Sunday, 20 November 2016

Godzilla und Ruinen

Hey Leute!

This is a quick note to let you all know that some sections from my book The Bright Labyrinth have been translated into German and are available for you to read in the most recent edition of Pop Kultur & Kritik available from Transcript Verlag. The extracts in question are all from the chapter ‘Godzilla Has Left The Building And How He Got There’, and reads very well in German, so far as my unpractised eye could tell. I am very pleased and proud to have had my work featured once again in this excellent journal – especially as Godzilla made the front cover and my name and ‘ruinen’ are prominently featured on the back. I hope some of my German readers (I know you exist) will take the time to support this great publication.

Alles gΓΌt!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics

I have an essay in a new collection of essays published by Edinburgh University Press. Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics is edited by Winchester School of Arts's Professor Ryan Bishop and Professor John Beck of the University of Westminster. The book connects Cold War material and conceptual technologies to 21st century arts, society and culture. From futures research, pattern recognition algorithms, nuclear waste disposal and surveillance technologies, to smart weapons systems, contemporary fiction and art, the contributors to this book shows that we live in a world imagined and engineered during the Cold War.

I am particularly pleased with this collection, not just because it includes contributions from the likes of Ryan Bishop, Jussi Parrika and Neal White, but because it contains the very last essay to appear in print that was composed while I was still undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer back in the summer of 2014.  The drugs they were giving me at the time had a strange way of enhancing my powers of concentration, meaning that whatever I wrote under their influence remains special to me. There is still some material from a larger project to be published at some point, but that can wait for the moment. In the meantime, here is the abstract for the essay, plus some key words to get you started:

‘The Very Form Of Perverse Artificial Societies…’
The Unstable Emergence of the Network Family From its Cold War Nuclear Bunker

Just as the ‘nuclear family’ was seen as a strategic element in the Cold War, dispersed into suburban enclaves of self-contained domestic units, so the ‘network family’ of today, distributed across social media now finds itself defined as a strategic element in a warring online community. This paper seeks to examine the shift in domestic security from its deep roots in the nuclear family under threat of nuclear destruction to the network family of today whose elusive and fragmented presence is experienced as both a threat and a defence position. Delueze and Guattari’s ‘desiring-machines’ are examined in terms of the impact Norbert Wiener’s theory of Cybernetics upon both popular culture and the theoretical models proposed by Marshall McLuhan and Herbert Marcuse. Even as the mass media communicate today’s moral panics over online security, antisocial ‘trolling’ and whistle blowers – which already seem a quaint piece of media archaeology – actions are depicted and explained in terms of a domestic instability, first perceived during the Cold War 1950s and 1960s, from ‘slacker’ Ed Snowden to Anonymous adolescent hackers and Julian Assange’s displaced national status.

Key Words
Cybernetics, networks, ‘desiring-machines’, science fiction, media archaeology, Cold War politics, defence strategies, suburbia, Hollywood, popular culture, war machines, hacker collectives, portable devices, interactivity, marginalization, Watergate, Anonymous, Wikileaks, Oedipus, ‘Molecular Revolution’

And here are some more details about Cold War Legacies: Systems, Theory, Aesthetics from the Edinburgh University Press:

Key Features

Makes connections between Cold War material and conceptual technologies, as they relate to the arts, society and culture

Draws on theorists such as Paul Virilio, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray, Friedrich Kittler, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, Michel Serres, Bernard Stiegler, Peter Sloterdijk and Carl Schmitt

The contributors include leading humanities and critical military studies scholars, and practising artists, writers, curators and broadcasters

234mm x 156mm
320 pages
20 colour illustration(s)

Hardback: 9781474409483
eBook (PDF): 9781474409490
eBook (ePub): 9781474409506

Monday, 6 June 2016

Website, Instagram, Twitter

It has been way too long since I posted anything on this blog - not because I have lost interest in the medium but because I have simply been too busy doing things to report back on  them. This blog was always intended as a substitute for my woefully dated website, which now has the appearance of a strange prehistoric insect that has been inadvertently preserved in amber by some casual hand. The site is currently being updated and should be online sometime soon, but the process has taken far longer than I had anticipated. In the meantime I have recently started a Hollingsville account on Instagram and will continue to post on this blog and on my @Hollingsville Twitter timeline. 

My health has continued to improve over the past year, and I find myself busier than ever. Once again my sincere apologies for the protracted silence on this blog. To make up for it here are some graffiti skulls and some other details  I photographed recently in Leake Street. It ain't Hollingsville, that's for sure, but it felt like home. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Works for Magnetic Tape: TTW#82

I am pleased to announce that my first spoken word album is now available on audiocassette from the amazing Tapeworm label. I am delighted to have contributed to this remarkable series of tape releases. Works for Magnetic Tape will be officially launched at a special event being hosted by The Royal College of Art on Wednesday January 27. The details are contained in the flyer above.

