do some big pieces live while we Deejayed over them. I asked System to do the art for our first sleeve, he was totally up for it. All along the route, Unique 3 has used urban artists, Part 2 remaining a very close friend to this day – he actually did the art for the
last album ‘Invasive Signals’. The new album, ‘Picture No Sound’ is more or less done and a guy called Lewis Campbell is working on the art for that album, so urban art has always been important to me, just take a wander around my house & see! It always felt like a natural connection: Urban Art & Unique 3’s music natural – it always felt right.
How do you feel about how trendy it’s got? – back to this idea of a secret being opened up I know how heartbroken a lot of artists are about it, but you know – it’s always going to
Artist - System Street Art
happen. Some do better than others, some have serious memory lapses, some don’t realize that the ones who are doing well are simply repeating stuff from 20/30 years ago, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter anyway. It is what it is. But there’s no doubt - when I started seeing the big auction houses selling pieces off for silly money, it made me squirm a little and I can see why some brilliantly talented graff artists have diversified into other mediums, a bit of a dash to get back under the rocks to the less commercial, graffiti on a birthday card darkside.
Onto the current musical side of things – do you feel you’re now writing songs rather than slices of music to be mixed? I’ve always written songs, I’m probably writing less dance floor fuelled instrumentals than before - There’s obviously an age factor involved. The last time I was in Ibiza doing a 7 week residency at Space, I remember looking up and thinking ‘you stupid old git – you’re the oldest f*kker in the building’. I have to acknowledge that there are kids younger than MY kids going to the clubs these days and I have to ask myself whether I really know what those kids want to be dancing to. And the simple answer to that is that I probably don’t. So the message is always going to change, but saying that, I still think my ears are good and my musical instincts are sharp, and while I do what everyone’s parents do – namely cringe a bit when I listen to some of the new music coming through, I think my music’s solid. Yes – it is firmly anchored in the past, but I believe it’s got a bloodshot eye on the future as well.
there, but the tracks that stood out more were probably the more ‘industrial’ ones. I think Unique 3 has always had two sides to its coin and maybe one side has come out and accentuated itself more as time went on … like the grey hairs on my chest.
Are you a bit of a sentimental old fool? I’m a broken hearted old fool, aren’t you?! Or at least the songs I write might make you draw that conclusion. My wife tells me that you need to take at least 4 Co-Codamols to listen to any of my songs & funnily enough … we regularly do.
Way ahead of you – done at least 4 this Do you feel you’ve embraced melody more as morning. So look – you’ve seen all the twists and turns in the dance music scene – how do the years rolled on? you feel about the demise of the DJ as a role I’m not sure that’s the case actually. I think in it’s own right as producers get all the gigs Unique 3 has always been melodious – if whether they’re any good at working a crowd you look at tracks like Rhythm Takes Control, or not? No More & Take This Love – it’s always been I don’t think it’s something that DJ’s can moan Early sleeve art sketches by Lewis Campbell
about if I’m being honest. You’ve got some good producers who are taking gear like Native Instrument’s Maschine onto stage with them and creating their stuff live alongside the DJ sets – sort of a live / DJ hybrid, and they’ve got 10,000 people jumping up and down in front of them. And that speaks for itself – you can’t argue with massive crowds jumping up and down. It’s just another aspect of embracing technology. A lot of people moaned when kids started taking Ableton on stage – why?? Dance music’s supposed to be at the forefront of technology, so what are people doing complaining when things change?
Dance music’s always been a democratic zone – but without things going through the filter of someone actually having to fund a cut and a load of records pressed, and with technology cheaper and more accessible than in the day and it needed you and a couple of ever – are we saturated? mates to front money for it, so you had to be Definitely. Everyone’s got a pal with a digital sure – you really had to believe in the tracks label – getting digital distribution isn’t that you were pressing. Now it’s all done in the hard, and it was undoubtedly a gamble with box – in the computer. It’s getting mastered vinyl. Do you press 500 or 1000 white labels in the box, and you can finish it, Master it, up? Pressing 1000 records was a big deal back send it, distribute it and sell it without leaving your seat. If you look at Beatport – there are so many labels and so many tracks on there that it is saturated. You can spend a hundred pounds a day on there without ever buying the same track twice. So from a quality control point of you – yes – it’s shifted pretty dramatically – but whether I see the overall change as a positive or a negative??? It comes down to a bit of both. What it does mean is that the charts are a nonsense and I think that if Unique 3 was doing what we did back then now, we’d have less of a chance, if any. The kids coming up now have that much more to contend with as thousands of other producers flood the internet with new tracks every week, so your track never gets the lifespan it needs to get recognized and really get out there. It becomes more and more throwaway instead of something hanging about for weeks and weeks and getting into everyone’s record Artist - Part2ism
box. Labels are suffering. Even the majors are scared to spend money on artists as they know they can never recoup it, choosing to find income streams from their artist’s live tours & merchandise instead. As a small label back then, selling those 500 white labels was great revenue. It paid for your remixes, your bits and bobs to push the record forward and helped you be self sufficient as a music releasing entity. Those income streams have gone and these are trying times for labels big & small. Something’s got to give – not sure where, not sure when and not sure how….but something will have to change.
Tell us a little about the vibe at your label Mutate – seems like a genuinely tight crew? Well it’s basically a collection of talented kids (and older gentlemen!) who are putting stuff out. There’s no major hassle with it, no-one’s under the illusion they’re going to get rich out of it and it’s just a very tidy vehicle to make sure that your stuff’s getting out. There are a few people involved, we try to control the quality as best we can and it’s a joy to be involved with. But then it’s another digital label in a long list of digital labels getting fucked up the arse by idiots who gain some kind of kudos from uploading other peoples music, music that the artist is heavily invested
in, along with hi res artwork then offer it for free to the world denying the artist of ever being paid for his industry. Can we un-educate the current generation & teach them that downloading music & film for free is wrong no
How are you feeling about your music right now – more liberated than ever? I’m really happy with the new album – it’s not quite finished yet, I actually have more audio than I can physically fit on a CD but I’m yet to start editing down & going through the process of making sure there’s nothing on there that I’ll personally flick past in a week or two. When it IS bagged I wonder if I shouldn’t just give it away for free. Do I upload it with all the trimmings only to find it on a .ru site 3 days later with hi-res original artwork? Well I may as well do that myself. I think a lot of people are starting to reach this same crossroads. So the music’s still flowing – but where it’s flowing to is quite another question … do you have any Co-Co’s left I can borrow pal please, my hangover’s back?
Check out Unique 3’s worldwide syndicated ‘Left Of Centre’ Radio Show
www.funklabs.com/artists/unique-3 Twitter: edzyunique3 soundcloud.com/unique-3 www.mixcloud.com/Unique_3 www.mutaterecords.co.uk And his urban art website and gallery
Tell you what - here’s 5, but just to be on the safe side, shall we open this bottle of brandy?
Top - New Album art by Lewis Campbell
THE DEATH OF
TERENCE MCKENNA On the 3rd of April 2000, the world lost a great champion of freedom, creativity, and our inalienable right to increase both of these by partaking of nature’s rich pharmacy. Terence McKenna was a thinker, explorer, writer and raconteur obsessed with the role of drugs in human evolution and culture, with our modern failure to truly take on board the invisible alien landscapes that substances such as dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and psilocybin unravel, and with a bizarre model of the nature of time that, for him, indicated a profound transformation of reality itself in the year 2012. Born in 1946, Terence was raised, alongside his brother Dennis, in the tiny Colorado town of Paonia. They fed each other’s thirst for the strange and fantastical, hunting for fossils and reading H.P. Lovecraft. In 1963, having relocated to California, he became aware of the world of psychedelics through reading Aldous Huxley and the underground press. He began experimenting with morning glory seeds and LSD (imbibing huge doses of pure Sandoz in San Francisco’s summer of ’65), as well as beginning a life-long daily relationship with cannabis.
through Asia, paying his way as a hash smuggler, covering his underworld activities with the engrossing diversion of collecting butterflies, and staying in Nepal to study Tibetan art. He was convinced through his LSD use that some hallucinogenic experience lay behind this tradition’s radiant Buddhas During the Summer of Love he was introduced and enflamed demons. But further DMT to DMT, smoked in its pure synthesized experiments convinced him that here was form – “a benchmark, you might say.” He something way off any known map of mystical was gobsmacked by his encounters with experience. “objects which looked like Fabergé eggs from Besides helming a Magellanic ship into Mars morphing themselves with Mandaean the unchartered realms of our collective alphabetical structures,” and the compass of consciousness, that summer of 1968 also his life, already in the grip of the magnetic found Terence “fighting the police at the pull of psychedelics, began to point in a direction tangential to the realities of even the Berkeley barricades shoulder-to-shoulder with affinity groups like the Persian Fuckers and most arcane literature he knew. He travelled
the Acid Anarchists.” But while radical politics certainly fuelled his ideals, his practice – while more informed by scientific empiricism than by cosmic hippydom – was firmly in the smaller-scale and larger-pupilled world of psychedelic research. Following his mother’s death in 1971, he, his brother Dennis, and a few other friends, set off for the heart of the Amazon. While the initial draw had been the indigenous shamanic use of DMT-containing plants, it was the plentiful golden psilocybin mushrooms they found luxuriating in the Zebu cattle shit that really fired their alchemical furnaces. Dennis went off the rails with his fantastical theories about altering their DNA with ‘shrooms and harmonic chanting, convinced that their world was being engineered by a post-mortem James Joyce. Terence briefly become a “psychedelic bliss bunny”, and then had his ontology severely rattled by a close encounter with an honestto-god flying saucer that condensed out of a group of lenticular clouds. Out of this heady mixture of gnostic curiosities, Terence distilled a theory of time. He extracted a waveform from the internal structure of the I Ching, using some highly dubious reasoning, and mapped the wave’s peaks and troughs onto history. Deeply idiosyncratic events and synchronicities in his own life formed initial anchor-points, but then he extended his correlations to our collective
history. He became intrigued by the fact that the wave – which he took as revealing the influx of novelty into the universe – seemed to reach an end, a climactic zero-point. After fudging it around a little, the end-point seemed to fall somewhere in 2012. Later, discovering that the Mayan ‘Long Count’ calendar seemed to reach the end of a cycle on December 21st of the same year, he shifted his wave to match this. What is omitted from ‘True Hallucinations’, his otherwise in-depth account of the formation
of his “timewave”, is the fact that when he returned to the Amazon later in 1971, he expected the end of time then and there, on his 25th birthday: “I met my natal day by sitting down and sincerely preparing myself for an Apocatastasis, the final Apocalyptic ingression of novelty, the implosion really, of the entire multidimensional continuum of space and time. I imagined the megamacrocosmos was going to go down the drain like water out of a bathtub as the hyperspatial vacuum fluctuation of paired particles that is our universe collided with its own ghost image after billions of years of separation. The Logos assured me that parity would be conserved, all sub-atomic particles except photons would cancel each other, and our entire universe would quietly disappear. The only particles that would remain, according to my fantastic expectation, would be photons, the universe of light would be exposed at last, set free from the iron prison of matter, freed from the awful physics that adhered to less unitary states of being. All mankind would march into the promised garden.”
Like the very early Gnostics who expected Christ’s return to be immanent, gradually revising their hopes as reality failed to meet them, McKenna lost his initial impatience, and shifted his predictions forward – far enough to give reality time to catch up, but not so far that the hope for eschatological salvation was unreachable by his lifetime. Terence and Dennis went their separate ways after their Amazonian escapades, Dennis forging the beginnings of a distinguished career in enthnopharmacology, and Terence gestating the public speaking and writing skills that would see him become a soughtafter ‘stand-up philosopher’ and advocate of psychedelic plants during the ’80s and ’90s. They found time in the ’70s to co-author a pioneering guide to growing psilocybin mushrooms at home, an underground achievement whose impact on the wider culture is as impossible to fathom as the mycelial root structure of a few scattered fruiting fungi in the forest. Certainly, they did more than their share to bring mushrooms to the masses, to infuse our shared reality with the rich marvels of this humble, humbling fungus.
As I write these words, we are less than nine months away from the McKenna-Mayan end-date. Yet Terence himself is more than twelve years dead. It is certainly a great tragedy that he did not live to see this year, though one can only guess what he would be saying by now. He was temperamentally as far from fundamentalist as can be, and those who have latched on to his more fevered pronouncements about 2012 must inevitably brush aside his tricksterish inconsistency about what this “end-date” may involve. He once said he thought it might simply see everyone starting to behave appropriately – which would, of course, be a gargantuan change in itself. Timewave acolytes must also ignore his repeated, emphatically anarchist calls for individuals to find their own way. “People love to give away their power, and follow Christ, or Hitler, or Shree Bhagwan… They don’t understand that no one is smarter than you, no one understands the situation better than you, and no one is in a position to act for you more clearly than you are yourself. But people endlessly give away this opportunity, and subvert their identity to ideology.” Timewave was far from an ideology, but in the end it was Terence’s own map through reality, certainly extending a little into all our territories, but ultimately grounded in his corner of the world. The great gift of this aspect of his thinking is the effort to see resonances in time, to see the fractal
interconnections between large and small events, and to break out of the linear nightmare that so many have been happy to call “progress”. Amplified by psychedelics into a baroque meshwork of theories, intuitions, historical poetics and rip-roaring yarns, Terence’s life’s work was ultimately a bold, inspired, and compassionate attempt to sincerely grapple with living in the terminal phase of Western civilization. Forget dates on your calendar to fuel expectation, prepare disappointment, and excuse inaction. The cherished ideals and lazy assumptions of the historical stream we have fallen into are being dissolved and unravelled right now, every day, all around us. There may be catastrophes to dwarf our fears; there may be a slow-motion unravelling that sees each generation gradually acclimatized to increasing deprivation and horror; there may be utterly unforeseen twists of joyful liberation. Most likely, there will be a strange hybrid of these fantasies, mixed with a whole load of mundanity, that will be lived through
suffering, boredom and exhiliration, in a world always in need of the expression of whatever courage we might be saving for our own “enddate”.
Facing his death from a rare form of brain cancer, Terence showed great courage, and reflected on the silver linings of imminent mortality. “Just being told by an unsmiling guy in a white coat that you’re going to be dead in four months definitely turns on the lights. It makes life rich and poignant. When it first happened, and I got these diagnoses, I could see the light of eternity, a la William Blake, shining through every leaf. I mean, a bug walking across the ground moved me to tears.” And such empathic intensities naturally extended to his final thoughts on our collective achievements: “I’m much more resonant and in tune with the Buddhist demand for compassion. The world needs to be a more compassionate place. It is not moving toward that as I see it. More and more people are exploited by fewer and fewer people, more and more effectively. And the tools of exploitation, which are
advertising and propaganda and all of that, grow ever more powerful and irresistible. This is really the challenge for the future. We can build a civilization like nothing the world has ever seen. But can it be a human, a human civilization? Can it actually honor human values?” It is a challenge that is met continuously, or not at all.
Take a few rolls of good old packing tape - banal and functional to any fleeting glance, lovingly etch a cinematic whisper of stylised memory into it and find a suitably atmospheric street light to illuminate the frozen scene. Well that is exactly what Max Zorn has been up to.
of mystery and a forgotten world of black and white rippling through the years. We caught up with Max for a chat.
Harnessing the moody, warming glows of backlight in situ - the iconic shadows of street lamps to throw a dreamlike mist into the textured sepias, he travels deep into the the monchrome moments of film noire. Bringing a precision scalpel to bear on fragments of emotional pathos, the layers of tape work chiaroscuro into an wonderfully unreal sense
It was less the medium that fascinated me in the beginning but more the idea of using urban lights in order to exhibit art. Most street art is only visible during the day, and I was surprised how little artists use street lights as their natural gallery. Thus, I experimented with different materials and got stuck with the tape. The combination was just perfect.
How important was it for you to develop an individual medium
How did you develop your technique – was there an instinctive connection or did you struggle to master it for a while Well, in the beginning I used the tape only as a background for sketches I drew with a marker on glass. Once I started to play around with different layers of tape I figured out the potential of that material more and more. It took a couple of frustrating try outs but after a few weeks of practicing I developed a feeling for it and from then on it was pretty easy. Well, I still learn something new every day…
Is packing tape a perfect material to work with light and shadow Yes it is… In fact the subtleties and emotions are only created by light and shadow rather than by colors. That makes the tape interesting as a medium but also very different from any artwork I used to create before, working with water- or oil colors for example. Is there something magical about One has to think in graduations of one color transforming the banal and practical into a to create depth instead of using just different work of art paints. Oh yes, the magic moment for me is actually when I climb up a street lamp and fix my tape in front of the light. All of sudden this crappy, brown tape covered piece of glass transforms into something different and reveals the essence I was working on for so long. This transformation still fascinates me… the art is hidden in all these layers of tape and light brings it out of the box.
Much of your work has a 20’s film noire feel about it. How much did that sense of sepia that the packing tape creates drive that and how much did your feel for that aesthetic lead you to packing tape. The motives and scenarios I had in mind were there long before I used tape to put them into practice. So ultimately, it’s a crazy coincidence that the sepia expression the tapes come with gives my art an extra touch of nostalgia that fits perfectly with the thematics
What is it about that period that speaks to you I really love this period as a virtual setting for my scenes. It comes with a touch of glamour but also with the melancholy of a fading dream of golden times… perfect to bring in shady characters, glamorous movie stars, old diners and broken hearts. It is a great inspiration for so many captured moments
What triggered the use of street lights to illuminate and breathe life into your pieces I love to run at night. And Amsterdam is a beautiful city for it: the canals mirror the light coming off lines of street lamps and it was just a natural progression for an artist who likes urban interventions to use that. I wasn’t sure at that time if my ideas would work out and it took a while until I climbed the first lamp but the feeling got me immediately once I saw my tape up there.
Street lights were a classic use of mood lighting in old films – is there something about their shade of light,that gives that sense of warmth and faded mystery
Yeah, street lamps create these magic little islands of light in the night, like a little theatre stage where scenes flash up but you never get the whole story. You have to use your imagination of what happens to the people who just met there or passed by before they disappear in the dark again. That has an element of mystery in it.
How precise are you when taping and cutting and how much do you just lose yourself in the moment I plan an idea in advance and as my representationsare per se realistic I have to do it thoroughly. That means I watch old movies and postcards, make a lot of sketches and put the elements together for a scene I have in mind. However, there is a lot of room for moods and changes during the evolution of the piece. Like an author you lose control of your protagonists at some point, they develop a life of their own. Although I have a certain image of how the piece is supposed to look, there is always an element of anarchy involved. There is no tape that turned out the way I had it planed. That’s what makes it so exciting actually.
How many layers are we talking about to create real texture – folds, lined faces etc You need at least 4 layers to create depth. It depends for sure on the complexity of the piece and the scenery. For complex ones I use 5 to 10 layers.
There’s a certain geometry in your work – a sense of right angles, rectangles, cubes and straight lines. How much of that is dictated by the use of tape and how much of that is an aesthetic decision
It is similar to the themes… as much as you plan it in advance, not only the momentum of the scene but also the material will put a twist on your plans eventually. In the beginning I tried to eliminate unintended stripes and geometric forms caused by the tape but after a while I learned to enjoy, that exactly this gives it a unique touch.
Many of your pieces are two people interacting - what are the dynamics you are looking to capture There is a great emotional dynamic in these situations which I really enjoy capturing. They’re moments we probably all know and which bring up very personal memories. In the end this creates an almost cinematic setting that involves the spectator and encourages him to continue the story by himself.
How much actual portraiture of real people do you do and how do they feel about their transportation into the fabric of another stylized world
Usually I use imaginary people or movie actors playing imaginary figures in a scene. Recently though I reproduced portraits of the Beatles to hang them in Liverpool and Bristol. Unfortunately I can’t ask John what he thinks about it… well, maybe Paul is getting back to me one day.
I´m done I have the same amount of new ones in my mailbox. No need to complain though, it´s awesome to connect to all these people around the world.
So much street art is consciously contemporary and focused on current issues. Is there a liberation in creating a timeless How much does the tape medium help create world of fantasy mood The great thing about street art is that you don’t have to ask for anybody’s permission Once lit up I guess it creates a similar feeling to show your stuff to the world. Many artists as to look at an old photography… it´s like a window into another time with all the moods use that to transport their messages, if it’s a political, personal, social or just aesthetic that come with that. opinion. This way street art is mirroring the different approaches and multidimensionality of our societies and not only the opinion How has the wider reaction been both in of a few selected people. The audience can Amsterdam and globally decide without a previous filter placed on it by It was really surprising to me how things galleries, museums, explanations by experts developed. It started as a fun little idea etc., if it accepts the message or not. Some and within a couple of weeks it had global get picked up, others not, but they all have attention. Every day I spend about four hours their right to live.In a great way street art gets just answering all these great mails but once
around the common, very restricted selection processes of the art market and yes… that is definitely liberating. However, putting your art in the streets is also liberating from the expectations of the art world itself (ironically including the street art scene) because you get judged by normal people not only by other artists.
How much international street work do you do I came around a bit during the last month and whenever I hit a nice city I take my chance to hang a tape there. There are quite a few in Europe by now but since the project got so much momentum I´d love to expand to other continents. It´s just a great way to connect to cities and leave a footprint.
Ultimately – what is it about the street and the use of public space to place art that you find most meaningful
Streets are such a fun playground. We knew that when we were kids and every corner held an adventure for us. It´s great to find out that this hasn’t changed, that you can still sneak around and climb up posts, that you can still misuse objects and change them into something else. Before I had started this project I had forgotten the feeling that I could influence the world around me, but it is so much easier than one thinks.
