Saturday, 18 May 2013
I am giving a short talk and a reading from my new essay ‘Godzilla Is Dead – and We Have Killed Him’ at X Marks the Bokship on Friday May 24, at 6.00 pm. The event is to celebrate the launch of the new Tombstone Press anthology, How Buildings Kill. It would be wonderful to see you there if you can make it. Press release follows:
Tombstone Press is pleased to invite you to the How Buildings Kill book launch on Friday, 24th May with special guest Ken Hollings. How Buildings Kill is an anthology of writing featuring the Marquis De Sade, Owen Hatherley, Ian Nairn, Ken Hollings, David Dawkins and an interview with The Situationist Times creator and co-editor Jacqueline De Jong, alongside a collection of illustrations by Gareth Barnett.
Tombstone Press is a Hackney based publishing house committed to confronting the way we interact with the book, exploring the way we experience and construct narratives through the physicality of printed matter.
The book launch will feature a talk from Ken Hollings on his contribution and an exclusive preview of the 200 limited print run of How Buildings Kill. If you would like to join us please RSVP to email@example.com
How Buildings Kill
Published by Tombstone Press
Book Launch: Friday, 24 May 2013
X Marks The Bokship
Pictured above: scenes from 1968 version of Destroy All Monsters, courtesy of Horror 101 with Dr Ac
Saturday, 4 May 2013
This is not one of my usual blog posts as I am not documenting or giving advance warning of anything, and perhaps it marks a change of approach in the way I use this particular medium. However, it seems like the best platform to set out some observations and remarks - after which, I am sure normal service will be restored.
Over the past couple of months I have become increasingly fascinated by a type of Twitter Spam that seems to resemble the EVP messages received by Latvian psychologist Konstantin Raudive. These take the form of tweets received from accounts that belong to what I can only describe as ‘non-people’: the most obvious clues are that these suddenly turn up unannounced in your list of followers with no corresponding notification of their status anywhere else in your account. The handle and the picture of this new ‘follower’ rarely match (male name with picture of female being an obvious example) and the short self-description often includes contradictory statements (guitars are my life, guitars and finding myself, sports bikes, bacon etc...).
If you examine their profile a little more closely, these accounts usually have just 22 tweets (occasionally 20 or 21 but I have yet to see one with more than 22). They are usually worth examining, however, as that is where the strangeness really starts. Often the tweets take the form of words in unconnected strings (and I but have but when we but I never but) or selections of quotations from established names, but which have been put through some kind of weird syntactic blender (he need regarding knowledge, such as thirst for money increases previously while using buy it - laurence sterne) - or finally they form themselves into the kind of cryptic arrangement of images that Raudive would have instantly recognized as emanating from another world (organic mathematicians training it carefully).
At present I am not inclined to draw any conclusions about this phenomenon one way or the other - I do, however, have some thoughts as to their origin: one is that these ‘non people’ started out as being one of the millions of artificially generated followers which were originally intended to enhance the popularity of some corporate enterprise or media sensation. However, they have somehow broken free of their lonely non-existent crowd and are now wandering the Twitter-sphere in search of someone to follow and have fallen into your orbit - or it may be that they have somehow replicated themselves and it is the digital echo of their non-presence that has now decided to follow you. One aspect of their behaviour that supports this assumption is that a ‘non-person’ will sometimes attach itself to a conversation you are having with one of your real followers, as if they were somehow hovering on the edge of your exchange - shy but anxious to take part. Their contribution would, I suspect, turn out to be entirely unsettling if it were allowed to take place.
One thing is clear to me at this stage: just as the digital spectres that haunt architectural renderings of new buildings find themselves occupying a non-existent space that is barely contained within two dimensions, so these digital non-people that haunt Twitter are a new form of being that do not inhabit the same dimension as us. Do they have anything to say to us? That, I would suggest, is another matter for another time. Let me close by noting once again, however, that it is only through examining how a network is distorted that we will get a true sense of how it behaves. Spam already tells us more than we want to know about ourselves: the EVP Spam coming from (or perhaps through) Twitter may take that uncomfortable understanding to a whole new level.
