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Undergrowth 3

Tales of the Simulacrum


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contents

UNDESIRABLE PROPAGATION UNIT - WHAT’S KEWL ANDWHAT’S NOT >>> ON THE WIRETAP>

we were in the bubble an interview with shelly innocence open sourcery under the skin the freedom market survival of the prettiest telefuck milky chewy bars father joe nodes of conflict telestreets mediajacking escape from toxcity mantra for an open universe eat this information credits

“The genetically enhanced version has an extended photosynthetic range, so the PHALARIS grass can absorb energy 24/7 and shift it to growth.” — The owner of a shamantech company on the $9.9 million phararis crop he’s cultivating for the government of Holland. HOME SURVEILLENCE CLIPS> VR Vox Pop Branding Yourself on TERRAnetTM ... WAP media pirates ... teleprescensing withdrawal syndrome (TWS)... THE FUTURE IS .NOW: .b-ins/ GPS voyeurs, when satellite stalkers are watching... “Late Floyd Bloomers” revival - baby boomers turn back on and tune in again to the sounds of septagernarian acidtronica... Eat dirt safely with EARTH BARSTM ! GEOPHANY soil bars – full of nutrition and roughage... Feedback loops...


Open Sourcery text: Tim Parish image: Steve Mann


Indymedia long ago became the largest single media entity in the world, but it’;s power was diluted because the structure was so decentralised (which was also it’s greatest strength). No media moguls had the resource base of journalists available to compete in pure scope of reportage but they weren’t really trying to either. They already had the means of mass distribution. Already owned the audiences imagination. Had sectioned it off into demographics and target markets generations ago. Those empires of faithful spectators built methodically by capital. Indymedia was something new - a mutation of the media organism. Open Source information broadcast via a nascent global neural web. The fourth wall of the fifth estate. The next step was actually open sourcing the design of that information. Linux and the free software movement did that in a programming sense along with Debian, GNU, and the creative commons meme. The Open Library had begun, but still not everyone could afford the portals to enter its data coridoors - and if they could, did they want to? They told us nature was endangered our whole lives – who wanted to sit inside and watch screens with so little time left?

And what do you do with all that information at your fingertips anyway? How does raw data get processed into wisdom? And how do you make it the kind of shareware that someone would choose to download into their own ideology? -


Ahhh.. The meme war/Information warriors/data combat/ that battle of the mind... All those warfare metaphors… Competing propagandas of the Left and Right. Aiya was one of the soldiers, but she told me sometimes she thought it was a shame the revolution needed to revert to such crude metaphors. The weight of the metaphor sang true. Perhaps, Aiya mused, it was about co-opting those words into the realms of non-violence, like the development of the hip hop battle - all words and no guns (sometimes). Or perhaps it was about inspiring that leap of imagination. The cognitive breakthrough that would allow someone to concieve of another possible world outside of their bubble technologies, which might actually be more intense, and excitingly, beautiful and authentic. Aiya knew that world was not just possible, it was already happening. All the while the digital culture grew around us. Television childhoods became computer game moments. Arcades of Virtua Soccer and Doom style first person perspective games. The internet brought in multi user dungeons and ‘multiplayer’ features to games. Avatars were our role playing character in the alternate reality. It was pure high tech phantasy. Chatroom culture let us form relationships with people we never met, but sometimes decided we wanted to marry… Email let us maintain friendships and conduct business through the digital ether. Silent as touchtype telepathy. IT workers and office jobs of all kinds spent their entire days in front of screens. Afterward we could watch the digital TVnet at home to relax before going to bed. Commuting in the car was the hardest part of the job. High rise apartments


were the first hives. Everyone had broadband by the end of the first decade. LAN networks, ISP dial up, unlimited downloads, digital broadcasting, interactive interfacing, virtual dating, online communities, e-commerce, permanent connections…. None of it meant as much as when the out-of-body™ technology finally came of age, When the globalised world began to move their lives more and more into the digital realms. No one was really suprised by it, The science fiction mythologies had prepared us for this potentiality, and then the advertising had sold it to us as evolution. “Live the Dream” “Forget the world.” “Escape” That was how it began anyway. Soon, the migration to the Simulacrum began to transform the mental landscape, it was no longer a concept. It was word made real. A fiction able to actually usurp reality by replacing the very environment we lived within. It was the perfect crime because no one could find a body left to autopsy. And then, they had cut the final cord. We’ve been adrift ever since… -


“everything that deceives may be said to enchant.� - Plato


An Interview with Shelly Innocence Undergrowth magazine is delighted to scoop an exclusive interview with Australia’s own digital diva, the queen of the branded catwalks, supermodel and marketing genius - Shelly Innocence. She is, of course, the name on every glamour tongue from Melbourne to New York. It has been said that “If consumerism is the religion of our culture then Shelly Innocence ™ is the embodiment of Faith ™”. Shelly probably wrote that herself - does her talent know no bounds? Let’s probe the mind of one of the rising stars of global transmedia as we follow her on a typical day in the life of someone special... Q. Shelly, with your jetsetting lifestyle, is there much room for the ordinary? Or is your life one champagne supernova of photoshoots, glamour and illusion? Darling, do all your questions contain answers? I guess you know what the public wants. Speaking from my heart I feel there is a target audience for every moment. The mundane can be Effervescent™ just as the supernova can sometimes leave you with the taste of Disappointment™. That’s why I recommend Duplicity™ – double your chances. Have you tried it? Q. Many cause celebs are pointedly neutral when commenting on the media itself. Have your experiences in front of the camera changed the way you see the world? What do you think about media in the 21st C?


I love media in all its forms. I have met a lot of wonderful people. Being in the public eye has certainly changed the way I see the world. My life before Innocence™ seems hazy now, almost a dream. It was as if I was rehearsing for my real life. When I discovered myself in front of a camera I knew I had come into my own. In that sense I am grateful to the media but not as grateful as they are to me. Q. Would you do a reality tv show and if so, what would be the twist? Do you think reality tv is cheapening the nature of fame itself as a commodity? If ordinary people can become even semi-famous, where does that leave A grade fame?


Funny you should mention reality TV. I suspect someone has had a word in your ear. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret – the negotiations are underway. But I am cautious for the very reasons you’ve listed. There is a saying in the industry that a closed box holds so much more than an open one. Inside Shelly Innocence won’t be like any reality TV you have seen before. As a businesswoman I know the value of not giving too much away. Q. Where were you when you first realised that Happiness ™ was a little bit like a product and could be marketed so successfully? Was it something just crying out for a brand label and the right PR? Have you really got a trademark on the name Happiness™? One morning I woke up in bed after a tumultuous night’s sleep and it hit me in big, bold letters. HAPPINESS™. (Arial Bold, uppercase, orange on white with a twinkling ™ symbol). At first I thought ‘No, it can’t possibly sell – happiness is so light and fluffy, so everyday’, but my extensive market research confirmed that it™ was in demand. Now Happiness™ sales have gone through the roof. Innocence’s patent on Happiness™ is pending. Q. What makes YOU happy, Shelly? That’s a personal one, darling. What makes YOU happy? I must say that my happiest moment was seeing the little ™ symbol twinkling above Happiness. It was then that I realised that Happiness belongs to everyone. Q. What makes you angry about the world these days? Knowing that there is a target audience that has not been reached or has not experienced the privilege of being nurtured on brand names. With great products like Risk™, Amplitude™ and Abundance™ there is so much Opportunity™ for Human Potential™ it almost makes me cry. Q. Could you tell us about the Happiness™ campaign and the outreach you’ve been doing on the streets, the billboards you’ve been starring on, and the public’s reaction to your sales technique? Innocence™’s campaign was launched at Federation Square in June and stretches across billboards around Melbourne. My website, shellyinnocence.com, has had over 300,000 hits. It seems Innocence™ is on everyone’s lips and even graffiti artists have made


running commentaries. At the Happiness Booth at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, the Innocence™ team has found the public who believe the levels on our Happiness Meter are far too low. It seems that many people feel happier when the levels are artificially raised. A domino effect is an essential part of any strategic advertising campaign.

Q.. As we all know, the paparazzi follows your every move - from broken heal to anorexia diet fads. Sex scandals to plastic surgery mishap - yet you still manage to represent the image of Innocence to the public. Does so much attention to your private life effect your ability to properly promote the consumption of Happiness™ - or is it, as some have suggested just all apart of the ingenious marketing of the Shelly Innocence brand? In my career as an athlete and retail-in-store demonstrator I have learned to integrate the inner and outer parts of my being. My public life is my private life and vice versa. There is no conflict between the two and there are no areas that are off limits. I love the media and I don’t resent the public’s interest in any area of my life because I have nothing to hide.

Q. What do you have to say to the tabloid journalists who have made the allegations that your products Happiness™ and Innocence™ are really just last seasons Ignorance® with sexier packaging? Who said that darling? I would like their names so I can follow it up. Those people have a problem and it’s one that I can help with. At Innocence™ we have products that counter the damaging effects of cynicism. I’d like to give those journalists a little sample pack of Idealism™ and Belief™ and then ask them how they feel. Q. William Gibson, the author who coined the term cyberspace has written a book called ‘Idoru’ about an artificial media spokeswoman. ‘Synthespians’ or ‘digital actors’ are on the rise and - heavens forbid even on the modelling books with some agencies. Do you feel threatened by the rise of artificial intelligences as models and actors? No darling, not at all. I have had offers to sell the CGI rights to Shelly but I refused. I know some studios prefer simulated models because they are easier to work with and can be turned off at the end of the shoot but I think the public will always crave authenticity. My own team once created a simulated Shelly when I was unable to go on location due to a minor health problem. Shelly 2 performed credibly but my fans tell me she ultimately lacked substance and was nothing compared to the real thing. Q. Finally, Shelly, do you have any tips for up and coming media superstars? What is the secret of your brand success? As the brand ambassador for Innocence™ I am constantly reinventing myself. With a team of creatives at my disposal – designers, stylists, concept creators etc – I can check my personal branding and rebrand daily to adjust to market requirements. I am in a constant state of response. I am what the public wants and, I hope, what it deserves.


“illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead.� Sigmund Freud


by rak_razam Cameras flash and lights bear down:

“And Sapphire is dressed in the

by rak_razam latest Matsuri leisurewear with a

ribbed UV-filtering poncho over Issey Miyake smartfabric pants that automatically adjust temperature and moisture and screen liquid images; flats by Johanna Preston. We should also thank Tsuyoshi on the decks for soundtracking today’s Smart Fashion Collection with his special blend of deep unambience...”