The three tracks that make up this audiocassette release reflect my interest in how differently written text operates from spoken word. What separates and makes them distinct from each other – and what happens when one is translated into the other?

A longer version of the text for ‘There Must Be Something Wrong With This, Sally’ first appeared in volume 19 issue 4 of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac: ‘Without Sin: Freedom and Taboo in Digital Media’ edited by Lanfranco Aceti and Donna Leishman. It, in turn, is a reworking and expansion of some themes that occur in my book The Bright Labyrinth: Sex, Death and Design in Digital Regime (Strange Attractor Press, 2014). These particular themes and their development were occasioned by my fascination with a homemade record, identified on the label only as ‘Sal Boo’, featuring two drunk teachers trying to get their recording device to work properly. This piece of mechanized circular madness remains for me one of the most remarkable recordings ever made – I still listen repeatedly to ‘Sal Boo’ and find new things in it each time. You can download a PDF of my original essay here. The reading is in several sections, with electronic backgrounds and interludes supplied by Mark O. Pilkington, to whom I am indebted for his patience and care in the final production of this piece.

‘Ideas Are One Thing, And What Happens Is Another’ was commissioned in 2012 to be read as part of a performance to celebrate the centenary of John Cage’s birth. Subtitled ‘A Neatly Ordered Sequence of Texts’, its ten parts contain personal memories of my time with Cage, together with thoughts on what constitutes ‘an idea’. The actual title is a line from the Cage’s 1961 lecture ‘Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing?’. At my request, Graham Massey supplied the backgrounds for this reading: the sounds of a needle stuck in the runoff grooves of various records to be selected by him – the one brief moment of ‘silence’ certain to be on every release. Graham also very kindly agreed to do the final mix and edit of the track, making its basic components sound more elegant and informal than I could have managed on my own.

The readings for both of these tracks were recorded by Simon James of the Simonsound at the old BBC radio studios in Brighton. This cramped and darkened space might seem too small to be haunted; but the old green baize-covered desk set up with a mike and lectern, together with the thick glass screen separating it from the control room, were definitely speaking from another age. More up-to-date was the language school located immediately above where I was to do my reading; as a result we had to pause frequently as students clattered up and down the stairwell just on the other side of the studio wall. Simon did a fantastic job of editing the various takes together into a smooth whole.

‘Parasitic Infestation’ was originally written as an introduction to The Art of Worms, The Bookworm’s debut publication documenting the cover art for The Tapeworm’s first twenty-five audiocassette releases. The book was launched at a special event, ‘Worm Eats Bear’, on October 20, 2011 at the Bear Pit in London, where this reading of my essay was recorded live. I love the raw immediacy of this recording and am very happy to include the track as it is – in memory of a remarkable evening. The Art of Worms is currently out of print, but you can find the complete text here.

I decided to call this collection Works for Magnetic Tape primarily for nostalgic reasons. When, as a teenager, I first started exploring avant-garde music, I quickly discovered that listings on albums or in catalogues of a twentieth-century composer’s ‘works for magnetic tape’ – as opposed to ones for string quartet or piano trio – usually contained the weirdest and most interesting stuff to my untrained sensibilities. It is a shame that the category appears to have fallen out of favour. The title also refers directly to the audiocassette medium itself and is an expression of my pleasure in contributing to The Tapeworm’s grand designs.

‘Works for Magnetic Tape’ is a Project Thrust Production
‘Project Thrust – The Name You Can Trust’

Cover art by Savage Pencil

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Cut-Up Method: ‘The End of the Civilized World’

As a follow-up to my recent documentary for Radio 4, ‘Cutting Up the Cut-Up’, I have been working with Dan Shepherd of Farshoreline Productions  on an online supplement: ‘Cutcast Up-Pod’, which is currently available from Soundcloud. When editing the original programme Dan and I quickly discovered that we had recorded far more material than we could comfortably fit into a show that was scheduled to come in just shy of half an hour. This is quite often the case when making a radio show for the BBC. In this case, however, we found that we had accumulated a lot of really fascinating material on the audio cut-up process – Vicki Bennett, Lenka Clayton, Cassetteboy and Armando Iannucci all went into great detail about what kinds of methods to follow, which machines work best and what kind of material it is best to start with. Vicki Bennett and Armando Iannucci shared a passion for local radio news , while Lenka Clayton and Casstetteboy both demonstrated a more systematic and painstaking approach to cutting up words.  Editing the four speakers together, with an absolute minimum of scripted links, offers insightful information to anyone interested in developing their own cut-up skills. As William Burroughs always liked to remind us: ‘any number can play.’

'Cutcast Up-pod' – featuring additional material from Chris Morris and Negativland – is available here.

A short piece on the cut-up method I wrote for BBC News Online – also with online examples from Negativland and Chris Morris – is available here.

RIP Don Joyce (1944-2015) – ‘….then I feel so bad.’

See also: