Number 6-1 : Numbers | Summer 2009 | ISSN 1746-8086
Literature / Fashion / Art / Photography / Music / Poetry
issue number 6
â€œI am not a numberâ€? the numbers issue
078 93keys … A dumb drawing becoming automatic
106 Your Lifetime in Pictures
082 All Fingers and Thumbs
084 Alain Badiou, Multiplicity and Contemporary Art
107 Population 200
Art 056 Free Love 058 Alternative Risk Transfer
108 Playing the Numbers 109 Number 3,000,048 112 Numbers
113 Paa Paa Paa PANIC ATTACK!
020 Experiment 101
114 The Man at Number Nine
042 I Think We’re Alone Now 064 The Idea of 0 092 Odd 102 from Internal Rhyme 116 Lonesome 138 The Final Countdown
Music 130 M83 134 Future of the Left
Features 34 sixeightsevensix 36 The Cuba50 Program 40 Limited Illustration opposite by Jirayu Koo
02åBERLIN HÊBERLEINååMAUERERåAG 02åPARIS PRESSING PHOTO MAXIMILIANåVONåGUMPPENBERG ANDåPATRICKåBIENERTND ARTISTS STYLING JODIEåBARNES
Editor’s Letter I’d been contemplating an editorial inspired by The Prisoner from some time. For the Utopia issue, we thought long and hard about the practicalities of driving up to Portmeirion, the original location, and shooting something there, an idea which was eventually dismissed. Having been there before, driving over Snowdonia with 20 cast and crew didn’t seem appealing. The concept, though, stayed with me and when Numbers came around it seemed like the ideal time for it to resurface. Although always conceived as being shot on location, I am in some ways glad that the original idea of going to the beach near Southend-on-Sea was vetoed in favour of the Barbican Centre, in part because the Barbican boasts some superb Brutalist architecture and also because that damn balloon was hard enough to control as it is, without the hazards of a coastal environment. Thanks everyone for reading, and I hope you enjoy the issue. Jack
Illustration opposite by Jirayu Koo
An Online Colour Naming Model This is an open invitation to participate in the Online Colour-Naming Experiment. It should not take longer than 10 minutes to complete it and you will have the chance to win one of the high quality prints by the artist Valero Doval. This simple experiment is part of research on colour naming and colour categorisation within different cultures that aims to improve the inter-cultural colour dialogue. The research is being conducted by the Colour Imaging Group at the London College of Communication, University of Arts.
illustration by Valero Doval
Illustrations by Jirayu Koo
Contributors this Issue Cover image by Christopher Thomas Literature Phil Sawdon Julian D David Brancaleone
Leyla Rodrigues Diana Schairer @ M4 Ekaterina Stafetskis @ Uno Barcelona Julia Hartje @ Megamodels
Fashion Art Toshio Onda Lucia Liu Teiji Utsumi Valentina Creti Klaus Blumenrath Shin Sone Dioni Tabbers @ Select Thom Blunt Britt Cormack Kristin Hack Leszek Dziechciarz Angela Hertel Yuka Hirata Alex, Ben, Alessandro And Josh, all at Storm Kelby at Mot Callan, Chris, Jaimie, Fletcher and Marko, all at Premier Barry Jeffery Kate Jeffery Karim Theilgaard Steeve Beckouet Bodo Ernle Jakob Wiechmann @ Studio KLRP Sasu Tei Rie Kondo Rieko Yamamoto Miyuki Amano Hojin Yuka Sekimizu @ Satoru Japan International Ryu Tom Hagemeyer Tobias Kruesler Ana Salgado de Los Angeles @ Bigoudi
Eugene Perera Leslie Goosey Larissa Hadjio Poetry Scott Thurston Christina Lovin Sam Friedman Jeannette Angell Patrick McManus The Pollytones Music M83 Future of the Left Illustration Jirayu Koo Estella Mare Christopher Hunt Features Rose Cooper-Thorne For contributors contact details, please email the editor in chief at firstname.lastname@example.org.
www.stimulusrespond.com Editor in Chief Jack Boulton email@example.com Editor - Literature Tara Blake Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org Editor - Art Christopher Thomas email@example.com Editor - Music Jeremy Allen firstname.lastname@example.org Editor - Features Jonna Dagliden email@example.com Editor - Poetry Ellen Sampson firstname.lastname@example.org For advertising opportunities, please contact the editor-inchief at the address above. Overseas Director - Spain Barbara Mas-BagĂ Sayer email@example.com We welcome unsolicited material from our readers. If you would like to make a contribution to future issues then please email the editorial team at the addresses above. Stimulus Respond is published by Buster Dog. All material is copyright (c) 2009 the respective contributors. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior consent. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors and are not neccessarily shared by the magazine. The magazine accepts no liability for loss or damage of manuscripts, artwork, photographic prints and transparencies. ISSN 1746-8086
Illustrations by Jirayu Koo
Photographer _Toshio Onda Stylist _Lucia Liu Hair _Teiji Utsumi Makeup _Valentina Creti using Armani Cosmetic Photographerâ€™s Assistant _Klaus Blumenrath Hair Assistant _Shin Sone Model _Dioni Tabbers@Select
Previous Spread: Blazer and trousers _Kate Yunju Ko Black bondage top _Stylistâ€™s own Earrings _Pebble London Ankle boots _Bernard Chandran Left: Dress _Kate Yunju Ko Bangles _Pebble London Above: Dress _Kate Yunju Ko Bracelet _Elke Kramer
Previous Spread: Number print catsuit _Ziad Ghanem Opposite: Lace face mask _Louis Mariette
Opposite: Dress _Bernard Chandran Lace shirt worn inside _Pudel Lace face mask _Louis Mariette
Previous Spred: Clouds print cape top _Bernard Chandran Leather cut out leggings _Fanny and Jessy Ankle boots _Bernard Chandran Opposite: Dress _Bora Aksu Bangle _Pebble London Ankle boots _Dr Martens Ziad Ghanem by Random Bangle
The kind of fashion label one keeps to oneself, 6876 is the secret go-to for quietly fashionable men who like functional clothing with an edge. Rose Cooper-Thorne sat down with Founder and Designer in-Chief Kenneth Mackenzie to discuss high-tech fabrics, architectural influences and ‘dolequeue rock.’ Images by Christopher Hunt.
six eight seven six
So tell us the story behind the name- six, eight, seven, six… We thought about ideas one day when we were sitting across from a place in East London where we saw all these signs with really big numbers like 110 and 120. We then got the idea to do numbers which signify something to us. So the 68 comes from the Parisian student riots in 1968, and 76 from the birth of punk rock in 1976. But it wasn’t necessarily like those specific moments, more just a spirit of independence. It also meant it was quite cultish, because if you didn’t know what it meant it was just numbers. Initially a lot of people didn’t really like it. So punk is an important influence? The only punk reference we’ve got is the ‘proper’ one - when people were originally punks it was ‘dole queue rock’. They wore second hand clothes, flannel trousers, Marks and Spencer crew neck jumpers, a single breasted jacket. In Japan they really get that - authentic punk but reinterpreted in modern fabrics.
The company name is fairly political and you say your political views are stamped on your collection, is that an important aspect of design for you? All these things have become really trendified - 15 years ago people didn’t talk about Paris ‘68, it has become very pseudo-political-trendy. It was just something I was really interested in. When Punk started I was about 14 and I did lots of reading about the Situationists. I wouldn’t have chosen the name if I hadn’t known lots of things about it, and I thought it was quite funny as well. As a fashion company, people didn’t really do that kind of thing. People thought it was pretentious, but it was ironic and fit with the independent nature of the company. This was also why we didn’t do fashion shows or advertising. That was our ‘stand-point’: it’s not going to be about all that – it’s going to be about the product.
You say that the new ‘Frei’ shirt is inspired by ‘Mid Century Californian Architecture’, what comes first the product or the inspiration? Is each piece inspired by something different? When we were doing collections I used to say I had a vague kind of theme for where the ideas had come from, but it was almost a reaction to PR. ‘What’s the theme of your collection?’ - I’m not really into all that bullshit - ‘it’s a nautical collection’ etc, so it was almost a reaction against that - I’ll give you a theme but it was just what I was into at the time. Some of it was more practical like when I went to an architecture exhibition in Japan – it was small scale architecture, and it felt like it was related to what we do because we use fabrics that react in different environments.
Where do you see the brand in two years time? In terms of aesthetic numbers are quite minimal as well, is that an I remember the first show we did in Paris. You have no idea important aspect of the branding/ labels for the garments? what’s going to happen - I was so close to it - I had no idea I wouldn’t have a label on most of the stuff if I had a choice, how it would be received. And then a friend who was working but most people prefer it. Whenever I design a shirt I don’t for Donna Karan saw it and said ‘this is so you this collection, design it with a label on, and people always ask for it on it’s so what I imagined you would do.’ Sometimes I think there. I’ve always been into modernist things like architecture, ‘I’m going to do something really different, people will be graphic design etc. But we try and do a more kind of surprised’ but it’s almost best to stick with your thing, because authentic modernism. Not quirky sci-fi type stuff. Menswear if you try and change it, it can look disastrous. We may not be is very narrow - it’s about taking a garment and putting it the biggest company in the world and make loads of money, with a fabric you wouldn’t expect. Playing about with very but at least we have an aesthetic, a hand-writing. When you finite things. You can’t reinvent it all and that’s why a lot of start to chase the market and what other people are doing, the influences are musical or cultural. you may be successful for a little while but it won’t last. So who buys the clothes? Who’s your main target market? In the early days it was youngish guys who worked in the media, designers, musicians etc and those kinds of men migrated to the label as they sought out understated design. And then more recently it’s been the kinds of guys who go to football, who’ve got into the more technical gadgets and have discovered it afterwards. It might sound like a cliché but it’s quite wide too - from architects to the football crowd, ranging in age from twenties to fifties. So talk about your decision to stop doing bi-annual collections… Well we used to always do two collections a year, and tradeshows etc. And then about a year and a half ago we decided to stop doing all that. Now we have a policy of rolling products, producing stuff each month - a lot of it relates to the fact that we now sell online through our website – it’s less important selling through stores. We still do collaborations with certain stores, for example United Arrows in Japan; joint branded products with them. It made more sense to sit down with them rather than saying ‘this is what you’ve got to choose from’, a much more joint process resulting in what we both want - they couldn’t get their heads round it at first - doing things differently - a more interactive process. It’s changing now though - people have more of an idea of how we work. Does that interactivity extend to the customer? Yeah this period has made me much more relaxed about re-doing things due to requests and that’s another great thing about the internet - people do give you a lot of feedback. The thing about doing the rolling product thing is that it’s all down to finding the right factories. If you want to sell predominantly online and be more selective about stores, you’ve got to have much more flexible factories.
Do you think the limited edition of a garment appeals to your customers? We explain to people that the reason we’re making the numbers we are, is that it’s economic. It’s better for us financially to do it that way because we can then get it out to the customer at a price that’s reasonable, rather than just a limited edition for the sake for it. Is fashion something you knew you always wanted to do? No I didn’t expect to do fashion at all, I did graphics dropped out and last minute changed to a fashion course. I couldn’t and still can’t really do fashion drawings. I just do flat drawings. So the minimalism thing is part naivety but it has become almost an influence. People have different ways of working I guess. Once in Paris we got a free exhibition space and we rented a geodesic dome from this old hippy guy. We wanted to show that the fabrics we use are so robust they can be used in everything. So we hung all the clothes off the frame - a total concept idea. Sometimes it’s more flippant - we got tired of so many fashion brands going on about being rock ‘n’ roll. Especially Dior and their Pete Doherty thing. So I thought ‘right I’m going to do a collection based on Washington DC punks’ - straight edge - no drink, no drugs, no nothing. Proper hardcore - total punk. We recreated this bedroom from a Jeff Wall picture of this guy with graffiti posters on his wall and the PR people were like ‘what are you doing?’ But people tell us to do it again. Sometimes influences come about because you remember something you’ve been into; that collection was very dark - so that was quite a literal interpretation for us.
While some of us are already enjoying the summer, others are still stuck in the office. However, this time around there has been something that has livened up those long hours at work. In fact, Cuban fever hit London this summer. Words by Jonna Dagliden.
The Cuba50 Program
The organisers of the event said Havana Club embodied the true spirit and passion of the Cuban people and their country. “We were delighted to be collaborating with such a cutting edge collective, “said Jo Spencer Head of marketing for Havana Club. ”It truly brings to life the passion of Contemporary Cuba to a London audience.“ However, Cuban artists taking part in this year’s Havana Arts Biennial faced critics who said they were “too bold for some tastes and too dissident for others”. Needless to say, they
still brought to mind the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the visual arts were in the vanguard of national Cuban culture. “I don’t know if what is being done today has the quality and power of what was produced by the so-called 1980s generation. I just know that something is on the move. The spark of life is back,” a 41-year-old visitor to the inauguration of the Tenth Havana Arts Biennial, told the Havana Times. “They are making a very strong statement. Even the titles of the works challenge the status quo,” added a 38-year-old
“The 80s Generation, made up mostly of graduates from Cuban art schools, made a complete break with the work done by artists in previous decades”
man who said he did not remember exhibitions like “Volume I”, movements like “Arte Calle” (Street Art) or the “Castillo de la Fuerza” (now a museum) project, which in their time revolutionised the Cuban cultural scene. The 80s Generation, made up mostly of graduates from Cuban art schools, made a complete break with the work done by artists in previous decades - this was famous for “socialist realism” and a content vision of society. In contrast, they opened up to the most diverse stylistic and formal trends. Whether we can see a new wave of art in Cuba might be too early to say, but there is a sign of artists that seek to recover a role in society. This event following the success of ‘100 Pieces of Havana’ in 2008, has once again shown that art should be shared among people. This time artists returned for round two as two teams went head to head in a live 100 minute art battle. Each team created their very own, unique interpretation of Cuba using only coloured acrylics and Edding pens on a 16ft high by 40ft wide white wall. The event ‘100 Minutes of Havana’ featured 10 acclaimed artists, including British talent such as Ian Stevenson, Austin from NEW, Robbie Wilkinson, Andy Forshaw and Andrew Rae, ALFA. The fusion of different styles and inspirations ensured an interpretation of Cuba that has never been seen before, reinforcing the vibrant energy and passion that Cuba is so well known for. When it was back again this July the Havana Club supported a series of events taking place at the Barbican Centre in London. They formed part of this year’s Cuba50 program, which celebrated Cuban culture and also marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. Following the revolution in 1959, Cuban cinema emerged as a unique phenomenon, with directors creating films that reflected their revolutionary ideals and innovative ideas. Returning for the second year and 50 years on from the revolution, the Cine Cuba festival combined contemporary perspectives on Cuban life and classics from the foremost filmmakers of the post-revolutionary era, featuring some of the most acclaimed Cuban actors and directors. The Barbican’s Cine Cuba festival combined contemporary cinematic perspectives on Cuban life and classics from the foremost filmmakers of the postrevolutionary era. It also included a number of films from Cuba including films from director Humberto Solas and “the Cuban Truffaut” director Pavel Giroud. The initiative was the first of its kind to profile artists from all disciplines, including musicians, visual artists, dancers, performers and writers raising awareness of contemporary art and culture in the city of Havana. It provided the artists living in Havana a chance to showcase their work, energy and passion to the world and encouraged people to explore the talent, vibrancy and modernity Havana has to offer.
Pernod Ricard rum brand Malibu with Get Your Island On, the Coca-Cola Centenary Bottle celebrating Selfridges 100th Birthday’, Jimmy Choo who will bring its international glamour and desirable shoes and bags to selected H&M stores and Cricket Spread Marmite are just some of the many ‘limited editions’ products that will be, or are already available, on the market. So how come a limited number of items appeal to such a huge number of shoppers?
“Limited editions work as it gives fans an added reason to buy,” says Kiran Gill, Senior Account Manager at Tea and Cake PR. She believes that this can provide stand out for iconic or much loved brands such as Malibu. “It also provides an opportunity for collectors,” she says. Malibu’s ‘Get Your Island On’ campaign launched last year, and for the first time it moved away from the brand’s traditional Caribbean setting to feature urban city life. This summer the bottle features four cocktail recipes including ‘Cranberry Splash’ and ‘Orange Sunset’. Also, the latest partnership between Coca-Cola Great Britain and Selfridges, follows a series of bottle collaborations sold exclusively in store. Summer 2008 saw stylist to the stars, Patricia Field, give ‘diet Coke’ a new look in the ‘diet Coke’ City Collection, which included four bespoke bottle designs that was supposed to “capture today’s modern woman.” Later in the year, renowned photographer, Rankin lent his signature style to create the London 2012 ‘Coca-Cola’ bottle to celebrate the handing over of the Olympic flag from Beijing to London. Back in 2003, British designer Matthew Williamson also put his style to the ‘Coca-Cola’ original glass bottle, creating a pink and yellow design. However glamorous it may seem - now when we are facing the worst recession in decades - will these items really create the same buzz among consumers as well as generate the amount of profit that brands are hoping for? Sophie Lovell, author of Limited Edition: Prototypes, One-Offs and Design Art Furniture believes so when she writes that designers view limited-edition design as part of a much bigger picture. ”It represents ideas from the research departments of their studios – real prototype design – but it is never the be-all and end-all of their professions,” she writes. “The idea of doing a gold-plated version of some wellknown or innovative object and making just eight copies to sell directly [in shops] is widespread – and there are plenty of individuals with large wallets who are prepared to buy them.” Furthermore she adds, those designers who are committed to exploring beyond the customers’ brief are unlikely to stop just because the product won’t make as much money. The big question then has to be why people are so fascinated by limited editions. According to Moa Wirde, a market trend researcher, western consumer society has witnessed a growth of the limited edition trend in recent years. “Retails of all kinds, be it automotive or make-up, adopt the idea in the marketing of their products,” she says. “Research has shown that retail products become instantly more attractive when marketed as a limited edition item - even if it offers no more than the regular version.” She adds that what appears to attract consumers is the feeling of luxury; the idea of being the owner of something that is not mass produced. “That’s why we’ve see an increase of limited edition products on the lower price scale. Limited edition chocolates and lipgloss give the consumer a feeling of uniqueness and function as a cheaper treat than a spa-weekend or a shopping spree.” Christine Martin, a regular consumer of limited editions, agrees with this and adds that these items make her feel special. “I collect Disney DVDs and they are all limited edition, so I have to grab them whilst I can,” she says. “Since they only come out for a certain amount of time, and numbers, I know that not everyone will have them.” So, instead of being a thing of the past ‘limited editions’ might as well be the way forward in a society filled with people who want to be treated with individuality. Creating a limited number of special designs might therefore benefit both the designer and the consumer. When quoting Tom Dixon, a British designer, Ms Lovell writes that in fact, they are experiencing a greater freedom. “I work to briefs, but in the case of my limited-edition works I have no boundaries, so I can create my own parameters. I can let my imagination run free and express my enthusiasm for materials, processes and techniques – but on my terms,” he told Ms Lovell. Also, with the recent recession people are perhaps even more aware of the need to buy items which are designed around the consumer and not the other way around. Perhaps it’s time to do a head start in celebrating the end of this economic crisis and welcome a new consumer-led era – conveniently - why not start it with a Malibu cocktail or two?
“I work to briefs, but in the case of my limitededition works I have no boundaries, so I can create my own parameters”
running just as fast as we can / holding on to one anothers hand / trying to get away into the night / and then you put your arms around me / and we tumble to the ground / and then you say
i think weâ€™re alone now
number 6: shirt / polo ralph lauren jacket / britt cormack belt / ben sherman trousers / digitaria shoes /doc martens number 73 : sequin dress / tarvydas shoes / sophie gittins giant pearl bracelet / changeroom number 1112: sunglasses / fiorucci grey shirt / uniqlo jacket / briggs and jones leather kimono belt / dolce & gabanna number 42: sunglasses / vintage versace bow tie / vintage danse macabre high collared shirt / digitaria velvet jacket / dolce & gabanna number 565: sunglasses / sabre shirt / digitaria waistcoat / qasimi jacket / ben sherman number 7: eel skin jacket / qasimi cravat / stylists own cotton shirt / ben sherman number 34-1: cotton shirt / topman dress shirt / digitaria jacket / dickins and jones london number 69: shirt / qasimi trench coat / ben sherman number 31: polo knit jersey / ralph lauren jacket / digitaria
photography / christopher thomas assisted by / thom blunt art direction / jack boulton stylist / britt cormack sylistâ€™s assistant / kristin hack, leszek dziechciarz hair / angela hertel using bumble and bumble make-up / yuka hirata models / alex, ben, alessandro and josh, all at storm / kelby @ mot models and additional photography / callan, chris, jaimie, fletcher and marko, all @ premier
Free Love 0800 756 6662
Alternative Risk Transfer In poker, risk taking through betting combines with individual skill and chance. In contemporary art practice, risk taking strategies are frequently privileged whilst there is continuing discussion over the role of skill and chance in the creative process. Whilst developing a curatorial proposition for an exhibition that will occur through the medium of gambling, London based artist Eugene Perera and Stimulus Respond’s Christopher Thomas play a high stakes game of Texas Holdem No Limit poker and discuss the ways in which the matrix of skill, risk and chance operate within the contexts of both art and gambling. Can betting games help us to understand art practice in new ways?