John Paul looked down at his Sega-Swatch web-watch and the on-line audience polls and advance orders. While the fashion cogniscenti from Milan to New York were bitching and hobnobbing out in the auditorium, fashion subscribers were already downloading his original Gaultier SKIN software from real-time feeds of the catwalk parade to the net, sculpting the fabric into shape via mild electric currents. By lunchtime tomorrow they would be wearing his latest designs on their smartsuits across the globe in a testament to technology and global homogenity. He looked up to see the model for Vivienne Westwood , a seven foot Amazon bodybuilder with an honest to goodness electro-afro helmet spitting lightning streaks from her wired hair as she strode defiantly out onto the Paris catwalk in a silver mod mini spacesuit and cross hatched, lace up lo-grav monster bootz. She gave Sapphire an evil stare as they passed. Uh-oh, Jean Paul thought, look out - catfight in the offing. “Oh, mon cherie, you were wonderful out there,” he said, takingSapphire’s hand and leading her backstage. “I have a quick time video by Chris Cunningham pixellating across my arse, John Paul, and if that Lily-Come-Lately Heavenly Hiranni bitch hogs my spotlight again I swear I’m gonna grab her fucking piezio-electrical high heels and shove them right through her face, okay, so don’t give me that ‘you looked wonderful’ crap. Tell me honestly, Europe has lost the plot, hasn’t it? Moving LCD fabrics that replicate over the canvas of our bodies? I think one of the fashion journalists in the crowd was having an epileptic fit. God, what did I do to deserve this?” she cried, grabbing his flute of champagne and skulling it down.


“Fashion was ze

Original Sin, darling. Haven’t you read

Genesis?


John Paul twirled his bleach blond Dali moustache. “Fashion was ze original sin, darling. Haven’t you read your Genesis? After ze fall, Adam and Eve looked at zeir nakedness with shame, and clothed themselves. In skins and fibers, in plastics and in technology. And now look at zese latest cyber-optic metamaterials. We’re like octopuses, wearing our ideas on our skin, as the saying goes.” He paused to grab another champagne from a passing tray and take a sip. John Paul’s wearing his latest line of Enfante Terrible cyberware - shiftsuit, classic 70’s open collar, broadcasting classic media images from the 20th century in muted, mosaic chunks: Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Clintongate, all blurred and indistinct, like history. John Paul no longer wears clothes to be worn, but to be broadcast. It’s his fashion karma, he says. “But Eurocybertrash or non, darling, it’s selling like hotcakes. I blame ze music, you know. Europe has gone neo-tek mad and smartwear’s all zey want to wear zese days. Either that or ze spacesuits. It’s so gauche...ooff, I get all gooey just thinking about it...” “Whatever. Look, this smartponcho may be state of the art fashion, John Paul, but it itches like all buggery and it’s got a lewd mouth. It keeps calling me a sloppy conductor. AND I think my hair blew when the LCD fabric started to drain more power for it’s memory!”

“But I upgraded it’s cache -” John Paul began, downing his champagne. “Your butt is widescreen, honey, get used to it,” her ambient intelligent outfit interrupted .”Big Girls like you are just made for LCD threaded holofabrics, it really hugs your form, Sapph. Proportion is out the window. Now I called you a sloppy conductor because y our blood alcohol content is 1.8 and it’s causing the PAN devices that are co-ordinating your smartsuit to have problems passing picoamp currents through the wetware of your bloated bag of skin, M’am,” the smartsuit said in dulcet telephony tones. “Lay off the champagne!” “See? See what this bastard outfit is saying? Sapphire squealed, grabbing at the smartfabric with both hands and squeezing. “John Paul I don’t have to put up with this. I won’t have my fashion talking back to me!” she cried. “Sapphire, I know it’s being difficult, darling, but we haven’t got time to initialize it again. We need it on-line in 3 minutes for ze streetwear parade, so hustle your curvacous butt, precious, pretty please,” he frowned. “Ooooph! Okay...suit, stich it. Command overide. Restore to default patterns. Cool temperature by five degrees, I’m sweating here -- sweating - it’s sooo last century! Oh, Jean Paul, how could you do this to me?” And the lesiurewear number shimmered and morphed and molded like liquid data over Sapphire’s Rubenesque form, throwback to the big movie star glamour of the 1940’s now in vogue again. “Suit, load ze neuro-jack muscle relaxant, 60 mls,” JohnPaul ordered the fabric, one minute to go and no time for a nervous breakdown now. Sapphire’s voluptuous form shuddered and a wave passed over her, blossoming into a smile as the smartsuit altered her state of mind. “How do you feel, mon cherie?”


“Mmmm. Peachy,” Sapphire said distractedly, waving at Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily as she strutted towards the stage, her hair fractaling with Chromatierra softwaregel that absorbed sound and shunted it to colour like a rainbow Medusa. She was wearing a bio-grown Tamarind Croft bodysuit bristling with wireless smart implant devices to fully automate the environment, opening doors as you near, turning on and off the lights, etc. And God knows she needed them, Sapphire thought bitchily, riding out the morphine wave coursing through her. “Well, the show must go on and all that,” she said, letting her smartsuit browse through it’s hologram pattern settings to find the streetwear number for the parade. Starving Rwandan refugees morphed across her tits before dissolving into a third world Konnisquattsi live upload holo-mentary. She turned up the amps on her smile and fell into line behind the younger, slimmer, hopelessly idealistic model. “After you, luv,” she said, sub-vocally ordering the smartsuit to transmit a mega dose of mood alterants through her gloved fingertips and into Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily’s skin as she stepped out onto the catwalk.


The young model turned and licked her lips suggestively, eyes rolling in the back of her head as enough serotonin-amphetamines coursed through her blood to get an elephant in heat. She stepped out onto stageand began losing her smarts, starting at the suit and ending on fashion data nets instantly recycled as the nu look for the season. The sweetest ower ever picked, a lily on a beach. Rawwrrr.


if the ecosystem crashes can we press control-alt-delete?


Nodes of Conflict Weaving a Fabric of Radical Communications By Andrew Lowenthal


Listening to Indymedia radio streaming live from the Republication National Convention protests in New York City, I hear people calling from outside the jailhouse as their fellow activists are released. The crowds cheer and chant, updates are given, stories are fed back into a massive communications web, bypassing the corporate media who are ignoring the 500,000 people protesting the Bush administration and the more than 2,000 people arrested. On the other side of the planet I listen and tap my keyboard, adding a feature to Melbourne Indymedia about federal police harassing a local anarchist at the request of the FBI. “Our resistance is as global as capital” has been a popular slogan amongst the global justice movements; it’s also as nearly as well connected. The inter-connectedness of social movements via online media production has exploded massively since Indymedia launched itself onto the psychosphere in November 1999 at the WTO protests in Seattle. Of course this interconnection is limited to those with net access, yet Indymedias continue to come online at the edges of empire and many produce offline media such as newspapers, radio and video. After nearly 5 years there are close to 200 local Indymedia collectives across the planet and a new Indymedia has come online on average every 11 days. In the midst of the Republican National Convention the New York Indymedia site is receiving about 5 million hits a day and there are more than 600 Indymedia “embedded journalists” covering the action.


In Melbourne last July Indymedia activists from Dunedin, Auckland, the Philippines, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Vancouver, Sydney, London and San Francisco gathered to further develop these networks, assess the effectiveness of the Indymedia project and work out where to from here. What are the challenges and how does Indymedia weigh up to what it was originally meant to be? Some of the major themes were the role of open publishing, building networks of solidarity throughout the Asia-Pacific and the new forms of collaborative media production that are becoming possible via communications technologies. Indy Futures At the Oceania Indymedia conference there were a host of responses to the question of where to? for the network. For some, Indymedia has reached a plateau and needs to make a leap beyond its current simple weblog format. San Francisco Indymedia believe “the network-at-large needs to be less about small clubs of friends running a weblog and tackle the challenges of being a global, non-commercial media network. We want to kick start a shift towards maturing into a real media network that can compete with any of the best wire services in the world.” For others, the shift is towards more open editing systems. One of Indymedia’s core functions - open publishing - means anyone with net access can upload audio, video, photos or text to the website. This exposes Indymedia to constant abuse from people who disagree or are outright hostile to the Indymedia project; it also opens up to some amazingly passionate story telling. One of the constant contradictions of Indymedia has been how to harness the power of open publishing without the destruction it often wreaks.

Proposed solutions that crystallise around the idea of open editing. In the words of Maffew, one of the original programmers of the Indymedia code, “open editing would help to clear the current closed bottleneck on editorial functions in Indymedia and involve a new wave of people in media democracy.” Open editing would entail users having the ability to highlight stories to a personalised page, re-edit their own story, rate stories up or down on various criteria and provide more filtering tools, enabling users to find the stories they like without having to search for hours. Indymedia has generally privileged speakers over listeners making it difficult for user to find the information they’re looking for. Most importantly, open editing is about setting in motion the collective intelligence of the users of Indymedia rather than leaving it up to one small, over worked group. Others have taken Indymedia to an intensely regional level. For example: two years ago Indymedia UK was essentially a single collective working out of London. Now the United Kollectives are made of over a dozen local groups, building local roots in a global network. The Indymedia Estrecho (http://madiaq.indymedia.org/?l=es) project goes one step further, combining Indymedia collectives from southern Spain, the Canary Islands and Morocco to cover one of the great migration routes from Africa to Europe. The aim is to challenge the divisions of the nation state and the racism of the Spanish government by erasing the bordering through communications cooperation.


Beyond Borders – Counter Empires “I am calling from Port Hedland Detention Centre” a voice crackles over computer speakers. A phone call received from inside the centre by a detainee, the message is uploaded automatically onto the Indymedia newswire. The Phone Indymedia Patch (http://www.melbourne.indymedia.org/pimp.php) is a system that allows anyone with a phone to upload an audio report to Indymedia like leaving a message on an answering machine. It has been used most effectively to breach the borders that divide during the Woomera 2002 protests. Similarly at the Baxter detention centre protests in 2003, a micro radio station was set up to breach the fences by radio waves and “penetrate the silence that permeates the area of the camp.” Media is a tool to breach all kinds of borders and enclosures that the state and capital would like to confine us to. Similarly the Oceania Indymedia project aims to be a “media hub that defies national borders.”