What are your plans for the future Well, I just started a project which I want to expand a bit. It´s called “Stick Together” and it´s about sending out free tape-stickers to applicants from all over the world. They can choose where to stick them up in their hometowns. That’s a fun project and it became really important to me, not only because my artwork gets out there but also because all these random people get so enthusiastically involved in it, it´s a great team up.
Arun Ghosh’s Odyssey
Arun Ghosh is a British-Asian clarinettist, composer and music educator. Conceived in Calcutta, bred in Bolton, matured in Manchester and now living in London, Arun Ghosh’s musical vision and vocabulary reflect his rich geographical heritage. Ghosh released his debut album “Northern Namaste” in 2008, and his second album, “Primal Odyssey” in Autumn 2011, both on camoci records. Both albums have received widespread critical acclaim and extensive airplay, and are prime contemporary examples of the IndoJazz genre. The first Arun Ghosh IndoJazz Sextet performance took place at the London Jazz Festival in 2007 and Ghosh has since lit up the British jazz scene with numerous intense and cathartic performances at clubs, festivals and melas in
London and around Britain. Internationally, Ghosh has performed at festivals and venues in France, Germany, Austria, India, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In 2008, Ghosh was selected for Edition IV of the Jerwood/PRS Foundation ‘Take Five’ initiative for emerging jazz musicians produced by Serious and in 2009, he was invited to perform at the jazzahead! Festival in Bremen, Germany as part of the UK showcase presented by Jazz Services. In 2010, he was made an Associate Artist at The Albany Theatre, London ˆ a position still held and in April 2011, Ghosh was made an Artistin-Residence for the Southbank’s Alchemy Festival. September 2011 saw Ghosh feature as the cover star for Jazzwise magazine, the UK’s biggest selling jazz magazine and
the end of the year saw Ghosh become an official Rico UK Artist. Ghosh is one of the BT Celebrity Storytellers for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and will also appear as a featured artist for the BT River of Music events as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Arun Ghosh’s music embodies a seamless syncretism of blues and beats indigenous to North Indian rāgas. Ghosh takes this fusion and adds to it a splash of urban funk, postmodern punk, and the contemporary groove of rock ‘n roll set amidst a precipitation of dub bass and his rāg explorations. Together this confluence of various musical forms creates a sub-genre reminiscent of Coletrane’s harmonically static style which allows for rhythmic and melodic improvisation. Arun Ghosh’s second album, Primal Odyssey, was released in October 2011 on camoci records and represents his exploration of the sound of the classical jazz ensemble with his Horn E Bass Quintet. Recently I met up with Arun Ghosh in a coffee shop around the corner from the BBC Broadcasting House where he had just come from a live interview with Cerys Mathews. Arun generously shared his time to participate in a second interview that morning with me.
own tunes. I started playing the clarinet when I was twelve or thirteen. That was partly because I was told it was a good instrument for jazz. By that point I was into jazz. I was listening to Courtney Pine playing on the television at the Free Nelson Mandela concert and I was really taken with it. I realised that the music I liked had that kind of sound—that Arun, thank you for meeting with me this sort of jazz thing. I started making up my own morning. Could you begin by talking a bit music and improvising a little bit, not really about your background and introduction to working too hard on it. I was still playing music? classical music really and I thought of myself as...well, I was learning from the instrument I grew up in the north of England in a in this way. In the meantime I was growing up town called Bolton. It’s a small town near Manchester. My dad is from West Bengal and and listening to all sorts of music, all the music you are exposed to in Britain—Indie music, my mum is Sindhi, from Sindh, which later hip-hop, rock, all sorts of things, but I was still became a part of Pakistan. And I grew up in always into jazz. And as I got older and started Britain. There was no real music in the family but I was always encouraged to play. I started performing more jazz, I realised that I was from a young age playing music in school—the looking for new forms of improvisation and went back into Indian music. I had listened recorder and the violin and instruments like to Indian music when I was growing up, that. I knew right away that music was the real driving force in my life and from that time taken by my family to concerts and there was and I just carried on playing and making up my always Indian music being played at home.
It really just resonated with me again. Once I started playing it and working with tabla players, getting more involved in Indian music and listening to it more and thinking about it more, I realised that it was something that was really inside me and it started to affect how I was playing, what I was choosing to write, how I was thinking about music, and so on.
inflections. So when I play Tagore songs I am playing them word for word as such. I have a recording on my first album of O Aamar Desher Mati where Tagore is singing about his homeland, his beloved Bengal and that is something I really wanted to capture. We have similar upbringings I see. My father is Gujarati and I was raised with North Indian music but more so we had Gandhi and, well, you can’t compete with that…[laughing]
Bengal is one of the major artistic centres of India for poetry, music and the sciences. I Well, we had Subhas Chandra Bose, the real wonder if you were particularly influenced by radical… Bengali music and culture. I have been exposed to the music of Tagore and specifically Ali Akbar Khan. Also Ravi Shankar has this close Bengali heritage as well. I know exactly what you are saying about the kind of love of poetry, art and music and it was always present in my life. When I was growing up I was introduced to Rabindra Sangeet by family and friends to the extent that the songs became very important to me. I couldn’t understand most of it because it was a quite high Bengali language but I always loved the
I wish we had more Gujarati musician references growing up because whenever we misbehaved in school or at home, my father would have us read Martin Luther King and Gandhi [Arun laughs] and the next two weeks at the dining table conversations revolved around our social consciousness readings. What impressed me growing up was, being a child of a Gujarati father while being raised in New Orleans, we were exposed to all sorts of music and my father strictly enforced Indian
music on Saturdays in the house. My siblings and I hated it because we just heard noise as our ears were untrained and unaccustomed to these sounds. What I really love about your music is that its syncretism maintains a balance that is not about “equal” but rather it maintains a syncretism that is balanced in the sense of taking from various traditions and creating a new and unique style and form of sound. I never tried to emulate a particular style. So once I started to record my own music I realised what it was that I wanted to do. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sound like a traditional Indian musician—I hadn’t grow up there, I wasn’t playing that instrument, I didn’t have the training, and so on. What I took on was more of a sense of it, a sense of where the rāgs were from, where the melodies were from, where the rhythms were from. And it just touched me—I think it has helped in that I didn’t have the training because I didn’t need to try to sound a particular way. I heard a rhythm, a dhin dha or a dadra, a dip chandi rhythm, or I heard rāg malkos or vairagi and they just made sense to me. I basically taught myself and I shaped my understanding of music inside rather than being told what it was. I think that is why my music has its own sound. At the same time, once it started coming into my jazz sound it was important to me that it wasn’t just a kind of Indian/ Eastern styles melodies over a groove. It was important that the drums played closely with the taal that we were in, and that the harmony, the baseline, the chords, everything all came from the rāg. So I wasn’t mixing and matching—I had to say to the musicians, “Don’t play that note that’s not in this scale.” So I was close enough to the music for that to be important but also detached enough from it to not mind about certain idiosyncrasies that developed because of who I was. I think in that first album it was more important to have that Indian sound—we used tabla throughout and all the tunes were driven by the tabla. I recorded the tabla first and then played the clarinet and then did the drums and so on because I wanted it all to be based
on it so that the base patterns fitted with the groove of the tabla. Through doing this and doing very much a studio album on Northern Namaste because I was working in the studio with Pro Tools and so on, I was able to shape it exactly how I wanted and because of this I got to work out exactly how I wanted my grooves to be. You produced it then? Ghosh: With the engineer, I was working with Will Worsley. But we were working very closely together chopping up the loops and so on. When it came to recording the second album by then I had a live working band and I knew how I wanted things to be. In that time I had started to take the tabla away because I felt that I wanted the drums and the bass to open up much more rhythmically while staying true enough and strong enough to the original tabla patterns that had given birth to them. And this then coincided with a move that we made to add an extra horn in the mix.
So before it was clarinet and saxophone, we added bass clarinet as well giving us this three horn front line. This was very much modelled on Bismillah Khan’s ensembles where he had two shehnais accompanying him as well as dolakh and tabla. I love the sound of those wind instruments playing together—playing the melody in unison or playing strongly rooted harmonies or just playing a drone underneath as we improvised and so on. It led to this quite free-flowing improvisational way of arranging a piece. It was very spontaneous and there was just something for me in those two extra wind instruments that really gave a solidity to the sound. Since then there that has been the sound that I have wanted to make. So that is the sound of the new album, Primal Odyssey—the clarinet, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, double bass and drums. The group with whom you were playing at Foyles Bookstore during the London Jazz Festival last Fall, are they your regular ensemble? Well it’s slightly different because we didn’t
have the bass clarinet that day so we used the alto sax instead. I sort of have a regular circle of musicians who drop in and out when certain people can’t do things. What is good about that is that it helps keep the sound fresh, always bringing new kinds of ways of looking at a tune. Also if you haven’t rehearsed something but everybody knows how it is supposed to sound this means that the music can sound quite spontaneous. So when we were playing that afternoon whilst everybody knew the tunes, it was clear that it could go anywhere and there was no set way of playing it. That is quite important to me and it is very much the Indian aesthetic as well. It is also part of the jazz tradition, especially present in the music musicians like of Billie Holiday. I have listened to hundreds of her recordings and no two recordings of the same song are alike. Also similar is Om Kalthoum’s repertoire as she reinvents song in each new performance. Your performances recall this kind of temporality, this modality of being in the moment. Even the way you move speaks to this kind of investment in the here and now which I much admire.
Performance is really important to me in terms of what I get out of myself and what I want to give. Immediately after the concert you gave at Foyles Bookstore, I literally ran across the river to catch Archie Shepp in concert at the Southbank Centre. During that show’s intermission I was talking about your concert earlier that evening with two audience members who told me that you are active in community work and education. Tell me about your work with children and adolescents here in London. I do lots and lots of different things. Currently I am doing work with a big band at a school in East London—we are developing music and we are doing my music. That’s kind of interesting. I do a lot with young people who have never played music. I am also introducing the young people to Indian music and making beats and so on. When I am working with young people it is very “hands on” and we just play music really. I have a way of getting through to young people because a lot of my music is quite easy in some ways—it
is built on simple melodies or simple rhythms or looping base lines or looped drum patterns. So it works very well to have that headspace to work with young people because I am quite open-minded. I think the great thing about produced and electronic music is that you can make it very easily. Young people kind of have a great mastery of technology instinctively even if they have never used it before. And they are also kind of experimental in terms of what they are prepared to play. So they’ll listen to a crazy loop they’ve made, at times by accident, and they will really dig it. What do you think about the place of music education today with the arts programs being cut and children having increasing difficulty in accessing music or any of the arts. Well, I think that music as we all know is an amazing thing to grow up with. The more people who can be exposed to making it the better because it is such a great thing to be dedicated to but also because it changes the way you think about the music you hear and life in general. I think people should be exposed to how music is created and what it
is even if they don’t necessarily want to play it because I think that this kind of understanding is very important. What is difficult about the workshops I do is that I have young people that I would like to work further with but we only have one day, a week or even a onesession or two for a project. So you don’t get the chance to develop something fully partly because you have to do something quickly and so you do something quite simply so you don’t necessarily explain. I’ll say to them, “Use this combination of notes to make the base line and I won’t necessarily have the chance to tell them that this comes from the pentatonic scale that is a very strong combination of notes. I just think that music education as it stands in this country hasn’t worked so well across the board because it’s been focused on people learning instrumentally (which is fine obviously) but they are learning to play just for music. That is to say they are learning in
the Western tradition and you need a lot of people quite skilled in their instruments not being able to improvise or make up their own music. Equally I think that kind of approach to playing music doesn’t turn a lot of people on and a lot of people would much rather be making electronic music. What I would really like is for every young person in this country to be entitled to an hour’s worth of tuition—or at least half an hour—per week. One on one is really important—there is only so much you can do in a big group. The problem with groups is that certain people always shout louder and are more keen and you don’t want to stifle that, but equally you are very aware that there are people who are too shy to say anything. I think one on one is important even if it is shorter than half an hour. If they want to play the cello, they should get to play the cello;
if they are interested in playing the electric guitar or in singing or producing music or so on, and somehow they should be given that starting point so that they can work on their art. What they do in Venezuela is amazing, for example. And the whole point of that is that people have got instruments to play and that is done across the board. They are just dedicated to music education and here in the UK it is still quite elitist. I know the previous Labour government did have a dream of universal music education for everyone but it started being cut. In theory every child was entitled to free music tuition and it was never realised. The workshops I do tend not to be like thatâ€”they involve working with a group in a school or a community centre, or also in the context of drama. So Iâ€™ll be working with a youth theatre group where a couple of them will work on the music with me. How do you place British jazz, in the world today amidst other jazz traditions in the world from South Africa to Italy to Brazil, for instance? The amazing thing about jazz is that it is a
global music from its starting point through the links between Africa, America and Europe
and how this music combines politics and culture in order to create and to be what jazz wants. Because of that it is such a universal music as it spread across the world people have made it their own. So when you hear vulcan bands appropriating jazz harmonies and so on—you hear it in Klezmer music, you hear it in Italian and French music, we are hearing it in Indian music. It is just a headspace really with people taking their style of melodies and their style of rhythms and using it in a jazz context. Would you say that jazz is one of those genres of music that is syncretic par excellence in the sense that it is one of the major music styles that has been fluidly appropriated within various culturally specific musical traditions? Yes, I would say so. And I think also because in the history of the world jazz is a relatively new music, in that sense as it is. I think jazz is always of the “now”. I would say the same about reggae and I would say the same about hip hop and rock ‘n roll in terms of music developed in the last century.
So will we be seeing a rock ‘n roll album from you any time soon? I think my music is rock ‘n roll. I think Primal Odyssey is very much a rock ’n roll album in terms of its drive and its influence and what it is doing. It is a mentality isn’t it really. Just as jazz is and in some ways, just as Indian music is. It doesn’t have to be of the traditional instrumentation—it’s the spirit of it, isn’t it.
Justin Vigo www.arunghosh.co.uk www.facebook.com/arunghoshmusic www.soundcloud.com/arunghosh
One of the very essences of â€˜street artâ€™ must surely be about holding an anonymous mirror to social, political and economic currents in a society where it least expects it. A closed society where censorship underpins dissent and neither the authorities nor great swathes of the public either recognise the problem or embrace the solution. While recognising the shades of grey in play and not holding it up as a one dimensional entity, Dubai is such a place and Arcadia is such an artist. Dubai is a fascinating anthropolgical study in its own right - crackling with paradox and bizzare juxtapositions - the perfect backdrop for a warped prism into the abstract and the bitterly real alike. And Arcadia - with a name that itself conjures up pastoral images of an archetypal, classical Eden - both echoing the building of a dream and skewering its reality
- is sweeping through the cityscape, spraying fragments of reflection between the dunes and the gleaming glass temples. Glimpses of the lyrically surreal flood through shadowy twists to the PR tale. With a silent cry for a deeper consciousness and a beautifully poetic slant on the absurd, brutal truths spit forth in grimy scrawl as the towers glisten with illusory perfection. Cryptic yet penetrating - mocking yet humane, Arcadia is the voice Dubai so desperately needs within its evolution, and way beyond the shimmering oasis, a voice sowing stark haikus of universality whispered to a collective consciousness. The banality of daily injustice meets timeless cosmic insight and the questions just keep coming. We spoke to Arcadia and would like to thank him for his frankness despite the potential problems he could face.
How did you initially get into writing. Was it having something to say and finding a medium or tagging that turned into something to say It was having something to say and finding a medium for it.Because of the environment I live in here in Dubai, it was kind of like this natural evolution in a way. I don’t have a graffiti background but have a deep hip hop background. As a kid I grew up with hip hop. Through Hip hop. But I personally was much for focused on music and rhymes more than I was on graffiti and the other aspects of the culture. I’m also an artist who has uses lot of text and descriptions in my work, so, in that sense, writing (literally speaking) has always been there. Being an expat artist in Dubai has a lot of frustrations that come with it because there are very few opportunities for you to grow or get your work picked up. Especially when your work is far from anything perceived to
have “value” by the commercial art world . If you are a national Emirati, you can receive support as well as if you’re an internationally recognized name that will attract attention. But, other than a handful of places, the art world here is pretty much sealed off to the commercial realm. The majority of the galleries are set up to sell and trade international art and not really to support local or locally based artists. So I basically lost interest in the gallery scene and, in a way, what I am doing is a response to the art world here, as much as it is a means to stay existentially sane. Although I’m not Emirati, Dubai is pretty much home to me and wanting to see public art around the city is something I truly crave for . Sadly, the only public art that we really have here is in the form of corporate advertisements and giant commercial billboards. After a while, it just became too much to bear and I got fed up of complaining about things so I just decided to go out and do something about it. I never really had any local street art influences because there simply hasn’t been any kind of graffiti or public art
movement in the past in Dubai. So what I do (in terms of street art) has been influenced by a few artists I have come across while living abroad , travelling or through my own research. Artists like John Fekner, Laser 3.14, Neko, MiztahBush, Robert Montgomery, a bit of Egor Kraft and pretty much anyone who has ever tried to express themselves in public and try to engage the public’s mind at the same time through text. It might be seen as “new” here, but there’s nothing about what I’m doing that’s new or original. I’m just fed up as an artist, and I’m going out and doing something about it. Because of some of the attention some my tags have been getting recently people think that it’s new in Dubai, but it’s not. Emirati,
Indian and European kids have been scrawling stuff on walls in the older neighborhoods way before anything I ever did. And you have a few throw ups around the city by some street artists that have passed through from abroad. How the hell did you end up in Dubai Came over here as a teenager from Australia. Originally my mom is European and my dad is North African and they both fell in love with Dubai because it has elements of both of their home cultures. I did go to boarding school abroad though as well as university in Canada, but fam and close friends were here so I used to come back all the time for holidays before I started working here after university.
Give us a little insight into the bizarre sociological phenomenon that is Dubai Me trying to summarize society here is almost impossible because it’s such an isolated case I think, to most other places in the world. But if I was to try I would probably say that Dubai is the epitome of a city that tries to be as progressive as it can (in terms of being recognized as a globalized city) while trying to be as culturally conservative as it can (through Sharia Islam). And within that kind of extreme dynamic it has it’s own kind of unique chaos going on. For example, women can go to the mall here and buy some steamy lingerie from Victoria’s Secret, but they can’t walk through the mall to get to the store while wearing clothing that’s too revealing. You can go to an art gallery to check out some art, but you will never see a painting or a photo of anyone nude or any politically critical work related to domestic politics. You can buy booze from certain places, but you can’t be found with booze in your car. Those are just basic examples. But at the end of the day people come here to try and live a better life then they would in their homes countries, or to seek out opportunities because it’s still an emerging market in many ways. And in pursuit of whatever goal they are here for, people just go with how things are and you eventually get used to it because it’s nothing too extreme at all. Although it still would be considered culturally or
socially strict in many ways from a western perspective, it’s still far more liberal than many other places in the Arab world. Dubai is also a much safer place to live then many other parts of the world (the crime rate is very low), and there actually are a lot of great things about the city aside from the stereotypical things that it’s obsessed with promoting.
How fractured is society there between locals, Western ex pats and imported, indentured labour To me personally, life here is what you make of it. You can mix and learn from so many different cultures or you can stick to what you know and are comfortable with. Society in Dubai is incredibly culturally diverse. But generally speaking, I think itis somewhat pretty fractured because of all the different identities, class brackets and cultural differences amongst the residents. People do mix, no doubt, but there still is a strong element of cultural segregation because some of the cultural differences are quite extreme and, in general, many people like to stick to what they know.Laborers are pretty much still marginalized as are the rest of blue collar society. Also, the U.A.E doesn’t offer citizenship to foreigners and only allows entry on a conditional basis. If you’re not working here, own no property, and you’re not a tourist…you can’t come in. I think that factor also has a big role in segregating people because it limits your level of integration into society, and makes it quite clear that not everyone is equal. It’s important to note though that the Emirati nationals make up less than 20% of the population in their own country, so from the government’s perspective all it is trying to do is directly help and support it’s own people. How much is Dubai a metaphor for the wider world today I think it’s a great metaphor for the wider world because what’s going on in Dubai is no different, essentially, to what’s going on in the rest of the world. If we are talking about the negative aspects, this whole planet functions pretty much through exploitation, racial inequality, human rights violations, financial corruption/deceit etc.. It’s everywhere, and it’s been like that throughout most of history. Of course not all people or those in positions of power are guilty of those type of things, but they are very prominent characteristics
of global society and they happen/have happened here just like anywhere else. But I think in most other places those kinds of issues have had more time to improve or have become very well camouflaged and not as blatant. In Dubai’s case, it’s been on overdrive for the past 20 years trying to be as much as possible, as quickly as possible and at the most strategic cost possible. And In doing that I think it has over- exposed itself a bit which has allowed those type of things to stick out like sore thumbs. I think the recent recession may have been a very well needed break for the city because it’s allowed it to cool down and reflect on itself more, which has in turn shifted a lot of attention to those kinds of issues and on means of improving them, which is great. When it comes to the materialistic aspect which some people associate with Dubai, everybody these days it seems (no matter where you are) is on some Hollywood shit. But in Dubai’s case I think the degree of materialism and commodity obsession can get quite intense because so many people who come here think that that is what life in Dubai is about, or should be about. Which is really annoying and frustrating for people
who aren’t caught up in that type of thing and who have been living here before the realestate/financial boom that took place. A lot of nationals and long term expats who live here see/experience the city very differently to the huge wave of expats that came here during and following the boom. In terms of the positives, here, also just like any other place in the world, you have pockets of truth, beauty, realness, love, sincerity and all that good stuff. To me city’s and places are essentially made up of people, and you get the good and the bad no matter where you are in the world.
Do you consciously avoid a beautiful aesthetic as a subversion of the skin deep shininess of the cityscape. Not at all. My handwriting is horrible. Always has been, always will be. On top of that I try to begin and end things as quickly as possible. Dubai’s got enough pretty things around anyway, so as long as it’s readable it’s all I really care about. Many people on the new side of the city have become so accustomed to this picture perfect, look but don’t touch, idea of how the city is that the fact that it raw and basic makes it stick out more I think because it seems so out of place in this environment.
the experience based on your own interpretation of whatever you are reading. Where words take you is completely your own creation, your own design, your own trip. You can try to explain it to someone but you can never really fully share that trip with anyone else. I don’t think one is more impactful then the other, I think they’re just 2 separate things.
How important is distilling ideas into a short phrase to the impact they have
How important is a bit of raw chaos in any attempt at airbrushed perfection
It’s vital, it’s what it’s all about really. Especially in this environment. You have to pack as much into as little as possible and get it up as quickly as possible.
I think it’s as important as it is natural because I don’t believe in perfection. I don’t believe in perfect people, a perfect society, world, galaxy or universe and trying to pretend like it is or trying to airbrush it goes against the natural laws of absolutely everything. Perfection is an image, it’s a farce. It has to be created, maintained and taken very good care of because it’s not something that’s really meant to last in my opinion. Chaos is a natural thing, perfection isn’t. And nature always wins.
Do words have an impact that pictures somehow can’t I think they do yes. To me pictures invite you into a vision created and designed by someone else. Words completely individualize
What does the concept of Arcadia mean to you
How comfortable a reality is individualism laced with blind denial
I actually started out with no name and was just using my artist tag which is an equilateral triangle. I’ve been using it for over 10 years now. But with the whole commercialization of occult symbology over the past few years the triangle easily lends itself to misinterpretation and just doesn’t feel as sacred or as it used to be. So I recently started substituting the triangle for the letter U which is intended to visually represent a blown open triangle because trinity really has gone pop. I came up with the name Arcadia or Arcadia Blank more for the sake of others to be able to refer to me by something and it’s based on a combination of things. It’s a famous play by Tom Stoppard which deals with truth, time and various existential philosophies in between. Essentially what I’m doing is in itself just on big play. Arcadia is also a Greek mythological utopia that could be a reference to how Dubai or what any big city is trying so desperately to be in contemporary times. Arcadia Blank is a description of this make - believe utopia that I’m living in that is almost completely devoid of any raw public expression. It’s completely blank, and in many ways feels completely unnatural. So it’s more or less a play on those things.
Haha..great question. The best answer I can come up with is a small poem I saw sprayed on the back of a van by someone called Itza C Kret, and it goes something like “ I live in a world of fantasy, so keep your reality away from me, I see what I want, I want what I see, and that is all okay by me”
Is the age of social networking generating a sense of permanently living as an advert for oneself and swearing by causes etc you have no intention of actually doing anything about In many cases I think it does yes. I think your social media/digital image these days, whether itâ€™s online or throughother media, has essentially become your public image. Some personas are honest, many are disingenuous. You can literally copy and paste your appearance, opinions, characteristics etc. and build a persona based on what you want people to think you are. A great example would probably be the pop music industry right now which is pretty much made up of an entire legion of completely corporately manufactured artists. So many of them have false background stories, lyrics written for them, clothes, styles and attitudes directed to them, PR statements drilled into their heads...and at the same time theyâ€™re getting up on stage signing about honesty, individuality and being yourself. Then you got a whole bunch of public figures preaching about love and unity, when at heart they are absolute egomaniacs who are only really concerned about their cash flow and ratings.
Social networking and the entire media/ online/virtual world is turning a lot of us into these image obsessed soulless drones who are replacing our own personal values and individuality with ones shaped based solely on perceived value. Which sucks, but itâ€™s just the way it is these days. But you do of course get people who really are who they project themselves to be and are hopeless at pretending. Tell us about the legalities of writing in Dubai and your personal risk levels Getting caught here writing on anything in public can land you in trouble depending on what kind of cop busts you, what it is that you write and how big you write it. I write in English and most of the cops here are Arabic speaking with English as their second language. So chances are they would only bust you for the action, and not for what it is you are writing because it may be difficult for many of them to understand. In that case you may face a big fine and a pardon at the least, 1 week -2 months jail time at the most. But, if you ever get busted saying anything blatantly disrespectful towards religion or
local politics and they can understand it or take a picture of it and have it translated... you’re fucked. That situation can land you a maximum 3 year sentence, depending on the explicitness of what you say, with the possibility of deportation from the country after the sentence. That has rarely happened in the past by expats living here, but rest assured, if it did happen, the authorities will most certainly make an example out of you.
think that will make any difference if I ever get caught, hopefully the authorities will sympathize with me based on my intentions, and not try to condemn me based solely on my actions.
I have no interest in targeting local politics or religion openly because it would just be completely idiotic and it’s also something I personally have no interest in doing. So most of what I try to write hovers around it and is aimed more at existential things that apply to everyone regardless or their politics or religious views. If I do touch on anything political, it’s pretty much directed towards the global political environment, and not what’s going on in the country locally. To try to minimize any possible trouble I might get into,I write on construction elements and not private property. Even though I don’t
Dubai as a city is ephemeral in nature itself. It’s still constantly under construction and development, the likes of which I have never seen anywhere else in the world. The landscape is constantly morphing and mutating. A few months ago, the road from work to my apartment block changed about 3 times. It’s absolutely insane. So in a way, the fact that the stuff I’m writing on is soon to disappear too isn’t really that important to me because it’s just how things are here and what I’m used to. Roads come, roads go, buildings appear out of nowhere, people appear, people
How long do you generally manage to stay up, and how important is the ephemeral nature of graffiti to the points you’re making.
disappear. It’s just how it is. Some stuff lasts one day, some lasts months. It’s all really unpredictable like that and just comes with the territory. How important is a sense of poetry in your work I don’t really consider myself that poetic when it comes to the street stuff, but I think poetry can definitely make things you’re trying to say or express more interesting and immersive, if it’s well versed and not too cryptic (or complex) for the average person. Do lies work because they are so cunningly crafted or because so many people are ready to believe them On a day-to-day level I think lies or believing in lies can definitely make getting by easier for some people. But when we’re talking about the serious lies that are going on in this world then I think it mostly has to do with the fact that they are incredibly well planned and crafted. The thing is with lies is that they constantly have to be supervised, amended,
and very well maintained, and the invisible masters have been doing a phenomenal job since the beginning of things. When you have every resource required to craft a lie at your disposal, at pretty much every level of society, you can essentially orchestrate things how you want to. And in that process, most people get tricked and end up thinking it’s what they want too. Then you got lies which are a straight up 50/50 combo of craft and people wanting to believe them, and I think it’s called advertising. How understood are you in Dubai – or are you widely perceived as a random nutter Not really so much a random nutter I don’t think. Because of some of the attention some of my tags have been getting lately they’ve caused a bit of stir here with the public. But the response has been very positive, which is great. And I think a lot of people here, especially the younger generation, want to see things get a bit chaos going on. Most of the art community here I think still doesn’t quite know how to deal with what I’m doing because it’s illegal and missing the
“ever-so-crucial”formal artist statement and curator. Other than friends, I get no support, no funding, no nothing from anyone or any establishment here which sounds really silly to say. But the scene here is so conservative and so “structured” that usually the only art related news that ever garners any attention conforms to those things. On top of that, I make absolutely no money doing this, which so many people in the art world here find strange and bizarre. To me, that just goes to show how many of those characters don’t have a clue what art is really about.
minded and egoistical view in my opinion. Graffiti and what it’s used for is too broad a thing to try and pin down. I do respect what those guys do in terms of teaching kids about the classical graffiti artform, but until they start hitting the real streets in this city and start looking at the bigger picture of things, their opinions on what I do and how I do it holds no merit with me.
The majority of the small expat graffiti community here pretty much hates me from what I hear. Which I think is pretty silly and funny at the same time. They’re critiquing and judging what I do when I’m taking risks inside the city, while they’re doing their thing on legal/designated walls outside the city. I don’t think they realize that I’m not doing this to impress anyone or be some kind of graffiti star, I’m doing it for personal release and to try to interfere and provoke my open environment that has practically zero public art. Not everyone sees it as art, and people got their own opinions and I’m fine with that, but the fact that they think anyone who uses an aerosol can has to conform to their perception of what tagging should be is a pretty narrow
How much of an optimist are you about genuine change or are we all fucked
So I guess it’s mixed feelings across the board depending on who you ask…
I believe in the illusion of change, but not actual genuine change. So as much as I hate to admit it, I think we’re all really pretty much fucked and things are only going to get worse. Where do you go from here Not sure really. Got a few ideas in mind but nothing certain yet.
Time Travel Theory
Isaac Newton defined how we think of time: as a flowing river moving at constant speed from the past to the future, never deviating, never changing. We are born, we live, we die. A tree is planted, grows, is felled, cut up, and becomes a house. Snow and rain fall in the mountains, gather into brooks and streams, merge into rivers that flow into oceans. Tectonic plates collide, mountains emerge, are assaulted by wind, rain, and rising water, and eventually erode back to the plains from which they arose.
Time is one-way, an arrow, immutable in its inexorable progress...or so it seems. When Albert Einstein published his Special and General Theories of Relativity in the early 1900s, he said to the world, â€œWait a moment. Time is not so constant as Newton said; it meanders, and speeds up and slows down around stars and galaxies.â€? We came to think of time as just another dimension in a fourdimensional space-time continuum. We began to understand that timeâ€™s flow is entirely
dependent on our own motion through the other three dimensions. We even discovered that we could use this new knowledge to improve our lives through the application of modern physics and its step-child, electronics. Through all of this new understanding, however, time still flowed in one direction. True, it meandered a bit, and speeded up and slowed, depending on circumstances, but it only went that way, toward the future. In 1949 Kurt Goedel decided to spend some quality time reviewing Einstein’s relativity equations. To put this event into context, you should know that Goedel was arguably the finest mathematician and logician of the last millennium. When he tackled Einstein’s General Relativity equations, he discovered a solution that had eluded Einstein. Einstein’s solutions describe an expanding universe in which time flows only one way, albeit with turns and speed variations. Goedel’s solution describes a rotating universe where time twists back on itself, so that if somehow you were to go all the way around the universe, you would arrive back where you started before you got underway. In Goedel’s universe, time has whirlpools, which scientists call “closed time-like curves.”
Einstein was not happy with several developments that flowed from his original work with Relativity. He was especially bothered by the implications of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which says, in effect, that on the very small scale, it is impossible to know for a particle both its exact position and the precise time it was in that position, which forces researchers to deal with very small things statistically. He said, “The Old One [God] doesn’t roll dice,” and insisted that ultimately things still were deterministic, that they were ruled by cause and effect.
Similarly, Einstein was unhappy with Goedel’s universe. He dismissed these solutions on physical grounds, since it was “obvious” that the universe expands; it doesn’t rotate. But Goedel had opened the barn door, and the horse had left at full gallop. Scientists went back to examine earlier solutions to Einstein’s Relativity equations, and discovered W.J. van Stockum’s work on infinitely long spinning cylinders - picture a very long spinning maypole. It turns out that if you dance around it, like with Goedel, you get back before you start. Then in 1963, mathematician Roy Kerr discovered that if you collapse a spinning black hole (and they all do spin), you don’t get a singularity as everyone thought, but a ring of collapsed matter called a wormhole. And when you pass through the ring, you end up in the past, or somewhere else in this universe, or in another universe altogether. The problem was that for physical things, the passage would be destructively traumatic whatever went in would exit as mush. In the 1980s, Kip Thorn and his Cal Tech
colleagues discovered another class of solutions to Einstein’s equations that got rid of the mush factor. It appeared, after all, that structured matter - like machines and humans - could transit wormholes under certain circumstances, and even return, kind of like an elevator through time. All that is necessary, it seems, is to find a wormhole with the correct entry and exit points, and expand and stabilize it so that it can be used. To do this takes a lot of power, a LOT of power. First, let’s look at the wormholes. According to modern theoretical physics, at very short distances - around 10-33 centimeters - space becomes “foamy,” consisting of countless wormholes and other virtual particles that pop into and out of existence. It turns out that this popping into and out of existence, this churning effect, creates a “negative energy” that we can use to stabilize any particular wormhole. Here’s how it works. The effect of virtual things popping into and out of existence at this level is a “pressure” analogous to atmospheric pressure. Two plates positioned very, very close together (but not touching) are in a zero energy state,
because nothing moves. If we set up the conditions properly, these zero-energy state plates will experience a higher “pressure” on the outside surfaces than on the inside surfaces, and they will collapse. Since they started out at a zero-energy state, while collapsing they enter a lower or negative energy state, called the Casimir Effect. It sounds like fantasy, but the Casimir Effect is real, measurable, and can be used under the right circumstances to stabilize a wormhole. The problem is harnessing sufficient energy to bring this whole scenario about in the first place. We’re talking about energy levels on the order of that produced by a star, something we are not even remotely capable of doing today. But it’s not impossible. One can imagine a civilization sufficiently advanced that it can generate such energy levels. These guys would be able to manipulate space-time itself, and to move about within space-time in ways we cannot even imagine.The capability to move through time, no matter how remote, raises the conundrum of paradoxes: Going back in time, killing your grandparents, so that you cannot be born, and so can’t go back in time in the first place, which means your grandparents were not killed, which means...
Imagine a wormhole so positioned that the entrance and exit are near each other, and where the entrance is in the “present,” whereas the exit is a second or so in the “future.” Now imagine shooting a billiard ball into the entrance at such an angle that the exiting ball (the same one) will strike itself on its path toward the entrance, deflecting it from entering the wormhole in the first place. Kip Thorn and colleagues have calculated that there simply is no angle where this can happen. Every possible angle causes the exiting ball to miss the ball rolling toward the entrance. In this instance, at least, the universe absolutely prevents a paradox. Nevertheless, we still are faced with the consequences of killing the grandparent, since one can imagine no method of “preventing” the action that does not require intervention of something or someone. String theory, which is the current explanation of how the universe really works, supplies an interesting answer. In this approach, every time a “decision” is made, the universe branches or splits into two separate time lines, something that happens countless trillions of times each microsecond. This results in a “multiverse” with virtually infinite branches that are
multiplying with bewildering speed at a hyperexponential rate. In this scenario, time travel is not back and forth movement in Newton’s or even Einstein’s river of time, but rather it is movement between the bewildering multiplicity of an infinity of timelines. Thus, you can kill your grandparents without affecting yourself, since “they” are grandparents to another person occupying another timeline. Killing them causes “his” extinction, but not yours. Get it? If this stuff is true, then where are the “visitors”? Why are we not seeing people, or beings, or things from the far future? Do the math. Our timeline is one of a virtual infinity of timelines. What are the odds of these visitors from the far future choosing the line we happen to occupy? Do the math again, and assume that these visitors actually will visit us. The question is when? Since
they appear not to have visited us before this moment, we can expect them to arrive at any future moment - of which a great many lie ahead of us. Even a very short-term examination of this problem gets one deeply enmeshed in a swirling infinity of timelines and possibilities. Working through this problem redefines the concept of a Herculean task. It also highlights the value of living a day at a time, since time waits for no man...although it does meander, swirl around, and even circle back on itself, and it splits faster than a crazy woodcutter.
Robert Williscroft http://argee.net/
Nice Up the Walls
From the drizzle swept streets of London to the sun kissed sands of Jamaica comes a superbly ambitious project to build cultural connections and open creative possibilities. Artists Masai and Zina embarked on the first stage of a project by taking colour, vibrancy and open hearts to Jamaican walls and feeling out the response before accelerating into regular residencies and community based art projects. Bringing together sensitive aesthetic ideas that contribute to rather than colonise the landscape, the project is ultimately looking to build an ongoing creative dynamic where a medium is shaped by collaboration rather than shipped in wholesale. Where artists and kids alike bounce ideas and techniques into a new take on freestyle expression. We caught up with them for a word as the mission moves into Phase 2.
How did the Jamaica mission come about Masai….Essentially I have been wanting to build a school in Jamaica for a very long time, that idea combined with a desire to travel and paint. The bitter winter we experienced in London last year and stumbling pon crowdfunder kicked us in to motion. Half way through the crowdfunding we realized we didnt have the man power to stay on top of the promotion, but we remained focused and went ahead none the less… Zina…The money situation was a real struggle for us and at one point we almost cancelled the trip…over the last few years all I have heard is Louis talk about Jamaica, how amazing the people are and rich the culture is…I knew I needed to see it for myself…so I said come on lets do it…
Did you stop to wonder if this may be a cultural export that Jamaica didn’t necessarily need and how did you reconcile that within your own minds Masai… Jamaica doesn’t need street art and street art doesn’t need Jamaica. Both already exist very comfortably without each other, but when the two meet, something special will evolve. Jamaicans haven’t been brought up on graffiti; I think that the lack of Martha Coopers “Subway Art” hasn’t had the dramatic impact that the rest of the world has experienced. However Jamaicans are very aware of the hip-hop culture and love the graffiti movement; this
is evident just from being with the people. We want to inspire their visual language and help it transcribe onto their own streets. It feels as though there is a confrontation to freely express visual language with a need to survive and that is constrained by what can make money. There is an abundance of hand painted signs, memorial murals, and political campaigns within the garrisons - this makes money. Facebook networking since our return to London has proven that the islands artists want to become involved with this freedom of expression, the influential seed has been sown.
Zina… Every Jamaican we’ve talked to about the project, replies with a massive smile, a long nod and a loud ‘Yah Man’. Right now hiphop and reggae are merging with two kings - Damian Marley and Nas. I think that this will allow for more of the hip-hop elements such as street art/graffiti to impact the cities and the reggae industry. A larger city is growing within Kingston; perhaps this will encourage a creative flourish upon that environment. The Jamaican influence upon the world is massive compared to its geographical size, now it’s the perfect time to give something back. How well did you know Jamaica and how much did you have a few reference points in advance Masai…When I was 18 I visited Jamaica for the first time. I wasn’t aware of why I was going and I realize now that there is a stronger connection. I have a family that I always visit in St Mary - they are kinda like an adopted family these days and when I leave its as emotional for them as it is to me…so yeah, my ties are deep. Essentially its music that calls me to the island but now I have a greater reason to be there…to give something back. Zina…Since I’ve not been before, I felt I needed to research to find out more about Jamaica. Therefore I took on the role of organizing new links in advance of our arrival. We spent a few months trying to get in contact with businesses, record companies and schools etc. It was a bit frustrating at first as I guess their perspective on times is a bit more chilled out, “Soon come”.
Zina…We had to adapt. Due to a flight booking confusion, we weren’t allowed to bring our spray paint across. I think by overcoming this mayjor equipment setback, presented surprising opportunities. Working only with materials that are provided by the island, turned out to be a healthy problem to be confronted with. What was the overriding vibe you felt from the people there
Zina.. To question and reason, it’s the Jamaican way. This attitude could become an avenue that incorporates street art culture. The questioning of everyday life, “Babylon” and the people around them, meant that what we did out there was met with a desired reasoning. Their overriding positive attitude Most of our replies came just a couple weeks before our trip, but it was reassuring to finally towards life, will no doubt shine in unique get some response. Once we had confirmation ways through urban art. of wall space from Tuff Gong, Help Jamaica and Black Scorpio, we knew we could pull this off. Masai… Jamaicans definitely love a good debate. Im sure that this is due to the media Did your art adapt and change and government restricting their way of
live. Its to no surprise that they met us with bewildered looks when they discovered that what we were doing was a completely selfless act. Soon as that message was understood they embraced us in ways I hadn’t expected.
Tell us about painting Tuff Gong Masai…well we had already pre organized via emails with lorna head of the studio to come and paint their walls. She was very excited to welcome us and we were equally excited to be painting in such an incredible environment. We spent two long days in the sun, painting. We were very fortunate to then be invited by intense TVJ to be a part of their broadcasting.
http://televisionjamaica.com/Programmes/ Intense.aspx/Videos/16105 Zina…yeah being at tuff gong was like witnessing a part of reggae history, we even got to hang out with a view artists in the recording studio…and of course we also ended up spending the day at the museum for the bob Marley Earthday celebrations which was an incredible experience and I loved being a part of the tru RASTA vibe
Cut any dubplates? Masai… well not this time but next trip u never know…
How well did you connect with the schoolkids Creativity has always been a key possibility for Jamaican youth to succeed – especially Masai…I run youth workshops In London so through music – how much is art taught, im pretty clued up with my yout, but I don’t accepted and recognized there and do you normally teach in such big classes. My good feel that carving a career as a painter could friend, whom I stay with, Eve, teaches at be an option for some of the school kids Gayle high school so on previous trips I have today also joined in on some classes. The cool thing Masai…the day we were teaching we had a about teaching in small towns is you see the couple older students come back to school kids around and they shout out to you all the specifically to meet us, to show their artwork. time, “Yo teach, wha gwan” I found this really important; they wanted I like that it makes me feel a part of the to understand if their art could take them community. to newer grounds. There are visual art institutes in Jamaica, but I think they could be run in more inspiring ways. The artists on Zina… it’s actually the first time that I have island focus their energies on tourism and I ever taught, so I was a bit nervous at first think that that is far too restricting. I aim to but I felt i did a good job and doing it with establish an art institute in Jamaica that will Louis made it less stressful. The kids were work with international artists on residency. I really hungry to learn and so engaged with want to prove to the island that a career can the workshop. I really enjoyed the Jamaican be paved via visual expression, as opposed kids, not just in the school but also when they to commercial expression. Equally I know where chattin with me whilst I was painting… that there is a unity that needs to be reached between the music and visual art. How many
really good reggae album sleeves have you seen? It’s a part of the music industry in Jamaica that needs some serious updating. Coincidently whilst out there we learnt that this is something that Damian Marley Is very aware of at the moment. Which is a good thing because anything he does has a direct impact.
How inclusive was the painting process were you jamming with the people around you or did you sometimes feel slightly as if you’d steamed their community
Is there a certain freedom to painting within a Jamaican rhythm of life
Zina…so true, yuh seh me?
Zina… I think that when your away from your home environment its exciting seeing how the work can evolve and that obviously has to work in conjunction with the country your painting in…Jamaica is a very easy going country but the people are proud, and question everything, therefore the painting has to interrelate with their culture. Masai…all I say is that it felt good to simmer down from London life, although only one month…I needed longer, Linda will tell you I was still running around to much…hahaha..
Masai… mi nah ever felt like I an I been nuttin but a part of Jamaica from da first day mi a set foot pon the land. Nah fe real it’s a tru ting, by painting within the communities only made us feel more connected with the people.
How much did the experience change you as people Masai… I’m still me, perhaps feel slightly healthier for some funshine… Zina… Well I just feel like I wanna travel the world more and keep painting. How important is respecting cultural context and not just sticking something very Londoncentric up
Masai… Its imperative. We knew that from the start and we maintained that element in as much as we could. Even when the people didn’t know what the animal was I was painting they knew the fabric patterns were African and that meant that they could continue to relate to what was taking over their walls. Zina…I cant stress how important it is, especially when its not being done in that country already. Is there a danger of that if more and more artists started painting there Masai…it has crossed my mind but I think that
anyone coming over to paint will realize that and I can’t see that a problem will arise. Any classic stories that spring to mind Masai…not so much a story but a lesson… make sure the wall ur painting, that you thought you had permission to paint on, is owned by the person giving you the green light…nuff said… What is the next step Zina… Now, back in London we are working towards putting on a show that documents
Zina… we made a cool film of the experience too which you can see on you tube and if you keep an eye on our blogs you will find updates on the show and print releases that will all be One more - How do you see the current social in conjunction to the trip. and political landscape in Jamaica http://www.youtube.com/ the trip, after that we will revisit Jamaica with a bigger group of artists to do a bigger ting.
Masai… it’s a new government, so Jamaica is changing but that implication takes time to set in, I guess in England we are currently expressing that same element in effect. The good thing is that it’s the first people elected government and that says a lot. This year also sparks a 50 year anniversary of independence and the Jamaicans love the Olympics so I think this land is in high spirits. What is for sure is that the music will always depict what is going on in Jamaica’s politics; the music is what made the island what it is and will always use this to depict how Jamaican life is. It aint no bed of roses everyman have to fight for his voice to be heard.
Glittering with atmospheric menace, coruscating, primal beats shot through the hadron collider of precision synthesis and shape shifting basslines, Phace and Misanthrop have morphed their individual sounds into a pulsating new unity. The two pillars of cutting edge German and international drum n bass are firing up the protons with their new project - Neosignal.
energy and subliminal dynamics, as concept riccochets through the senses snatching conceptual visions from the mind’s eye.
Soundscaping, dreamscaping, mindscaping, we’re far from the realm of the straight up banger here. Art engineered through science and soul captured through elaborate synthesis, we’re talking mercurial shadows of a an almost science fiction like organics The clue is in the name. Crafting a new matrix - technology harnessed to send a signal through the labyrinths of synesthesisa and with laser guided strikes to the cortex, their transmit direct to the world. We had a chat. molten soundscapes crackle with futuristic
What were the roots of drum n bass in Germany and how did it take hold PHACE: Heading way back in time, it all really started around 1993 with the Prodigy and the early happy, breakbeat jungle sound starting to hit the continent. The core of the scene as far as I remember, was based around the Mannheim and Frankfurt region where we had a constant flow of international DJ’s coming through to play and where the heart of it all in Germany really started to beat. As the scene developed after that initial explosion, I think it hit its peak between 1996 and 2002 after which the hype certainly died down a bit, but the essence kept on going strong. MISANTHROP: I actually discovered drum n bass through my sister who was really into the happy hardcore sound, and when I first heard the early strains, it just smacked me sideways. It was so energizing and dynamic and I just plugged straight in from there and followed it through jungle – the LTJ Bukem jazzier stuff and the harder stuff coming out of Germany like Alec Empire. I have serious memories of the Mannheim scene too – it’s certainly not as strong there as it was back then – but that influx of acts on the cutting edge really helped the scene build deep foundations. I still remember people like Ed Rush and Optical coming over and the effect it had and it was just a case of taking it and putting our own spin on it from there.
How did you both begin to develop as producers and hone your own sounds PHACE: I started as a raver going out to pretty much every party that went off and found myself getting hopelessly addicted both to the music and to the scene. There came a point where I realised how deeply I wanted to contribute, so I started Djing and avidly collecting vinyl, and after a fair while playing out and loving it, it wasn’t quite enough anymore - I needed to be making my own music. I guess I must’ve been about 18 when I began dabbling in production on my PC, and after reading everything I could get my hands on and teaching myself breakthrough by breakthrough, I finally hit my stride and it’s been a wild ride ever since. MISANTHROP: It was all about experimenting at the start. I was buying an awful lot of vinyl but while I obviously liked all the stuff I was collecting – there was something missing – a sound that I couldn’t find, that I would have to start making myself if I ever wanted to hear. My father had these old tape
Top right - (c) by Daniel Harde
machines and I started playing around with cut out samples and putting tiny fragments randomly together. I had so much fun with it that I started to progress onto hardware. I got myself an Emu sampler and an Atari ST and began developing, but when you catch production fever, there is this tendency to turn into a ‘gearslut’. You just want more – more synths, more drum machines, more outboard processors – more more more, and there was definitely an element of that – but it was that desire to see the sound in my head rock a dancefloor that really drove me on.
How did the two of you connect up and start to form a partnership PHACE: We’d both been producing separately for a while. We were living about 3 hours apart and didn’t know each other – never met a party even in passing, but came across each other totally by chance on the Dogs on Acid forum. There we were – two guys in Germany – really not so far apart, making a similar style of music – and fate took its course. So we decided to try meeting up at a party in
Mannheim , and ended up having so much fun, and getting on so well, on so many levels, that it was a natural progression to try and work on some music together. And now look where we are – I mean – he’s my best friend. MISANTHROP: It was crazy that all this came through a random meeting online. There was an instant symbiosis when we did first get into the studio – I felt like Florian could pick up a half finished production I was working on, understand it and continue it in a way I felt totally happy and comfortable with. We were completely on the same wavelength, and things took on a speed and a momentum compared to our own individual projects and we’d be finishing stuff incredibly quickly. As Florian mentioned – there was enough physical distance between us to only make weekend meetings every few weeks practical, so we would contribute stuff and listen back to each others stuff through the internet until we reached the point where we could actually be sat in the same studio regularly. But you know – it’s an amazing feeling to work with someone so like minded in so many ways.
How important is it to have themes beyond just the musical – a vision, an image, a sense of touching a concept that you then build a soundtrack for or channel the production process through. PHACE: It’s critical for us, and as far as we’re concerned – visual goes hand in hand with audio so we try and draw inspiration from any form of art or media. Whether it be a great film or a stunning piece of architecture, there’s so much feeling you can pull from it and redirect into our own projects. We love conceptual things – taking an idea, developing a framework around it and working within that structure to thread offshoot ideas together and fill out a new picture. We don’t really just sit down and jam – we like to have a firm idea – a tangible end in mind to avoid getting lost! MISANTHROP: It really is critical. Less so at the beginning when we would just work a vibe, but now, we really sit down before starting a track and decide our thematic focus. And as Florian said – the inspiration could be anything – say something as normal
as a sports car – you’re then looking for noises with a sense of a revving motor – for acceleration, sharp braking, clean curves – whether it be heavily researched sampling or heading into the synth envelopes with an idea. And the visual concept runs through all our stuff – we try to put out a video with every track because it just creates a holistic piece rather than having the visuals abstracted through the music. Which is great too!!
How much is building a soundscape rather than say laying a leadline on top of a fat bassline at the core of what you do. PHACE: Ambience is key – setting a vibe – setting a mood. We both respond to similar emotions and moods, so rather than hammer out where our common ground is, it happens organically, and the knobs just click naturally into a place that we’re both feeling. Soundscaping is very much what we do and what a lot of people recognize our music for - a cinematic ambience with a very individual sense of soul. And music needs a
soul beyond anything else – there is nothing more important than harnessing soul – it’s the magic element. MISANTHROP: It goes back to the overall theme permeating every element of a track. But there’s all kinds of other factors that define the soundscape – a fundamental one being attention span. You can’t get too self indulgent – it has to work on a dancefloor and so you find yourself chopping out 16 bars or adding a new ingredient in a certain way to keep the attention span locked and when you’ve nailed a musical representation of an idea, you’ve brought a visual to sonic life, when every element sits perfectly and it all works as a piece of dance music as well as a mental and emotional journey – you have a soundscape.
It’s interesting – where is the balance for you between dark menace and positive energy within your drum n bass PHACE: That’s a tough one. You can create happiness without being cheesy – without being too obviously ‘here is your cue to be happy’. I just don’t relate to music that feels too cheesy – too designed to pander to accepted notions of happiness. Maybe it’s who I am – maybe it’s where I was born – maybe it’s the music that I like – but ultimately it comes down less to ‘happy music’ than music that speaks and creates positivity through different triggers – from darker vibes executed with technical perfection that give positivity through feeling or even music that makes you laugh. MISANTHROP: And if you just make a through and through dark tune, it loses some of its impact because there is no sense of light and shadow. A softer bridge will accentuate the incoming darkness of a drop through a yin yang dynamic that strengthens both fundamentals – and the whole- by playing them off each other.
How do you see the balance between art and science
stuff – so much EQing – so much mono / stereo – so much dynamic processing, but you know – I think we just like that. We love MISANTHROP: Because we always try and technology, and the thing about production keep a conceptual focus on everything we is that if you really know your tools, it leaves do, the deeper you get into an idea – into a you so much more space to be creative as theme, the more those lines get blurred. What you can home in on a certain sound in your starts out as an artistic idea takes on more head rather than working off trial and error or and more aspects of scientific perception as just sitting down to paint without a clear idea you try and learn the nature of that idea and of how to best manipulate ideas into reality. express it through cold technology. It’s almost Now that approach can have great results as as if the process gets more and more scientific experimentation can lead you into areas you’d as the music gets constructed – and then as all never consciously explore, but there comes the pieces come back together into a whole – a point where you just need the ability to it’s suddenly back in the artistic realm. translate ideas effectively and open up more space for creative thinking rather than being focused on how to bend the machines to a How do you construct such precisely certain point. We do put a lot of detail into our designed layers of detail and manage them productions and there is a lot of control , but systematically of course if you want soul – there’s only so far technology alone can take you. Wisdom has PHACE: Our production projects are pretty its place but wisdom alone does sacrifice raw big it has to be said and they can be difficult to emotion. navigate sometimes. There’s so much intricate
So you’re already collaborating as Phace and Misanthrop – what was the drive – what was the creative vision to rename the partnership Neosignal and start the label. PHACE: We’ve been producing separately and together for quite a while now, and we formed the label Neosignal in 2008 and created everything from scratch – the brand, the look, the visuals – the whole feel of the label to represent us. It worked really well and built a strong following, but as time went on, we found ourselves wanting to get outside the genre box and release some bass music, some broken stuff – any kind of electronic music from across the spectrum, and at that point, we decided the project needed a new name in its own right. It was clear to us that we needed to be called Neosignal as well to demonstrate that we’re fully behind the label and it’s not a side project or simply a vehicle for releases. It’s a way for us to explore new fields and really fire ourselves up to create fresh energy and new ideas.
the variables – it has to be your own. We are German after all!!! We always want to have control!! And as Florian said – we want to be making music in a whole range of genres and tempos and our individual identities are very tied to drum n bass so using Neosignal as a band name allows us the freedom to have a catch all umbrella to build all kinds of projects under and take on stage.
The last EP was tremendously successful and featured collaborations with Noisia – how’s the relationship and will you be working on more projects together in the future
PHACE: We met the Noisia boys a couple of years ago and we’ve been firm friends ever since. We’re definitely going to continue working together when the time is right. They’re busy and we’re busy but we always manage to find a couple of windows during the year to sit down and get in the studio together. It’s a strong friendship above and beyond a production relationship, which MISANTHROP: Obviously we both released gives it much more weight and we’re looking a lot on other labels, but it was always going through the filter of that label’s identity. When forward to getting some projects together very soon you release on another label – you may have creative freedom on the music – maybe even neosignal.de the cover art – but if you really value the way an overall experience unfolds and control all
The idea of categorising and filing Logan Hicks away as a ‘street artist’ is absurd on a number of levels - just the thought of pigeon holing alone leaves a bad taste. But then, in many ways, that’s exactly what he is. He brings the streets, the shadows, the crevaces, the muffled sirens, the echoes and the urban malestrom into a silent dreamscape of reflection and exploration. Meticulously cut stencils nod knowingly to the photographic and sweep off into a visual poetry wrought from iron, hewn from concrete and sculpted out of the myriad stories that play out on it’s stones. Fire escapes tangle into chaos, tunnels envelop insight in mystery, subway trains clatter through a suspended night and the patchwork of human monuments
to permanence glitter in the moonlight. And then there were the African faces......... Naked streets bathe in a haunting glow - an eerie emptiness, the abandoned microcosm of the labyrinth. Ghostly figures kick humanity faintly into focus, a post industrial meditation on these bizzare organisms we have built around us to host our existence. Nostalgia’s tinge and a faint whisper of lonliness penetrates the deep colours and floats off into a secret, as the avenues of gritty realism yawn off into the vanishing point. And we’re all in there somewhere. We caught up with Logan for a word shortly before his upcoming London show to probe a little deeper.
Why were stencils such a natural fit for your character
spray paint onto the surface and there is only so much you can control. The variables like cans clogging up, the inconsistencies of the Stencils are a perfect mix of control and lack color, the change in texture of spray paint, and of control. It’s hard to explain, but for me, that the pressure and speed of the spray paint. struggle to tame something that is unable to It adds this personalized look to each piece. be tamed is where the energy comes from There are too many variables to control, so in the production of the piece. With my at some point the inability to control what is work it begins on the computer and it’s this happening becomes the dynamic that makes it sterile environment where you’re scrutinizing interesting. It’s the same with my life. You can everything, and you’re looking at every line, try and control everything around you, and every angle, every face and building and you can try to account for everything, but at the placement of everything. I spend this some point you just need to say ‘fuck it’ and incredible amount of time going over the roll with the punches. You need to try and find image with a fine tooth comb, but then when serenity in the chaos. it gets to the spraying stage, you are dumping
What are the pros and cons of an obsessive approach I don’t know both sides, I only know my side. I don’t choose to be obsessive, it’s just part of my personality make up. With art, you just need to follow your hands. You do what they tell you to do. If they tell you to work more, you do. If they tell you to make it messy, you do. If I did it any other way, it wouldn’t be my work
What do abandoned places and silent spaces mean to you It gives me a bit of solitude in busy cities. I’ve always enjoyed the juxtaposition of silence in the city. If you’re out in the country and you come across silence, you don’t really think about it because that it it’s natural setting. It’s supposed to be like that. In the city though, when things become silent, you really focus on it because it’s such an juxtaposition to the status quo. You enjoy it more than you would normally, or at least you pay attention to it. For me, I just need to get away and find those places where I am alone. I’ve always
been solitary in many ways, and if I am around too many people, or if there is too much stimulation I go a bit crazy. It’s the reason why I am never completely comfortable at art openings. I need to get away and when I find those pockets of silence in big cities, it’s like a refueling station. It helps me gain energy.
How do you infuse that sense of the haunting into your urban pieces I don’t. I just paint what I feel. I don’t try to inject any feeling, or idea into my pieces. I just paint. Its only after you’re done, and you look back on what you made can you see patterns or common ideas. I think that if you’re a happy person, you generally make happy art. If you’re a depressed person, you generally make depressed art. For me, I tend to be a reflective person, so I make reflective work. It’s not that you’re trying to make art a certain way, but the work you make is an extension of your personality and because of that the work I make reflects how I feel.
Where is the line between realism and a twist of imagination I’d like to think that realism inspires imagination. Seeing the potential in places, people, seeing how things work and letting your mind wander. Seeing a building and wondering what happens in that building, or seeing a person walk down the street and thinking about what they’re thinking, or doing, or going. That is the stuff that inspires me to think about things more.
Do you feel like you’re exploring history through the urban pieces No. Not history, but I’d like to think that I choose the situations and variables that are common to people regardless of the time period.
How much is the grittiness of East Coast urban life seared into you consciousness. Can you see yourself having had the same feel for city life if you’d grown up in say – California
Where you are raised is so much a part of your personality that you can’t figure out what life would be like if you were raised somewhere else. I like the east coast, the grit, the character, the speed, the aesthetics so that’s just part of me. I would be different if I was born in LA but who knows how in the hell that would be. Maybe I’d be more laid back, I don’t know. For me the east coast has history and layers of time that are absent from the west coast of the US. I like the dirt. I like the history and the traditions.
How much do cities have their own individual dynamics and identity They have tons. I’ve been to places where you feel like the city has more life than the people do.
Where does micro meet macro both in cities and in your work Depends. I’d like to think that there is always
a relationship with the viewer of this inner/ outer push/pull thing going on. I’d like to think that when someone looks at my work, they may be looking at some traditional cityscape, but the view, the colors, and the execution allows them to reflect. It does me at least. The idea that you can use something physical and solid to generate ideas/feelings/thoughts is interesting to me. It’s sort of like how you music or smells can transport you to a certain time. I’ve walked by a woman wearing perfume and immediately been transported to high school when I sat behind this girl who wore the most divine perfume. In some ways I feel like I’m painting stages for dreams that haven’t happened yet. I always see my work being these painted backdrops that people can inject themselves into mentally.
At the risk of using a slightly nauseating phrase – tell us about your ‘process’ from photo to finished stencil Nobody wants to hear about that and I’m bored of talking about it. I take a picture, use it to make art and somewhere along the way there is some spray paint. There are tons of videos of me flapping my gums about how I do my stuff so if someone has a hard on to know specifics they can look them up. That’s the funny thing about doing stencils. I’ve noticed that when I show my work, there is always someone who will focus only on the production. Perhaps it’s a limitation of my work, or perhaps it provides insight into the viewer. I could do the most amazing piece of work. I could paint something that was the pinnacle of my creative vision and there will always be that one guy who looks at it an immediately say ‘how many layers Is that’ or ‘what kind of spray paint do you use, what
kind of caps do you use, do you hand cut your stencils, what do you cut your stencils out of, how long does it take you to spray that out’. So I’ve just stopped answering the questions about that because it’s a rabbit hole that doesn’t end. You answer one question, and there are 10 more questions. I find it ironic because you wouldn’t go into a show of, say, Basquiat, and ask ‘what brand of paint do you use, do you use a thin or fat brush to paint this part, is this Belgium linen canvas, do you stretch your canvases yourself, do you mix your own paint?” You would talk about the artwork, not how the art was made. So I’m done with talking about how make it. It’s more interesting to talk about why I make it.
There are a few things that stand out. The Do you use any specific photographic techniques to harness the vibe you’re looking first, and the most primary thing, is that it’s just fun. plain and simple. who doesn’t like for sneaking around into places that they’re not I just shoot what catches my attention, and I supposed to be in? Second thing is that it’s keep shooting until I get a good photo of it. just a way to get away. a way to leave the The more you start thinking about what is ‘my city behind and to get out of the fish stream style’ of shooting the more you limit yourself. I of civility and stomp around in places where just shoot any and everything that catches my people don’t go. To retreat into the cracks of eye. When I get home I edit it down the pieces the city and gather your thoughts. As far as that I think would make the best pieces physically what it means to me, I have to say it’s always something you consider, but I tend to be more careful than other people i know. i How critical are colour palattes to you don’t take many chances as far as being seen, or trains passing, or anything like that. I know I’ve never been the most savvy when it comes some people are daredevils and my hat is off to color, so I’ve always had a preference for to them. For me, it’s just a pleasant distraction the monochromatic color schemes. You can from the normal routine of things. see it in how I dress, and you can see it in my work. Occasionally I use color to draw attention to something, but generally the What is the essence of architecture for you whole painting is ‘important’ so treating it with the same color scheme allows you jump I like the permanence of architecture. The into the painting mentally idea that as emotions and people flow in and What do tunnels mean to you - both physically and metaphysically
out of these structures even though they are solid, unemotional, and witnesses to life as it passes by. Like guardians to the passage of time. The idea that millions of people will go
Image is a photograph by Logan
through a building in it’s lifetime, and that the billions of stories and events that will happen within it’s walls appeals to me. There is this energy that happens. The events and life that a building stands witness to is amazing. It’s like the architecture absorbs the energy that happens around it, but they remain impartial. It’s hard to explain. Have you ever been in a room somewhere then found out that some tragic event happened there? Like if you’re in a room and someone says ‘yeah some girl got killed right over there’. There is this punch to your heart. Like you should know, or that there should be some marker to note that a life was lost, but there is not. Its’ just a stupid room like every other room, but this one has an energy because of what happened in it. When walk through the streets, I just see all these buildings and I wonder how many similar stories they hold. How many people have died, gotten beaten, killed in each room or on each street corner? How many times have guys someone found out that they are a father for the first time as they walked down a street? How many women have been proposed too, how many times has someone done something perfect for the first time and felt like they were invincible? Every square inch of the city has millions of stories to tell. In some ways I just see my work being an homage to the events that happened there before me. I see it as a reflection of the events that have come before the second I snapped a picture of a building that now stands.
How aware are you of geometrics and patterns within a whole I like the systems of order that exists in the city and I think that my work is a reflection of the type of person that I am. I try to find the equilibrium in the world. The balance between good and bad, between being a father and being an individual. Past and present, etc. The city is the same for me and I respond to the geometry of the city. It’s only natural that it works its way into my work
Tell us about the sense of loneliness in your pieces that have just the one figure set into faded, monochrome snapshots of city life I don’t see it as being lonely. I see it as being reflective. Lonely implies a sadness and I don’t see my work as being sad. I see my work as this self reflection before an event happens. Try to imagine that you’re about to climb Mt Everest. Before you begin, there is going to be this moment when you stand at the base of the mountain and you look up and you think to yourself ‘well, here it goes’. I see my work as being that moment when you’re thinking ‘can I do it’. Of trying to focus on that microsecond where you’re wondering if you move forward, or do you go back. Of course in my work it’s not such a dynamic situation, but it’s more just taking a snapshot of ordinary city life. I always walk around the city and occasionally I look at someone and just think to myself ‘I wonder what their story is’. I just stare and think to myself, I wonder if they’re happy or sad. I wonder if they’re married or single. I wonder if they’re happy with their
life or if they’re depressed. Other times I look at someone and I think to myself I wonder what’s going to happen to them today. They could step off the curb and get killed by a car, or they could walk across the street and buy a lottery ticket and become a millionaire. I think about choices often. The idea that some small event can lead to a larger one. That taking a different path to work one day can be the difference between life and death. Maybe it’s how I deal with it is by surrendering to it and acknowledging people are dancing to life without ever knowing the steps.
What do you look for in a portrait – what prompted the African series The African series came about because I had gone over to Gambia and painted there for a week. At one point we had a meeting with the Chiefs of the 14 local villages. I just thought that their faces had so much character and I wanted to capture it. They’re faces where
etched with the years they’ve lived. I thought they were beautiful and I wanted to do a portrait to show this. It wasn’t my typical style of work, but I tried to paint them as though they had the same regal posture of a stately building. I was happy with the results because you think to yourself they look like they’re staring back at you.
What does the future hold Hopefully more good stuff. I have a show in London in June at the Outsiders, and a large show in Paris at the end of September at the Opera gallery. I am finally in a good position where I can start to explore larger works and other methods of production – like Anodizing aluminum – and it’s great. I am enjoying the routine of going to the studio and putting in a full day of work and following the ideas I have in my head until they work themselves onto the canvas. I’m hoping to continue doing what I’m doing until I get tired of it
We Need to Talk About Occupy Bill Ayers interview by RSH From revolutionary to educator Bill Ayers has been at the forefront of the resistance throughout his life. In the late 1960’s Ayers was a member of the student activist movement the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and helped to form the Weather Underground out of the ashes of that former New Left organization. The Weather Underground became synonymous with the radical “direct actions” of the Revolutionary Youth Movement. Protesting against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and in support of the Civil Rights movement. Ayers spent over a decade living “underground” with his wife and Weathermen co-founder Bernadine Dorhn. After coming out of the underground in the early 1980s Ayers has been an advocate for educational reform, receiving the Chicago Citizen of the Year award for his work on public school reform as co author of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge project. A retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago Ayers is author of numerous books on contemporary education as well as a memoir of his time underground - Fugitive Days.
We spoke to Ayers about the current political stage, the Occupy movement, and the role of education in shaping the youth of tomorrow.
>> With the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements there seems to be a distinct parallel between what is happening now and what was happening in the 60s. The summer of ‘68 world uprisings, the Civil Rights movement, the general malaise with the establishment. What is your take on Occupy? BA: It’s tempting to make comparisons, but I resist. Humanity plunges forward, circumstances shift, unpredictable upheaval and fickle fate allow us to redraw the maps of the known world. What’s consistent is this: people find ways to resist what they find unjust and unacceptable—not everyone all the time, not neatly nor universally, certainly not predictably. And our responsibility—personally, collectively, generationally—also remains the same: to make a concrete analysis of real conditions, to open our eyes to the world around us, to act on whatever the known demands. We are fortunate to live at a moment when hope and history rhyme, and when a participatory, popular movement for justice and peace is in-the-making.
Occupy is an expression of hope and an invitation to pay attention at this unique and expectant moment. It’s an opening, not a destination. People naming the obstacles to their full humanity, people in motion, people growing and changing and teaching and learning are people who can storm the heavens and accomplish the previously unthinkable. And Occupy has already won, that is, the movement has changed the frame, redefined the discussion, and introduced a range of new ideas into the public square, for example: We are the 99%! Like every other movement in history, it was “impossible” the day before it burst onto the scene, and yet it seemed suddenly “inevitable” the day after. The response of the powerful follows an age-old, exhausted and predictable script: ignore them, ridicule them, try to co-opt them, and beat the shit out of them—and all four responses are still in-play. The wonder of the movement is its ability to see these moves for what they are, and to hold tight to their independent vision, unique approach, and this precious thing. 99%!
>> As American culture has evolved over the past 100 years it has gone through some abrupt shifts in ideology. Perspectives changed dramatically through the mid 20th century and yet we are now seeing a kind of cultural stagnation in which there is a growing resistance to change. The concept of America as the «melting pot» has been thrown out the window and now immigration, class warfare and economic inequality are political campaign points. Why do you think there is such a growing market for the «Us vs. Them» fear mongering we are seeing in today’s political theater? BA: I fear you’re looking at history through rosecolored glasses. There has always been resistance to change, class warfare, nativist and jingoistic attitudes, and hatred of immigrants. And at any given moment, things can indeed feel slow and stagnating in spite of the fact that chaos, turmoil, commotion, pandemonium, dynamism, zip and zing are churning just out of sight. Look again. >> Throughout the later half of the 20th century there has been a constant attack on the educational systems of the US, particularly from the far Right. As states like Texas continue to rewrite the history
books, attempt to introduce fundamentalist ideologies into schools, and challenge scientific research and facts with moral and ethical concepts based on religious belief how do you see this affecting the future of America’s youth? BA: It’s generous to call anything coming from the Right concerning the school battles “moral and ethical concepts.” These moves are ideology, unvarnished and unchained. The noisy proponents of market competition in public education have managed to push their ideology onto the agenda by the force of their wealth, certainly not because of any moral persuasion, or even the results that their schemes have produced. But the project continues, because it is dogma: faith-based and fact-free. We need to challenge the freight train with evidence and argument, and most important, with a vision consistent with our deepest democratic dreams. Education in a democracy must be distinct from education under a dictatorship or a monarchy, but how? Surely school leaders in fascist Germany or Albania or medieval Saudi Arabia or apartheid South Africa all agreed, for example, that students should behave well, stay away from drugs and crime, do their homework, study hard, and master the subject
matters, so those things don’t differentiate education in a democracy from any other. What makes education in a democracy distinct is a commitment to a particularly precious and fragile ideal, a foundational belief in the infinite and incalculable value of every human being. The implication of this for education is enormous: the fullest development of all, I believe, is the necessary condition for the full development of each, and conversely, the fullest development of each is necessary for the full development of all. Education is where we decide whether we love the world enough to invite young people in as full participants and constructors and creators; and whether we love our children enough to give them the tools not only to participate but also to change all that they find before them. Democracy, after all, is geared toward participation and engagement, and it’s based on that common faith: every human being is a unique intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, and creative force, and each one is also a piece of the many. Every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights, each is endowed with reason and conscience, and deserves, then, a sense of solidarity, brotherhood and sisterhood, recognition and respect. We focus our efforts, not on the production of things so much as on the production of fully developed human beings who are capable of controlling and transforming their own lives, citizens and residents who can participate fully in public life. Democratic
teaching encourages students to develop initiative and imagination, the capacity to name the world, to identify the obstacles to their full humanity, and the courage to act upon whatever the known demands. Education in a democracy is characteristically eyepopping and mind-blowing—always about opening doors and opening minds as students forge their own pathways into a wider, shared world. Much of what we call schooling forecloses or shuts down or walls off meaningful choice-making; much of it is based on obedience and conformity, the hallmarks of every authoritarian regime throughout history. Much of it banishes the unpopular, squirms in the presence of the unorthodox, hides the unpleasant. There’s no space for skepticism, irreverence, or even doubt. While many of us long for teaching as something transcendent and powerful, we find ourselves toooften locked in situations that reduce teaching to a kind of glorified clerking, passing along a curriculum of received wisdom and predigested and often false bits of information. This is a recipe for disaster in the long run. Educators, students, and parents press for an education worthy of a democracy, including an end to sorting people into winners and losers through expensive standardized tests which act as pseudo-scientific forms of surveillance; an end
to starving schools of needed resources and then blaming teachers for dismal outcomes; and an end to the rapidly accumulating “educational debt,” the resources due to communities historically segregated, under-funded and under-served. All children and youth in a democracy, regardless of economic circumstance, deserve full access to richlyresourced classrooms led by caring, qualified and generously compensated teachers. >> It seems that as education plays less and less of a role in the life of people in America, particularly in the south, people are turning toward the media to inform themselves. With much of the current media controlled by corporations whose bottom line is profit, disinformation has become a selling point. How does this affect political change? What ways can people educate themselves in order to be informed without falling victim to the «filter bubble» of being told what you want to hear? BA: No whining, no nostalgia…when was the Golden Age in education? When 10% graduated high school, or when racial segregation was legal? When was the media free and smart?
The reality is that everyone at all times must search for the truth from multiple sources, including first-hand participation, in an environment of mystification and lies and stupidity. Every movement has had its underground press. We must open our eyes and reinvent a media for our own uses and for our own time. Today our access to the world is unprecedented, and the capacity to speak up and speak out exceptional. Look at your own efforts right here, right now, just this. >> The SDS was a movement that grew out of dissatisfaction with the state of affairs on the mid 1960s, as it evolved it became focused on the Vietnam War and the US’s continued presence there, as well as on the civil rights movement. Do you see parallels between the SDS and the Occupy movement? Do you see distinct differences?
This was a great strength, but also a weakness: we were no longer shackled with the dead hand of the Communist Party, but we cut ourselves off from the best experiences of a generation of activists. Occupy is powered by an anarchist impulse—it rejects Stalinism, but also the idea of charismatic leaders defining the direction of the struggle. Again, this is a great strength with its own challenges. >> In the way that youth culture got behind the Civil Rights movement in the 60s the current Occupy movement is focused on Economic Rights. Do you think there is a valid comparison to be made between the US involvement in Vietnam and the way in which corporations are waging economic war on free speech and constitutional rights now? Are Economic Rights as pertinent as Civil Rights? BA: No. Yes.
BA: SDS was part of the “New Left.” We were defining ourselves as participatory and peace and justiceoriented, as well as an opening of a public space for the expression of a million grievances and our wildest dreams. We were in opposition to capitalism and the political establishment, but also to the “Old Left” of Stalinism and centralized and organizational dogma.
>> Much of the current Occupy movement has been a passive protest movement that attempts to avoid violence, yet these protestors have been met with an increasingly militarize police force that seems bent on violent interactions. Do you think the role of authority is shaping the relationship between the protestors actions and the police actions?
BA: I wouldn’t call the movement “passive.” Sitting in your chair, hip and cynical, sucking on a pipe and doing nothing is passive. Power is based on violence no matter how calm things appear; when effectively challenged it always bears its teeth.
off-spring of the events abroad. Remember too that Tunisia was more than that famous self-immolation. Wikileaks released documents that enraged the Tunisians. The US continues to imprison and torture Bradley Manning who initially leaked the papers.
>> Outside of the US there has been a wide ranging series of uprisings, particularly the in Middle East. Governments like Tunisia and Egypt have been fully overthrown/removed and the politicians/dictators are currently being brought to justice. While this is happening at the same time as Occupy, the approach and the scope of those involved in the Arab Spring uprising are radically different and much more popular, with tens of thousands of people taking over Tahir Square, as opposed to low thousands at most in the US. Do you feel the situations outside the US are so different that they provoke a larger response or is it that American’s themselves are less likely to go to the streets in order to affect change?
Before Tahrir Square, those kids were seen as crummy, passive, stupid, uninvolved, apolitical, and irrelevant. No more. They changed themselves/they began to change the world. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and it’s always thus: look at Mississippi in 1963, South Africa in 1985, Tianenman Square in 1989, and on and on.
BA: The Arab Spring is still in play, and it has not fully accomplished anything. Stay posted. Occupy is also in-the-making, a work-in-progress, and surely an
This article originally appeared on NO CTRL: goo.gl/ZJuba
ADW (Assault with a Deadly Weapon) is one of the most infamous street artists on the Irish scene at the moment. His pieces, which appear with a bewildering frequency, attack the Church, Ireland’s politicians and poke fun at various parts of Irish culture. Although he has only been active for a few years, his work is some of the most recognized in Dublin. In fact when David McWilliams, a doompreaching economist in Ireland who’s gloomy predictions turned out unfortunately to be all too true, decided to use a graffiti-based intro
to his new lectures on “Punk Economics” he signs the graffiti piece DMW in an obvious tribute. When even the economists are referencing you, you know you’ve reached infamy! I met up with ADW recently to talk to him about life as a street artist in a country where rebellion has always been part of the national psyche.
What is your background? Did you come from a company doing architectural visualizations. an artistic discipline or is this a completely But then the economy collapsed and one new direction for you? by one everyone in the company was let go. Luckily though, as the work dried up, it My background was in animation and meant that I was able to start work on my computer animation. There was a really good own pieces. I actually ended up being paid for course in Ballyfermot which whipped is into about six months while I was developing my shape really well! I worked in England for a art ideas. I remember one of my first pieces while and then moved back to Ireland just as being designed on work computers! the Celtic Tiger was beginning and worked for
It sounds a bit clichéd but I totally believe that everything was building up to me going out on my own as an artist. All the skills I learned, the Photoshop skills, scalpel and card work are all part of my work every day. And I’ve never been happier. I love working on my own. I have a smoke, blast out the tunes and I’m happy for a few hours! I mean don’t get me wrong, it was hard losing my job. It’s very hard if you get these knocks in life to deal with them, to be able to pick yourself up. I find for me the only way to deal with the disappointments is to throw yourself into your work. It’s giving two fingers to whatever set you back. You get stuck in. You actually do something and then you can stand up, get your two fingers and say “Here’s me! Fuck You!” to the lot of them. What is the Irish Street Art scene like? The Irish scene is amazing at the moment. It’s blossoming and still growing all the time.
I’m actually showing some work in a group show right now with other Irish artists Fink, Solus, Adrian & Shane, KARMA, Littleman and Art of the Heid. There is such a buzz in the street art scene and with events like Dublin Contemporary coming along it means that there will be more and more legal walls becoming available. Artists like Conor Harrington are coming over and painting huge murals and pushing the boundaries of what can be done in the street. Who do you look up to and draw inspiration from in your art? There are so many but for me I really draw inspiration from the graff scene in Ireland. I love that these kids are getting out there and just doing it. A new kid on the scene called ROBOT recently did some amazing work. And other established graff artists like CISTO are always great. I just love the ballsiness of it. I pass by sometimes going “I wish I’d found a route up there!” I’m just sorry I don’t live on the train line so I could see these pieces all the time.
I like painting. Simple as! Whitewash was an indoor event so you could only use paints and rollers so that was different for me. I just Blu always surprises me with his work, and ROA is someone whose work really pushes the want to be pushing the boundaries each time and learning something new. I wouldn’t be boundaries. The Colin Day video of his work growing as an artist if I wasn’t getting out and for Warholian was just so beautiful. The way trying these different events. he had pieces split across several panels so you only saw the full piece as you walked by. It’s much more than just images on canvas. Live painting can be a bit daunting and a bit nerve-wracking. But I appreciate people liking DMC is great too, the more I see of his work and wanting to see the process, to see how the more I admire him. I got to meet him a it’s done. For the opening of the group show few times recently too, he’s a really nice guy. on Thursday I decided to do a live paint on the street outside. I did a piece called “Living with Obviously Banksy too. Not just for stencils the Infected”. There ended up being fifty or and spray-paint, but for the perception of sixty people standing behind me. Cars couldn’t what artwork could be, what it could mean. Not even in just the street art sense, but get past. It wasn’t exactly low-key! A police car the themes that were in it, the humour, the passed by but I just kept the head down and luckily they kept on going. honesty and the political awareness. You’ve had two solo shows, “Stensual” and “Pricks and Mortar”, you are constantly putting work on the street and you’re also a regular at Graffiti Jams like Whitewash and Kings of Concrete. Which do you prefer?
There was a fine-art exhibition going on at the time a few doors up fromme and they didn’t know what to make of it. A piece of artwork was being created for free and everyone was getting to see it being made. And meanwhile those guys were selling their stuff for thousands.
When you’re out on the street, or painting at a Graffiti Jam or a festival, it must be difficult to remain anonymous. Everyone has a camera on them these days. Do you find it tough? To keep the face? Yeah, for these jams you just know the setup, so it is a case of keeping the head down, not making eye contact and hoping. There was one last year, where a guy had a video camera and was circling all the way around me and coming closer. I asked him to only take pictures from behind me but he kept going so in the end I had to stop painting and tell him to fuck off! But yeah it’s a problem as I don’t like painting with a mask or respirator. It might seem a bit pedantic to try to maintain anonymity but it’s important. Not necessarily for what I’ve done already but for what I could do in the future! Have you had any arrests or any run-ins with the police?
No arrests but a few incidents all right. I think the most hassle I got was probably when I was doing a legal piece called “Labelz” for a mental health charity. The police wouldn’t believe it was legitimate and kept hassling me. I mean it was madness, I had a ladder and a cherrypicker and it was being done in broad daylight. What the hell were they thinking I was at!? And how about reactions from the public? If you’re doing something illegal the last thing you want to be doing is standing there talking to someone. Last Tuesday night when I was doing the “PoliThicks” piece I had all the stencils laid out and was about to stick them up when this drunk guy come along and started going “Maaan this is amazing! You cut all this and you’re going to spray it? Total respect!” I had to tell him to keep going and get rid of him! And of course there was that woman who butted in when I was doing the Gil Scott Heron piece.
Tell me how that piece came about. I had spotted the site months before. It was too perfect not to have something on it. I was trying to think what to do to make use of the amazing New York sign. At the time I was listening a lot to the Gill Scott Heron remix album by Jamie xx of The xx. And “New York is Killing Me” is the stand-out track on that album. And then Gill passed away last year and I just knew I had to do it as a tribute to him. In my mind I wanted to create a video to go with the song, a time-lapse of me putting the piece up. It was a risky location, so close to Dublin’s main street but I hit it with some helpers early in the morning. All was going swimmingly and I would have been finished in another 15 minutes until a meddling old lady came across the street to get involved. We tried to bluff her but she wasn’t buying any of our patter about it being legal and she started taking photos of us all and then went to call
the police. We decided to finish the piece another day and scarpered. It’s funny because all of this is caught on the video www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYGJ1bFLw9U We returned a few weeks later and finished the piece off. But by that time it had gathered so much attention that within three days it had been buffed back to the corrugated iron. Was it gutting that it got scrubbed so quickly A bit I suppose, especially given all the time and effort that went into it. Not just from me but from the other people involved. It would have been nice to see it last longer and get some more exposure. But at the end of the day I got what I needed, the video was my original aim. Once I had that, whatever happened to the piece afterwards was less important. The piece ended up being shared by a load of
websites. Gil Scott Heron’s Facebook page put it up and within an hour it had 400 or 500 likes and about 40 shares. So it was amazing to see that. So what are your plans for 2012? I don’t have anything definite mapped out yet. I’ll be in another group show this summer and I hope to do a few of the festivals and jams. I’m always thinking of possible street pieces too. Especially as the European Fiscal Policy referendum is coming up. I don’t put work on the streets if I don’t think that people can relate to it or can appreciate it. I’m not writing ADW on the wall without something that’s hopefully thought-provoking. Happily right back since my early pictures of our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern people seem to have connected with what I’ve done. And that has always spurred me on to the next piece. If the feedback was shit I’d be thinking twice about putting work out there.
Hurling 720 aerials through sensory onslaught, and whipping up into a backside spin on technicolour bass, Urban Knights are on fire. With a driving passion for coruscating electro thunder, vivid shards of vibrating video and Alpine ski slopes apparently, Benny Kane and Dr Specs are blowing a sub bass shaped hole in minds and bodies alike. Blistering urban beats slapped down large and charged with turntablist havoc tripping a b boy fly, just the music alone is an avalanche of dancefloor destruction. But thatâ€™s only one side of this endlessly revolving coin.
Building a show from the ground up that interweaves audio and video into one throbbing whole, their focus has sharpened into the realms of overall experience. Graphics, geometrics, torrid tunnels of tumultous tones and ludicrous outakes of pop culture gone mental all fuse together into a straight up journey into synesthesia. Held together by a superbly ADHD sense of electric comedy and the wonderfully absurd and always skidding up on the right side of the overly arty line, this is some proper rave magic right here. We caught up with the lads somewhere between ski and surf and had a quick word.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you came together Dr Specs: I grew up in SW London and moved to Bristol to pursue higher education. Whilst there, my love of hip-hop drove me to the type of places that Benny was playing.” Benny: I was doing student club nights in Bristol and DJing when Klaud came on board to help with the events. We then moved onto bigger events and eventually into 2000 person capacity shows every week until it just reached a point where we had to come up with bigger ideas for the bookings we were getting and to entertain people. Through that we booked Mike Realm, but after having seen his show, we thought we could do it in a more tailored way which would work better for our audience.
When did the idea for full blown AV start to really take hold for you Benny: We’d already incorporated visuals into our set and then when we saw Mike Realm’s
show we moved into using DVJ turntables which are audio/visual combined. This is back in 2006 and he was mixing and scratching video, it was incredible to see, amazingly cool, but in terms of the crowd demographic he was performing it to and the crowd who were performing to were very different - they didn’t understand it, they weren’t into the music he was playing and they didn’t get the film clips that he was using - it went over their heads. We knew we could create a show that was more tailored to our audience, both with music and film clips that were relevant to our audience, just making it more accessible and in a way for our crowd to enjoy.
How does video change the dynamics of a dancefloor Dr Specs: All your senses are stimulated at once, and the combination of both makes for a bigger and better set.
Benny: Using visuals combined with audio means you can do things such as accentuating rises and drops in tunes. You can visually perform and see the scratch technique happening, you can do stuff to blow people’s minds, so they think ‘how the hell is that happening?’. We’ve always been about the show – there is an aspect of stand and stare with AV shows and we’ve always looked to minimise that and make it more about the experience, using samples in the breakdown sections of a tune and having them as entertainment pieces.
How do you adapt your video to changing flows in the music Benny: The video and the visuals are there to compliment the sounds – it’s there to enhance what’s happening in the music – when there’s a rise, things are chopped up, fast paced and then on a drop there’s an explosion of colour, visuals. It’s effective to use samples in the music breakdown as it draws everyone back in to the focal point on the stage and it’s important for the build up, bringing everyone’s attention back and involving them in the drop. It creates a real unison with the audience.
How much do you structure the syncs between your video and your audio and how much of it is open to improvisation Dr Specs: We’ve got a puzzle-like structure that works. We need to create a constant flow with the show so we don’t lose tempo and so on that level, the syncs are structured, but with music constantly changing we’re forever bringing in new tunes, and new samples. On a four-turntable set-up we have the flexibility to bring in and improvise.
How important is a sense of humour Dr Specs: Sense of humour is massively important. We want people to leave the show
feeling good about themselves – and the best way to do that is to have a good time and a giggle. Benny: It’s fundamental. A major part of our UK ethos is not to take ourselves too seriously, have fun with the show and fun with music. Are attention spans getting ever shorter in an age of total media saturation, and how do you stay on the right side of the saturation / wicked piece of art line Dr Specs: In an age where everything is totally accessible at the click of a button, the iPod generation, YouTube culture, it means that we have to keep up with trends – especially with an AV show. 50% of the show is behind you so it makes total sense for us to have a show that’s current and up to date. It’s massively important to keep it fresh.
Is anything fair game Dr Specs: It’s fair game if it applies to what we’re doing. We don’t like to cause controversy for the sake of it – it’s about being entertaining not offensive.”
What possibilities does video scratching open up Benny: Video scratching brings hip-hop elements back into the performance, and for us brings back the whole culture of scratching and juggling and the performance aspect of DJing. To us that side of it doesn’t seem to be a part of the next generation of DJs. With things like Beat Sync Buttons in software programs, I’ve seen a lot of new DJs who are stretched to be able to beat-match if you took away their toys. Dr Specs: Being able to see visual scratching in the show, and accentuate a scratch, brings it all back to life – it brings people back into the performance and watching it as a show.
What other tricks of technology are in the bag Benny: The advancement in technology has moved everything to software, which means a more manageable and easier show for us kit-wise. It’s better for us as we’re more mobile and can take the show to more places, especially abroad.
Dr Specs: In the start we were using hardware (DVJs), because that’s all you could use!! It was harder in terms of performance though as the kit was so specialist, we’d have to bring it all with us when we got a booking. When you start to run into those problems abroad as well, where the promoters don’t have access to the equipment, it’s just better to have everything synced, set up and ready to go on your laptop so you can plug into some industry standard CDJs and you’re ready to go.
Tell us a little about your musical evolution from hip hop into the bass heavy slammers Benny: We started playing hip-hop, garage, and drum n bass – and that naturally moved into breaks, with people like the Stantons, Krafty and the Plumps using hip-hop acapellas over breaks and electro. Breaks then started to evolve more into jacking house that led to the bassline/dubstep stuff that we play today. Now it’s one umbrella –bass-heavy music, and it’s something that’s followed us into our production
How important are vocal elements to what you do Benny: Samples are a very important part of making our set, so the vocal aspect there is important. Dr Specs: Using the mic and engaging with the crowd is very important for us as well – it’s all about creating a vibe of being together, we’re here to party as well and we’re gonna play you some dope tunes and go nuts! We want to let the audience know we’re as hyped as them Where are the visual inspirations coming from day to day Dr Specs: Everyday life inspires us – whatever we see and think is relevant and exciting. It’s our take on art. Day to day culture impacts us significantly with anything from graffiti to seeing a skateboard trick — whatever takes our fancy!
Do you adapt content in different countries Dr Specs: We do have to adapt slightly when we’re abroad as no two places are the same. We recognise that every country has a sound or flavour and we can’t expect one size to fit all. At the same time it is still about us sticking true to our sound, but means that we potentially might play more of one genre than another depending on where we are. Benny: We play such a broad variety of music, but for example we know that dubstep is more popular in the UK whereas in Europe our sets are more house-led – either way the hip-hop elements are always there.
What’s the last year been like for you Benny: The last few years we’ve really concentrated on the production side – creating releases, remixes and collaborations, It’s another aspect of our live show – and we see the future moving to be more live PA led, meshing this element into our existing framework. With the production it’s been
important to create music that represents the sounds and styles that we play and it’s getting exciting now to be putting out tracks that are going to represent us.
Where do you go from here – what’s next on the creative agenda Benny: To the pub! Haha Dr Specs: No seriously, for us it’s about the show becoming bigger and better, and to become one of the most anticipated live shows around.”
With rich, delicate swirls of texture folding endessly back in on themselves, Astroâ€™s work races through breakneck motion and breathless kinetics while always holding an elegance and a soft ripple of grace. Honing a gorgeously original lettering style that reworks the concept of calligraphy into a stunningly modern context, his ribbonlike flourishes of exquisite form whirl into the groove between the ancient and the arrestingly futuristic. Curling into a slender dance of form his pieces have a light, deliciously fluid harmony to them that make them absolutely unmistakeable, and make his work disarmingly original and consistently fascinating.
Astro and long time best mate and painting partner Kanos have long pioneered the idea of Cellograff. Using cellophane stretched to its limit, the use of a temporary, mobile surface has allowed them to pose entirely new questions about the art / vandalism debate and paint in some really quite extraordinary places from the Eiffel Tower to the embankments in the very centre of Paris. Removing the permanence and the percieved need for buffing, they have opened new doors into ways of thinking about graffiti where the art is all and the fallout is non existent. And the acceptance they have recieved is an intriguing window into shifting perceptions of graff. We spoke.
Tell us a little about the rhythms and vibe of your Paris?
How did you start painting?
I began doing graffiti around 2000 and like most graffiti artists, I started doing little The feeling of Paris is very different depending signatures with my friends Esty & Pyor and on the crew you are part of. Thereâ€™s the cool slowly but surely I began to understand the and the not so cool crews! Thereâ€™s straight codes of street art. My transition from tags to up vandals on one side and graffiti artists on proper graffiti pieces was actually quite fast the other and very few legal walls for street because I had the will to achieve something artists so many tend to paint over older that required a serious investment of time and pieces. Saying that - most people are used to it effort. though. How do you feel about the power of letters in How did your style evolve? graffiti? My style and lettering evolution was inspired by calligraphy, especially the work of Alfonse Lettering offers infinite possibilities and Mucha, by monograms and by modern art in infinite ways to interpret them (they can be easily readable or almost cryptic for instance). general.
Everyone can express himself through drawing letters as they give so much flexibility and so Is the calligraphic element something youâ€™ve many options researched and worked on or is it instinctive?
I work a lot and I study calligraphy in general, not restricting myself to a single country or anything like that, but study it in general and I update the typography to contemporary standards and aesthetics.
How much time is involved for each of your pieces ? Generally I spend 6 to 8 hours on a piece but some of them have actually taken me several days.
Do you get lost in the moment and let the work that comes out surprise you ? I always approach a wall without sketches so that improvisation lets the piece change according to my mood… Even if I am drawing almost every day, when I go do the painting, I don’t take the sketches with me.
How important is the texture of a wall I don’t pay too much attention to the textures, at the moment I favour smooth walls that are not too paint thirsty.
Speaking of textures, can you tell us a little about Cellograff ? In 2009 me and Kanos came up with an innovative concept called CelloGraff. The idea was to do graffiti on cellophane. Kanos was the first one to do it when he was studying at the Beaux-Arts in 2006. This new technique allowed graffiti to exist without disrupting city life or permanently marking sensitive walls and we’ve done an awful lot of pieces on cellophane in Paris ever since
How do the the authorities react to it Generally speaking, they let us do it and they kind of like it but we have been forced to stop before and they even cut the cellophane once in the middle of a session.
Does it allow you to paint in places where it could have not been possible without it ? Yes, the cellograff is meant for that, to paint things that could have never been painted otherwise (the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Cœur, the Centre Beaubourg for instance), places that would have been totally out of reach to us if it didn’t exist. How does the paint react with the Cellophane, does it hold OK. Is it harder to paint details Paint reacts perfectly with Cellophane, there’s no reaction whatsoever, it becomes like a wall except it moves a bit because of the wall, and also the paint slips faster. Actually you’ve got to get the knack of it, but once you do, it’s really like a wall.
Do you feel like there is a point where you reach the limits of creativity and you need space and time to paint in order to break through it? Absolutely, there’s periods when my creativity is weaker which is often connected to events happening in my everyday life. In these moments I do a lot of thinking, I question my work and what my aims are. After that, I set off again!
Tell us about your work and your friendship with Kanos? Kano is an old friend of mine, we paint together, we drink together and we can talk forever! We evolved together as graffiti artists, keeping our own worlds and painting styles. We did a lot of travelling together and we want to do a lot more! He’s my landmark when I’m far from home. I love my Kanos! Do you often add characters to your letters? No, almost never, it’s really not something that inspires me or that I would want to do. I’d rather leave the characters to the people who like to do them!
Do you sometimes work motifs or symbols into your letters such are eyes for instance or is that just over-interpretation on our part? It depends on the periods but I have deliberately hidden symbols of simplified faces in my letters. It gives some more perspective and invites the spectator to discover something if he looks hard enough.
What are your plans for the next few months?
First of all, I am preparing a exhibition of my work! Also coming up are printed works on T-shirts and paper. And of course, moving into events, jams and travelling which is for me the best, travelling is the best ! Thanks to all my crew “ODV”, a special on for Esty, Kanos, Pyor, Desy. Big up to SPC and CBS posses and all the graffiti artists I’ve met!!! Thanks to LSD for having me
During the past four years in Goa, there’s been an amazing place, set in its own lagoon looking out to sea, a place where you can chill, or work from, meet interesting souls, roll a long one, listen to fantastic music, add some cool staff, great food and the atmosphere. It’s been a huge success - a place that shows the true energy of Goa…and it’s been my sanctuary. A few weeks ago they told me they were closing and not coming back next season. In fact they are going to start something new in another country! This is crazy! Why would you change such a beautifully successful thing? From a young age we are told things such as
“be satisfied with what you have” “the grass is not greener on the other side” and “don’t fix it, if its not broken” - this feels more real when you have some success, because success often makes people creatively lazy – to decide to roll the dice and start all over again takes pure courage If you are a creative human being its desire that keeps you alive and evolving. It’s difficult to stand still and be creative…all you are doing is adding to an original idea. Over a period of time this will make you less creative, less excited and ultimately it will become about money These old thoughts “be satisfied” “don’t fix it” are from a past age, when people remained in the same state without changing
- did the same job, lived in the same house and followed the status quo. The world is a complex place these days, nothing is certain anymore. Almost every business is at risk of going under; even whole countries are going bankrupt!
The world’s fragile state has made us far more emotionally and spiritually flexible. People are considering what’s important to them and making choices. It doesn’t have to be about success, fame, vanity or money – it could simply be about wanting a better life experience I know an entertainment agent who’s running an animal rescue center. A singer who opened a museum and a designer who trains birds of pray to fly alongside hang-gliders – the world is open to those who have the desire and courage to step outside their comfort zone Governments, media and big business have helped us without realizing it. They have been filling us with negatives and fear for so long, we have become accustomed to living on the edge. And on the edge you learn to acknowledge your fears, see them for the nonsense they are and eventually you will look into the unknown and see good things are possible
It will not be easy, the journey is littered with trouble and self-doubting, you will need to make some changes and there may be a few heartbreaks along the way. However, creative
minds cannot dance to the same tune over and over again, you must push onward, even if it does not work out the way you expected, its not about success or failure - its about exploring yourself, being excited about your life and loving the thing you are doing during its time Courage is not a battle against something or someone. Courage is simply about you and your choices. Do you have the courage to be true to yourself. Can you be brave enough to make a life changing decision when you feel the opportunity in front of you? Are you daring enough to dream, and to follow your hearts longing and take a chance to make your dream a reality. And yes courage is what the lion in the Wizard of Oz was searching for and found within himselfâ€Ś
Ian Milne is founder of 3000monks Twitter - @3000monks Facebook â€“ universal monk
Global Street Art
If the inherent transience within street art is to be given some measure of permanence, and if the sheer global output and the chaotic online networks that pieces spread through are to be properly harnessed, we may just need a scientific approach. B Boy, photographer and PHD Lee Bofkin has set himself the task of doing just that. Bringing the deliberate scientific methods of taxonomy to bear, he is out to catalogue and document work from every corner of the globe into a meticulous database set systematically into defining sub categories. With an infectious enthusiasm, a passion for the art and a fascinating blend of science and the streets embedded in his psyche, Lee is off to a seriously dynamic start. We caught up with him for a quick chat about the Global Street Art project, and illustrated the article with a handful of shots from the blossoming database
Where is the balance between science and art for you Science and art aren’t opposing forces; they compliment. There’s an art to science and a science to art. When we’re doing our best work, regardless of the discipline, its an art. What is the essence of breakdancing for you The essence of bboying is style and creativity, mixed with technique and a lot of mistakes along the way. If there is one thing that’s the real essence its probably just very hard work over a sustained period of time. It’s the 10,000 hours principle. Within hip-hop culture the philosophy of each one teach one works the best. We all reach further with a hand up!
Tell us about your B Boying days and the taste you got for graff and urban art I started bboying when I was relatively old, in my late teens. Back then the scene in the UK was quite small. There were still old school guys like Second 2 None who were still dancing a little bit (in public - in private I’m sure they were all still training and ripping it up). Then there were some experimental new school crews like Children of the Monkey Basket. The scene was small though and it was hard to learn. My first teachers were Skam from Foundations and Pervez from Live 2 Break. The internet was relatively underdeveloped and video streaming was slow. As youtube developed and video sharing took off then bboys became less isolated. My first crew was Funk and Disorderly, we started competing in the early 2000s, traveling to international competitions more and more. As I got better and started traveling more I would see more graf near the bboy spots and I started taking photos. I was a scientist at the time and traveling for that too
(studying and conferences) - it just became a hobby to document graf when I traveled. I was documenting graf (badly and informally) before I heard of street art. When stenciling came about more I would take pictures of that too - it was easier than distinguishing between what I ‘should’ or ‘should not’ take pictures of. My early photos were on film and many were never scanned to digital - when digital cameras came out and got cheaper the barrier to entry for being a graffiti photographer fell completely. It became easy to take multiple shots for the same piece just to get the one right angle. Removing the cost of developing film helped me take more pictures. How far do you see evolutionary patterns as applicable to consciousness and creativity Well, it is fair to talk about cultural evolution. In bboying there was a brief split between those advocating new powermoves and those talking about style. When the new techniques and tricks came out they were quite clunky and not well combined with good quality
movement. New techniques and thinking often give rise to a schism within a subculture. Ultimatley people learn to combine both and you end up with a progressive movement powerful style, stylish power, etc. It happened in bboying a few years before graffiti and urban / street art but you’re seeing the synthesis there now. As writers / artists mature they start experimenting with different techniques. Ultimately, the art is either good or it isn’t. I’m less interested with static semantic labels of an artform and the artform doesn’t care - it just moves on. Its important to remember roots and foundations when you talk about any subculture, like graf, but the point of having a great foundation is to know it and develop beyond it. I love watching writers like Solo-1, Bonzai and Lovepusher not somersault on hard floors. Bearing that in continue to push their boundaries all the time. mind, since I’d started documenting graf I just kept going. After I finished my PhD I moved Tell us about the genesis of the Global Street to LA to work for a finance company for a few years. I just kept taking photos. Through a Art project couple of other jobs I just kept traveling and taking pictures. I decided that documenting After I blew out my knee I had to stop dancing graf and street art, the art that we see outside (although I still do dance now when I find the and that disappears frequently, is worth a time). I could still walk and climb fences, just career, my career.
How many of the photos did you take yourself and how many have come from collaborators I took over 50,000 photos in the Global Street Art database in 20 countries. I have now classified another 8,000 photos taken by two other photographers. Around 10 artists have also submitted photos too. We’re building a system where artists and photographers can submit their pictures more easily.
How critical is creating a record of an inherently transient art form We have an opportunity today to preserve a record of a movement that people today and future generations will be inspired by. The photograph is the only permanent record. In my opinion that›s valuable, visually and culturally. Where would street art be without the internet Great question - frankly, most street art and graffiti are consumed online and not in person. If you removed the internet you would remove people›s exposure, for better or for worse. The progression of the movement would suffer technically but you would most likely see more local styles develop, unimpinged by the global influences you can see online every day. Tell us about the methods you’re using as a framework for your database
I›ve evolved the database / classification system over time. I was only classifying each photo a few ways when I started. Now the system is really developed - each photo is classified in so many ways. some are obvious but others less obvious. I love the fact that I can look up new themes in the database we haven›t been able to easily explore before. I give the smoking monkeys example a lot its a 20 photo slideshow you get when you combine the character categories of animals/ monkeys with cultural themes/smoking or drugs. How much does personal taste enter into the equation I have to make a decision on whether or not to take a photo at the time. I typically don›t photograph tags because it takes longer to classify than it does to write! If I have a metric I go by its sacrifice - if the artist sacrificed to make the art then I take the picture. That sacrifice can either be at the time, how much sacrifice was made to create the piece, or a sense of what the artist sacrificed over their career. That means if a dope writer does a
quick throw up then of course I›ll take the shot! I have a couple of Cope-2 bombs in Sao Paulo - one minute throw ups. They rock! Where do you see the project going from here The future of the World is painted. We are in the middle stages of the largest participant art movements in history: graffiti and street art, very distinct but also with some overlaps. I think you›ll see more academic acceptance of outdoor artforms and the general public will realise more and more how valuable that art can be for a community. There are cool cities that have adopted graffiti and street art more and they can have a great impact - Stokes Croft in Bristol is just one example of many, many such places. Coupled with the increased participation, public appetite and photography as a record I cannot imagine a permanent museum to the art form won›t exist. I am building one, starting online. That›s why I exist. I›ll have to figure out a joke to throw in after I tell people that; it usually leaves people silent or scratching their heads.............Peace
Raw bassline groove anchors heady abstractions snaking in and out of a beautifully textured, sinous matrix of atmospheric energy. Cinematic spins and raw rock influences glide seamlessly into place anchrored by driving warehouse beats and beavy synthesised mayhem, switching up between tracks to paint deeply individual journeys balancing mind and body into searing musical experiences. Fresh from the successes of single releases and an ever more slamming live show, Stylus Rex are now storming the barricades with a new album and a dazzling new visual element to their live performances . We caught up for a word as the album starts to drop through a sucession of singles.
How did your years as a session drummer shape and inspire your understanding of music Playing drums gave me access to creative people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet and be inspired by otherwise. I had no formal musical training but did have a natural feel for playing drums and an interest in music, so the drumming put me into situations where I could pick up tips and see how certain song writers would go about building and arranging a track in the studio. Learning theory is one thing but seeing skilled people in action did a lot more for me. I became aware that it takes an entirely different set of skills to create a great record than it does to be a great
performer and that as a drummer you’re not really in control of your own destiny as you’re basically waiting for a writer or band to pen a killer track that you can then embellish with your rhythms. I decided I needed to skill up on production & writing to be able to express myself musically without the compromise of a band situation. Drumming can be great and so much fun, but as my creative outlet I became frustrated with the amount of time spent rehearsing for shows, travelling to rehearsals, moving gear & dealing with band member tensions compared to the relatively small % of time actually spent writing & producing music. Electronic music production was a breath of fresh air because it felt like all the time I was spending was creative time and each moment I sat down at the computer the project or track was moving forward. How did the musicality of working with groups and live instruments translate to computer production Having experience of putting songs together with bands had some positive effect on the switch to production using sequencers, but also caused a few problems with the first few tracks I did. I had to learn to simplify things musically to get a vibe that would move a dance floor because I was more used to structuring songs. For dirty underground club rockers it’s very often not the most musical of tracks that has the best result on the floor. It’s finding that fresh combination of sounds, textures & high production levels that can have an impact. In the main, I felt liberated that I no longer had to compromise or rely on other musicians to create the sound I wanted to make.
What drove the decision to start working on albums rather than individual singles I’ve talked about wanting to put an album out for years but never found myself in a position to do it. It’s just something as an artist you
want to achieve. At the end of 2010 I decided to concentrate solely on getting the album finished and took a break from my day job to do it. I spent the majority of 2011 in my studio getting the material and videos together.
How much does working on overall album concept liberate creativity It really means you can express a wider set of influences and explore creatively. It was a chance to get into some more cerebral sounds that don’t just work on a physical level. Not every track is designed to rock a dancefloor, although they all share a common theme of having throbbing sub bass turning up at some point in the journey.
How do you texture your music There’s a huge number of different effects and techniques used to create the different textures. Much of the synth work is run through various guitar amp emulators on differing settings to give it a more analogue and warm feel. Waves make a superb guitar rig emulator plug-in. I use distortion and compression of different kinds to create bite and fuzzy edges to sounds. Bit rate reduction is useful to make a hard grainy texture. The lower the bit rate the crunchier the sound becomes. Much of the texture of sounds is simply the natural timbre of different instruments and synths used but there’s no sound on any of the tracks that hasn’t had some extra tweaking with effects. How much of a rock influence do you have in your work and how do you work that into clean electronics The rock influence comes through mostly in my choice of notes and melodies rather than
in the choice of sounds. In more cases than not, I’ve heard a hook from a song that I think stands out & would translate well into one of my tunes so I program that progression into the sequencer. It’s a starting point. By the time my tune is finished there’s usually no sign of the original hook that inspired the track. Can you spot which Rage Against the Machine track was the starting point for my tune Subtexture? Can you hear Janes Addiction in Twisted Spiral or Mars Volta in Rocks On Hope? You’re doing well if you can, I can’t hear them myself now but I know that each of those tunes started with one of their hooks.
Tell us about the cinematic influence in your music I think it’s fair to say that my love of certain films has influenced the way I’ve produced some of my tracks but it’s more that I try to make music that’ll bring images into the mind of the listener. When I’m really engaged in listening to a great piece of music it transports me and that’s what I try to achieve with my material.
How much do you consciously try and bring something different to the straight up banger I consciously look for new sounds and textures to work with for each tune, but once the writing process really gets under way I think I move away from a conscious process and tend to feel my way through, trying out numerous combinations of every set of sounds and riffs until sections come together that sound special to my ear. Tell us about the role of visuals in your projects – from music videos to live I’ve always wanted to make visuals for my material and just got into using video editing software half way through last year. I was surprised by how relatively simple the programs are to use. I think it can be a much more immersive form of entertainment to have a visual which works well with the music, especially online. I tend to use images and footage from visual artists who I really admire and just edit and sync them up to make an original visual mixtape to run with my sounds. As for when live/djing, I like to have my own visuals used whenever possible when playing out. How important is a sense of space and melody Important, but it’s the contrast of those with more raw and less musical elements that I like to experiment with.
How does the dynamic work between you as brothers It works well when we play out as there’s some kind of telepathy going on with understanding where a set should be going. It feels more like a party behind the decks when
we play out together and there’s a healthy sense of competition with trying to play tunes with the best reaction. Chris is a great DJ so it’s always more fun playing with him whenever possible rather than on my own. All adds to the vibe.
How have you seen your sound evolve over the last few years I think there’s evolution between every tune, as what I experience is processed and has an influence on the sounds produced. The album in itself documents the evolution of the sound as there are tracks in there that were conceived and sketched out over 3 years ago and others just completed towards the end of 2011. What does the next year or two hold There’s a Stylus Rex remix of Refracture’s Hate On This due out on Dust Breaks in early Feb. A remix EP of 2 tracks from the album is due out in March on Ground Level. There’s some new material i’ve just finished that’s closer
to a techno vibe than breaks; i’ll be looking for a suitable label for that shortly. Looking to get out of the studio and do some more dj sets too this year. 2011 was all about the studio, 2012 i’ll be out tearing it up wherever possible. What’s coming next…who knows, inspiration, creative flow & good things hopefully!
My Morning with Brian
Brian Barnes studied at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design from 1961 to 1962 and the Royal College of Art 1962–1966. Based in Battersea, London since 1967, Barnes is known for his large, colourful murals in Battersea and throughout the London area, often designed in collaboration with local groups. To date his most famous mural is “The Battersea Mural: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” also known as ”Morgan’s Wall” at Battersea Bridge road which was designed in 1976 and then collaboratively painted with a group of local residents from 1976 through 1978. The 276-foot wide mural was demolished in 1979 by the Morgan Crucible Company. Other important murals by Barnes include “Seaside Picture”, Thessaly Road (1979), “Nuclear Dawn” in Brixton (1981) (part of the Brixton murals), “Riders of the Apocalypse”, Cold Blow Lane, Deptford (1983), the “HG Wells Mural”, Market Square, Bromley, (1986), “Battersea
in Perspective”, Dagnall Street (1988), and the “Stockwell War Memorial”, also known as the “The Violette Szabo Mural” (2001). Controversy over Barnes’ addition of Jean Charles de Menezes to the memorial broke out in 2005 and eventually this image was removed. Barnes works as a printmaker, in particular dealing with local campaigns and issues, and he was also involved in the longstanding campaign to preserve Battersea Power Station. He founded the Battersea Power Station Community Group in 1983, to see that the listed building is preserved and that local people are involved in the redevelopment. In 2005 Brian Barnes was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the community in Battersea, London. I visited Brian Barnes in his printshop in Wandsworth one morning and we sat down to discuss his art, social housing and capitalism.
The Battersea mural was 276 feet by 18 to 12 feet. We were a group of people who collaborated on planning issues and I worked with with a voluntary organisation, the Mural Workshop, to set up the project. We called ourselves Battersea Redevelopment Action Group [which was established] to make sure that planning related to local people and provided affordable housing, jobs and open spaces for all the people rather than the demolition of all the industries losing the jobs and the building of luxury flats. We have learned subsequently over the last 30 years that this was not to be. So in 1976 you decided to undertake a mural project. How did you choose the site? It was part of a campaign to get the site handed over to local people rather than be turned into private housing. It wasn’t our wall but we gained permission from the owner, the Morgan Crucible Company, to paint the mural. The wall was later demolished when the factory was torn down. Can you describe the processes you engaged from planning the mural to its construction?
Barnes: No. [He laughs.] Obviously we had to start with a design but we also went to various organisations in the community to ask them what they wanted it to be about. We sent a questionnaire to these organisations—tenant and residents associations, action groups, trade organisations, housing organisations— asking them what the mural be about if you were doing it yourselves. So they gave us a list of things to get us started. There were about 60 people involved in the mural’s painting with some people doing longstanding work and others infrequently contributing. No other professional artists were involved—just me—and local people. There were children, pensioners, people on the estates. We painted the mural for two years, not every day. How many of those people who were involved do you still see in the neighbourhood today? Uh [long pause]...none. The area has become polarised between very rich people and very poor people. So the only housing now for poor people is from the estate where the
council allocates housing to the really really poor people, who’ve got families and maybe disabled children. And then rich people have moved into all the developments along the Thames and all the small housing. Even some of the council housing has been turned into luxury accommodation. So the ordinary middle class people have moved away out of the area—they can’t afford it. Many are not eligible for local authority housing and can’t afford to live in Battersea, so mostly people have moved. Only very tenacious people have remained, like me. This borough is now the fifth richest in London. So the purpose of the mural in retrospect was purely symbolic? It was a turning point. None of those things [depicted in the mural] happened. I noticed. And ironically many of these council houses that have been bought by the very occupants to whom social housing was made available. It seems problematic, if not immoral. What has happened is that many of the
people who bought their flats were then able to move out. They kept the flat and then they moved out and then let it to people for much more rent than they had to pay themselves. It was a the philosophy by the Tory council. It was about offering these flats at a very huge discount at 70% off, so you only had to pay 30% cost. So it was like an offer you couldn’t refuse on the understanding that if you are an owner/occupier or you sell again, that person will then vote Tory. It seems to have worked. So this mural represents all that was really good about social housing just before the rise of Thatcher. Panorama did a program with the mural as an illustration called “When the Tories Take Over.” This television documentary was about Wandsworth Council the year before Margaret Thatcher came to power. And it just talked about the mural and that housing would no longer be for local people, there will be no facilities for children and all the things that people wanted that were shown in the mural would not happen after the Tories took over. It was prophetic—it was exactly what happened.
What were some of those images that people dreamt for their futures? They didn’t want to live in the big blocks of flats—they wanted small houses with gardens, family units where they could have their children on the ground floor. People didn’t really want to live in these tower blocks with their families. They are not really designed for families with children. So people wanted these small houses and they aspired to a small council house that you might have got in the 30s, 40’s, 50’s—there were these big complexes of semi-detached houses. None of these flats in those days. But then in London it became 20-storey-high flats and people didn’t want to live in them. People wanted public transport and to have car-free streets where children can play safely, playgrounds, a public swimming pool, and allotments where they could grow food. There were some allotments in Battersea; they wanted more. There are none now. Industry—they wanted jobs. So the idea for the mural was to present these dreams as both the pictorial and realisable? Yes. Out of all these dreams, did any come true? There is quite a good transport system now— the buses are quite good. Some of the things we swept away with a broom have gone like the big old, the polluting factories, the theme park in Battersea Park never happened and even the ugly blocks of the Department of the Environment which were in Victoria were demolished. Thatcher got rid of all the jobs for people in this area: the power station which was working so there about 300 people working there and that was closed in 1983; the Morgan Crucible Company, that was 200-300 jobs in industry—they made carbon products (ie. switches); then there was the distillery Booth’s Gin; a waste paper merchant; a glass factory; gas works (all gone now); cement making factories (a few still exist) and there are lots of other industries which were lost.
On the site of the mural, what exists there today? Quite a nice complex of luxury housing—the type of housing that people wanted from the mural: low-rise, street-pattern housing. Thatcher brought in the “right to buy” so if anybody had been there as a tenant they would have bought there and then sold again. This is part of the problem isn’t it? Some would argue that it is human nature to be selfish, but then I find it terribly problematic that those receiving housing benefits believe in community until the moment the are offered the “right to buy” and they become the very capitalists they had previously decried. Sadly many of these new home owners are today part of the problem as to the present housing crisis. Doesn’t the mural represent the turn in social thought demonstrating this switch in thought, this hypocrisy between selfish, individual benefit versus communal coherence and solidarity?
This estate is a good example—it was an unpopular place, the flats on this block. So when there was the “right to buy,” these flats were being sold and people were buying them and then losing money. Many bought them for £30,000 back in the 1980 and they would be repossessed by mortgage lenders after people defaulted on payments. Then these mortgage lenders would go into receivership and they would turn around and sell these properties at auctions—sometimes two flats for £15,000! And that is where you couldn’t refuse to buy it. It was cheaper to buy your flat, than to pay rent. If you were paying the full rent you got a better deal on a mortgage— it was actually a financial incentive rather than capitalism—and you saved money.
very former council housing tenant, renting the very flats that were intended to be shared by society and not privately owned.
My wife conducted the census last year on this estate and so a lot of the flats are full of young Eastern Europeans paying rent—four or five people in a flat—paying a landlord each upwards of £300, or whatever, and he is getting a lot of money. What happened is that a lot of speculators offered to help people to buy their flats if they would sell it to them—so a speculator would ask a tenant to put in for the “right to buy” and provide the money for it. So then it became part of an empire of landlords who had ex-council flats who in turn would give people say £10,000 to move. So this gave the buyers a 70% discount and the local resident was given money to move out But this situation does pose ethical and social of the neighbourhood. In the end, the person who bought the property would have a cheap problems today where you have in London many twenty and thirty-year olds who cannot flat. About 50% of the flats are occupied by these immigrant tenants and they can only afford to rent in the city and who have no way of getting social housing. Ironically many stay six months—the landlord can rent for six months and then toss them out. of these people are now renting from the
I have to say walking here to meet you I was impressed by the buildings and the inner green space and the sculptures…
of these very problems we are discussing— the disintegration of community by slumlords where those people have only got six months to be in the borough means that they don’t I have to say that our project was responsible have any commitment to the community. They for those sculptures—we engaged a sculptress just work, come home, work, come home to make them. and then they pay the rent. But they are beginning to stay—some are marrying English So you look at this community and effectively men or women and are becoming part of the all traces of that social group from 1978 are regular community. So many of the people I erased. What are the traces of the mural that work with in the school are Portuguese and exist? I heard you have a plywood replica of Eastern European people with children in it. the school and are now part of the Parents Teachers Association. They have the spirit that That’s here—not in this room. But I do have two-thirds of the mural in replica. It has been used to be in the borough. up a couple of times. [He shows me a photo What about the communications between of the replica.] those who are here from the old community and the newer, posh crowd living in the Do you find that the mural project brought privatised sectors? Do you keep points of the community together or was the project communication open? just a moment whose spirit is now lost? There was a totally different community then...completely different. It’s not like that now. I think the only way I work is with the school—that is where the community is now. Community is not out there in tenants’ associations or residents’ association because
[He laughs.] No, we robbed them. They won’t come here—there is a line, Battersea Park Road. They will only come to Tesco and scuffle back. Also, the government is trying to clamp down on tenants here in our blocks who have moved out and illegally sublet their flats for
more money—so they live somewhere else and rent out their flats for a large profit. The Tory government is clamping down on this here and in Westminster especially. Wandsworth Council wants to make it that all new council tenants have six months tenure, not tenure for life. And if you become richer you have to move out and if you become unemployed you can’t be allocated a house. I cannot say I disagree that social housing should be for those in need and ought to be under periodic re-evaluation for those whose economic and personal circumstances have changed. There seems to be a misdirected critique from both the Left and Right when it comes to discussing social housing--the Left rebukes criticism of the abuses that do occur and so there is this perpetual wall of resistanc on the Left to any sort of reevaluation of social housing while the Right pretends that social housing is somehow always a form of entitlement. There must be a way for us to discuss the problems of social housing for which the Battersea mural’s vision remains apotheosis. For
instance, I know of many people in the city who received their council flats when they were students and today are professionals still living in flats they no longer economically need; yet there are many Londoners who struggle to find affordable housing due to occupying low-wage jobs. It is wrong that people take advantage of the system. There are also a lot of people who pretend to be single when they have a partner with whom they live. If they don’t have a partner they can get a flat more easily, so some pretend that they don’t have a partner so they can get a two bedroom flat for the children. So there is a privileging of single parents over married parents and both these groups over single people? Yes. That is why people were kind of keen to realise the “right to buy” because they were unfairly treated if they earned just over the limit to pay the full rent, the full tax as it was then, and it would more—it would be twice as much than if you got a mortgage from
Halifax. So it was economically stupid not to do it. I would have argued against it but then everybody else was doing it and the whole tenure of everywhere changed—I am still battling away, you know, but it is very hard when all these other people have none of your ethos and they rent out their flat or treat it as a second home. This raises serious questions about community because I am still a Marxist—I might be the only person on the planet who admits this [Brian laughs and I join in]… But I do believe we should remain conscious when we are taking rather than sharing in community resources. I think a lot of that is lost. I am working on this estate with the SWP (Socialist Worker Party) which I don’t particularly like. There is an issue where one of the tenant’s mother is being threatened with eviction by Wandsworth Council because her son has been found guilty of rioting so they are going to throw out the mum and the sister because of the boy and his actions. They want to do it and they are going to do it—that’s how bad they are in this borough. What I like about murals is that they are impermanent—they deteriorate due to the elements and this fact alone requires a rethinking of both the artefact itself and more importantly, the political message therein. As we see with the Battersea mural, the ethos and spirit of the late 1970s was toppled by the greed of many who just wanted to get ahead. And here we see public space which is rendered private by the construction of luxury flats for the wealthy and by people who buy council flats intended for public use. So today the issues of public space and shared resources are much more at the centre of the discussion. So murals were once a thing of the poor neighbourhoods— from Mexico City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Port-au-Prince, Montreal, Brooklyn and London. And now, not coincidentally, the murals have been toppled to remove the memory and to “gentrify” (“to people”)—
that horrid word from the 1980s which “cleanses” space by removing the poor bodies and replacing them with the richer ones. Murals today now occupy a strange social and artistic category that is almost in jeopardy because of this lack of social consciousness that is pervading these now “gentrified” communities.
I think one of the things you are describing is that murals are thought to be in poor areas— you know Belfast, Brixton. They were thought to be poor people’s are—get the art out of the galleries into the streets and get people to participate in art as much as possible. That is what we were into in the 1970s and 1980s. But I think they won’t want a mural in rich Battersea—certainly not a political one—they will have John Paul Getty grinding it off the wall like he did with Rivera. Or they just knock them down to make
In Brooklyn there are so many wonderful murals that commemorate the Civil Rights movement—especially a wonderful mural dedicated to Medgar Evers—and more recently murals about 9/11. And what comes to mind is how murals have become more depoliticised as critique and now exist as pure memory, as memorial. And so this recent phenomena of murals moving away from social critique to memorial buttresses the scene for any political mural’s exclusion, critique or removal. So like Diego Rivera’s The last really political mural I did was in 1983, mural, the contemporary answer to political the anti-nuclear mural down in Deptford murals is to remove them either directly or which got me into a lot of trouble because through censorship preventing their creation I put up images of Margaret Thatcher and in the first place. Ronald Reagan. I think I had the CIA and MI6 And Rivera made it again didn’t he? He redid after me all the time [laughing] because I put that mural for Ford Motor Company. The right these people on the mural and they were wing and the people who are involved in me sensitive about nuclear weapons and cruise missiles both in America and the UK. So to do lampooning them on a mural bring out every piece of armoury to stop you while you are a mural at this stage was dangerous I think— doing it—-the press, your funding is cut, they and I wasn’t really thinking how dangerous do everything. If I depict somebody on the it was for me. It is still there and now I am called a “Cold War artist” by the Imperial War mural, they don’t just try to get it erased, they try to erase me. So Wandsworth Council said Museum. another building. But then there becomes a political co-optation of murals such as what happened in the early 1990s in New York City when the public transit authority (MTA) commissioned some murals, rendering them apolitical and more “art pieces” such as Bill Brand’s “Masstransiscope” in the Westbound B/Q tunnel going over the Manhattan Bridge or the various privately sponsored murals in London today whose sponsors can have direct political control over the content.
publicly, “They will never give Brian Barnes enough money to paint one brick.” That is what they have said to me, so I will never get money from this local council. And now it is even sadder because it is no longer a problem of the left or right for they have become almost indistinguishable today. It is a problem of truly constructing community. I keep seeing fantastic places for murals and I think, well, I will never permission for one thing and then I will never get money for another. I’m ok around the school, because I am paid through the school, through an intermediary—that works for Wandsworth Council because they know I am going to be controlled in what I do. I won’t be able to paint the Battersea Mural again in a school. Why don’t you just make another mural? [Brian laughs.] Or are there laws preventing you from doing so? No, no laws—they would just paint it out. Guerilla murals, well it’s Banksy now. Even he’s done wrong—he’s become a coffee table book. He’s kind of a one trick pony. He doesn’t really make a political comment with his work. Well, he does but perhaps it is over now. It becomes commodity because it is no longer a critique, the moment has passed. Such as his mural with the children pledging allegiance to the flag of Tesco. Isn’t there a moment when the people should see the mural and turn around and say, “Hey, I am going to stop shopping at Tesco”. So the component of political action is missing. It’s difficult because just today they [Tesco] were on the radio was saying “We are keeping down our prices for things people buy every day.” So people go there because they have to. So Tesco is capitalism with a Communist face telling us “Brothers and sisters, we are working with you”? [Brian laughs.] There is that aspect as well to consider—the language
of social praxis simulated borrowed and synthesised by capitalist strategy. I do try to shop at the Co-Op as well but there aren’t as many Co-Ops as there are Tesco [laughing]. That is just it—instead of acting on political belief, we end up giving in, don’t we? However, I do think we can do our best to resist. I’ll be straight out there to buy a sandwich in Tesco soon. [laughing] Where else do I get a sandwich? It’s just right there, isn’t it. Yes. They have a very good selection of sandwiches—and for £2.
Dublin Contemporary was a huge international commissioned some of the best street artists art exhibition which included 114 artists, both across the world to come to Dublin and Irish and international. transform public spaces. Huge gable-end walls were sourced, access to iconic buildings However by far the most interesting gleaned (one of the most iconic graff artists in component of this exhibition and the one that Ireland was allowed to tag the walls inside the created the most buzz was their work through National Gallery!) and the artists were given the Office of Non-Compliance”. the space, time and resources to be able to In an inspired collaboration with ANEWSPACE create some truly awe-inspiring work. Here is a selection of some of the best pieces. they created “RoadWorks” which Image - DMC
Conor Harrington is one of Ireland’s most famous artists. Hailing from Cork in the South of Ireland he now lives and works in London but is a frequent visitor to these shores. His beautiful work mixes fine-art with graffiti and he uses a combination of oils and spraypaints to create them. Recurring themes such as military uniforms and masculine figures appear amongst swirls of colour, tags, drips and abstract elements. His piece for Dublin Contemporary is called “Dead Meat”. James Earley is a graffiti artist and graphic designer from Dublin. Already known for his colourful murals in the capital this piece he created is one of his ongoing Animal Series. The animals represent the hurt and pain of the Irish people in modern times as they have been abandoned and let down by successive governments and institutions. The magical Irish Elk’s rib cage is exposed as he screams in pain. DMC is an established street artist from Belfast. He is also the founder of Whitewash, an indoor live-painting jam in Portadown. The piece he painted is called “Her Redundant Image - top - Conor Harrington - Bottom - James Earley
Heart”, it’s part of a “Missed Call Girls” series which he describes as “heartbroken females who are downcast by the unfortunate unanswered call. Heartbroken from a call that may have changed things, a call that means too much, a call that was missed.”
JOR is a Dublin based artist who started in graffiti after seeing tags in his neighbourhood and still continues with graff while at the same time pursuing fine-art. This outsider’s view has changed his graffiti over the years and his modern pieces tend not to be letter-based but more based in animation. This piece is part of a series of detailed and intricate portraits of plants where all the roots are exposed.
Prefab77 are a street art collective based in Newcastle in the North of England. They created a series of pieces, including “Soul on Image - top - JOR - bottom Prefab77
Fire” and “Steel Heist” which were made using oralite film. This high-grade photo reflective material is used on police cars and emergency vehicles and it meant that when struck by a camera flash the pieces glow as if lit up from inside.
D*Face is one of he most famous London street artists and he put up several of his Drone Dog or D*Dog cartoon-like figures in Dublin. His ‘aPOPcalyptic’ (his description of his art; a mix of Pop Art and a sense of impending global doom) is instantly recognizable. He is also renowned for being the owner and curator of London’s now defunct Outside Institute which was the first London gallery to focus on street art.
Morgan is from Dublin coming from a background of model making and special effects he has branched out and is an innovative artist, DJ, photographer and graphic designer. His striking, unique style means his work is instantly recognizable at jams and urban festivals such as Kings of Concrete. The piece shown relates to the new Terminal at Dublin airport, regarded by most as a waste of money, and the fact that emigration is once again rearing its ugly head in Ireland.
Maser is Ireland’s favourite graffiti son and the most famous Irish graffiti artist. He started painting in 1995 as part of the TDA Klann crew. “The Dark Angels” celebrated their 20th year last year and are Ireland’s longest
Image - top - D-Face - bottom Morgan
running graffiti crew. Maser quickly shot to prominence through his innovative lettering and for his hopeful messages. His ubiquitous “Maser Loves U” stickers and pieces are a part of Dublin life. Maser’s piece is a representation of Irish Musical icon BP “Beep” Fallon, who toured and worked with, among others, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and T-Rex.
Mark Jenkins is based in Washington DC and creates unique street sculptures made out of sellotape. He often casts bodies from this tape using himself or volunteers. These are often so life-like and realistically posed that they can gather extreme reactions. One of Mark’s pieces for Dublin Contemporary was pinched by the police after only a few hours because someone had phoned in a panicked report of a dead homeless person.
Image - top - Maser- bottom Mark Jenkins
RASK is another founding member of the TDA Klann crew with Maser and his unique graffiti style has been seen all over Ireland and further afield. He also helped to organise Ireland’s oldest and most important graffiti jam, the Bridge Jam on the Peace Bridge in Drogheda which has been running since 1994. RASK was allowed to do his pieces inside the National Gallery of
Will St. Leger could well be considered to be the hub of the Irish street art scene. Not merely content with his street art work he has devised ideas such as the “Cause and Effect” where people collectively own an artwork,
each person owning one section and then they have to decide how to handle this, or the “Art Raid” which is an exhibition where at some point during the night an alarm goes off and whatever you can make it out the door with is yours. He is also infamous for his “Artivism” projects such as the laying of hundreds of fake landmines in Dublin parks to highlight the need to ban landmines. The piece Will created for Dublin Contemporary deals with homelessness and is called “One day I will grow wings” which is taken from a Radiohead lyric.
Image - top - RASK - bottom - Will St Ledger
Attending to Dreams
The realm of dreams is perhaps the most ubiquitous, fertile, and alluring place that we look to for inspiration. Whether we’re craving new creative ideas or insight into ourselves, our night-time excursions to this mercurial land of multiple meanings, shifting landscapes and beguiling mysteries seem to dangle endless fresh possibilities before us. What if we were able to discover techniques that allowed us to easily reach out and grab these possibilities? What if tools were available that could haul this submerged inspiration out onto our all-too-dry land, ripe and ready to refresh our vision? This kind of hope is the fuel for most of the prolific literature on “using” dreams, some of which is hugely important and powerful. In
particular, lucid dreaming (a state in which you become aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming) can exponentially increase the access you have to the dream state’s treasures. However, just as individual dreams are never of simple significance, and only yield their true nature through multiple perspectives, our general interaction with dreams is hampered if we maintain a singular overall attitude towards them. Here I wish to dwell on an approach to dreams that—for obvious if not always good reasons—is rarely voiced. It has more to do with attending to dreams than using dreams. It is tricky (certainly not to be captured in a short essay like this), and vexes the results-hungry ego.
It is most forcefully expressed in The Dream and the Underworld by James Hillman, a brilliant and provocative psychologist whose work has endeavoured to revive the classical Greek sense of “soul” (psyche). Not the personal atom of spiritual being that our Christian heritage has left us with, but a liminal, polytheistic, metaphor-loving aspect of our being, which we dwell within as much as it dwells within us, and which resists all attempts to pin it down for service to pragmatism. Hillman calls soul “a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself.” (Re-Visioning Psychology) This perspective, Hillman argues, is expressed most accurately in dreams. Freud famously claimed that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious”. Hillman shares Freud’s high estimation of dreams, but differs subtly and crucially in his approach to them. Freud may have talked of a road to the unconscious, but his avowed project was for traffic to move the other way—and to be disarmed of its
irrational power en route by the process of interpretation. Freud wanted to move the contents of the unconscious into the realms of the rational ego, on the ego’s own terms. His landmark work The Interpretation of Dreams contains much respect for the dream, and is essential reading; but in the end his allegiance was to the rational project. “Where id was, there shall ego be.” Where exactly this process might stop isn’t made clear. However, a quick contemplation of handing over the control of bodily functions such as the heartbeat and cell repair to the ego should give you a good biological example of the limits of consciousness, which can trigger a sense of how vital unconscious processes might be for the psyche, too. Hillman sees dreams less as a road to the unconscious than as the unconscious itself, “the psyche speaking to itself in its own language”. He resists the urge to interpret, to translate the psyche’s language into the ego’s language, with a characteristic lack of compromise:
[T]his dayworld style of thinking—literal realities, natural comparisons, contrary opposites, processional steps—[...] must be set aside in order to pursue the dream into its home territory. There thinking moves in images, resemblances, correspondences. To go in this direction, we must sever the link with the dayworld, foregoing all ideas that originate there—translation, reclamation, compensation. We must go over the bridge and let it fall behind us, and if it will not fall, then let it burn. How to do this? Hillman’s key framework is psychotherapy. Although he is often harshly critical of the practice (one of his books is called We’ve Had A Hundred Years Of Psychotherapy And The World’s Getting Worse), it is his long-standing, embittered but loyal ally. He envisions it as an alchemical process, the classic 50-minute session acting as an enclosing container for the psyche, an alembic stretching through the weeks to hold and slowly refine the soul’s processes. Importantly, the finitude, that often annoying awareness that the clock’s ticking away, constellates death.
Hillman takes the dreamworld as the underworld—Hades. Not the literal underground into which the bodies of the dead slowly dissolve, the dark and earthy realm of fertile, composted death that the earth goddesses rule over; rather, Hades is the spectral realm of metaphorical death. Death as psychological depth. Not death as a literal biological event, but the death of the ego’s rational solid grasp of “hard facts”—the death of simple, singular vision.
It is not bodies that dissolve here, but mental constructs. Hillman takes interpretation as a colonial act of the dayworld ego, but analysis (from the Greek for “breaking up” or “loosening up”) he sees—despite our association of it with the rational intellect—as the natural movement of the psyche in Hades. In therapy, the constituent elements of the psyche, which are expediently joined together for effective action in the world of the reality principle, are separated out, revealing the multivalent (Hillman would say polytheistic) nature of the psyche. Dreams directly show us the manifold substructures that govern us; therapy, in teasing them apart, hopes to give each aspect of the psyche enough definition and confidence to make healthier pacts and accords with other aspects than were previously possible in the cramped and often hastily arranged space of the “personality”. The falsely unified persona of everyday life dies to the truth of the masque of death, the parade of numinous shadow figures that constitute the psyche’s depths.
Obviously here isn’t the place for outlining the actual techniques and craft of therapy. But how might this approach be applied in our lives, to serve our creativity, to enrich and inspire us? I’m returning to this question—”What to do?”—partly because the form of this type of essay gravitates in this direction, but also deliberately, to foreground this movement. And then, to undermine it. Specific practices are copiously documented in any number of dreamwork books or websites. But here, I’m trying to follow Hillman by initiating our approach to the dream with an attitude that, firstly, pays homage to the dream. Rather than be lead by the dayworld urge to get something practical, literal and utilitarian underway, perhaps we can try starting with the dreamworld, and cultivate a love for it that refuses expectations. The most crucial element in approaching dreams is attention. We must attend to dreams closely; sustained attention brings sustenance. Keeping a dream journal is an essential discipline, but perhaps not a
discipline to be “pushed”, like jogging. The muscular effort of exercise, as an attitude, is a great way to repel the images of the dreamworld; they appreciate less strained and direct effort. Indeed, an attitude of service rather than discipline is more appropriate. “Therapy” is derived from the Greek for “to wait on, attend”; the priests or attendants at the ancient Greek dream incubation temples, where the healing god Asklepius worked his wonders, were called therapeutes. This Greek root in turn stems from the root dher, which means “to support”. Psychotherapy, then, is to wait on, or attend to the soul. Both the therapist and the patient (who must be patient) are, in their dialogue, actually waiting for the impersonal soul to reveal itself through their interaction.
Paying attention to dreams can be fuelled by doing certain things, doing dreamwork. But the real trick is to slowly, with patience and persistence, cultivate a caring love for dreams, alert to their textures, movements and details for their own sake. I don’t see this as some kind of flat phenomenology, which cautiously sticks purely to the surface impressions given by dreams. The very nature of the impressions created by dreams, if examined closely enough, elicits a dynamic process of associative thought. As discussed previously, avoiding interpretation does not preclude analysis; dreams welcome a caring dissolution of any apparent coherence into multiple perspectives and trajectories. Indeed, as “a dream”, phenomenologically speaking, may just be our waking mind’s memory of a dream, perhaps this process of carefully mulling over the dream, not wrenching its secrets out on the rack of rationality but letting its structure unfold its ever-deeper recesses, is the basis for returning to “the dream itself”—whatever that may be. We must bear in mind that when patients at Asklepian temples were cured, the visit that the god paid to them during their slumber wasn’t made in order to give them something to do, something in the waking world to obtain or pursue in order to be
cured. The dream itself was the cure. What we do with the dream in waking life (if anything) should be a careful extension of the principles of the dream itself; any slip into the habits of translation or principally pragmatic exploitation could banish the mysterious power of our brush with this imaginal underworld. In attending to dreams, we need to cultivate the waking life traditions that share close affinity with dream logic— art, ritual, some psychotherapies. Only in these activities can we find containment that is sensitive and strong enough to accept the powers that dreams bestow. Over many years, a prolonged devotion to these peculiar dips into the psyche’s native land does indeed transform your life, creating subtle and inexpressible currents of mental, emotional and spiritual nourishment. A certain stability—still mutable, but more coherent within the context of the dream— may arise in particular dream landscapes or characters that populate that world; the
dream grows more assured and trusting in your presence. Patterns can span months, years or decades, and mature into a form of personal mythology; the dream is pleased with your patience, and rewards you with a more sophisticated knowledge of your depths. Terrifying encounters can open to reveal an indestructible concern for our well-being, and images or situations that seem intensely personal can give way to a much wider sense of the world beyond us. We sense that dreams mean well for us, back us up and urge us on, understand us more deeply than we understand ourselves, expand our sensuousness and spirit, continually make up new things to give us … It is like the love of an old man, the usual personal content of love voided by coming death, yet still intense, playful, and tenderly, carefully close.
NOT CRYING WULF
The flow, the truth of the magnetic flow of found materials, found art, found space, found inspiration. The magnetic flow of pieces coming together, pieces calling out to the soul and changing the entire perspective of the way our world is shaped and the way our minds and perceptions can change on a dime if we allow the work to come through and perform it’s appointed task. Just the free flow, the free chance in taking the
next step, in taking the next leap, in spite of what the other thinks, in spite of what you may have felt before, taking that extra leap, in finding your color, shape, form, line, substance, paper, trash, posters, cans, spray paint, pencil, chalk, charcoal, crayon, wood, canvas, cement, film, words,music, source… it’s about the flow, the free formed flow and the freeness to create…
It goes a little something like this. In the flow at The Armory Show, I found an amazing piece of artwork called “Master” by global artist Wulf Treu. Or I should say it found me. For the most part I was perusing the fair, press pass in play, searching for work that moved me to explore, and then suddenly with no effort at all, I found myself being mesmerized by the work of Wulf Treu. The emotion of the piece, the colors and the way they moved under the light, the metallic glittering gold crown of the “Master,” the regality and the sheer force of tribal ancestry I felt in the piece that pulled me into the booth, to be greeted by Rudolf Budja of Rudolf Budja Galerie. The gods were moving and on their appointed task. Immediately I inquired about the remote possibility of meeting Wulf and if possible, to spend some time with him. Rudolf proceeded to show me a couple of catalogues of the artists earlier and current works and agreed to set up a time the following day for us to meet. That’s where it all started. Meet Wulf Treu. Hailing from Potsdam, Germany, but to me quite other worldly, has an impeccable ability to converge the sociopolitical with the human truth experience of post-war East Germany in his works and statements while transforming his art into a language of its own. Definitely exhibiting the street element, converged with a rich meld of colors and just enough statement to push the envelope. In meeting the person ,the artist, the creation I found myself intrigued and fascinated not only with the Art and the back story, but the delivery and the ease. In a way in which most artists I have met cannot convey, or choose not to. It was like I had known him for eternity and there was a certain comfortable air exuding from his amazing personality. It’s more than art, its creation and the creator, and this was evident from second one. So let’s get to it:
Hi Wulf, So I have heard about the infamous “Cadillac” and your studio in Industrial Miami and I am intrigued about your process of finding materials? And finding the Cadillac? What about that story? (Quoting the Catalogue from the Frost Art Museum, by Caroline Damian) “There was this imposing German artist surrounded by huge paintings, objects that he had found on the surrounding streets and beyond, and an array of paints, books, music CD’s, and all the other things one might expect in a studio that exists in stark contrast to the bakery and other warehouse doorways that surround it. Before we looked at the work, he showed me his old Cadillac in the back alley and
told of his adventures restoring the car and using the open convertible to transport things as he drove around and picked up whatever — including his studio furniture. That set the scene for the work — big and small, finished and in process — that fills the space.” I was led to you by the work “MASTER” what is the origin of that particular piece? ‘Master’ part of a series of paintings, Master= spiritual leader /healer. This excerpt taken from http://www.writespirit.net/spirituality/ spiritual_masters/index.html
Spiritual Masters Spiritual Masters are those rare beings who have realized their oneness with the Supreme, — the highest transcendental Consciousness. Spiritual Masters have not only realized their true self but also work selflessly to inspire humanity to seek the divinity within themselves. A real spiritual Master is able to expedite the progress of his/her disciples through their close connection to God and the grace of God. Spiritual Masters have taught the timeless spiritual truths in a variety of ways, Their teachings reflecting the environment and period in which they live. Great spiritual Masters like Krishna, Buddha and Jesus Christ have led to the formation of religions dedicated to following the teachings of these avatars. Each spiritual master has offered their own unique path towards the highest Truth. However although the outer forms may differ the ultimate realization is the same. Thank you. It definitely comes through in this work and I am assuming this is what inspired you as it did me. Can you tell me a bit about the exhibit and the work “Road To Samarra” on the previous page? On: The Road to Samarra: (Quote taken from the same catalogue written by Wolfgang Roth) “This exhibition is a post-modern adult fairy tale where there is not always a happy ending. By mixing bright colors with dark subjects and an ironic sense of humor, the artist manages to surprise and engage us with his unique style and perspective These conflicting components are omnipresent in Wulf’s work which maintains the innocence and naïveté of a child, coupled with the gritty adult elements of sex, death, love and loss. The result is a complex narrative
of the artist’s journey. The use of found objects and the layering of masculine and feminine components enhance the visceral thrust of these works. Actual signage incorporated into many of the works serves as a metaphor for enlightenment offered, and often times not heeded. Inspired by the ancient and historic tales of Samarra and references to Neolithic ruins, Wulf Treu has taken its universal theme and applied it in a critical examination of life.”
I was really intrigued by your work, and pulled in really, especially with the neon work “SALVE” and your work in congruency with the German Artist Joseph Beuys in the image “Beuys” can you speak a bit about that? “SALVE” latin word. The SALVE is in red neon, only the “V” is in green neon and blinking or you can turn the V off so it means SALE. The meaning is for me of interpretations/double meanings/also don’t sell yourself be true to yourself (especially as an artist ) “BEUYS” is a mixed media work on canvas ,a photo of the ‘’THORN’’ from Peggy Guggenheim in the Guggenheim Museum in Venice. I was there and arranging some found
cardboard and boxes on top of this antique marble chair, then photographing ‘’My’’ installation, the photo got printed on canvas and I painted the image of Joseph Beuys in red as a figure over, so that it looks like he’s working/cleaning up the installation. See his bucket, etc. So it is for me a little story which I created. In addition I put grease (the material Beuys liked to use on the image canvas) and poured resin over. The resin makes a hard surface and I sealed practically the story /like a frozen moment, a homage to Beuys from me a Homage from Beuys to Guggenheim and the museum and the story behind all the visiting artist , etc., and that nobody other than Peggy Guggenheim was permitted to sit on her ‘’Throne” (see link to story below). Practically just a homage to Beuys and his art from me because I am a large Beuys admirer. Yes, that’s so interesting and I have come to appreciate Beuys from your information and from you telling me about the story and the inspiration. I could read it on your face that you are a great admirer indeed of Joseph Beuys and now I can add myself to the group
of interested artists and followers. I do thank you for that. Hey it was really great spending the day with you and cruising around Pier 94 at The Armory Show can you pinpoint a moment of the Fair that either inspired you or changed your view about ART in general? For me it was really just the free experience the flow of synchronicity. I don’t really choose as such to participate in the politics or the “sale” of the art dealer so to speak. I do take the more inside and back story approach, the more lyrical view. Day at the Pier : It was like many Art Fairs in the world. Some good work hitting me very strong and I was feeling connected to the artist and happy that the dealer had the vision not to go “save” and so mainstream and believing in the work of art ,but it was still not enough new new new underground ‘’cool’’ work there for my taste. Just understandable from the dealers point maybe and the times we’re we living in, but for me it means not always improvement and current, many ‘’old’’ works (70’s-80’s) are more modern and current I feel. Ok, I was living in Berlin in the 80’s in SO36 Kreuzberg , the squatter / revoluzzer/anarchist quartier from Berlin, across from the club SO36, which was run by Martin Kippenberger. So during the night,
I went in the club and late or early in the morning I went back over the street in my studio and worked. How cool and yes I agree, the work of those times and even earlier for me was exceptional in character and truth. Though over at the Volta Show this year and last, which I show on my blog (see link below RBH) were some more eclectic evolved works happening very cool, inventive, new pieces and statement pieces happening over there. As for SO36 I know it well though I am certain it has changed immensely considering the
collectors, so the market for my work is there, and I am working on one exhibit upcoming in NY (Chelsea) same time as Armory Art Fair 2013. Name of the gallery is confident at the moment. Great Wulf, I thank you. cannot wait for the exhibit so excited to here about that. Best wishes for Zurich as well, sending good vibes out from LSD Mag!. I hope to get out to Miami sometime soon hop a ride in the Caddy and check out your studio. That would be superb, until then keep on trucking and keep the great work coming. Wulf Treu is represented by Rudolf Budja @ www.artmosphere.at . I invite you to take a look at the current exhibit on now until May 19th for Rudolf Budja Galerie
time frame, I recently played there with my band last summer, mad groovy joint, and had the opportunity to really embrace this area of Berlin and learn about the changes that are happening there. Also visited the Berlin Biennale the year before and talked with many artists and art lovers who grew up in the area about how it has influenced the change in Art and the way people approach it. I know you have just had an exhibit in Austria and have an exhibit on now until May 19 @ the Rudolf Budja Galerie, who I had the great pleasure of meeting at the Armory Show in NYC, and actually he led me to you from the work and is representing you. Can you tell us a bit about the Austria exhibit and what you guys have in the works next? What’s coming up for you? Austria exhibit, was on the opening from the famous Salzburger Osterfestspiele (see links below). The Festspielhaus (theater) is only 2 minutes from Rudolf Budja Gallery, so “SALVE” was also a good title for his show, in honor and greeting to art in general. Also to be true , etc., in plain, is to get a solo show upcoming autumn in ZURICH where I have a couple of
Rudolf Budja Galerie www.artmosphere.at Salzburger Osterfestspiele http://www.osterfestspiele-salzburg.at/en Thorn of Peggy Guggenheim http://www.coolnri.com/ArtView15555043. aspx Hudson’s blogs www.reviewsbyhudson.blogspot.com www.graff-icdesign.blogspot.com
Featured Artists An index of all many artists we could identify who are featured in our gallery pages. Please see the contents page for artists interviewed in this issue United Kingdom PUBLIC SPIRIT PROBS INKFESTISH DONK SHOK1 STIK YARN BOMBING SWEET TOOF CARTRAIN CEPT BEN SLOW ACE PAUL LISTER NATHAN BOWEN GRIMSHAW NEONITA DAVID WALKER MR FAHRENHEIT SORN OWED JASIK FLITH AMUK AVK1 EBEE
Canada WYSPER SKAM REN RCADE HEMPS ARTCHILD
USA RIO KORG KOSHER MSK RISK REVOK HOLY RAZOR BLOCK ROYAL THE SIGN GUY DOVES RON COPELAND CYRCLE
Spain CERE ERIC il CANE ESCIF RADHGE STN DONG ONLY ATEME RO DEIH SPIDER TAG PEZ ISAAC CORDAL
FRODE REFRESHINK CENTINA KRIO GIORGIO J SEACREATIVE MCITY EMILONE ZEDONE GRIM dcc MR KLEVRA RUN BLU
France ALICE Pasquini C215
Various CONOR HARRINGTON (Ireland) CRISP HIN (Hong Kong) NAZIR MASAI OTTO SCHADE (Chile) 6/6 THE KRAH (Greece) PSK96 ROA (Belgium)
Published on May 23, 2012
Issue 9 of LSD Magazine is out now. Bursting at the digital seams with sizzling art, searching interviews, slamming music, a dash of politi...