EUGENE IS DEALT:
CHRISTOPHER IS DEALT:
These are the ‘hole’ cards and are secret to each player. The blinds are forced bets to get the action going. EUGENE: Small Blind 50p. CHRISTOPHER: Big Blind £1. CT: People often complain in poker that they’re having a bad run of cards and that they’re ‘unlucky’. Of course we know that whilst there might be dramatic differences in the quality of cards being dealt in the short term, over the long term everybody gets the same chance opportunities. How does this democratic situation compare to the terrain of art practice? EP: Over the long term, there is no such democracy of opportunity as each successive situation for the artist opens up a multiplicity of further connected possibilities unlike poker where each hand is a fresh start. Early choices such (even down to art schools and so one) determine our future positioning and the contextual nuances of each situation affect the development of our practice and so it goes on. Development in art practice is probably more like an extended single hand of poker rather than a tournament where there are hundreds of hands played. The interesting point for me is trying to understand just how chance and decisionmaking intersect in different types of unfolding art practice and perhaps the methodologies of poker hand analysis might provide some ways into this. EUGENE: Raises £5 - a large raise indicating strength though he has weak hole cards. A random ruse as he should fold. CHRISTOPHER: Calls for £5 as he has good hole cards for a two player ‘heads up’. THERE IS £10 IN THE POT. CT: Deleuze & Guattari understand chance as more of an individualised event where there is an opportunity
to create a unique ‘assemblage’ of relations. Is this a more useful way of understanding chance? EP: I am more interested in each ‘chance opportunity’ where the throw of the dice creates wholly new and temporary combinations. The formulation of a consistent winning strategy that works over the long term may well be the Holy Grail in poker but it probably represents the end of creative practice in art. It is the randomness of chance that is interesting since this is where the most interesting structures can be divined. I think it is a fallacy to equate randomness with a lack of pattern and as a kind of white noise. Instead I prefer, similarly to the poker player who analyzes the ‘texture’ of a flop, to find structures. I think there is a fleeting chance for artists to find structure within every random event and poker may provide insight into how these intuitive leaps materialize. THE FLOP
EUGENE: Checks, having flopped three of a kind to induce Christopher to bet in a representation of weakness. CHRISTOPHER: Bets £10 having improved to two pair EUGENE: Raises to £30, having got Christopher to bet out. CHRISTOPHER: Calls for £30, confident he is ahead but suspicious of Eugene’s raise. THERE IS £70 IN THE POT. CT: The interaction of skill and chance is fundamental to poker where players control the betting but have no say over the cards they are dealt. Is there a skill-chance continuum where a higher degree of skill tends to diminish the role of chance and allow for practice to become less risky? EP: In Texas Holdem poker, it’s often suggested there is a skill-chance continuum where, as skill increases, there is proportionately less room for chance. I’m not sure if this is subtle enough as, however skillful the player is in placing bets, they don’t control the cards and the novice has the same opportunities as the poker pro. So I’d like to suggest instead that there is a fixed element of chance and a continuum of skill where experienced players are able to observe subtle behavioural manifestations or ‘tells’ and make complex predictions based on the odds to get an edge on the next guy. In art, the situation is more complex since there are as many practices as artists. However I wonder whether we could understand each practice as a performative game where there are certain rules and conventions and where there are very particular ways in which skill and chance interact? I also wonder whether some artists deliberately seek to ‘derisk’ practice through the development of an extensive skillset in the same way a professional poker player accesses an armory of skills to predict likely outcomes and make the right decisions? Might such a derisking strategy limit creative practice through removing the chance of the accidental? CT: Sure, but conversely an abundance of skill could create possibilities. In the context of painting, for example, we could think of particular artists (say Glen Brown or Nigel Cooke, for example) who use skill or craftsmanship not for painterly ends but as part of a wider conceptual strategy in which painting is simply the medium as opposed to the discipline. Here, skill and effort become perhaps the content of the work and are employed for representationally regressive purposes. Speaking of which, in poker, players often represent hands that they do not hold and this bluffing technique is called ‘representation’. I guess the upside of this strategy becoming almost an
“The interesting point for me is trying to understand just how chance and decision-making intersect in different types of unfolding art practice”
art medium in itself since the 90’s is that notions of sincerity and integrity are now up for negotiation. EP: Last night I discussed this with a friend within the wider context of marketing trends. Nowadays when a commercial brand sponsors an event, it aims to create a desirable association between the brand and the event which is far removed from the crude ‘badging’ strategies that used to be carried out. Artists have to be similarly circumspect in the way they represent themselves and the strategies of YBAs in the 90’s now seem heavy handed. I was amused to recently see a music festival logo written in the same typography as the Rizla logo - this struck me as a clever piece of ‘cloaking’ and I see it everywhere in artists’ promotional strategies. This has great relevance to poker where the most effective representation is often the semi or double bluff. Can we learn anything I wonder from the complex representational strategies of poker players? CT: My friend Fraser said something brilliant when we were talking about art and advertising. He said that artists seem to be the only people in the world that know how to do branding. Advertising people make such heavy weather of it but constructing a coherent brand is what artists do all the time. Fraser doesn’t do art - he does spectacles - but he’s often spot-on. Anyway, in poker, long-term players that make money will lose far more individual hands than win through limiting losses and maximising profits. Is ‘winning’ important in art? EP: Well we all know certain artists that are obsessed with winning in a way closely akin to the poker player but for others the criteria for success are rather more complex and obscure. Perhaps most interesting are artists who deliberately set out to fail. THE TURN CARD
EUGENE: Checks, feigning weakness, hoping Christopher will bet again. CHRISTOPHER: Checks, feeling enough has been committed on this hand. THERE IS £70 IN THE POT CT: In poker, players exercise control over the action through betting and different betting behaviours such as being ‘loose’ or ‘tight’ represent differing risk tolerances. How does risk tolerance change through art practice? EP: I think that the rise of the art market over the last 20 years and its commodification of everything it encounters has led to a reduction in risk taking as art practice dovetails into business practice. In the commercial sphere, risk assessment is a fundamental part of the decision making matrix and a low risk profile is nearly always good. Artists that have opted to operate within the commercial art market usually have to
“Artists seem to be the only people in the world that know how to do branding”
become ‘derisked’ before collectors buy and here provenance comes to the fore. Not surprisingly, this encourages many artists to become risk averse and to carry on making the same kind of work in a similar way to the poker player that has become ‘pot committed’ and fears the financial loss resulting from folding a hand. The current economic crisis is having an interesting effect on creative practice as younger artists realise that for now there is no great financial reward to be had and therefore they can take on more creative risk as there’s nothing to lose. Hopefully this will see an increased emphasis on criticality as a primary attribution of value rather than the simply financial. CT: Fundamental to risk taking is risk assessment through comparison of the potential loss to potential reward in a given course of action - the risk/reward ratio. Do artists embrace ‘perverse’ risk-reward ratios? EP: This is where it gets really interesting...I am sure that all artists in some way think about this. Clearly, few systematically calculate the risk outcomes involved in a particular strategy whereas in poker, players look at odds and are able to mathematically calculate the likelihood of particular events occurring. Artists no doubt will look at what is staked when undertaking a particular project in terms of things such as an intellectual position being risked, the effect on reputation through critical reception, possible financial repercussions and many other factors. Sometimes artists will deliberately increase the stakes through strategies that impose limitations on themselves but usually this is done in order to realise a potentially greater critical or other reward. The most interesting thing for me though is the artist that risks everything to gain nothing and follows a perverse risk-reward strategy. This is a little like the poker player that goes ‘all in’ betting everything to win just the blinds. CT: In finance there are sophisticated strategies for risk exchange and transfer? Do you think there’s an economy of risk transfer within the art sphere? EP: I think risk transfer strategies are particularly prevalent within the art marketplace and are become increasingly sophisticated as the financial stakes are raised. Established artists are able to employ a vast range of strategies to mitigate risk by involving others. This has the effect of derisking larger projects through the transfer of risk to third parties. These third party operatives in turn devolve risk to other parties and in this way an artist is able to SPREAD risk amongst a large group of financially involved professionals. This is sounding rather like what caused the current economic crisis with the parceling up of debt spreading the liability over a large number of third parties. Unfortunately this ability to pass on risk encouraged financial institutions to make ever greater bets through a false perception that risk had been reduced. The risk management proved to be faulty though and the system entered a state of crisis as borrowers defaulted in large numbers. The implications for this are interesting for the art market since at the top level a high degree of devolved risk potentially allows for larger scale projects (or bets) whilst in the middle market, where there is less opportunity to insure against risk, there is potentially less risk tolerance. It also begs the question as to whether a large scale catastrophic event
“The current economic crisis is having an interesting effect on creative practice as younger artists realise that for now there is no great financial reward to be had”
might occur within the art sphere since it is never possible to factor out all risk. If this is the case, what might this catastrophe be? Might it be a total voiding of critical content where art conflates with entertainment rather than a financial collapse? CT: Has this already happened? And isn’t this beautifully relevant to our plans to make a group show through the medium of gambling? THE RIVER CARD & SHOWDOWN
EUGENE: Checks again hoping Christopher will bet, CHRISTOPHER: Bets £20 thinking that Eugene hasn’t really got anything and hoping to steal the pot in the expectation Eugene will fold, CT: So how should our art casino work? EUGENE: Raises again to £50, CHRISTOPHER: Calls nervously for £50 feeling pot committed. EP: I’ve been thinking about devising a method for the show where artists and other interested art ‘players’ (in the literal sense) take risks to position themselves through the show. Here of course position must necessarily be more complex than the simple financial objectives of poker so it will be a challenge to devise a method that is both simple to play yet will allow us to engage with some of the issues that we have been discussing. I think the game will have to deal with variables such as risk-reward ratios, positioning, representation, risk profiling, skillsets and different kinds of chance opportunities to explore the nature of what is staked. I’m imagining at the moment that the game might in some way resemble poker but that’s all totally up for discussion. Eugene shows his cards – three of a kind and Christopher folds without showing as he has two pair. EUGENE WINS POT OF £170 CT: Can it be called “Eugene’s Palace’. Where the house always wins.
To continue the discussion, please contact Alternative Risk Transfer via firstname.lastname@example.org Christopher Thomas will be exhibiting at the Main Yard Gallery in October and at Bloomberg New Contemporaries with Kristel Raesaar in September and November.
the idea of 0 This is a story of X and Y that belongs to 0. 0 = a fraction of XY memories which was long buried and left untold X = her feeling Y = his feeling
photographer / Sasu Tei direction & styling / Rie Kondo hair stylist / Rieko Yamamoto make-up artist / Miyuki Amano photographerâ€™s assistant / Hojin model (w) / Yuka Sekimizu @ Satoru Japan International model (m) / Ryu
First and second spread: (f): kimono coat / Okura kimono sleeve t-shirt / Edwina Hörl skirt / stylist’s own sakura emblem stole / Okura obi string with navy ceramic balls / Okura black corsage / Mihara Yasuhiro fur grey headphone / Bless x audio-technica x Chikazawa Lace crystal black headphone / Bless x audiotechnica x Chikazawa Lace (m): star cut stripe t-shirt / Bless mini check bust all rounder / Bless pearl necklaces / Kyara from Okura Right: kimono sleeve t-shirt / Edwina Hörl trousers / Edwina Hörl denim apron / Motel. Inc. denim corsage / Mihara Yasuhiro blue tights / Mihara Yasuhiro geta / stylist’s own
Opposite: kimono sleeve t-shirt / Edwina Hörl kimono skirt / Edwina Hörl pearl necklaces / Kyara from Okura red tights / Mihara Yasuhiro geta / stylist’s own
This Spread: kimono coat / Okura indigo net jacket / Okura skirt / stylist’s own sakura emblem stole / Okura pearl necklaces / Kyara from Okura blue tights / Mihara Yasuhiro geta / stylist’s own Next Spread: (f): As above (m); mini check bust all rounder / Bless black corsage / Mihara Yasuhiro fur grey headphone / Bless x audio-technica x Chikazawa Lace crystal black headphone / Bless x audio-technica x Chikazawa Lace red tights / Mihara Yasuhiro geta / stylist’s own
93keys … A dumb drawing becoming automatic Words by Phil Sawdon
This drawing may be fictitious. Some similarity is intended or should be inferred. Background noise … something is knocking on the wall … the sound of René Hector approaching from An Allegorical Nonsense (Sawdon 2008: 76), … knitting a wordless exchange … Rnd 3: K2, *k2tog, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, sl1, k1, psso; rep from *, end k1 I A pen with ink scratches into dust … drawing … a conceptual fascinator is a nonverbal vibrator; I’ll see you sometime later? The dumb-show enters the Department of Drawing (Room No. Six) Enter cautiously 93keys and René Hector: they join a taxi rank that has formed by the door; the keys click clack and René Hector adjusts his volume [+/-]. The keys fall silent and anticipate the reunion on a bank of flowers. René covers his eyes and nose and burns perfume before the scratches. Enter more dust with four pens and others waiting: kneels down as to draw, does three more marks on paper and kisses it: René faints and will not suffer. Exit carrying René rolled in paper and dust II Does that sound [look] like drawing to you? … well I’m thinking it does to me. Hey … Turn that racket down, I can’t here myself think in here. I need a volume [+/-] control for adjusting the intensity of sound? Drawing is under control. Rich in volume [+/-] and full of sounds so what is drawing full of? … Please turn the volume [+/-] … I am trying to find out … Eureka! I think that the volume [+/-] of a drawing can be calculated by measuring the water displaced when it is immersed. The drawing displaces its own volume [+/-]. The drawing is a phonogrammatic container.
Turn that volume [+/-] …. The magnitude of the space enclosed within or occupied by the drawing. The relative size or extent and the relative importance or significance of drawings use of space is a fallacy of ambiguity. What volume [+/-] … the amount or the total? The amount! The full value and the significance … the significance of drawings are their intention and expression. The space enclosed within, the internal volume [+/-] of drawing should be turned inside out then the outside would not be so far away … thank you John … I’d better stop; whose brain is becoming old and scrambled? I will draw and drain them on a terracotta plate.
III Enter René, with more keys dressed in pens: they erase, and dance; a laptop is brought into the room and two more whisper out of the room, while some keys strip themselves, as if to draw and compliment who shall begin; as the dust is about to gesture, René pitches one upon his neck, and, with the help of the rest, writhes his neck about; seems to see if it is broken, and lays him folded double, as ‘twere under the donkey and across the laptop; makes show to call for silent help … Monsieur Âne comes in, gestures; sends for Madame Pipe and Monsieur Lièvre, who come forth with tools, wonder at the laptop; applauds the keys, and the rest, and go, as ‘twere, to speculate. IV René is now dressed in enchanted fascination and poses flabbergasted for fish autumn foraging towards pies into days as yet fantastical to escape thin gummy to be as blank white paper in aspic. The keys are locked in pantomime. The donkey eats a pencil. The question calls by as both a question and becoming drawing. There is silence before René Hector says, “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, our time is up.” The room erupts with an outburst of applause and excited rant.
V At a taxi rank by the door: It must be ten years …? I’ve gone to College … Oh right, whatchya studying? … fruit … and gesture VI Enter cautiously 93keys and René Hector: Their sixth is missing … the rest is everything left behind … [the backside] … and when it is done you will have a pen and stick with ink scratching into dust … these vii simple rules: 1. there are no scissors to glue ambiguity so put scratches on dust for a pin and sublime apply coloured splidge in board marrow and blipped to an equivocation that on(c)e upon an impotence will pen pieces for dirty and bleeding paper so fantasy and felt fuzzy just in time in tea and cling clang occurs … Jack… do you (?) 2. gentle man in position pit pat magic parts when a linguistic erection flams in fliminationality the powerless dumb lime for inks wasted and land accent lifts off the two special surface that fallacy pairs with pictures on canard in a sugar passion with erased tools on meadow behind an aspic in between the ink and the paper before faff … Tara … can you (?) 3. tempted to protect a radio static stickle back and ambiguity causes the three felt in a fascinating way to be unthinkable composition fading and light in twelvety despair of zealous jelly sooner or later that spiders will hear worthwhile and inept high eloquence permitting small hares to slap a good feeling on the tickets that clong bingo hectorism so we can’t go back … are either of you there (?) 4. form of an argument peeled the fallacious accumulator space mantelpiece until a potate it has grate to be silage on picture in amphibolous breeding to journal all the colours burn four nicely on brutal remarks not least between the theory in mind and the practice of cold fascinator hands nib to drape plank juice on contemporary art … can you draw it (?) 5. seven days and a few words discursive water division to appear validating glass insurrection of five statements do perform inference and door on diction peach to rice piece do that stove in the hole as a figure of speech with several notions of flopinality and pine golden duck rabbits at cracks in days break washed ink plipping in 4/4 time … within which case shall we do it together (?) 6. young mishap gestures possibilities on the sixth day sun split paired and invisible to each gladiator when it jams the lice in too tired and toe to neon automatically feeds rantonicicism for rené’s papers of doubt disdains the flaccid and the logics in sufficient only methods for replacing a tuned pencil on clay shadows with string and cake … have either of you (?) 7. stimulus in out is not affirming the consequent of becoming drawing felt-fuzzy dawns seven days echo as the stone charts as if by mathematics say hello iodine pussycat so confident in confusion and prepare the renouncement for clean fuck fuckity fuck impassive potency mark unread in order to farm precession so sharp and sincerely yours that the lover of horses phenomerised a moleskin warmth as jaded yellow faded felt fuzzy becoming 360 degrees ‘August 1950 Reference Sawdon, P. (2008) ‘An Allegorical Nonsense for Three Players’, Stimulus→Respond, Time Issue, 76-78
Image by Tom Hagemeyer
All Fingers and Thumbs Words by Julian D
Fingers are useful for a number of reasons. Tipped with sensors they are very much the Swiss Army knife cutting an edginess to our daily routines. Constantly moving around in the day-to-day we find ourselves negotiating new scenarios and an unimaginable amount of individual encounters. As part of the routine we may get annoyed, sense an overwhelming urge to be charitable, need to engage our logical head, or we might be feeling overly confident. Using some odd yet deliberate visual gestures created by marshalling our fingers into action we can tell and show others, with a greater or lesser degree, the way we feel. To the finger poet a simple action of pointing is pretty much unconscious which is in contrast to our more conscious habit of talking and telling people about our daily experiences. Sketchy ideas, expressed as factual flat chronicles in the form of bare lists or flat descriptions of important events can be animated more fully with the addition of a splash of finger poetry. In the same way as the act of talking, or oration, was championed as an artform by the Greeks as early as 700BC, a marshall command of finger poetry can lift the detail hidden in our stories of the mundane dayto-day to more dramatic levels. Some tell us, quite literally, this is the right-way and a logical development of the way communication develops, yet others assume the position of a left-side. There are some commonly held beliefs that there is a shift towards the image from the written word. For us here the image can be seen as finger poetry and the written word is replaced by the act of talking. So, the next time you’re dishing out directions to a lost tourist, feel some comfort that chanting the words ‘there, over there’ whilst pointing to an unfathomable target in the distance doesn’t make you lunatic. There is a downside to finger poetry too. If overlooked of its evolutionary relevance, the use of fingers as arbiters of communication can be misinterpreted. This misinterpretation can cause offence which otherwise may have been avoidable if only we keep up with the cultural morphing of these visual utterances. Counter to elevating verbal conversations to dramatic levels of detail, misinterpretations can render a simple reflex, a shift of a finger, into a weapon causing cultural conflict. Let’s peek into the history of the humble poised finger. Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of pop band PULP once flicked us the Vs and in the notorious recruitment by the U.S. Army, ‘Uncle Sam’ made his point with a well-emphasised ‘I WANT YOU’. Although rebuked by communication specialists as being a lesser form of expression, seen as a luddite-art, finger poetry, or more aptly named, ‘finger-telling’ is a fast growing phenomenon according to results on Google. Googling the words ‘finger’ and ‘gesture’ together results in 473,000 hits. Out of these the website called ‘The Finger’ reminds us that a fast and loose finger gesture although offered in earnest, may get you into a sticky situation. This is in reference to the time the then English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher mistakenly made a palm-back sign to the electorate, reminding us ‘it’s not the first time a politician told voters to piss off’ – amusingly adding – ‘but just not so elegantly’. So, taking these every-day best practices of finger-pointing try setting up the following scenarios. Afterwards you’ll be able to decide on the elegance behind your finger poetry prowess. Putting playful finger-pointing to the test you need a hand, a scenario, and some unsuspecting victims. The rules are simple. You must carry out each of the scenarios at your leisure and mark your efforts on the basis of reactions garnered from the people around you. Just one thing to remember is that forcing the scenarios may result in an unwanted confrontation. You’ve been cautioned, so, here goes: (1) seek out a lost tourist and, whilst dishing out directions, rely on the pointed-lightness of the first-finger to locate landmarks even if they’re out of sight, (2) targeting the next person who walks too slowly ahead of you, cease with your patience and expressing your annoyance offer them the pissed-off-middle-finger, (3) count the items listed on your next grocery receipt using a palpable sideways-horizontal-first-finger-ascent/descent, (4) if you’re feeling lucky beckon someone with a friendly-first-finger-inwards-curl, (5) show somebody you’re OK and salute them with a thumbs up; and the raison d’être of this finger poetry, (6) stand dead in your tracks on a busy high street and presume your eureka moment, emphasising it with a first-finger-upwards-thrust.
A moot point follows, in that the single most useful deliberate use of fingers is in the act of counting or more specifically indexing. It is possible just on fingers to count up to 1023 (1024 real) using the humble ten digits. Counting in this sense is not a simple act of phenomenal memory but relies on an alternative to repeat counting over the same 10 digits. Instead of ending up all fingers and thumbs, the mother of all number systems, binary, is a more complex numeral system providing respite. It is by far the best method for encoding the bloated and cranky cohort 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 into a logical indexing system. The logic of binary is reliant on the first 2 base components zero and one. It can be argued the base components reached their peak in the story of logic and reason when a German mathematician, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, elevated them above the bog standard in the 1600s; the number system as we now know it a variant on the original Hindu-Arabic inscriptions dating back to 6th Century AD. Almost a topology on the scale of gesture alone, fingers are seen here as indicators and mediators. As an instruction device they can appear in different forms. More artistically, a conductor of an orchestra will segway from drawing heavy poetic baroque loud twists through to the more tense and reduced modernist swipes through the air. From time to time, the meanings behind certain finger gestures are co-opted and their chosen meanings can alter. The more precise and deliberate tone of certain number systems can provide a mix of both systematic and artistic approaches â€“ a tried and tested 00100 may garner unwanted attention, 00010 could attract followers, 00001 will always give the ok. Meet finger poetry at its most elegant and scientific. Here the numeral one gives the nod to zero and vice versa. Their synonymous relationship provides our brain with a unit of measurement that shapes something else. This is the abstract and representative order of things set-up as a lean numeric system. This is called binary and per se in simplistic terms allows us to measure things through their exact opposites. These opposites are called binary poles. In modernist motifs they can be identified in the clockwork of tic/toc; the intersection between chaos and order; and the moment where stasis ends and motion starts. The latter, providing the most widely felt material manifestation of binary; for instance, within the realms of virtual space the interactive designer considers the attack/response aspects in screen design and the product designer cogitates on the importance of the on/off switch. From its sedentary beginnings seen in mechanical objects and electronics to a more esoteric application used in logistics and algorithms, this reminds us of the superiority and flexibility of binary as a numeral system which domesticates complex problems. So what of the duality of purpose of the humble poised finger? Used sparingly we see that it can animate our communication, yet when considered as an instrument (a counting aid or as social amplification of verbal communication) it becomes increasingly obvious that being all fingers and thumbs isnâ€™t so bad. Think geek at: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/02/nerds-show-us-h/
Why 1023? Itâ€™s logical. Pitched against one, Zero wins out every time.
Alain Badiou, Multiplicity and Contemporary Art Words by David Brancaleone
Listening Post, by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, winner of the 2004 Ars Electronica Festival was transmitted by thousands of public domains –instant messenger, chat rooms, newsgroups, bulletin boards.a Words flashed on tiny screens hanging from wires, in topics grouped by statistical analysis, and were also read out aloud by a machine.b This thing is an operational network, the flux of communication crossing the virtual wires, endlessly becoming, ceaselessly changing, never a fixed totality, making a monument out of the pure multiplicity, the sheer scale of what’s online. This is, if ever there was one, an image of being as multiple. Multiplicity mattered to the Egyptian rulers who tamed space into a geometric grid to measure strange outline bodies. It was crucial to the Greeks who used numbers to figure out proportions for their statues and buildings. And the Renaissance based architectural proportion on the arithmetical mean.c Leon Battista Alberti worked out a theory of painting in which maths –instead of God– UNIfies space. He replaced the polarised medieval world of extremes with a single secular and symbolic space which could be a credible, totalised environment, a site for representing politics, history or myth, what belonged counted, what didn’t was left outside the picture frame. This is how Panofsky explains it: “In a sense perspective transforms psychophysiological space into mathematical space […] so that the sum of all the parts of space and all its contents are absorbed into a single ‘quantum continuum’”.d The Albertian window onto the world is a two-dimensional intersection of the visual pyramid: “Perspective mathematises this visual space, and yet it is very much visual space that it mathematises; it is an ordering, but an ordering of the visual phenomenon.”e But why? Because maths could produce symbolic form.f More recently, Smithson became intrigued by entropy in mistake occurrences in ecology, waste, energy crisis, and Watergate; in entropy, multiplicity is inconsistent, understood as inexplicable disorder, as opposed to singularity, hierarchy, order, system, method.g Back in the 1950s, Rauschenberg made Combines like Small Rebus.h Where’s the centre, a One, an Icon, a unified theme? Cage: “There is no more subject in a combine than there is in a page from a newspaper. Each thing that is there is a subject. It is a situation involving multiplicity.”i When Abstract Expressionism still counted, Rauschenberg preferred multiple images, maybe related, probably not, to Rothko’s icons and to the artistas-He Man. In psychoanalysis, literature, and philosophy, the One of individuality becomes a complex figure –witness Laing’s Divided Self (1960), Foucault’s “What Is an Author?” (1969), Barthes’s S/Z (1970) –a number, a multiple even, as fragmented and problematic as the Woody Allen character of Play It Again Sam (1972) only partly identified with his monolithic counterpart, the Bogart of Casablanca.j Here’s the very beginning of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (1969): “The two of us wrote Anti-Oedipus together, since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd”.k Sylvano Bussotti’s musical score for Cage’s friend illustrates the
opening page of A Thousand Plateaus. It’s as much art as musical notation, fighting the consistent logic of Western sheet music with the weapons of chaos.l For years, Cage had been extending what counts as music, in fidelity to Russolo’s Futurist The Art Of Noise (1913), in which MONOtony is discarded in favour of POLYphony, to celebrate noise as chaotic, inconsistent, multiplicity. Umberto Eco’s half-forgotten Open Work (1962) extends the same concept of mathematical multiplicity to visual art and literature. Eco says the work of art succeeds because it’s ambiguous and open-ended, instead of trying to transmit big meanings. You just can’t engage in “univocal decoding”.m Univocity or singularity is precisely what the ‘open work’ resists. Eco gives examples from contemporary music, such as Boulez’s Third Sonata for Piano in which ten pieces on ten music sheets can be shuffled like a pack of cards, and played at random. Inconsistent multiplicity defeats univocal interpretation. So, in this respect, Small Rebus or many works by Cage’s Fluxus fans, challenged the apparent consistency (or logic) of the status quo – they’re multiple gestures that don’t add up to a whole.n Number is at the basis of capitalist exchange-value and commodification; the number of currency, stats in social sciences, opinion polls, viewing, voting, foreign trade figures, stock exchange fluctuations, they all follow the law of the state of the situation, the law of capital; for Alain Badiou these numbers however consistent, “cannot make any claim to truth”.o Number is at the basis of Greek thought, so when Deleuze declared he’d “reverse Plato”, what was at stake was how we think and generalise ideas, from empirical Particular to idealist Universal or viceversa.p Plato was also a constant target of Derrida’s work from Of Grammatology (1967) to Archive Fever (1996) and beyond. Derrida made further incisions into the soft underbelly of Western metaphysics, deconstructing the ‘logocentricity’ of meaning, its totality, splintering it off into multiple meanings, endlessly fragmenting text, through deferment, slippage; his was a critique of the logics of identity, contradiction, the excluded middle, all presupposed by metaphysics of Being.q Adorno sets the scene for this climate of ideas: “in the face of the experiences we have had, not only through Auschwitz but through the introduction of torture as a permanent institution and through the atom bomb –all these things form a kind of coherence, a hellish unity– in the face of these experiences the assertion that what is has meaning, and the affirmative character that has been attributed to metaphysics almost without exception, become a mockery”.r So Lyotard’s attack against the metaphysics which underpinned the concepts of history, emancipation, scientific progress, calling them all ‘grand narratives’, came from a similar post-war scepticism. s Micro-histories, one-offs that no longer added up to a universal truth, replaced the whole, the One, the metanarrative. Actually, Lyotard’s thought produced a new dialectic, between multiplicity or multiple narratives (good) and singularity (bad), totalitarian and false.t A new grand narrative emerged, of multiplicity as catastrophe (1960s-style
Above Left: Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, Listening Post, Installation, <http://www. interactivearchitecture.org/listeningpost-mark-hansen-and-ben-rubin.html>, accessed 27 April 2009 Above Right: Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Guests (2009), Venice Biennale, Polish Pavilion. Photograph: David Brancaleone.