Capital has thrown up a great challenge to the nation state, pummelling its borders in the pursuit of profit in disregard for national frontiers. The nation-state has far from disappeared, it instead has transformed itself to also blur the boundaries between where the corporation ends and the nation-state begins while at the same time building new enclosures, whether its gated communities, detention centres or patents and copyrights. The terrain of politics has shifted, power is increasingly constituted on a post-national level. Indymedia therefore posits a model that like capital, seeks to go beyond the nation state as the terrain of rule. This contrasts to the approaches of social democrats or state socialists who desire the re-strengthening of the nation state to protect against the ravages of globalisation. This overflowing of national boundaries by media networks aims to transcend the nation states in the interests of the self-organisation of social movements, for them to recognise their commonality and diversity beyond the divisions erected by governments, creating new forms of networked cooperation from below. It pushes through Empire, utilising the decay of boundaries by capital, migration and information networks to build a poststatist public sphere. It is an exodus from the (national) terrain upon which governments dictate politics must take place, and where less and less decisions are actually being made.

The Oceania Indymedia project (http://oceania.indymedia.org/) is one example of this logic. A “media hub that defies national borders,” Oceania Indymedia is a project linking Independent media centres in what is actually the South East Asia and Pacific region. It has various permutations; the most obvious is a website that uses a syndication system to aggregate features from Indymedias in the region, providing a model of collective, decentralised and autonomous networking. A video project collating stories from the region and distributed online and on VCD acts in a similar vain The network also functions as a network of mutual aid and solidarity where the common project of social change is more important than the national boundary. It acts in the here and now to erase the borders between us, to swap stories and circulate struggles. A number of stories were told throughout the Oceania conference; tales of media monopolies in New Zealand, of police repression in Miami, of people’s resistance to neo-liberalism in the Phillipines, of forest defence in Western Australia; collaborative storytelling.


New Forms of Collaboration All these projects take advantage of new technologies that give rise to a gamut of ways in which communications can be collectively constructed to create a new commons that engenders both access and participation, opening spaces that have been appropriated by capital. A few of the collaborative tools that are being increasingly employed in the Indymedia network are wikis, rss/rdf syndication, peer to peer systems and creative commons. Wikis are WebPages that can easily be edited simply by numerous people, enabling documents to be collectively created and edited. Rich Site Summary (RSS) is a syndication system used by Indymedia to create a feed containing information of latest posts or features. Oceania Indymedia for example aggregates these feeds from IMCs in the region to create the site, allowing a networked form of collaboration that is decentralised and autonomous. Peer to Peer (p2p) networks similarly work in a decentralised manner. A way of sharing large ďŹ les, p2p systems limit the need to have a centralised server. Instead the information is downloaded from a web of peers.


Creative Commons (http://www.creativecommons. org) is a project created to deal with licensing of media and other creations in the digital age. Its most salient feature is the idea of share-alike; i.e. I share if you share. If provides a legal basis for the sharing of creations that resists attempts of corporations to proďŹ t from cultural works and simultaneously create a communications commons where works can be shared and remixed at will, recognising that culture is always a collective creation and a common good. The key relation that all these tools carry is the harnessing of collective intelligence, breaking the passivity of the consumer/producer divide allowing for a horizontal networks of collaboration that build common spaces based on singularities: a commonality without homogeneity. Conclusion The domination of the mainstream media over our lives is continuing to increase. Despite the fact that more than 500,000 people protested at the Republican National convention -the biggest demonstrations ever against such an event - it hardly rated a mention in the corporate media. In many ways, more than the construction of consensus, media regimes occupy attention. Drawing people away is a challenge that is not just about the information they produce or the way they produce it, it is something that requires guerrilla tactics that can intervene, block, stop, derail, divert and detourne the media messages that ood our brains. Cracks are everywhere. How can a machine of networked organs be set in motion against this Empire that would condemn us all to work, consumption, ecological catastrophe and war?


You’re the eyes upon the eyes and upon the batons that pound voices and bones that erase memories of home You’re the eyes upon the eyes in the days before the fall and it’s your eyes that stop their lies from burying us all Zack de La Rocha Eyes Upon The Eyes Poem for Indymedias from the Republican National Convention Sept 2004


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It’s not easy being pretty in such ugly times - theres a shortage of razorblades for one thing plus sometimes you feel guilty that you’re not really as they get eaten by lions and drown in quicksand and throw baies off boats..

helping people

you’re just, well, looking pretty.

standing there,


I was pretty late for work I was dreaming I was a famous.. a famous writer who danced with Christina Aguilera in her video clip: “Pretty� I had my arms around her I was finishing the last chapter of my third novel gazing into her pretty eyes and scribbling on her pretty back with a pink texta the novel was about me

you can see why i didnt want to wake up.


Then

breathtaking

I said something that cut to the heart of

everything

trains stopped in their stations your head spun around passionately fifteen monkeys applauded for fifteen minutes and everyone was late for work except you

and me


Im an extra in the new Roots Manuva video clip“Witness the Prettiness� I have a table-dancing shower scene in a g-string a white pony called Clarence

riding

I feel so pretty in my hot pink polo shirt all the girls close their eyes at me And i disappear Hands grope my body from all directions Girls scratch and push each other out of the way to fondle me

and i miss you


THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PRETTY

Im pretty, therefore I am pretty. But what if I’m not pretty? What if I’m

not pretty?

Will you still love me with your red plastic sandal? Will you still forgive the rubbish that pours out of my mouth?


Don’t get me wrong -some of my best friends are ugly. But out there, it’s a jungle of a shit-fight of a rat race through a minefield out there on the dancefloor -waxed legwarmer plucked muff asscrack botox beauty and the rhinocoplast beast -lesser spotless bicep-kissing protein-shake slurping pretty boys shaving their monobrows and posing hard wooing pretty girls in micro mini sexy skirts and B-girl caps licking their lips and sucking their cigarette stomachs in

D

T

Trendy Darwinism on the beach & in the Boutiques


telefuck

words: rak_razam

futurotica: ian_haig


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You breathe in deeply, all senses turned on as Poly comes in naked through the afternoon haze, sunlight glistening on hir skin, chest beating fast with anticipation. Hir HEDONY SKIN is mounted with extra sets of ďŹ nely moulded bio-tek plastic dildos and genitalia with lifelike grips, grown from the pleazure vats of Fredricks of Hollywood. S/He is so very beautiful, radiating a relaxed aura of sensual arousal like a budding ower about to bloom. High up above the clouds are billowing in shifting erotic tapestries like scenes from the Kama Sutra; arms, legs, faces, genitals all lock together in shifting mandalas of passion. You feel so very horny.


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< no membership or creditcard required > The ďŹ nger comes away with a blue tinge as liquid Orgone feedback opens the chakra pathways. The Jade Stalk rapidly gains the four attainments as colours spill along the royal road of Kundalini. There the Devi or goddess is coiled up three and a half times at the base of the spine. It unfolds into a full-blown golden ďŹ&#x201A;ower that grows fuller and fuller. You twine together like candlesticks melting, negative spaces sparking, locked in an ourobous loop. Unfolding, you enter Sushumna, the bliss of cosmic orgasm. Shiva is united with Shakti. White light causes the universe to disappear.


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MEDIA JACKING taking the spectacle hostage by Hugh McGinlay MEDIA-JACKING


A phrase that is often uttered around war – particularly by journalists – is that one death is a tragedy, 1000 is a statistic. The recent wave of internet beheadings and executions by Islamic militants indicates that the truth behind the phrase has not been lost in translation. This new tactic has struck a very personal kind of dread into the lives of westerners both in Iraq and safe behind home borders. The military might of the west seems momentarily weak in the face of such bloody minded shows of power. Our safety bubble burst, suddenly it seems that the war on terror really is coming at us like a horror movie. For those who saw the ‘War on Terror’ as a strange idea to begin with, this new, terrifying style of media warfare has turned the bizarre concept of fighting a genre of fiction into a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. It is the stuff of horror movies. Even suicide car bombings, destructive and frightening as they are, cannot convey the same amount of fear as these hostage situations. The element of personal terror is as significant as the political drama of the event. The stalemates of governments not giving in to terrorists, the distress of the hostage’s family and the horrific public executions all contribute to this macabre spectacle of the political becoming personal. The key to these situations is the personal element. In the current Middle East situation, bombings and shootings are for the most part, random killings done in the name of a greater esoteric cause. For those of us watching the war on televisions screens, they are taken on board as further evidence of a grave state of affairs and then largely forgotten by the next story. In hostage situations, however, the drama is played out for us and we are forced to get to know the victims before the execution. Even though we are only told their names and where they came from, their plight and that of their families become almost immediately personal. This is exactly what is desired by those who perpetrate these attacks. Beyond the reality that these are murders of a most disgusting quality is the fact that they are a media circus with a dual purpose. The first is to advertise the strength of the Jihads and show supporters and potential financial backers their willingness to go further in this struggle. The second is to personalise the War on Terror to the west – particularly America – which prizes the rights of the individual over almost every other value.

Our society is a narrative and voyeuristic driven consumer of stories.

Our newspapers and current affairs shows give us intimate details of individuals ranging from ‘At home with the Prime Minister’ to the ‘Secret life of a homeless man’. We are more interested in personalities than causes and people rather than armies. Thus we are more shocked by the slaughter of an individual


whose name we know than by the killing of a group whom we know nothing of. This is the idea that the Jihads have tapped into. When we are shown Nick Berg or Kim Sun Il kneeling before masked warriors we immediately identify with them. To say these groups are media savvy is an understatement. With the internet broadcast beheadings, the battleground has been shifted from the ghettos of the Middle East to the lounge rooms of the middle class. The military superiority of the west is rendered momentarily irrelevant. Voters are being shown a horror movie of westerners being executed one by one before our very eyes. The movie is saying to us ‘We will do what you cannot, we are more committed than you, we will kill for our people, and you’re next!’ In addition to the new branch of terrorist is a new villain: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian born terrorist with links to Al Qaida. Since the execution of Nick Berg, Zarqawi has become the public face of the War on Terror. To read through blogs and forums about him online is like reading about a comic book super villain. He is feared and hated on both sides of the political fence, and yet still surrounded in mystery. There are rumours of his death last year, interviews with his wife and endless debate on where or who he really is. I feel a more pertinent question is who has created this celebrity and for what end? Is he a high profile self styled fighter out to bring glory to himself, or has his profile been built up by our own media, creating a new Osama for the authorities to capture?


The mediaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s place within war has become more pronounced in the past two decades. For example, during the Gulf War both sides were receiving a great deal of minute by minute information from the same source: CNN. Now the media is used by all sides as a tool for both information and deception. Even the media, powerful as it is, can be manipulated, if you know what it wants. Newspapers and television news networks cannot resist a story that will shock its viewers and readers. Zarqawi and supporters knew that if they beheaded a man and recorded footage of it, they would have the perfect weapon to terrify the west, and to make sure that the media showed it to them. This is not the fault of the media, it is giving us what we want: a good story, a good scare and, as far as we know, the truth. The War on Terror has, in the past six months, moved up a notch in visible bloodiness; the westâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moral high ground was obliterated by the scandal of the Abu Grab prisons; and now the beheadings blamed on Zarqawi have eclipsed even those pictures for cruelty. The war is now undeniably being fought on many fronts: in Iraq, on the net and in the news. For thousands of people whose lives have already been touched by the war on terror, this is old news, but to the rest of us, it just got a hell of a lot scarier.


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by tim parish


Good morning. Dawn Stretches across their bodies, sleeping. The birds are calling them to wake with abstract treehouse jazz. The robots are waking up too, you can hear their engines cough into life on the street outside. Above, clouds are dropping soft kisses onto the roof and garden alike. Season wakes first, like she always does. She listens with bright blue eyes at the rain’s drum roll snare on the corrugated iron. That’s how she had described it to Walpa in a poem the other night. He thought to himself; ’so true.’

live you’re entire life cramped in a cage, fed steroids to make eggs which just get thrown out because there’s too much food…” So they had decided it was worth eating them, out of respect. Now. In the tree above birds sing ‘new day!’ to each other, but he hardly notices, immersed in the space between the letters on the page of a magazine called ‘Futurology’. The article is titled “Cathode Radiation

Now. Spanglish hip hop plays on the public radio station. It is followed by Russian ska, all violins and offbeat chords. Walpa is sitting eating omelettes – eggs collected from the dumpsters of the supermarket last night. ‘Liberated from the foodchainstore purgatory’ Crowley had described it- as you would expect - always the revolutionary. The fact that the eggs were not free range, hailing from a cage factory somewhere had caused a moment of confusion. “Does the fact that where salvaging this mean it’s ethical to eat battery farm produce?” he had wondered. “I’ve heard stressed chickens don’t taste as good.” “What a sad existence” Season had remarked, “..to

Withdrawal.” In it the author describes advertising as ‘anti-zen haikus of commercialism’. It goes on to quote Kalle Lasn, editor of Adbusters, describing the 30-second ad break as ‘the most powerful form of communication ever invented’. He is reminded of a conversation in a noisy club with Aiya. She had said: “Trend spotting is the bastard child of culture studies and capitalism,” as people sipped Organic Smart drinks with added Guarana. “There are Cool Hunters everywhere, like spies for the multinationals and


they’ve recognized a new demographic of cynical, post Gen-X, politically conscious, tv-wary, logo allergic youth. They have dubbed them: The Challengers.”

“The media is an ocean in which we are always swimming, but what if the ocean is being polluted?”

Walpa smirks as he thinks of the billboard he and Crowley altered last week. An ad for SugarMama Cola, complete with the latest soda popstar cradling a bottle - the words had read “Bring It on!”, so they pasted a burning wick on the bottle and changed the corporate logo to a peace symbol. He giggles to himself, thinking of the morning commuters confronted with strangely incoherent revolutionary images. He wonders what Aiya would think of it (probably disapprove) saying it’s still selling their product by attracting attention, even if it is obscuring their logo. He decides he won’t tell her he did this one; see if she guesses.

The picture next to it is of a fake indoor beach in a Tokyo mall. He is reminded of Marshal McLuhan’s media theories, which he is writing an essay about for an online journal. Quotes keep appearing in his memory as they ring true. They are obscure aphorisms which he used to call ‘Probes’, designed to encourage epiphanies in everyone who hears them. Challenging you to figure it out, like dadaist poetry. Random, beautiful academia.

Now. The rain clouds are dispersing. Sunlight catches floating amoebas of dust through the window. Data floats through the airwaves. The kitchen is filled with the sound of community radio, promising a two hour mix of samples from speeches, interviews, guitar licks and acoustic beats programmed by a DJ called Apollo 13. The song plays sounds like an El Morriconi western with r’n’b rhythms. It is interspersed with samples of the President of the United States talking in hawk rhetorics and gun slinging sound effects. It fades into an interview with Vandana Shiva downloaded from Mumbai Indymedia, tabla breaks underneath. Walpa is only half paying attention. His retina focuses on a pull out quote in the magazine which reads;

McLuhan; “It might be said that at the speed of light, man has neither goals, objectives, nor private identity. He is an item in a data bank – software only, easily forgotten, deeply resentful.” <You are the data you carry.> Crowley had texted him once, inspired by a conversation they had shared about the power of perception and how our senses take in data, turn it into information which shape our minds, which inform our decisions. Thus our lives are formed. “But what about the DNA you are already carrying? Is that information as well, or genetic wisdom?.” Walpa wondered. “That’s just data too.” Crowley had replied “Our bodies replace every cell over seven years, but the coding is constant. The song remains the same.”


McLuhan; “It might be said that at the speed of light, man has neither goals, objectives, nor private identity. He is an item in a data bank – software only, easily forgotten, deeply resentful.”


They decided wisdom was the third generation of data. Information evolved into more complex organisms. Someone told him it was the richest form of embodied energy, which made him appreciate the sacrifices he had made for the purposes of education.. On the street early yesterday he walked past a picture of a refugee child peering through the bars of a detention center, advertising a march which has come and gone. Someone had ripped it at the edges and through the middle, obscuring the details of dates and times, leaving only eyes, pleading for us to listen to their plight. Covering half of the face is another poster promoting a mutinational starlette, thin as a supermodel but different, coz shes selling singles not clothing. She is dressed as a schoolgirl in uniform, lollipop in sexualized mouth. Touring the country next month – sponsored by McDonalds. Then he was in the newsagency looking for The Guardian, but the small order was already sold out. He scanned the hundreds of glossy lifestyles on display. Media for every subculture, full colour and glossy. One magazine called ‘Stuff’ is made to sell gadgets with a woman in bikini on the cover holding a hi-tech toy which lets you take photos, listen to MP3’s, send emails. All in one! Video advertisement in the mobile phone shop window asks “Are you in the Loop?” with flashy CGI graphics of infinity symbol circling happy young hipsters with phones taking them out of body. Outside, a homeless man holds up “The Big Issue” on the street as entire fortunes pass in front of him every traffic light.

Now. He’s flicking through Futurology. On this page the magazine is telling a story of prepackaged education programs called “Channel One”, where kids watch television segments in class time made for them by the educational group producing it. The picture is of an ad made for potential advertisers which says “How would you like the undivided attention of one million teenagers across America?”

The next article is about Palestine. Pictures of martyrs and their suicide bomb victims. They’re all victims though, even the bomber’s families. Right wing Israeli government talks law and order. Shows force by demolishing houses with people inside them. Children throw rocks and are shot at with bullets from a remote controlled demolition robot. The ad on the opposite page is promoting an international airline, cheap round the world flights. At first it seems distasteful, but then


he realizes it is a parody – promoting the idea of carbon taxes. “Everyones a fucking culture jammer nowadays.” He thinks, smiling inwardly. He pauses as the radio steals his attention. The art reviewer is describing a new film called “Agent 009” which tells the story of a covert operative in the British secret service which he describes as ‘a wry subversion of the James Bond archetype set in the 1980’s with a

funky retro soundtrack.’ Intrigued, he sips his coffee, listening further. “The film begins with clichés of secret service bling bling...” says the reviewer ‘Fast cars and faster women. Exotic locations. Breathtaking stunts. All the spy movie cliches. But then, while on covert reconnaissance in a Columbian forest, he catches malaria and is helped by local indigenous peasants in a small village where he meets a human rights worker whom he falls in love with. She opens his mind to

corruption in the drug trade. He discovers the CIA involvement in dealing cocaine to fund paramilitary operations trying to depose Nicaraguan socialism. It’s proven true when they see the planes taking off to America where they will be sold in black neighbourhoods and processed into crack. At first he isn’t sure how to react and continues his covert operations, traveling to different parts of the world, where he starts seeing the cold war from another side – not of the ‘evil empire’ but of the third world, stuck in between the battling superpowers. His insights spark a series of revelations about his profession and making him question the military industrial complex. He sees arms trading to dictators. The funding of Saddam Hussein by the US government hungry for oil. The suppression of democracy which opposes exploitation, under the banner of cold war rhetoric. He sees British weapons sold to the Indonesian Military as they suppress ‘internal dissent’ in newly acquired islands such as East Timor and West Papua. At the end of the movie he is situated in Afghanistan where the Taliban is being to destabilize the Soviet incursion into the land….” The reviewer doesn’t say how it ends, but he explains that the film was made by guerilla filmmakers on ultra low budgets and HD digital videocameras traveling around the world and working with a mixture of local untrained and international actors to shoot the film. Apparently the script had floated around Hollywood for ten years because no one would fund it. It will not be shown at mainstream cinemas and has struggled


for distribution in America, so they’ve uploaded it to the net and given the right to anyone who wants to hold a screening and pay them a percentage, circumventing the middlemen. Walpa writes down the website - it sounds like his kind of deal. He is reminded of a William Gibson quote; “The future exists, it’s just not widely distributed yet.” Now, he muses, the means of production of meaning are becoming more affordable, but they still only manage to reach those who are looking for them. The rest of the public swallow the easy to find fast food franchise diet. Get fat on junk food information. There is no more history; it’s all here. There isn’t any part of the past that isn’t with us, thanks to electricity…Speed, huge speed, means there’s no more past. Now, there is no more history.” McLuhan. Yesterday, while catching the bus, he saw TV for the first time in months. There was no sound, but the passenger next to him informed that if you brought your own earphones you could plug them into the wall and listen on the way home. He watched the faces of people all over the bus, silently looking up to the monitor. Plugged in on their way home. The content was mainly advertorial and Entertainment Tonight style news lite – just what

we like to switch off into. Their bored and tired minds medicate themselves with cathode radiation massage. After the 9 to 5 cycle it’s a welcome escape of nonthink time. Mind cleanse with soap opera. A brain wash of advertisements and fast cuts edits. “I’m no different.” he wrote to himself in his notebook “On this bus now, writing these thoughts - I have escaped into the small space between my pen and the notebook touching. More interested in observing the world filtered through memory, mind framed by time. These alphabet combinations are illustrations of the passages inward and I am an explorer on pilgrimage.” “If we can understand the revolutionary transformations caused by new media, we can anticipate and control them; but if we continue in our self induced subliminal trance, we will be their slaves” – McLuhan Recently, Season told him she was rediscovering books, sparked by a friend’s recommendation of the world it conjures. She described how, as she transits through the day, they would teleport her with this imagination ticket into vistas of Latin America and magical realism. Advertisements above promise Gameboy tech and hyperphones for the same reason,


There is no more history; it’s all here. There isn’t any part of the past that isn’t with us, thanks to electricity…Speed, huge speed, means there’s no more past. Now, there is no more history.” -McLuhan.


but the simple combination of artful words bound into pages offers a deeper journey than any mobile console technology could ever deliver. Archaic virtual reality. No batteries necessary. The other night she said she fell asleep in front of the heater curled into its narrative. Content to drift into dreamworlds blissful in hidden interiors from the winter season which tapped on the roof in waves of ice and raincloud. She awoke toasty and warm as a tropical heatwave and found the bookmark made of a paperbark sliver had fallen silently onto the wooden floorboards. She imagined them exchanging tales. Two trees turned into tools, sharing a moment of touch. He realized while she told him this that he never read fiction., not out of ideological reasons, only that it never occured to his hungry fascination with the world at large. He wants the world told in history, or herstory or ourstory, or theories decoding the human chaos into pattern and recoding it into academic jargonese, and simple tales don’t fulfill his appetite for knowledge. He remembered Aiya had once told him at a bar tipsy that she had no time for theory. Only interested in emotion narrative. Whether anecdote or crafted into character. “Theory is bullshit,” she declared mischievously. He didn’t believe her, but it was an interesting point of view.