Sunday, 21 April 2013
MA Aural and Visual Cultures and English Heretic Present:
Weekend OtherWorld imagines a parallel present where the forensic documentary intensity of 1970s television, seen in World In Action, Man Alive, Weekend World and Chronicle, still exists, but the reporting all comes from a sorcerous angle. What if the earnest authority of these programmes could be extended to the aesthetics of the occult? Weekend OtherWorld will feature a mixture of lectures and performances on topics such as the haunted shoreline; horror film locations; the psychoanalysis of trash; aesthetic psychopathology; revolutionary sacrifice; eerie capitalism. Participants will include: Tristam Adams, Anthony Clayton, Lisa Cradduck, John Cussans, Blue Firth, Mark Fisher, Laura Oldfield Ford, Will Fowler, Hannah Gilbert, Alison Gill, English Heretic, Ken Hollings, Dean Kenning, Mark Pilkington, Haunted Shoreline, Cerys Thomas, Nicola Woodham
On Saturday April 27, I will be talking once again about the Psychoanalysis of Trash at Goldsmiths College in London and once again I will be doing so in the presence of worshipful company. Expect more on the intertwined subjects of Ludwig II of Bavaria and Wagner, Elvis and Michael Jackson, alchemy and dandyism. There will be accompanying images of rococo interiors, remote castles, secret grottos and imperial libraries plus a suitably Wagnerian soundtrack from Asterism. Also taking part are my old friends Mark Pilkington, Mark Fisher, Haunted Shoreline and John Cussans – presiding magister once again will be English Heretic. Click here for further details from the Goldsmith College website. The event starts at 1.00 pm and admission is free – so all you have to lose is your body, mind and soul.
See also: Psychopathia Esoterica: the Beauties of Bath's Masonic Hall III
Pictured above: Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s castle dedicated to the operas of Richard Wagner. It was from this tower that Ludwig attempted to throw himself in an effort to claim his own life and therefore avoid being deposed as mentally unfit to serve as king.
Sunday, 24 March 2013
Strange Attractor Press at an obscenely reasonable price and comes with a limited edition poster. Of course it’s highly likely that you already have your own copy by now – but just in case you haven’t, or have leant it out to someone and are already regretting it, then this is what you need to know.
Edited by S.S. Sandhu,The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale is a limited-edition Risograph book – published by Texte und Töne in collaboration with the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture – to mark A Cathode Ray Séance: The Haunted Worlds of Nigel Kneale, a day-long event held in New York, right after the storms and tidal waves, November 2012.
The book was designed by Rob Carmichael and ‘really is a beautiful and fascinating piece of work’, according to books editor at the Belbury Parish Magazine.
Contributors include: Sophia Al-Maria, Bilge Ebiri, Mark Fisher, William Fowler, Ken Hollings, Paolo Javier, Roger Luckhurst, China Miéville, Drew Mulholland, David Pike, Mark Pilkington, Joanna Ruocco, Sukhdev Sandhu, Dave Tompkins, Michael Vazquez, and Evan Calder Williams.
Copies come with an 11 x 17 Risograph poster produced by Rob Carmichael for the original Cathode Ray Séance event
For international sales, please visit the Seen Studio website by clicking here. And for a great piece on the increasing relevance of Nigel Kneale to the fractured realities of the twenty-first century (a term which now seems worn out before anyone came to claim it), visit the Copy Cat Effect by clicking here.
And now I return to the sleep of ages – wake me when our spaceship has been uncovered again.
Saturday, 9 February 2013
It was a rare privilege for me to speak last weekend about cold war media and technology from inside one of the most fabulous pieces of early Space Age design: the Haus der Kulturen. Formerly known as the Kongresshalle, designed by American architect Hugh Stubbins and a gift from the United States to the people of West Berlin, it was the ideological equivalent of a NATO airbase or missile range planted right next to the Wall that divided East from West – John F Kennedy spoke from here on his visit to Berlin in June 1963. To me, it did not matter in the least that those attending transmediale 13, whose proud theme was ‘Back When Pluto Was a Planet’, had voted not to reinstate the lonely planet’s status: within the negative spaces and projecting curves of the HdeKdeW’s interior Pluto was, so far I was concerned, definitely still a planet.
The most prominent ‘collapsing new building’ of the Cold War reconstruction of West Germany, its roof having caved in, resulting in one death and several injuries, thereby marking its place in pop culture history, it belongs in outer space and to a future that we may never see. In other words, it feels as if a piece of the 1964 New York World’s Fair had been broken off and relocated in the Tiergarten. Playwright Heiner Müller once remarked that the only real place in the world was the dividing line between East and West Germany – today it might well be the empty lawns and fountains outside the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. In the meantime Hugh Stubbins went on to design the Citicorp building in Manhattan; and it was in the lobby of this fine building with its array of payphones that the first 2600 hacker meetings took place on the first Tuesday of every month. Every wall on this planet has a story to tell.
Pictured above: KH in the sleet outside the Haus der Kulturen der Welt prior to the BWAPWAP panel (picture courtesy of Sunil Manghani – note Henry Moore’s Large Divided Oval: Butterfly in background); interior space; evening descending upon a flying saucer in the trees; daytime exterior views – exit in search of Pluto.
Friday, 25 January 2013
Anyone planning to wander through the Tiergarden next Saturday morning might like to know that I am in Berlin again taking part in transmediale 2013. The theme this year is Back When Pluto Was a Planet,which is less a reference to the past than a GPS locator for our present situation. To this end I have been asked to contribute to a panel on Militarization, Media and Space: ‘Back When Pluto Was A Cold War Planet’.
It starts at 11.00 am in the Theatersaal of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee. Here is an extract from organizers’ blurb for the event:
This panel focuses on mediation and coordination of space and Space by the military. Since the advent of the Cold War, celestial bodies have featured in strategic military planning and often in controversial ways. One attempt to stem militarization was, for example, the 1967 which declared the moon a site free of any military activity. However, during the War on Terrorism and its protracted ghostly image in the present, the US Department of Defense’s strategic plans have included the abolishment of such quaint treaties, so that sites such as the dark side of the moon might well become the platform from which the military can convert urban centers (targets) into mirror images of munitions lift-off sites: the clichéd wasteland of the lunar landscape. These plans apply to a range of other celestial objects as well, and their relationship to militarization on and under the ground—from high-tech signaling and radio spectra, to inversed stargazing, i.e. tracking terrestrial targets from outer space. Terrestrial and extraterrestrial space provides the medium for thinking about complementary and, occasionally, contradictory desires of militarization processes. Such desires operate perhaps without a singular, centralized and human agency, but are nonetheless especially effective from the perspective of epistemological and military mapping through various media of bodies and their movements. Presentations in this panel investigate this entanglement of architectures, observation, epistemological technologies and celestial bodies.
Participating are: Ryan Bishop, Lisa Messeri, Sunil Manghani, Jussi Parikka, Ken Hollings, and the event is being moderated by Kristoffer Gansing, the artistic director of transmediale. The venue of course could not be more ideal: the original collapsing structure of the early Space Age, a thrusting piece of Cold War spin reminding us once again that we are living in someone else’s future.
February 2, 2013, starting 11.00 am
Theatersaal, Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Pictured above: Haus der Kulturen der Welt ascendant, plus Gemini and satellite in conjuction
Saturday, 8 December 2012
My series of talks for BBC Radio 3’s Essay series, ‘Requiem for the Networks’, is now back online again after its original one-week run on i-Player last year. A great opportunity for those who missed them the first time around to hear them at their leisure, the series also offers early drafts on some of the material contained in my forthcoming book, The Bright Labyrinth: Sex Death and Design in the Digital Regime’, the final text for which is pretty much 98% complete.
The Essays series comprises five talks:
‘Welcome to the Labyrinth’
‘Victorian Search Engines’
‘The Network Goes to War’
‘I’ll Be Your Orange Juice’
‘Heads in the Clouds’
From the introductory preamble to ‘Requiem for the Network:
As weaponry systems, commercial enterprises, banking and home entertainment draw increasingly upon the same operating platforms, the neutrality of the network is open to question. Perhaps the most appropriate model for understanding the enduring nature of the network is the Labyrinth: a structure of mystifying complexity where technology, deception and violence all meet. The US military, having been instrumental in developing the Internet, has now withdrawn into its own secret labyrinth, which it considers a safe environment for the transmission of classified data.
You can find the entire series as separate episodes on the Radio 3 website by clicking here.
Please note: as with the original i-Player version, the last five minutes of the final episode is missing: it is useful to note in this respect that networks not only accept errors but can also perpetuate them. I have brought this missing section to the attention of the series’ producer, the wonderful Mark Burman, in the hope that he can get those responsible to correct it. In the meantime, I can make the script for episode five available as a PDF to those who wish to read its thrilling conclusion.
Requiem for the Network – Essay Five, ‘Heads in the Clouds’
Pictured above: KH has left the building...a clean desk in the studio at Henry Wood House
Pictured above: KH has left the building...a clean desk in the studio at Henry Wood House