“Eco gives examples from contemporary music, in which ten pieces on ten music sheets can be shuffled and played at random”
entropy), in which we hurtle towards self-destruction, rather than march towards inevitable progress. Virilio is typical: “to talk about civilisation, when sites of a new cultural management aimed at combining art with science and advertising are repeatedly being uncovered, is to participate in its liquidation.”u These alarming aspects of our time provoke this postmodern prophet to warn us that the end is nigh. Progress “has caught up with us and overtaken us” he writes, “as the history of the twentieth century, with its mass production of corpses, has proved.”v He swops Modernist progress with his apocalyptic “future of no future”. w There’s a similar streak in Agamben, not so much because he sees the continuity of Nazi treatment of humans in the recent persecution of asylum seekers and the perpetration of torture by liberal democracies, but because, in the absence of genuine politics, he thinks modern society is founded on the concentration camp, as concealed matrix of the political space we still inhabit today which materialises in our contemporary condition, a permanent ‘state of exception’ whereby the camp itself, not the city, is the paradigm of Western biopolitics. x The outcome of this climate of ideas is that the scope of philosophy and politics has shrunk to ethics, a trend Badiou slams in his Ethics: “the celebrated ‘end of ideologies’ heralded everywhere as the good news which opens the way for the ‘return of ethics’ signifies in fact an espousal of the twistings and turnings of necessity, and an extraordinary impoverishment of the active, militant values of principles.”y Deleuze is key because a particular mathematical multiplicity underlies his philosophy and approach to art, literature, politics, and film. For Deleuze “the pure multiple is a synonym of chaos”.z He considered top-down thinking, that’s to say hierarchical and theorembased, ‘arborescent’ (bad) and problem-based thought which he calls ‘molecular’, ‘rhizomatic’ (good). His approach opposes the singularity of the tree structure to the multiplicity of rhizomatic root formations which collect into endless clusters with no rhyme or reason. “We call a ‘plateau’ any multiplicity connected to other multiplicities by superficial underground stems in such a way as to form or extend a rhizome. We are writing this book as a rhizome. It is composed of plateaus”.aa For ‘molecular’ read ‘singularity’, for ‘rhizomatic’, ‘multiplicity’. Deleuze’s Francis Bacon illustrates this model, in the way it reduces Bacon’s paintings and process to a multiplicity of sensations, extended from the boundaries of the lived body to what Deleuze calls “the Body without Organs”.ab For Deleuze, painting is meant to make visible the
“In the absence of genuine politics, Agamben thinks modern society is founded on the concentration camp”
fascinating logic of chaos –Deleuze’s preferred multiplicity– based on a mathematical model, Reimannian problematics (differential multiplicities, calculus, and fractal geometry vs. Euclidean geometry).ac In A Thousand Plateaus, writing about the war machine as a form of mathematical thinking, Deleuze and Guattari had problematics in mind. They said state science turns its knowledge into ‘strictly limited formulas’, in other words, axioms.ad They equated axiomatics with capitalism and the repression of problematics which are nomadic (a good thing) and non-authoritarian (also a good thing). In Deleuze, you’ll get a plateau out of multiplicity, at most, a line of flight (like a bright idea or an escape route), but that’s about it, things are never going to change. Whereas change is just what distinguishes Badiou’s work on multiplicity from Deleuze’s. Out of multiplicity comes the event, that rare occurrence that shatters the status quo through a revolutionary break in what we understand; a bit like Bachelard’s and Althusser’s ‘epistemological break’.ae Badiou compares the event to Dedekind’s mathematical ‘cut’ in the infinite swarming of numbers, “the incision of thought in the inconsistent fabric of being”, –outside situations, there’s nothing.af “Every true test for thought”, Badiou writes, “originates in the localisable necessity of an additional step, of an unbroachable beginning.”ag But events are rare: “a truth is, first of all, something new. What transmits, what repeats, we shall call knowledge. Distinguishing truth from knowledge is essential.”ah Examples include the 1917 Russian Revolution, May ’68, Malevich’s Black Square. The Commune was a singularity (that is, an event, the only time multiplicity takes the form of a singularity), because it made explicit the structural gap between political innovation and state representation of politics.ai It exposed a void, “‘the nothing’ is what names the unperceivable gap between presented consistency and inconsistency”, standing for a political alternative by demonstrating that the oligarchy of parliamentarian democracy and the inevitability of the status quo can be broken.aj In Badiou’s writing maths is upfront, since his philosophy of the event is built on Zermelo Fraenkel axiomatic set theory, demonstrating that art, as well as philosophy, science, politics and psychoanalysis, can be conceptualised in these terms.ak However, ZF set theory only provides an account of the state of a situation, including a historical one, but can’t explain change or the event which is why in Being and Event Badiou adopts Paul Cohen’s 1960s theory of the generic set. Cohen includes in the set a generic sub-set that we don’t have a name for and can’t see. Cohen calls it a supplement because it supplements the presented situation, forming a new set which is entirely different from the situation it came from.al The maths provides a matrix for thought, helping to conceptualise in a new way the structure of multiplicity.am The event is a cut. Society can’t think in terms of change; its complexity makes it necessary to prevent “any cut, any intervention”, because what society considers natural laws, “the market, appetite, domination”, cannot be interrupted.an Briefly, Dedekind’s mathematical concept of the cut, dating from 1872, emerged from the question whether it was possible to determine a singular number, by cutting the dense sets of numbers, interrupting the continuum and determining points within it. Given sets of rational numbers R¹ and R², Dedekind identifies a real number which is the upper limit of R¹ and the lower limit of R², in the place of the cut between R¹ and R².ao Badiou’s axiomatics, applied to the gap between events he calls time, also offers a way to conceptualise art’s potential to visualise discrepancy and change. “We should, and therefore we can, proclaim the existence in art of something that, for the poor century now under way, no longer exists: monumental construction, projects, the creative force of the weak, the overthrow of established powers.”ap Artistic intervention is an interruption.aq You break with the media flows of pan-capitalist society, its clichés of alienated everyday life, setting aside postmodernist scepticism to look beyond rights and single issues, by dealing with fault lines on a broader scale to think change, emancipation and truth.ar In Track-The-Trackers (2003) James Coupe presents surveillance in action, rather than represent it. In (re)collector (2007) he applies the potential of technology and the Web to produce an independent decision-making system.as He creates situations which provide an experiential demonstration of what’s going on, dealing with the social
Opposite Page: Peter Handke, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, The National Theatre, London, 2008. Photograph: Tristram Kenton Above: Jenny Holzer, Detainee Summary Page 7, 2007. Oil on linen cm. 259.7 x 200.7 Installation shot, Venice Biennale 2007, Photograph: David Brancaleone.
“Society can’t think in terms of change; its complexity makes it necessary to prevent ‘any cut, any intervention’”
without being directly political.at How does Coupe do it? By displaying the reality of the situation of virtual space which has become an important site of political struggle.au His version of multiplicity, by comparison with Listening Post, enacts and thereby makes visible the invisible aspect of the Web, its void (ø), which exceeds what we commonly understand as part of a situation (or set). That’s because what we conceptualise as a situation or set has been counted-as-one and nothing is presented that isn’t counted.av But there’s something else, “a phantom remainder”, though not counted in as part of what’s been categorised and thus made consistent as an identifiable situation (the multiplicity of the web which epitomises the freedom of liberal democracy in a globalised world), is also in there, excluded, not presented within the regime of the situation. aw Mainstream media rhetoric ignores and excludes all those subject to the digital divide, the outcome of economic marginalization. This is the subset or uncounted multiple of the situation in the site of the virtual capitalist community, located by Manuel Castells in a “space of flows” engaging in “timeless time”.ax Coupe makes explicit the information gathering systems. The Web has always been a contested site torn between sharing and interactivity and copyright and profit. Originally, Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) were developed for military control, not for some vague notion of neoliberal democracy in a globalised world. They’re directed by huge financial interests, but have always faced resistance and a search for alternatives. Still, technological innovations can’t be a DIY recipe for direct democracy, though they’ve proved useful for oppositional social movements, for example, to foster independent news gathering (think of information getting through, thanks to Teheran and Gaza strip bloggers). The subtraction of the Real from the non-sense of the war on terror, was made publicly visible in Jenny Holzer’s paintings at the 2007 Venice Biennale: oil on linen original works of photocopies (indexical images, like footprints in the sand) of a multiplicity of classified documents no one is normally allowed to see – freedom of information is contradicted by the censureship of hundreds of lines of erased words. These extract the truth from indexicality itself, through rotation, sheer scale of the work, and modernist allusion. What appears is the inconsistent multiplicity of Rendition, Guantanamo Bay, and parlamentarian democracy’s duplicity. Philip Jones-Griffiths’s photography interrupted the US Vietnam storyline. His documentary photography resulted from listening and learning for two years, about the people (in conformity with Paulo Freire’s revolutionary pedagogical methods.ay Self-funded (with the exception of a two week commission), Jones-Griffiths published the first photo-book of its kind, Vietnam Inc. during the war, combining image and ironic captions.az The state of the situation as generally perceived at the time, was a US Frontier version of the facts; his photography cuts the logic of what was happening (which was consistently being ignored by the rest of the media) as it was happening, making the inconsistent, unaccounted for, real world appear on film. Vietnam Inc. is still a theoretical model for documentary art photography.ba Whereas, Renzo Martens’s 2009 video Episode III is self-reflexive art documentary, about how commercial photojournalism exploits images of poverty, war and historical devastation as commodities, offering an alternative to Benjamin’s critique.bb Martens gives local people the means
Above Left: Video still from: Renzo Martens, Episode III, Colour video, sound, 88 minutes. Courtesy of the Artist and Wilkinson Gallery, London. Frances Guerin, “Interview with Renzo Martens”, ArtSlant, January 2009, <http://www.artslant.com/global/ artists/rackroom/39542-renzo-martens>, accessed 5 April 2009. Above Right: Sylvano Bussotti, XIV Piano Piece for David Tudor, 1960. Source: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizofrenia, trans. Brian Massumi, London and New York: Continuum, 2004, p. 3.