Now. Walpa stands suddenly, noticing the sun rising in the blue sky. The world is open for business - he thinks - it is time to get to work. Last night he had dreamt of swimming in an ocean that seemed to curl around him in strange bezier curved patterns. He remembers that he didn’t need to go up for air. He could breathe underwater.


Now. The water from the shower nozzle splashes over his body. A man-made waterfall cleansing him. It hits his face. Runs over his closed eyes. His lips. Although he is not thirsty, he drinks it in. It tastes like a poem. As he reaches to turn off the tap, he catches sight of his hands and stares at them as if for the first time. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What can I do with these?â&#x20AC;? he thinks, silently. //log out./


your_life. exe


Father Joe

by Joseph Gelfer


The Church has always been very good at adopting aspects of its surrounding culture. In the early centuries following Christ as it spread west the Church literally stamped the mark of the cross on the standing stones of Europe. In recent years the Church has become increasingly fascinated with technology. The Australian Bible Society provides the SMS Bible where users can share bible passages via mobile phone (‘4 God so luvd da world’); the Church of England recently advertised for the position of ‘web pastor’ for its new virtual parish or ‘i-church’. These manifestations of cultural assimilation have rightly appeared credible, usually because they have been initiated by orthodox denominations or mission agencies. This perception of credibility is currently under threat with the rapid proliferation of online ordination.

So what exactly does free, instant online ordination allow you to do? Well, depending on varying country and state laws ordination brings with it the right to officiate at a wedding ceremony or make weddings, funerals and baptisms into a business. This sounded kind of fun, especially when I read that British rockster Robbie Williams had undergone such an ordination in order to perform the marriage ceremony of his buddy Billy Morrison of The Cult. Alanis Morissette has also been ordained in order, ‘to marry some of my gay friends.’ In itself this appears perfectly reasonable, especially to people like myself who have always been slightly uneasy with the need for both priestly intermediaries and endless amounts Online ordination, WTF? It all started with the fact that I of bogus red tape. However, look a little deeper and things needed a proper job. I have a theology degree and a strange begin appear slightly murky. attraction to the clergy (in a Platonic way) and decided to investigate the possibility of attending a seminary For the very reasonable sum of $65 the Universal Life college via correspondence. On the off-chance I started my Church will sell you a Masters Degree in Religion. With research by Googling ‘online ordination’ and was surprised seemingly little understanding of the academic hierarchy by the returns. you can buy a Doctor of Divinity for $35. This honorary degree accredited by the International Accrediting ‘Over 20 million ULC ministers ordained since 1959’ said Association allows its purchaser, ‘to use the title Dr. in the Universal Life Church, ‘You can become a legally front of your name and D.D. after your name. Please ordained minister, instantly, online, at this website. The remember, this is equal in the eyes of the law to any other Universal Life Church is totally non-denominational, Doctor of Divinity Degree issued by any other institution interfaith and welcomes all religions. After you fill out the ordination form, you will receive a pop-up instant credential, which serves as your receipt of your ordination. Print it immediately.’ Further on were numerous other online institutions offering similar ordinations. Some, like the ULC followed a multi-faith stance, others had a particular focus like the Pagan Church of the Holy Grove; the World Christianship Ministries is even reserved for those with an exclusive faith in Jesus.


of higher learning.’ But before you think any old Joe (like myself) can handle such an esteemed qualification potential buyers are reminded to, ‘carry yourself in a professional manner and speak appropriately in order to show yourself as worthy of your higher rung on the ladder of social respectability and public leadership as well as a position of honor in our society.’ Out of the eight different degrees available, the D.D. is the bestseller. What initially appeared as a bit of fun at the expense of regular ministers began to take on the flavor of fraud. Tax is perhaps the most concerning issue surrounding online ordination. While individually ordained ministers pay the same tax as everyone else, those engaged as ‘active clergy’ can apply for generous tax-exemption benefits. In this respect the call of ULC to ‘start your own ministry’ can be seen as a blatant tax scam. ULC rightly highlight the illegal nature of such activity and directs ministers with tax questions to purchase a copy of the ‘Zondervan Ministers Tax and Financial Planning Guide.’ However, several taxrelated questions are addressed on the website’s FAQ as well as the frivolous such as, ‘Can the congregation pay directly for the minister’s clothing?’ to the more concerning, ‘Can a congregation start a nursery and if so does it need a state license?’ Intrigued as to whether such issues were simply the theoretical pastime of online Reverends with nothing better to do I consulted off the record an acquaintance who is a bona fide Baptist minister as to whether he had come across any such potentially dubious activity. ‘It’s rampant,’ was his reply.

There are three main interpretations that can be made about online ordination. It can be seen as a bit of fun, about which I doubt anyone would have a problem. On a deeper, spiritual level it can be seen as a way of establishing a more direct relationship with whichever image of God we have without the often unsavoury aspects of institutional religion; this too seems unproblematic. If, however, online ordination is being used as a way of fraudulently engaging in business practice, obtaining academic qualifications and avoiding tax it certainly is a problem. In the meantime just call me Father Joe. Some places where you can be ordained online: Universal Life Church (www.ulc.org) Spiritual Humanists (www.spiritualhumanism.org) First International Church of the Web (www.ficotw.org) World Christianship Ministries (www.wcm.org)

.:: www.gelfer.net ::.


telestreets

hacking the infocalypse

Luther Blisset


The cold rain lightens passing the small twiceweekly farmers’ market, down the corridor past the Italian class for migrants, the bookshop, a meeting, the circus class. Entering into one room a web of cables crawls overhead, converging in a loft. Upstairs a small group chatters in front of computers, editing, uploading, downloading, emailing; organising a 24-hour pirate TV station. This is the Xmercato24 social centre in Bologna, Italy, home of “Teleimmagini?”, part of the Italian Telestreet movement of around 80 pirate micro-TV stations, most of which have grown in less than 2 years. In an era of ever-increasing media concentration Italy is perhaps the most extreme example. Prime Minister Berlusconi owns three of the four main private TV channels, Mondadori - Italy’s biggest publishing group -, the AC Milan football club and much, much more. As Prime Minister, Berlusconi also has great power over RAI, Italy’s state-owned media network, giving him control of the six biggest television channels in the country and access to 90% of the national daily audience. But his and other corporate influences are far from hegemonic. There exists simultaneously an innovative network of grassroots media that is bringing conflict to this state of affairs, and not merely reacting to Berlusconi, but providing other forms of information dissemination, new social relations that break the patronage of the entrenched media, both state-owned and corporate-controlled, as well as the traditional consumer/producer divide.

Italy has a long history of resistant media. In the 70s a host of free radios sprang up across the country as part of the Movement of Autonomy. Many, such as Padua’s Radio Sherwood and Rome’s Radio Onda Rosa, continue. As does the daily communist newspaper Il Manifesto, which prints close to 90 000 copies, 6 days a week, and has been going for 33 years. In more recent times Italy has seen an explosion in the use by activists of so-called “new media”. But these forms are by no means restricted to the net. In fact the most innovative use both traditional broadcast media forms and the new horizontal communications networks in which much of the Italian movement is well versed. The birth of computer networks run by Italian activists goes back to 1988-89 with the use of the bulletin board system (BBS) to transmit news and as a space for debates. These networks in turn gave rise to the European Counter Network (ECN), a network of computer infrastructures across Europe. With the coming of the internet ECN Italy became host to a variety of projects from mailing lists and web hosting to inspiring, in 1998, the now yearly Italian hackmeetings, a large gathering of hackers and activists from across Europe. ECN also formed much of the basis for the beginning of Indymedia Italy, made up of 12 local collectives, and the most popular Indymedia after the main indymedia.org page.