“The Web has always been a contested site torn between sharing and interactivity and copyright and profit.”
of production, interrupts the media spectacle, interpellating people in the war zones, rather than pathologising them.bc A documentary precedent (of taking the means of production into one’s own hands) was when the Ogoni people of the Nigerian Delta armed themselves with videos, just before a government-sponsored massacre murdered 1,000 of their people, back in 1993. They smuggled the video out to Europe; theirs was the only coverage of what was meant to stay well out of sight.bd A final comparison: Peter Handke’s The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other (2008) and Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Guests (2009). In Handke’s play at the National Theatre, London, twenty-seven wordless actors play hundreds of characters. The scene is an empty town square, soon populated by people who never become individuals, they’ve no names, no identity; their clothes tell us only their role: city workers, dustmen, pinstriped businessmen and women, lovers, brides, tourists, refugees. The mind struggles to make a shape, a story but each time it is foiled. The characters rush past on their way to wherever they’re going in their lives, past the square and the audience. They are the transient, chaotic multiplicity of the square which was empty at the beginning and empties out at the end. The square is just a location in time and space, but it becomes the site for staging the meaningless flux of humans that never grows into a story. In an interview, Handke called this “a world”.be The people come, go, they’re gone. Somehow, the play was riveting even without a plot, without the crucial moment that produces the drama Aristotle calls catharsis. What was exciting was they way it captured certain moments of in-betweenness of experience, before names exist, in the fluidity in which anything’s possible. In real life, subtracted from the strangers who walk across Handke’s theatre set are those who have no status, the Guests, the sans papiers that society ignores from its count-as-one, who have no vote, no rights, and are excluded from the state of the situation in terms of legal, ethnic, political, labour representation. That’s why they are the void of the set/ situation. In Guests, the video installed in the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the windows are projections on the walls of a windowless space, revealing an anonymous world.bf You hear the voices from real interviews between artist and workers and watch their figures move closely to Alberti’s picture plane, almost touch it, losing visibility the further away they move, before vanishing completely from sight. They form a multiplicity that is included, but doesn’t belong. Poland is now also part of Fortress Europe, and has itself become an unwelcome refuge for refugees from Vietnam, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia and other neighbouring states. Ironically, in the country that hosts the Biennale, a 2009 law of the Berlusconi government criminalises anyone who harbours a migrant without official papers, in English ‘WOP’. David Brancaleone lectures in art history and theory at the Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland. He was awarded a doctorate by The Warburg in 2002. His dissertation was published in abridged form and was about Ramon Llull, the medieval polymath and forerunner of modern computing for his combinatory logic. David worked as Deputy Director, Central Registry of Information on World War II Looted Art, researcher for Christies on World War II looted art, guest lecturer and MA tutor at Sotheby’s. He has published articles in Muse and Arts Business Exchange and some poetry.
Endnotes a <http://www.interactivearchitecture.org/listening-post-mark-hansen-and-ben-rubin.html>, accessed 27 April 2009. b Carey Gibbons, “The Listening Post”, <http://www.columbia.edu/cu/museo/6/hansen_and_rubin/index.html> accessed 24 April 2009. c Michael Baxandall, Words for Pictures, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003, p. 29. d Erwin Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form, trans. with an introduction by Christopher S. Wood, New York: Zone Books, 1991, p. 27. e Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form, p. 71. f Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form, p. 67. g Jack Flam (ed.), Robert Smithson. The Collected Writings, Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 1996. h Robert Rauschenberg, Small Rebus, 1956. Combine painting. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Panza Collection Branden W. Joseph. i My italics. John Cage, “On Robert Rauschenberg, Artist, and his Work”, Metro, Milan, 1961 in Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (eds), Art in Theory 1900-2000. An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, p. 734. j The essay ends with the question: “What matters who’s speaking?” “What Is An Author?” in Michel Foucault, Language, CounterMemory, Practice. Selected Essays and Interviews, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977, pp. 113-138. Barthes is slightly out of synch with the others, as Stuart Sim has noted, because “even when proclaiming the virtues of ‘polysemy’ and ‘plurivocity’, he will demand that plurality of meaning be reducible to a code”. Stuart Sim, Confrontations with Poststructuralism and Postmodernism, Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press,1992, p. 151. Roland Barthes, S/Z, trans. Richard Miller, New York: Hill & Wang, 1974 , pp. 5-6. However, it seems to me that the late Barthes (Camera Lucida) has relinquished the code in his punctum theory. k Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizofrenia, trans. Brian Massumi, London and New York: Continuum, 2004,  p. 3. l Sylvano Bussotti, XIV Piano Piece for David Tudor, 1960. Source: Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 3. m Umberto Eco, Open Work, trans. Anna Cancogni, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989 , p. 193. n However, looking at several of his Combines, you begin to suspect that even though there’s no centre, there is still an underlying grid in the composition and that, to some extent, the images too are selected, not only for their shapes; so, yes, an “open work”, a multiplicity, but not an entirely random one; a reworked Dadaist collage, but using allusion, rather than allegory. On allegory, see Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, London: Verso, 1985. o Badiou, Number and Numbers, trans. Robin Mackay, Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity, 2008 , p. 213. p Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester, London and New York: Continuum, 2004 , p. 291. q Identity: Whatever is, is. Contradiction: Nothing can be and not be. Excluded middle: Everything must either be or not be. r Theodore Adorno, Lecture Fourteen, “The Liquidation of the Self” (15 July 1965), Metaphysics: Concepts and Problems in Rolf Tiedmann (ed.), Theodore Adorno. Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003, p. 427. s Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, in Keith Crome, and James Williams (eds), The Lyotard Reader and Guide, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006. t This is how Terry Eagleton sums up the negative effects of postmodernism: “we became used to living with the loss of absolute value, along with the belief that progress was a myth, human reason an illusion and our existence a futile passion.” (Terry Eagleton, After Theory, London: Penguin Books, 2004, p. 66.) He identifies Postmodernism’s own grand narrative: “as the grand narrative of capitalist globalization, and the destructive reaction which it brings in its wake, unfurls across the planet [...] the West may be forced to reflect on the reality of its existence, at a time when postmodern thought has grave doubts about both truth and reality”. (Eagleton, After Theory, p. 73.) u Paul Virilio, Art and Fear, London and New York: Continuum, 2006. Paul Virilio, Ground Zero, London and New York: Verso, 2002, p. 70. v Paul Virilio, Ground Zero, p. 14. w Martin E. Marty, “The Future of No Future: Frameworks of Interpretation”, in Stephen J. Stein (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism Vol. 3, New York: Continuum, 1999, pp. 461-484. Marty doesn’t make the association with Postmodernism, but sticks to contemporary religious movements. For Francis Fukuyama the end of history coincided with the end of the Cold War and the millenarian victory of liberal democracy. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and The Last Man, New York: Avon, 1992. I would argue that the Postmodernist ontologization of Evil is symptomatic of the substitution of politics with ethics decried by Alain Badiou in his Ethics. x Giorgio Agamben, La Comunità che Viene, Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2001, p. 39. Homo Sacer. Il Potere Sovrano e La Nuda Vita, Turin: Einaudi, See especially the chapter “Il Campo come “Nómos” del Moderno, pp. 184-201. One advantage of Agamben’s position is to include what has happened since World War II in post-Holocaust thought and the debates of memorialisation, without incurring anti-semitism. Giorgio Agamben, Mezzi Senza Fine. Note Sulla Politica, Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2005 , especially “Glosse in margine ai Commentari sulla società dello spettacolo”, pp. 60-73. y Alain Badiou, Ethics. An essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward, London and New York: Verso, 2001 , p. 32. How? “From the beginning [ethics] confirms the absence of any project, of any emancipatory politics, or any genuinely collective cause. By blocking, in the name of Evil and of human rights, the way towards the positive prescription of possibilities.”, p. 31. z Francois Wahl, “The Subtractive”, Preface to Alain Badiou, Conditions, trans. Steven Corcoran, London and New York: Continuum, 2008 . For Badiou’s critique of Deleuze’s ontology, see Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze. The Clamor of Being, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Further elaboration appears in Alain Badiou, ‘One, Multiple, Multiplicities’ in Theoretical Writings, London and New York: Continuum, 2006, pp. 68-82. aa Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 24. ab Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon. The Logic of Sensation, trans. Daniel W. Smith, London and New York: Continuum, 2008, . ac On problematics and theorematics in Deleuze and Badiou, see: Daniel W. Smith, “Badiou and Deleuze on the Ontology of Mathematics” in Peter Hallward (ed.), Think Again. Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy, London and New York: Continuum, 2007 , pp. 77-93. ad Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 400. ae Gaston Bachelard, The New Scientific Spirit, Boston: Beacon Press, 1984. Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar, Reading Capital, London: New Left Library, 1977 , pp. 44 and ff. af Badiou, Number and Numbers, p. 155. ag Badiou, Number and Numbers, p. 81. ah Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought. Truth and the Return to Philosophy, London: Continuum, 2004, p. 45. ai Badiou provides an example in “The Paris Commune” in Alain Badiou, Polemics, trans. Stephen Corcoran, London and New York: Verso, 2006, pp. 257-290, in which the post-evental situation and its consequences emerge from a careful discussion of the event itself. aj Alain Badiou, Being and Event, trans. Oliver Feltham, London and New York: Continuum, 2006 , p. 54. The void is only discernible after the event. ak Long after Badiou’s startling Manifeste pour la philosophie (1989) was translated as Manifesto for Philosophy (1998) his works began to receive serious attention in Anglo-Saxon academic circles, especially his Ethics. Witness the time lapse between the publication of Badiou’s major philosophical work L’Etre et l’evenément (1988) and its translation as Being and Event (2005) and Petit Manuel d’inesthétique (1998) and its translation as Handbook of Inaesthetics (2003). The broader reception of Being and Event almost coincides with the publication of its second volume and sequel, Logics of Worlds first published in 2006 and already translated in 2009. al Mathematical ontology can’t think in terms of truth. Can there be an unnameable multiple, indiscernible in set theory? For Cohen, yes. See Meditation 33, “The Matheme of the Indiscernible: P.J. Cohen’s strategy”, Being and Event, pp. 355-371. am For Badiou, inconsistency is pure multiplicity that precedes the count as one, before a grouping is made into a set. A set is formed by related elements or groups. The elements that don’t count are left out (like the sans papiers, see below). The ones that count belong, the ones that don’t are included, but don’t belong. They form a subset, a void subset. Belonging (written ϵ) refers to when a multiple belongs, is counted as an element, of a set. (Being and Event, Meditation VII “The Point of Excess”, pp. 81-92. Given set α, element β belongs to α (written: βϵα).). So, given a set α, the element β belongs to α (written: βϵα). β itself includes subsets that don’t belong to α, for example, β includes subset
γ (written: (γcβ). If we think of art or philosophy, we can think of how these include areas which don’t count, so to speak, although they exist, they’re not considered part of the agenda or are not visible at all. The power set βϵα) is the set of all subsets of an axiom is greater in value than the set p(α). The multiplicity of subsets included in a multiple or set, exceed the multiplicity of elements that belong to the set. Which is like saying that we base our systems on what we know, but what we don’t know far exceeds what we know. It’s there, but we can’t see it. (“This axiom affirms that given a set, the subsets of that set can be counted-as-one: they are a set.” Being and Event, Meditation V “The Mark ”, p. 62.) an Badiou, ‘Cuts: The Fundamental Theorem’ in Number and Numbers, p. 141. ao “Given two sets of Numbers, denoted by B (for ‘from below’) and A (for ‘from above’), such that every Number of set B is smaller than every Number of set A (in the order of Numbers, of course), there always exists one unique Number N of minimal matter situated ‘between’ B and A. ‘Situated between’ means that N is larger than every element of B and smaller than every element of A.” Number and Numbers, p. 143. ap Badiou, Polemics, 2006, p. 133. aq The word appears in the title of a book about revolutionary art. John Roberts, The Art of Interruption. Realism, photography and the everyday, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1998. ar I am thinking of Henri Lefebvre’s use of the term. Especially useful is Henri Lefebvre, Key Writings. Edited by Stuart Elden, Elizabeth Lebas and Eleonore Kofman, London and New York: Continuum, 2003. as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude. War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, London: Penguin, 2005. See James Coupe, “Art, Representation and Responsibility: towards a systems aesthetic” in Damian Sutton, Susan Brind and Ray McKenzie (eds), The State Of The Real. Aesthetics in the Digital Age, London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007, pp. 79-87. See also: Track-The-Trackers<http://www.t-t-trackers. net/index.php?inc=english> accessed 21 June 2009; Regine, “Art in The Age of Surveillance”, <http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/ archives/2007/04/-via-plus-six-a.php>, accessed 21 June 2009; Bill Thompson, “Tuesday, 17 April 2007, Watching art imitate life, Bill Thompson wonders whether artists can respond to the growing surveillance of our everyday lives”, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6564115.stm> accessed 21 June 2009. at Badiou, like Adorno and Marcuse, finds affirmation in the face of Capitalist society even in art that does not convey a direct political message. Marcuse writes: “Art can be called revolutionary in several senses. In a narrow sense, art may be revolutionary if it represents a radical change in style and technique. Such change may be the achievement of a genuine avant-garde, anticipating or reflecting substantial changes in the society at large. […] Beyond this, a work of art can be called revolutionary if, by virtue of the aesthetic transformation, it represents, in the exemplary fate of individuals, the prevailing unfreedom and the rebelling forces, thus breaking through the mystified (and petrified) social reality, and opening the horizon of change (liberation).” Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension, London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1978 , p. xi. This concept of autonomy is shared with Adorno and should not be confused with a formalist position. The role of interruption relates to mimesis and I think is shared by Badiou. Elsewhere Marcuse writes: “The work of art transforms the order prevailing in reality. This transformation is ‘illusion’, but an illusion which gives the contents represented a meaning and a function different from those they have in the prevailing universe of discourse.” Marcuse, Counterrevolution and Revolt, London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1972, p. 81. au François Fortier, Virtuality Check. Power Relations and Alternative Strategies in The Information Society, London and New York: Verso, 2001. av Meditation IV “The Void: Proper Name of Being” in Being and Event, pp. 52-53. aw Being and Event, p. 53. ax Manuel Castells, The Information City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring and the Urban-Regional Process, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989, p. 348. ay Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, London: Continuum, 1970. az Philip Jones Griffiths, Vietnam Inc., London and New York: Phaidon, 2001 ; Philip Jones Griffiths, Agent Orange, London: Trolley Ltd, 2003. For example, Caption from 1971: EXHAUSTED GI overcome by the heat (it was over 100 degrees and hotter still for the “Zippo” squads), takes time off from burning homes for a smoke while a wounded girl (below), one of the few casualties during the operation, awaits medical help. ba “Appearance composes a world […]. Appearance is nothing but the logic of a situation, which is always, in its being, this situation.” Alain Badiou, “Being and Appearance” in Alain Badiou, Theoretical Writings, edited and translated by Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano, London and New York: Continuum, 2006 , pp. 176-177. A subject (political, artistic, for example) emerges rather than being a given, in a process which can follow an event (in the form of fidelity to it) or lead to it in its emergence, as in the Movement of ‘68. A point or series of points can form in the real; that is, crucial moments in which one decision rather than another is taken. Alain Badiou, Second Manifeste Pour La Philosophie, Paris: Fayard, 2009, p. 141. The maths and metaontology of the point is dealt with extensively in Book VI of Badiou’s Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2, trans. Alberto Toscano, London and New York: Continuum, 2009. In terms of documentary, I think Jones-Griffiths’ work especially establishes a crux, a deciding point. bb First view Renzo Martens, Trailer Episode 3, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yREqd8QYtsQ> accessed 21 June 2009. Then read Dan Fox, Frieze, 122, April 2009 <http://www.frieze.com/issue/category/issue_122/> accessed 21 June 2009 ; Frances Guerin, “Interview with Renzo Martens”, ArtSlant, January 2009, <http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/rackroom/39542-renzo-martens>, accessed 5 April 2009 ; particularly helpful is: Debra Solomon, “Episode 1, emergency food distribution and the role of the cameras, 19 March, 2006” <http://culiblog. org/2006/03/episode-1-emergency-food-distribution-and-the-role-of-the-cameras/> accessed 5 April 2009; Mark Nash, “Renzo Martens, Episode III, Conversation with Renzo Martens in Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, 22 November 2008, <http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/29132/ renzo-martens/> accessed 5 April 2009. The reference to Benjamin: Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer” in Victor Burgin (ed.), Thinking Photography, London: Macmillan, 1982, p. 24. However, Levi Strauss has produced a strong argument for a different position from Benjamin, Sontag and Berger: David Levi Strauss, Between the Eyes. Essays on Photography and Politics, New York: Aperture, 2003. bc Interviewer: When you teach the local photographers to photograph the suffering of their own people, they too assume the power through ownership of someone else’s image? Martens: Yes, but it’s better that they proliferate the problem than I do. Because at least when they sell the photographs, the money they make is more likely to trickle down to their own people. Unlike the profits from the same images taken by Western photographers - which will go nowhere near the source of the problems. bd Thomas Harding, The Video Activist Handbook, London and Stirling and Virginia: Pluto Press, 2001 , p. 99. be “Peter Handke on The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other”, Interview with Sigrid Löffler for Profil, May 1992 <http://www. nationaltheatre.org.uk/34326/whats-on-extras/peter-handke-on-emthe-hour-we-knew-nothing-of-each-otherem.html> accessed 25 April 2009. bf Catalogue. Bozena Czubak (ed.), Krzysztof Wodiczko. Guests/Goscie, Milan: Charta, 2009.
Photographer / Tom Hagemeyer Assistant / Tobias Kruesler Stylist / Ana Salgado de Los Angeles @ Bigoudi Masks and additional garments / Leyla Rodrigues Hair and makeup: Diana Schairer @ M4 Models / Ekaterina Stafetskis @ Uno Barcelona, Julia Hartje @ Megamodels
Previous Spread: White dress / Victor and Rolf Opposite: Gold dress / Vintage
from Internal Rhyme Words by Scott Thurston
what have you this caged bird needs contact tense stimulation
passed me on to sings and talks admits limitation provokes growth
your telling tale cannot articulate I canâ€™t critique your planted lets
turn and spin relations of difference suffer anxiety turn right out in me
adder in the spine in you in me from the earth from the sky
dances differently what is taken up what is taken down having taken place
cross a truth from the heart truth is always using awareness
along oneâ€™s path from the sex already present making choices
a white hare we enter the moor lose the horizon in the mist
flashes down cliff finding a gully following a river to its downfall
its flow held mid-air blown back up the jacobâ€™s ladder the moving up
by the wind and rock as we descend same thought occurs the moving down
Iâ€™m hearing shadow so violently without empathy my excess cruelty
where I meet you thinking you turns back on me with impunity
holding to what visible desire only me in that not shadow
cannot be completed embarrasses not the dance judging but shatter yourself
sometimes you sometimes you trust accidentally dead love
arrive home donâ€™t text me I am not leaving
the commons reverse private the smarter grab power
being enclosed and public the dumber use it
a second mouth of the first different to what partner means
opens in the corner says something permitted by its opposition
or not attempt sustainability from a sideline bring it formally out
a traverse into insatiability beckons slip inside a bit to throw it off
Scott Thurstonâ€™s most recent book is Momentum (Shearsman, 2008). He edits The Radiator, a journal of poetics, and edited The Salt Companion to Geraldine Monk. Scott lectures at the University of Salford and has published widely on innovative poetry. See his pages at www.archiveofthenow.com.
Illustration by Estella Mare
Two Words by Christina Lovin
They love each other. There is no loneliness like theirs. James Wright, “A Blessing”
Now there are two. Seven deer, I’m told, before the cougar’s appetite growled: one by one they were taken down to the forest’s soft floor. Just these two escaping: a tale told by the ragged ear of the one, the nervous watching by the other. But now they still themselves. Aware that I am near they do not startle, barely move across the grass, pause like warm brown statues framed against trees nearly black in the dusk, but silvery with mist near their tops. There are two: just enough to take care of the business of grooming. They stand neck-to-neck, each licking, nuzzling, teasing the ticks and lice from the other’s coarse fur, enjoying the comfort, the contact, like horses do. As do humans. As do you; as do I. Touch me here, then, softly as deer’s breath. I will touch you there, where your mother held you in her arms, your neck against her shoulder. Not where the raging fire begins, where undergrowth sparks and catches and we are lost in its blaze. No, here, where the hushed forest opens and the two quiet bodies have disappeared into the green darkness within. Previously published: Little Fires, Finishing Line Press
Your Lifetime in Pictures Words by Christina Lovin
When I was too young to read all the words, I learned the world page by page – black and white photographs of what seemed important to remember in 1955—Your Lifetime in Pictures. Hard enough to remember back then to my own little life. For there are memories sometimes more real than my own— the world captured and captioned in “2,000 pictures”— the first that of a mushroom cloud mounting up from the ocean— ships dwarfed by the rising plume, writhing palm trees recoiled along the shore. “World-shaping” the caption reads, as if a choice were being made somewhere as someone pushed that button. As if an entire universe was not just then expanding inside a dim living room outside the city limits of small town Illinois, between the small ears of she who was me— that little barefoot girl in braids and jeans, my own flat atlas of the past spread open on my lap: I don’t remember the first time the cover was laid back, but what I first learned of death through the camera’s open eye, I do: page 23 and the “Defeat of Russia”—the Russians lay where they fell, some trying to rise, others—a woman and young girl—seeming to outrun the bullets from unseen guns. What held me spellbound was not life, however, but death—dead bodies on every continent, in every imaginable way: corpses in pomp—the Pope lying in state like a benign Santa Claus-massacred troops broken open by bombs and bullets, frozen stiffly as dolls on the battle field, gassed Jews and gypsies in Germany and Poland, the Hindenburg in flames, the serene last portrait of Anastasia and her doomed family— unimaginable to me then, but soon I would understand, our own small table circled with empty chairs and grief. My training for death crowded my dreams and nightmares: images of the “Jap” soldiers who “still preferred death to surrender” on page 186—the toe of the one still pressing the trigger of his gun, half his face blown away. In sleep, I became the little girl pulled dead from a well, my body wrapped in a blanket, hauled up by weeping men; I feared the dark for years after. This was my lifetime before I even had a life— disaster, crime, war, scandal—our own and the world’s. But childish hope, too. For the last photograph is that of a Minnesota girl born without arms—a pretty teen, she holds a pencil between her toes, leaning forward to balance, with great concentration, she writes. She writes.
Population 200 Words by Christina Lovin
Tank town of diminishing returns: duskdown bats skirring from the spire of the old stone church—the ghosts of those who chose to blow this place whiz hell-bent past the on-ramp three miles away where the four-lane stretches lazy as a belly-filled king snake between the rows of cornfields and stands of soy, ready to take those who tread upon it. Lines of wide-eyed city cars creep through in autumn (as if leaves change color nowhere else) open-mouthed at foliage and funnel cakes, the hungry passengers having no taste for the flavorless truth :
the liar’s bench, vacant as the bins of the seed store it fronts, dust choking the corners like lies in an honest man’s throat, its old men gone now— last summer’s flies in a January attic;
that hulking, sullen school, blinds narrowed at children whisked away in bright yellow buses— past overgrown lanes where wild grasses wave off trespassers at the ends of mud ruts, where only horseweeds whisper of progress—children off to bigger schools on wider streets, being taught daily how to leave this town.
the post office where the postmistress reads Lands End catalogs and purloined Wish you were here postcards, never turning to the far side of those four-color glossies she pigeonholes in the precise rectangles that are the townspeople’s lives;
Playing the Numbers Words by Sam Friedman
Like hitting the Trifecta we were cast-out evicted in ‘87 from our offices on the 67th floor. Like the Israelite outcasts in the book of Numbers refugees from the locust-fields of Egypt, we wandered the deserts of Manhattan. We bivouacked briefly on 125th, then settled south of Canal on Beach Street where we heard the sirens in’93, saw ambulances flash to the Towers, to the choking survivors of the parking-garage blast. Economics, the cold numbers of cash, a fourth cast of the die, led us to pull up stakes for a new exodus in ’96, to wander back to where we started, to Building Two, but this time to floor 16, sweet, sweet 16, for another eviction by those box-cutter carry-on angels who flew death to old haunts, to our 67th floor.
Number 3,000,048 Words by Sam Friedman
In my mid-teenage years, my teachers made us read of Evangeline, of lands seized for others to love, of soldiers who drove villagers from home, families disrupted, lovers divided, life-hopes denied. Not long thereafter, my loved and intended Lois and I attended Exodus, a movie showing the triumph of the will, a nation for refugees from Shoah, a clear-cut showing of good over evil like the Westerns of good boys in blue driving evil Indians from off their land. Only later, long after Lois and I dis-intended, did I hear whispers of the Nabka somewhat akin to the whispers of the Holocaust reaching childhood ears in the fables of Chaim Potok. Only later did I hear of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, of hundreds of villages scoured from the land, of planned assassinations, towns seized and people tortured, leaders executed, land turned Israeli, families sundered, a people dispersed to wander or live and die in encampments on foreign soil. How many Palestinian Evangelines did the Israelis create? or the bluecoat cavalry a century before? How many years must a people await before their wrongs become our pains, their pains, ours to see, and their oppression seen as sin?
Illustration by Estella Mare
Numbers Words by Jeannette Angell
At home in the country of my childhood I went to the open-air markets and saw the numbers tattooed on skin become old, a sleeve falling back from a forearm, the ink of the camps faded and wrinkled. That was when I stopped telling people I’d survived a test, or an awkward moment, or a difficult visit. Survival is about none of those things: it is about skin and bone and breath. Even as a child I understood that. It is skin and bone and breath that cries out in the countries of rendition, where cellars drip water to chill or electrocute and men with hard faces drag make-believe answers from exhausted lips. It is skin and bone and breath that cries out when a woman learns her home is a killing ground, slammed against walls, kicked, raped, battered. It is skin and bone and breath that cries out when an animal is tortured, a child is molested, a life is ended. Survival is more than a heart can endure when the flesh screams for an end to pain. At home in the country of my childhood, I played on overgrown Nazi bunkers, ran laughing past the place where submarine activity was monitored to kill my people and those who stood with them. It happened long before I was born—I lived only with the memories in the old people’s eyes, only with the curses on the names of those who had occupied my city and destroyed its faith. Only with the numbers tattooed where no numbers should be, echoes of the camps where death was welcomed and captured women parachutists were shoved alive into ovens, and I said I had survived? I’d survived nothing. But when the sun shone on those markets and picked out the brilliant colors of flowers and fruit, the very presence of those numbers was enough to say:
Jeannette Angell is a novelist, playwright, and poet who lives and works in an old sea captain’s house on the tip of Cape Cod. Read more about her at www.jeannetteangell.com.
Paa Paa Paa PANIC ATTACK! Words by Patrick McManus
black and black black out black black black black breathe and breathe one two three four four three two one breathe in breathe breathe out breathe breathe and breathe one two three four four three two one don’t panic don’t don’t cry don’t don’t die don’t breathe and breathe one two three four four three two one ease in ease ease out ease ease ease ease breathe and breathe one two three four four three two one better now better better and better better still better breathe and breathe one two three four four three two one still now still still and still still yes still breathe and breathe one two three four four three two one one two three four four three two one
The Man at Number Nine Words by The Pollytones
Across the street He lives with his cats He’s old and mean No one speaks to him Under his door mat is his key Under his garden is a corpse Or so they say He’s got no friends He is by himself Besides his cats Oh well, cats are dull Under his pillow lies a gun Under his bed’s a skeleton Or so I’ve heard Sometimes he yells At the neighbours kids They’re scared as hell Pants turn yellow ‘cause Under his matress is cocaine Under his sofa is morphine I’ve heard
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M83 Words by Jeremy Allen
It was always going to be something majestic. M83 (or Messier 83 to give it its proper name) is an intermediate spiral galaxy approximately fifteen million light-years away from earth, in the constellation known to us earthlings as Hydra. According to Wikipedia, it is “one of the closest and brightest barred spiral galaxies in the sky, making it visible with binoculars”. An M83, for the budding Michael Ryans amongst you, is also a canister-shaped hand-grenade filled to the brim with explosives, it is fitted with a five second detonator. When it kills, it generates negligible amounts of shrapnel. M83 the band, hail from the South-easterly Provence-AlpesCôte d’Azur area of France, in the resort town Antibes, which is surrounded by beaches and enjoys a Mediterranean climate. M83 the band appropriately embody the ethereal, the expansive and the enigmatic qualities of the Universe, while, as Anthony Gonzales puts it, weapons are ‘man-made’, symbolising the synthetic sound that so defines them.
Originally two, two became one when Anthony decided it was time to plow his own furrow earlier in the decade after the band had toured their much-acclaimed second album Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts. “I always like to listen to Shoegazing music,” says Gonzales. “I mean Slowdive is one of my favourite bands ever. My Bloody Valentine is also the sort of sound I like to use in my music but I always try and do this shoegazey sound with my keyboards rather than with guitars. I started to learn music with a guitar actually. I used to play a lot of rock with my guitar. And I’m still playing guitar on stage today and on my albums. But I like the combination and the mixing between electro styles and electric guitar samples.” Maybe without his former partner Nicholas Fromageau in the band, Gonzales has felt less restrained, hence Saturday = Youth, a record that vacillates from the steady, signature sound of electro-shoegazing into the crazy world of 80’s pop. Gonzales is keen to emphasise that its always been his show. “Oh I always thought of myself as a solo artist,” he says dismissively. “I always composed my music by myself.”
‘“Oh I always thought of myself as a solo artist,” he says dismissively. “I always composed my music by myself.”’
M83’s cult has grown over the years, and the album, Saturday = Youth has been something of a slow-burner, largely ignored on release its been gaining momentum, calm being proceeded by a tumult of recognition. This is largely thanks to Gonzales’ single-mindedness, his hard work and persistence, and most pertinently a series of breaks which befell him, culminating in a recent spate of touring with some of the biggest bands in the world: Depeche Mode, Kings of Leon and the Killers. While London accedes once again to the sound of mid-90s dad-rock, it is the 80s where Anthony Gonzales is immersing himself. Curiously, being a young man, it wasn’t until the mid-90s when he was 15-years-old that he first discovered the sounds that most inform his Saturday = Youth album, when youngsters in Britain were concerning themselves with who might win the ‘war’ between Blur and Oasis. Gonzales says the album is a tribute to being fifteen, one of the best years of his life, and a tribute to era defining John Hughes movies like Pretty and Pink and The Breakfast Club. Back to the Noughties, and M83 are currently touring the world with Depeche Mode, who were forced to postpone some dates recently when Dave Gahan had to have a cancerous tumour removed from his bladder. The tour has resumed and will continue throughout July. Naturally Stimulus Respond is concerned about Gahan’s well-being. Is he alright? “Well, I think so,” says Anthony. “He sounds really good on stage, so yeah, you have to be really okay. We just met the band once, they have their own life. It’s a big band. They’re rock stars, so it’s very hard to get in touch with them.” So were they an act that influenced the record, one of the 80’s bands Anthony discovered in his pursuit of electro-nirvana in the ensuing decade. “No - I didn’t know Depeche Mode actually. I was more into the 4AD label. Like Cocteau Twins and this kind of thing.
Brian Eno for me is the best in the world. He’s done so many interesting things in music. He’s made some of the best pieces of music I’ve ever heard in my life: Music for Airports, Discreet Music, Music for Films, all of his ambient albums, you know.” And what about Roxy Music? “No, I’m not really into that,” Gonzales sneers. “It’s too 70’s.” Too 70s? What about Low by David Bowie.
‘“I’m not really into David Bowie,” he says nonchalantly, in a way only a Frenchman can’
“I’m not really into David Bowie,” he says nonchalantly, in a way only a Frenchman can. Few people can dismiss David Bowie out of hand like that and get away with it. But the flipside of the vinyl is all Eno. “When I’m talking about loving Brian Eno it’s all the ambient works,” he states, although the second side of Low sounds pretty ambient to my dilettante ears. I take it Anthony is not a fan Eno’s U2 and Coldplay production then? “No no,” he sniffs, “not the big projects he has produced.” So when Gonzales comes to make his next record will he be thinking more vocals, like on Saturday = Youth, or back to the cinematic soundscapes of yore? “I presume I will do something different from this one, because I like to try different things on each album. I like to experiment with my music. I don’t really know, it’s too early. I will definitely use more vocals now. I’ve always wanted to release a double album, so maybe it’s time for me to do that.” Had Gonzales been born an Englishman and were he a resident in London, he might be tempted to call his album ‘Saturday = Drunks’ “Drinking alcohol is a part of being a teenager. What I like about being a teenager, was when you’d go out on a Saturday with your friends you’d try to discover what really life is. You’d start drinking alcohol or taking drugs or listening to new music and meeting people; it’s a very rich experience. So that’s what I liked about Saturdays.” Does Saturday still resonate? One day bleeds into another on tour surely? “When you’re touring every day is like Saturday. Something changes, and there is a different atmosphere to Saturdays. I don’t know why, it’s just something in my head...”
Words by Jeremy Allen
Future of the Left
Travels with Myself and Another, a rip-snorting, endorphin-pumping, life-affirming 33minute blast of evil-pop “doesn’t stop and it doesn’t make any excuses for what it is”, says Future of the Left singer Andy Falkous. Just then he laughs at himself. He’s been getting passionate about the painstaking process of creating the perfect record, and in doing so has started talking “about it like its a person”. And in one sense, like in the way corporations are written about and legally identified as distinct entities, it almost is. It’s Falkous’ baby that he’s squeezed out after months of considerable pain and discomfort. “Well believe me, the amount of time and effort that goes into a record, especially considering it’s only 33 fucking minutes long... “It seems like such a small pay off for that insane amount of effort but the problem is, it’s impossible to represent to people all that hard work without handing in a time sheet to a particularly watchful boss or something. At one stage last June we had this song where we played the same riff non-stop for 15 rehearsals, but that process informed the record. Being in a band is not just about those amazing moments when the great songs actually come, it’s about all those moments where they don’t come and how you deal with them.” And to think lots of people only get into rock ‘n’ roll for free drugs and blow jobs. But then Future of the Left are not like most other bands... “I guess if we approached it the way a lot of other groups do then the record would be 40-minutes long. But I’d rather have a great 33-minute record that someone has to put on again.” Falkous is justified in his ebullience. It’s not just posturing. The former Mclusky man, along with bandmate Jack Egglestone and ex-Jarcrew bassist Kelson Mathias have made one of the freshest, most intelligent rock records this year, or any year for that matter. Call it what you will, metal, post-hardcore, an angryshouty-cacophony, the 33-minute long-player is touched with something special; musical alchemy some call it. If it’s mostly the result of perspiration, the trio are certainly not lacking inspiration. “It sounds stupidly confident to me as a record, whereas our last record Curses maybe deliberately had elements of doubt. I’m incredibly proud of that record to be quite honest with you, to the point where we didn’t know whether we’d be able to better it at one stage. But this record just sounds emphatic.” He pauses for a moment. “Not that it’s going to take us anywhere fast...” The problems that face many a band in this year of our Lord 2009 is how to make any money. Falkous was dismayed to discover the album that he’d travailed so fastidiously over had leaked on the internet months early. How does a modern day musician make cash? “It’s a good question, and I think probably the answer will become apparent in a couple of years time when there’s a massive conference between independent artists and the record buying public and everybody comes to a consensus about how the whole thing is meant to work. Maybe a government funded scheme where bands who play at a particular level of quality as approved by an independent panel featuring such luminaries as, I dunno, Steve Albini, maybe the former bass player from Echobelly and who else? Roger Taylor from Queen has got to be involved on some level... “I have no idea,” he gasps, his accent, a peculiar Cardiffian/Geordie hybrid, sounds pronounced in both somehow. “I think the only way you make money is when you appeal to a particular commercial strata where the people who come to your shows are those that go to U2 and Kings of Leon shows, the kind of people who must buy that shiny product. Otherwise, unless you’re incredibly lucky or you have a song on an advert or in a film, you become an occasionally touring band.”
“I’d rather have a great 33-minute record that someone has to put on again”
“Are people prepared to work on a farm for free?” The frontman doesn’t entertain any ill-thought out capriciousness regarding the bugbear that is free music. “I’m guessing that an 18-year-old who wants music for free simply thinks it should be for free, but are people prepared to work on a farm for free, or just for the food they eat? If people really want to break it down on a moral level; people can get music for free so therefore they do get music for free, and I can almost understand that. I mean that’s humanity for you isn’t it? But the justifications people use are pathetic. It really is theft, and if you have stolen it I can understand that, but please fuck off and don’t tell me how proud you are about it.” Falkous says that whilst the critical reaction has been incredible and the reaction of fans likewise, their current status in the UK will not be enough to sustain them, and the band’s future may depend on the American market. Thus far it’s been a case of so far so good. Touring with the perfunctory anarcho-punk outfit Against Me! in Europe and the US, the reaction was something of a surprise, with a lot of fans Stateside being “far more open minded and far more welcoming” than the less accommodating European crowds... but resistance is something that’s never much bothered Andrew Falkous. “If a crowd is largely indifferent to you, you may as well make them fucking hate you. At least then they’ve an anecdote to take away: ‘Ah we saw this right bunch of
dicks the other night’. It’s very liberating to lose 500 or 600 people. ‘We’re here but you don’t want us to be here. We’re going to play another three songs and we’re going to stretch those fuckers out.’ If you’re some ugly fat girl with some callow, hanging chins and you want to stand there looking at me like I’m spoiling your night in between songs I’m going to make you wish you’d never been born. It sounds ridiculous, but if someone gives you the finger when you’re walking down the street you’ll think ‘what an odd fellow.’ If somebody does it to you when you’re on stage then it’s an affront to your very existence. You must eliminate that person and make them look as foolish as possible.” That’s a lovely set of values to live by. “It’s horrible!” he laughs. “It’s like a defense mechanism taken to the power of X times 1000.”
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The Numbers issue of Stimulus Respond