This deep base in the use of information technologies in Italy is also evident in the swathe of “hacklabs” (think computers/ net connection/geeks) that deconstruct the technology, provide space for various projects and push the now well-disseminated ideas of free software and hacker ethic through the activist community. There are dozens of hacklabs amongst the hundreds of social centres across Italy. Social centres are usually squatted spaces that operate to serve political, social and cultural needs such as space for meetings, a bar/café, venue for concerts and events, workshops, bookshops etc. They range from occupied warehouses and apartment buildings to old military forts and greyhound racing tracks. Auter Space Walking along Via de Lollis, San Lorenzo, nothing seems particularly unusual. Enter into the crowded lobby of one of the many apartment blocks and you’ll find something very different. Around the fortified steel gates sits a group of Africans and Indians, drinking coffee and watching TV whilst kids scream and run in and out of the building. It’s their turn to be on watch in case of any eviction attempt. The whole 9 floors of this building have been occupied by migrant families and activists. On the top floor sits TeleAut, so named after the 70s free radio station RadioAut in Sicily whose founder

was killed in 1978 by the mafia. In a small basic studio daily six-hour TV broadcasts are compiled from local activist productions, downloading various media from the net, and fairly impromptu live-to-camera segments. When I visited they were screening Kill Bill and South Park. On the roof of the studio sits the antenna, managing to cover a good portion of the suburb, perhaps up to 3km away. Perhaps the most interesting tactical media initiative of recent times, the Telestreet network combines both old and new media, lotech and hi-tech. Telestreet is a coordination of TV micro-broadcasters that first went to air in Italy in the summer of 2002 in the form of Orfeo TV, a neighbourhood station based in Bologna. A “flashpoint for the development of critical approaches to information production and distribution” in the words of Rome’s Candida TV, who assert that what is important about Telestreet “is to meet one another, share knowledge, re-activate brains, build collective narratives.” The small pirate stations can be constructed fairly easily. For around 500 euros you can get set up with the basic infrastructure to broadcast: an aerial, cables, transmitter and amplifier. It’s possible to transmit from an ordinary roof-top TV aerial, though many of the Telestreets use more expensive transmitters that allow them to broadcast further. On average they broadcast to around 1km,


depending on the terrain. The better ones up to 3km. Only a couple, such as Teleimmagini?, broadcast 24 hours a day. Some a few hours a day, others once a week, others sporadically. The Telestreets broadcast mostly in the shadow of commercial stations, in areas where those stations’ signal is not received clearly or at all. It would be wrong, however, to suggest that Telestreet is limited to the radical extra-parliamentary movement: even some Christian groups run pirate stations, as did a disabled group, DiscoVolante TV. The latter was supported by the local council and was then shut down by the national government. A legal argument, however, that the stations operate outside the law, doesn’t carry much weight. Berlusconi is currently running his Retequattro channel illegally, broadcasting on a frequency that was sold 4 years ago to Europa7, who are unable to broadcast because Berlusconi has refused to vacate the channel. In fact Berlusconi is an expert at operating outside the boundaries of the law. Murdoch too, who has recently moved into the Italian market with Sky, has a common strategy of breaking media rules and then forcing the law to conform to him, rather than having him conform to the law. In opposition to this continuing media concen-

tration and control the Telestreet network has grown, not pleading to the government that they enforce the law, but seeking to intervene into the tele-visual fabric by creating their own communications needs. Che Skyfo! Perhaps the most spectacular détournement of this media has been the re-appropriation of privatised football broadcasts. Murdoch’s SKY TV has recently moved into the Italian market. One of its first moves was to buy the rights to the biggest soccer games of the season, thus requiring millions of football fans to buy a subscription to SKY. A coalition of Guerrilla Marketing and Telestreets in Rome combined to take the encrypted, privatised SKY signal of the Roma-Juventus match and rebroadcast it to the suburb of San Lorenzo for free from an apartment rooftop, immediately making the links between the capitalists’ agenda of privatisation and profit and the conflicting desire that football, and much more, be a common good for everyone. In the ad breaks the protagonists ran their own anti-ads, pieces from various Telestreets and information on Murdoch’s nefarious background, as well as adding their own commentary during the game. If you want to make a political point in Italy, football is a very good way to make sure your message hits a huge chunk of the population. The coup was repeated a month later.


Perhaps what the action politicised more than anything else was the realm of information, making media activism not merely a process of producing alternative information, but of actually making the issue of communications and their control a node of conflict in itself. As the media and communications sectors of the global economy continue to grow, as work becomes ever more a process of communication and the concentration of media ownership continues to intensify, the politics of information become ever more crucial. In this case the weaving of autonomous communications infrastructures, distributing alternative information and confronting the media powers happen simultaneously. This hybridisation is also evident within the Telestreets and their connection to the net. Given the time and expense required for producing television the net is used as a means to share high-quality content between stations. New Global Vision is a series of servers where local content producers upload high-resolution video good enough for broadcast. This means of sharing content gives the Telestreets sufficient material to make stations viable and regular. Much use is also made of other online tools such as BitTorrent to download the movies and TV shows and redistribute them for free in the area, thus enabling

people without fast net connections or expensive computer equipment to also enjoy the materials the giant media corporations would rather have everyone pay for. In many ways the Telestreets currently function more as actions than actual means. They serve more to bring conflict to a mind-numbing mediascape than to disseminate information across masses of people. Given their limited broadcast coverage and often “flexible” transmission hours they are still at an infant stage, lacking money and competing with a television audience very much entrenched in, but not necessarily happy with, what they are getting. Competing for attention is still a major obstacle, making guerrilla tactics all the more necessary. Intervening politely (or legally) into the Italian media sphere provides little chance of building much of an audience, as Berlusconi knows too well. For those with a message to get out more creative means are required, a field in which Telestreet is becoming a rich laboratory.

related links: new global vision oceania newsreal v2v


For more information google any of these keywords: telestreet european counter network candida tv italy indymedia


Escape from ToxCity The glare from the glass-faced buildings reflected into Robert’s eyes. He reached into his jacket pocket for his darkened lenses, but he’d left them in his expensive chevair on the rooftop of the Unipac Building, where he worked as biotronics programming executive. He decided to pick up another pair, at an Optec store a few doors up.

by Floyd Davis


The doors slid open at his approach. He squinted as he entered even brighter light. Quickly choosing a reflective wrap-around set, he slipped them on and headed for the entrance. The doors took longer than usual to open as he waited for the automatic debit to his account. Must be a malfunction, he decided. A synthetic voice sounded from above. ‘Comitment invalid, please place merchandise in reclaimer on your left before exiting Optec. Central Control verifies your comitment access: non-functional. You’ re required to report immediately to Parker Street Medicentre, free taxi provided. Have a nice day.’ Robert was stunned. Slowly he removed the glasses and slid them down the chute indicated. The doors then released him, his heart pounding with fear. He went into another store, this time taking a drink from the deep cooling unit that lined the walls of the drink shop. At the front entrance he received the same response, refusing to allow him to exit with the product automatically debited to his account. He dropped the drink in the reclaimer. Humiliated, he dared not look at fellow shoppers as they exited busily after him. He stood on the footpath, bewildered. The rejection syndrome. He had heard of this. It was happening to him. How ironic; all his millions of computer-units were useless to him now. In fact, all the comits in the world could make no difference. His whole world tumbled and spun. The air between the buildings was filled with brightly coloured levs scooting in all directions on the city’s lev-grid. So many busy people rushing by, intent on something important. Streets and buildings all took on a mysterious superficiality, like some giant game-board with no place for him anymore. He caught the first taxi that came by.


Reporting for the required Med-check, Robert almost lost his nerve. The sight of those neat cubicles in rows with standby lights blinking nearly sent him out again. Only extreme circumstances could have made him overcome his aversion for that bright medicentre with its sterile room full of machines and the all-pervasive smell of disease and death that no deodorization process could cover. Wrinkling his nose, he pressed his wrist against the ID plate and took a couple of deep breaths as it began routine scans. ‘Negative response, biochip defective. Please state name and date of birth. We will then retrieve your data from centralfile.’ Soft mellifluous female tones issued from a concealed speaker. ‘Welcome to the Medicentre, Robert, please be seated. Place your hands in the hollows provided.’ Robert did as instructed, sitting upright and uneasily in the padded chair, fighting the urge to scratch his closed eyes. ‘Please relax while you’re waiting; your diagnosis may take time. Auto-Doc will now complete your consultation.’ The mellow tones soothed him, overcoming his anxiety. ‘Where have you been feeling pain?’ asked a different voice, this one deep and male. ‘Perhaps you’ve noticed specific symptoms? Or finding it difficult just keeping up each day? Feel free to trust our patient/doctor confidentiality. After all, you can be assured the World Health Administration offers the best of health care. Our statistics show that not only do people live longer, the quality of life they enjoy is continually improving.’ After electing a non-verbal response, Robert felt the allknowingness pervade him. Eyes closed, he felt like he was drifting into dreams of sunshine when he heard a childish voice singing in the distance. A vision from forgotten childhood lit up inside his head, his own boy-self picking flowers in his grandmother’s garden, singing. ‘You are….blue sky….you know you will fly…. sweet bird on the wing…you will remember...everything,’ the childish treble piped.


He wanted to fall into the warmth of that sunlit path where sweet blue wrens flitted through gardens of mystery and life was simple, but the voice and the vision faded. Robert thought of his own son, attending the middle to late shift at school. He needed to see his boy, Sparl. ‘Thank you for your patience. We now have your diagnosis,’ repeated a voice in the background, breaking his trance, and he hauled himself back to the present. ‘Please collect your Computgnosis as you leave the auto-doc.’ Console-light patterns showed end of sequence, indicating the examination finished. Robert rose to leave, moving obediently to the soft vocal commands, but turning the plastiflex over in his hand, felt his knees weaken and his stomach rise, bringing the sour taste of fear. ‘REPORT TO LEVEL 5 IMMEDIATELY’ was stamped across it, confirming his worst fears.

Tensely facing the doctor, Robert’s anxiety was palpable. ‘I’ve just come from the Medicentre. Instead of diagnosis and treatment, I was instructed to report here. Doctor?’ he asked. Worry strained his voice. ‘You can be blunt with me.’

A sense of unreality swooped through him, while the speaker purred on in the background…. ‘The World Public Authority provides the finest health care that can be devised. A twentyfive per cent reduction is offered all this month on cosmetic enhancement surgery. Next month’s special includes discounts on knee and hip replacements…’

The doctor looked grave. ‘I’m required by law to inform you that you have a serious immunalogical disorder. By recent order of the Ailment Codex you must be hospitalised for compulsory treatment.

Robert crossed the floor to the lifts and fluked one just leaving. As he stepped out at the fifth floor and approached the reception station, the uniformed attendants looked up through the clearplex screen with bored expressions. Thin hand shaking, he put his card on the counter-top and waited, wanting to ask questions, but the woman just pointed down the corridor, saying ‘Room six,’ before returning to her desk screen. Turning away, Robert continued along the wide corridor in the direction she indicated, and the door of room six slid open, admitting him before it silently closed. The doctor nodded to Robert from behind a tabletop furnished with a flat screen and keyboard, and gestured toward a levair that rose from the floor to accommodate him. ‘Take a seat.’

‘I must be dying then! Am I?’ Robert moved the levair closer to the table. His tone became lower, more urgent. ‘Tell me, Doctor; you can tell me straight. It’s that damn biochip killing me, isn’t it? The biochip?’ ‘There’s been negative immune response from an increasing number of original interfacers, Robert. The results of your check-up require you by law to undergo hospitalisation. We allow patients such as you forty-eight hours to put their affairs in order before checking in. I’m sorry,’ she finished sympathetically. ‘But what’re my chances? Isn’t there anything you can do for me?’ appealed Robert, steadying his voice with determination.


‘I’m sorry… an unexpected and unfortunate side effect of the bio-interface. That’s all I’m permitted to say.’ The doctor looked down at her hands, folded neatly on the desk before her. ‘Comitment activates your comit trading account, your license to drive or fly, plus everything else. The chip is part of you, like cancer is a part of us all, though the average person without an understanding of cytology simply would not comprehend.’ She shook her head sadly. From behind old-style rounded spectacles, her eyes glistened with a watery compassion. ‘You can rest assured we’ll be doing all we can.’ ‘There’s got to be something you can do!’ Robert protested. ‘I’m Social-strata-one!’ The doctor checked the screen, raising her eyebrows. ‘I see you have adequate comits to receive treatment from our best physicians for an extended period,’ she said. ‘I want to make it clear that I don’t just want to curl up and die. I’m very, very serious about staying alive! My credentials are before you and I’ll invest all, if I have to! I don’t believe for one second there’s no cure!’ Robert vehemently plunged on. ‘There’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there? Aren’t people dying? I know you must be working on something. If a plague’s going to take us all out you certainly don’t look too worried. So level with me doctor,’ he pleaded. ‘Calm down Robert, I can understand how you feel. It must be very difficult for you. Development of a satisfactory treatment has been slow, but there’s hope of uncontaminated supplies for all haemo-types arriving soon, in a month or two. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed.’

The doctor was absorbed at the screen. ‘You have no interface anymore, as your biochip is no longer functional, but the World Public Authority will honour your comittransaction record. I’ll arrange total-care facilities for you at the Hillary Memorial Nursing Center, with a bed available from midnight. Medicentre will take care of your account and provide all you need. Actually your prognosis looks good; with the latest care we should be able to slow things down. I’ll see to it your name’s prioritized for transfusion immediately it’s available.’ ‘Transfusion?’ Robert was astonished. ‘Yes, total transfusion. We’re fighting this as a blood disease and tests confirm this as the most successful approach.’ ‘Well, I didn’t expect a …a cure like that,’ was all Robert could reply. He studied the doctor carefully. ‘I need to know the source of the replacement blood first.’ ‘Robert, there’s no need for concern, you’ll receive only the purest possible replacement.’ ‘I wasn’t worried about that; I want to know where it’s come from, before I accept it.’ Robert stared at her. ‘I can’t disclose that; it’s classified information,’ she said, shaking her head. The soft purr of a machine filled the silence, followed by the snap of a card plucked from the desk printer and placed before Robert. Picking it up, he stumbled towards the automatic door, which slid open on approach. ‘Good luck Robert,’ he heard the doctor quietly say, as it closed behind him. Mustering all the dignity he could, Robert hurried down the corridor. In the empty elevator he examined the card, fitted with a complimentary ‘No-pain’ chip for his


neutran, feeling cheated to find it an already outdated version. When the lift door opened he almost tripped in his haste to get away from this lifeless building. He hesitated on the steps outside, appreciating the cool air. The knowledge that he must soon quit this body saddened him. Tears of regret welled in his eyes while a hollow feeling of having only half lived, half loved, sank low inside him. Through the sparkle of his unshed tears; he gazed on the city at day’s end, seeing it strangely, as though time stood still. A twilight, fantasy world. Steadying himself against the handrail, Robert stepped hesitantly down to the footpath past an old man propped at one end of a plasform bench near the steps. Shivering and muttering in the late afternoon shadow of the Medical Center, unable to apprehend any passersby with his waving arms, he raised bleary eyes as Robert went by. The soul-felt recognition of another’s suffering brought Robert back to his earthly situation. He slipped his expensive jacket from his shoulders and tossed it toward the derelict, whose simple acceptance was born of acute necessity; this unexpected warmth might save him tonight. Peering up at Robert, he crooked a gnarled finger, beckoning and patting the seat beside him. ‘Over here, young man. Can you spare a few moments to listen to an old man’s meanderings?’ he asked. Robert nodded silently. Faded eyes examined Robert from under snowy brows. ‘You remind me of myself when I was your age, so much life ahead. Look at me; no job, no family, too old to work. There’s no place here for me any more, and yet, here I am. All I can do these days is think about life. There’s no one to even tell of my experiences of this city, or to grieve for my life, full of loveless encounters and illusion. ‘For here, freedom of expression is imprisoned, fear dictates, unforgiveness is its goal.’ Waving a skinny arm toward the skyline, where towering buildings supported corporate names in neon tube, the old man’s laugh spluttered into a cough.’ Assets of the ego…eyes yet too blind to see.’ ‘Though I am an old fool, you know how I know all this? I’m dying. I can see clearly now, as if the truth of everything has become unveiled.’


Robert needed to hear these words. ‘Old man, my life also feels so unfinished. I am dying too. From a biochip they swore was safe.’ ‘I remember the promises, the advertisements, the courting of the public vote,’ the old man answered bitterly. ‘Reduced taxation, no more system cheats. No more smuggling, no more terrorism. No more war even. Simply for holding out your hand and taking an invisible implant. I wish I’d never! ‘The Comitment trading system is a masterpiece, a goddamned satanic masterpiece. With the comitment, the large print gave us everything, but in the fine print, we lost our very souls. Look at the people robbed of the beauty and freedom of true life, duped into spiritual and physical slavery, and the uncaring empty city.’ He gestured towards the building Robert had just left. ‘They won’t help me; I’ve got no comits. Funny thing is, I’m glad. I don’t want to owe one second of my life anymore to this cursed soul-destroying system.’ Robert was amazed, then ashamed. He finally understood. He’d never bothered to stop and listen to others less fortunate, instead he’d allowed material wealth to become the prime objective, at the cost of recognising fellow human beings as people. This clarity brought new understanding, raising Robert far above his personal fears. A creeping sense of timelessness intrigued him as he looked about in the hazy light, an overlapping endless present connecting everything. With his new vision, he saw his life till now as a meaningless charade; like a giant bio-program with people inventing its significance. He had read of lucid near-death experiences where people became open to different astral dimensions. This must be what was happening to him. He was dying; but instead of fearing for himself, universal compassion for the human race swelled in his heart.

This whole situation was so unexpected, yet so perfect in the moment. He caught the words the old man now spoke softly. ‘Spirit vision… created in the joy of pure love only,’ I heard that thirty years ago now. Suddenly I’ve begun to remember all these things … ‘How I remember the clean fresh air! I wish I’d never left Mandalaland to make and lose my fortune, but I fell for the ultimate temptation. You should go and taste the pure waters of the earth, blood of life bubbling through the forest. And I bet the sky is as blue as I remember it.’ Robert had always felt something fundamentally missing from his life. He now knew the unbearable truth. Even if there were only days left to him, he felt more like living than ever before. Up in the sky the first of the skyads was becoming visible in the hazy grey. He longed to feast his eyes on the stars that he knew glittered unseen beyond the sky-screen. Another dimension of awareness unfolded new mind shapes within him. Imminent death neither puzzled nor frightened him. All he wanted was to walk through trees again. The old man was right; this was no place for the living. He had to get out of here. Competitive energy surged through the enormous schooling room, with the latest examination results running as highlighted banners round the upper edge illustrating student achievements. Rows of attentive children interacted quickly and efficiently with the Autocate system, gaining the latest instruction in all relevant technologies. Occasionally someone would look up to check their position for the school day. One head stared, unmoving, toward the corner of the room. Sparl was daydreaming, imagining his way back into a dream from the night before. In a strange land, he touched the rough bark of trees, feeling cool grass beneath his bare feet. He breathed deeply and freely of the fresh warm air as he approached a somehow familiar group of luminous people.


‘Sparl, please continue your lesson,’ interrupted the automatic co-ordinating supervisory teacher (ACOST) through his terminal headphones. Sparl attempted to regain the sense of the dream once more, but his thoughts drifted instead to his father’s rapidly deteriorating health. He knew a classmate’s father had recently died from similar symptoms, and he felt a chill whenever he thought his Dad might too. He was unprepared for the quick jolt administered by the ACOST for inattentiveness as it simultaneously boomed in his head, ‘Attention Sparl! Resume study now!’

A surprised Sparl immediately headed for the exit, rushing into the expansive foyer where his father sat waiting. ‘Dad! What’s happening? Everything okay?’ He hugged him gently then drew back as Robert tried not to wince, regarding his father anxiously. ‘Hi son.’ Robert’s face was pale and strained, but he smiled reassuringly. ‘Everything’s fine, no need for you to worry. In fact,’ he pulled Sparl closer. ‘We’re leaving the city,’ he whispered. ‘Heading for the country. Just you and me.’ ‘You mean it?’ Sparl burst out, eyes shining.

Sparl leapt from the terminal, then looked round. Already a burly school guard was moving in to intercept and discipline him if necessary. Red faced with anger, Sparl held both palms upward in a gesture of submission and sat back down, checking his exam results. Ah well, his marks were still okay. The guard remained beside him, moving stolidly back to his station after Sparl forced himself to begin reading: ‘The Modern History of Communication,’ subtitled: ‘The Teledesic system.’ He scrolled through a description of how ‘The Consortium’ established Comitment to create a perfect world, extolling the virtues of revolutionised communication and its value in education, entertainment and commerce. As he focused on the lesson, the screen displayed a message from the administration centre. ‘Attention: Sparl Wakeman. Your father is at Reception. You are reminded that from next week you must attend first-shift classes. Dismissed for the day.’

ESCAPE FROM TOX-CITY an excerpt from the novel CONSPIRITOR By Floyd Davis magickal@mullum.com.au

‘Ssssh!’ Struggling to his feet, Robert hushed him, bending over toward him. ‘It’s our secret.’ ‘How are we going? In the levvy?’ asked Sparl. ‘Not this time lad. There’s a hired ‘elect’ waiting outside for us. Come on Sparl, let’s go. We’ve got a whole life to live, and time is short…” Don’t come looking for me, I am man, far removed from thee. Trapped in this world of time and space I stalk the pillars of Thy Living Grace. I hide in Creation lost to myself, A lonely station; but … what else?’


“But I do not like the Pokemon avatars, Rinopoche!” Stark and blocky 3-D cartoon creatures stand motionless behind us. One looks like a blue dinosaur, one a smiling anthropomorphic yellow rabbit, the other some type of small chick perpetually bursting from it’s shell. They remind me of happy Tibetan tulpas - spirits from the higher dimensions. “They don’t play like proper Pokemon should!” he complains, his cherubic face all screwed up. Sigh. This is not the proper way for the 15th Dalai Lama to behave, no matter HOW young he is. But he is so strong willed and that twinkling in his eyes is the same I used to see in Tenzin Gyatso. This is what I get for letting the young master play with the SEGA Dreamcaster, but the 21st century demands a digital bodhisattva just as much as the 20th needed a bodhisattva of compassion. And this marvellous technology has brought us all here to the ACTIVE WORLDS sacred space that is hosting Earthdance 14.0, after all. Amazing, this shared virtual environment, virally programmed to evolve in real time simulation with the global party hookups. What is it the young people say these days? Ah yes.

LOG ON, TUNE IN. AND DANCE.


“You must abide them, Max. They are your bodyguards here in the virtual bardos.” Underneath the avatar forms he chose for them to wear are Zen Buddhist monks specially trained to protect THIS Dalai Lama from Chinese incursions. “Wipe that frown off your face and prepare for the transmission, Max. Millions of people are waiting.” He shoots a stern look at me as he gathers his red and orange bhiksu under him and gets up from the virtual Bo tree he’s sitting under. Its tendrils reach into the synapses of the brain and bond with the knowledge krystal there. We’ve been downloading Tibetan prayers, practising for the performance and the faint mental echo of sutras is still ringing around us. “I don’t know why I had to take my shoes off when they’re not even real!” he quips, knowing full well it makes no difference. Real or pixilated, the ritual helped centre the mind as he meditated in the lotus position. He is so cheeky. I take his holinesses hand as we drift through the ACTIVE WORLDS virtual simulations of the Earthdance market area. There’s stalls selling fluro SKINS, on-line jewellery and downloadable books, as well as screened tesseracts for workshops and healing areas. Max wants to stop and watch the monks making their intricate sand mandalas, each grain a fully animated pixel on our virtual beach, but we have to move on. Adam Yaunch from the Beastie Boys is hosting the New York linkup, leading off with a hiphop flavoured breakbeat mantra with live harmonics by the Gyuto Monks. After the performance he offers me a virtual chai, but I decline. Even though it’s only animated the algorithms kickstart the tastebuds and produce an elevated frame of mind, and I want to remain clear headed. Max wants some Yak butter.


“I think your music is funky!” his Holiness says. Yaunch blushes. Around us, the music has been graphed and the data turned into visual representations, or DATArt, so that we are fully immersed in each soundscape, seeing and hearing it at the same time. Such amazing sounds, this new millenium’s tekno. Dark hyperdrum’n’bass shapes flutter past us like birds. Max grips my hand tightly and we move on, Pokemon avatars following at our heels. “Remember, Max, it is best to let go of the hearing of the ear, in order that it not interfere. Try to be receptive and pay attention to where the body responds,” I tell him for the hundredth time. On the main dance floor, countless people in their virtual forms are moving in a spiraling, ritual dance. The program shifts and blurs as it tries to render hundreds of thousands of avatars coming together from thousands of parties worldwide, in almost every country in the global community. It’s not only Tibet we’re trying to free, you see, it’s the world. Music is our weapon. The mantra provides a point of focus for the mind force, through which energy flows like a river, the vibration acting as a healing mechanism.


“Is it time, then, Rinopoche?” Max asks, smiling beatifically, and for a second I see through his clean shaven head and rosy red cheeks, through the nirmana-kaya of his boy-form and right down to his sambhoga-kaya bliss body shining through.

“Yes, your Holiness. The virtual dance that links the earth is synchronized and ready for the prayer. Now rip up that dancefloor!” The party is at full pelt, the crowd stomping together in a rhythmic HIVE mind as the 15th Dalai Lama phases onto the decks. He starts with a special mudra of peace to centre his thoughts then lets his fingers slide over the turntables. He has such abundant energy, abundant love and grace. It’s a beautiful moment, like a photo of somewhere that’s no longer there, special and fragile and soundtracked with a chunky, thumping beat that ripples through the crowd. A double moon slides behind pixelated mountains in the distance, snow capped peaks modeled on Kathmandu and Everest but made up of heavy bassscapes. Everyone is charged with energy, waiting for a trigger to connect together. Unbidden, we all start to form a circle.


Max sits surrounded by various Tibetan singing bowls, accompanied by synthesisers that strike chords softly into the inner being, seeking to revitalise the life-force. The sound emanating from the bowls mirrors that of the universe in microcosm. It flows out in an invigorating sound bath of musical healing.

Suddenly, chi sparks dance around his holiness and shoot through the crowd. Everyone is shining as they merge into a single string of phat binary inphomation, locked onto by the dance, lost in the MIX. With each breath, waves of joy break through the pain and fear built up in our vibrational bodies. Unlimited oceans of beauty and wisdom emerge from within. The Avatamsaka Sutra, the Buddha called it.

A mantra for an open universe. “We are all interdependant on one another,” Max says, his voice picked up and relayed across our tiny bluegreen world. “What then, is all life as a whole - planets, solar systems, galaxies - other than one song in the spinning wheel of the almighty?”

Get down.


we were in the bubble {immersed in a brainwash} rushing through the game of it all.

Excerpt from “The Oracle” by Tim Parish


1. Around us an ocean of data currents flowed through invisible optic fibre webs. Manifest streams of binary consciousness. Strings of code which, woven together, formed the metaphysics of the Codeworld spheres a neuromancer utopia for those who can afford the technology. Some codeworlds were perfect replications of an idealised material. Replications of gated suburban dream facsimiles. Photocopies of photocopies. Bland as the minds they were designed to consume. Others were as abstract and surreal as the mind could dare to craft. Avant garde dada enclaves like jewels amongst the debris of imagination. Voids of pure colour and sensualised delight. The ‘brainwash’ realms where you didn’t have to even think, just consume light and sound. Pure existential fictions for the spectator economy. The data ocean was a space inbetween the codes. A limbo transit lounge. A matrix outside the matrix. Backstage at the concert, where you can see the strings and pulleys, the smoke and mirrorball circuits of the spectacle machine. Officially it’s a restricted channel, limited to programmers and code elves. Most spectators wouldn’t be interested in it anyway. Reminds them too much of the illusion they are eating. Breaks the spell, you might say - but that’s why I like it. Reminds me that this world is fabrication when I find myself falling into it a bit too deep…

It’s also the best way to move between channels without being detected by the thought policia. The A.I. Authorities who control the hardware. You see, we’re not really sim spectators. We haven’t paid our entry fee. We’re just spies here. On a joyride through the waves. Selling our brand of rebellion.

I had three cracks filtering my play. Psyche-bugs we’d bought via the elseworld network. Designer visions by leading contemporary hacktivists..


Crowley had sourced them, of course. He always had the best contacts on both sides of the internet connection. He’d grown up in the Sim, but defected to the outside as a teenager, so he knew people on both side of the reality coinage. Now he enjoys jumping back and forth between the virtual and materiality.

Today we were carrying a rainbow of Memetechnarcotics. Synthetic psilocybin. Rose coloured visionmixers. Motion blur amphetamines. Smile generators. Plug ins that let you alter the data receptors on your sensory perception simulators. Software which freed you from the confines of your avatar’s preset limitations. Cracks which allowed you to slip between the codeworlds. Break out of your self imposed simprison. Virusses which opened mindscapes and shattered the elsewhere addiction. Designed to snap you out of the anaesthetic of the spectacle. Bring you back to here and now. Make you think….


A popular 20th Century fiction-myth about virtual reality envisioned a world where humans didn’t realise they were inside the matrix. That somewhere along the course of history the machines had switched reels on them and they hadn’t noticed. But the story now was, when the technology evolved, most were only too keen to jump ship from the struggling natural world and join the simulated worldview. It was a matter of convenience and lifestyle, sold by multinational organisms like the Transcend Corporation as the pinnacle of human mental evolution. ‘Live the Dreamworld’ went the cross media marketing campaign.

Almost overnight the consumer culture, morphed into what became known as Spectator Culture. Consumers of the spectacle who live inside the Sim, knowing it as a façade, but enjoying the lifestyle of abundance and cheap distraction too much to kick the habit. The only problem is, overdosing on media causes side effects like any drug. In a world where there is no matter, nothing really mattered, so things kind of lost their edge.. Fresh young minds born into the code lacked purpose. Boredom was their biggest problem. They needed something new to spark neurons. Another layer to entertain the attention deficiency syndrome.


Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s where Crowley came in.. waiting in the wings with his system cracks. The kids were bored he said, they had become desensitized. Brought up in phantasy, eventually even the most outrageous codeworlds had become dull in and of themselves. Someone called it the Simulacrum as a joke after a meme by Baudrillard, and it stuck. Like any good word virus it infected the language of the mainstream. Raised their consciousness quota everytime they remembered what it meant.

All these cracks had been laid a while ago. Now we were just slipping through them to plant new seeds of thought.


everyone was doing it.


undergrowth # 3 tales of the simulacrum edited by tim parish and rak razam /editorial@undergrowth.org art director; tim parish (verb studios) / art@undergrowth.org web design by pierce james / webhed@undergrowth.org interactive cd design by nic low / nic@dislocated.org writers: Shelly Innocence, Andrew Lowenthal, Kath Williamson, Tom Doig, Hugh McGinlay, Sonicboy, Tim Parish, Rak Razam, Floyd Davis, Joseph Gelfer, Luther Blisset. art credits; 1 / cover / Steven Mann / mail@zenport.com 2 - 3 / transcend advertising / verb@undergrowth.org 14-15 / IMAX cinema /Anna Zahalka / www.zahalkaworld.com 16 - 21 / Shelly Innocence pictures / www.shellyinnocence.com 22 - 25 / cube / Steven Mann 26 - 27 / Mini Golf / Anna Zahalka 28 -33 / fashion fotoshoppgraphy / verb


34 / capitalist christmas / verb 35 / farmland / Gage / gage@spaz.org 45 / soma advert / verb 46- 49 / futurotica / Ian Haig / www.ianhaig.net 53 / New / Dominic Allen / scarabwindow@optusnet.com.au 54- 59 / James Riches / http://jamesriches.id.au/

60-61 / You Cant Fight Progress / verb

62 / Nodes of ConďŹ&#x201A;ict pictures / verb 68 / Telestreets photos / Luther Blisset 84 / Media Jacking photo / verb 100/ Monks /Hansh / hansh@introweb.nl / www.hanshendriksen.net 101 /DJ BOY /Halszka Serephine Masash / www.halszka.com thanks to: Leonie Starnawski, Shahab, Sammy, National Young Writers Festival Nic, Kelly Chandler (au revoir) Marshall McLuhan and Jean Baudrillard (creator of the Simulacrum Meme-Technology)


www.undergrowth.org


Undergrowth #3 > TALES OF THE SIMULACRUM