Friday 30 April 2010

Hollingsville TX3/12: Reverse Engineering

‘Machines: History and Hardware’ contained one of those rare moments that can happen in live encounters when something approaching real drama suddenly takes over: which is not to say that anything melodramatic occurred or even that another of those argumentative conflicts that blight so much mainstream broadcasting had broken out. Both my guests Bruce Woolley and James Bridle were far too smart for that. For me, the presence of real drama is marked by a sense of shared anticipation: the notion that anything could happen and that the moment is open to possibilities.

James described it well afterwards, saying it felt to him as if Bruce and I were taking diametrically opposing positions over the relationship between humans and machines while the machines themselves waited outside the studio to be let in. Bruce later confirmed that he had a similar impression: a bunker debate – of the sort Herman Khan used to enjoy – appeared to be taking place. Such moments are difficult to stage-manage and impossible to script, but they are almost always worth the wait. Part of the context for this was an extended discussion of Karel Capek’s play RUR, but we also heard from James about his MENACE project and from Bruce on giant music-making machines like the Telharmonium. Giant music-making also took the form of two tracks – Avatar (Original) and Silver Strawberries – from Radiophonic, a new studio project involving the likes of Steve Dub, best known for his work with the Chemical Brothers. My sincere thanks to Bruce and James and Radiophonic – and to ‘Hollingsville’ composer in residence Graham Massey – for their involvement in last night’s show. Speech has indeed become immortal.

‘Machines: History and Hardware’ will be repeated on Resonance 104.4 FM at 11.00 pm this coming Tuesday May 4 on Resonance 104.4; and that the podcast for TX2/12 ‘Media: The Extensions of God’and TX1/12 ‘The Future: Suddenly it’s 1960!’ are both now available from the Resonance website. TX3/12 will join them in due course.

See also:
Hollingsville Posts
Welcome to Mars with Bruce Woolley at the Strange Attractor Salon
Welcome To Mars with Bruce Woolley at Archive.Org

Pictured above from top to bottom: Bruce Woolley contemplates the coming of our robot overlords; James Bridle ponders a MENACE mix tape

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Hollingsville TX3/12 ‘Machines’

History and Hardware

When Thomas Edison first screamed ‘Hullo!’ into the mute, expectant mouthpiece of his latest invention, the ‘phonograph’, in July 1877, a shift of seismic proportions took place. Before even the faintest echo of a tune had registered upon a rotating cylinder, an entire culture lost its mind. New communication technologies had come into existence that were not obliged to operate through the medium of symbols but could store physical traces of the world as sound waves and light. As Nietzsche, using his brand new Malling Hansen Writing Ball, wrote in the late 1880s: ‘are these people or thinking, talking and writing machines?’ And have we mentioned music yet? Even the ‘first mechanized philosopher’ did not foresee the singing and dancing machines of today. As we further lose ourselves in digitally streamed sound and vision, are we in danger of losing touch with our machines as well?

Welcome to the third episode in my new series ‘Hollingville’, scheduled to go out, live and unscripted, at 7.00 pm on Thursday April 29 on Resonance 104.4 FM. My studio guests will be musician and composer Bruce Woolley, friend to all robots everywhere, and James Bridle, author, designer of probably the universe’s largest calculating machine to be made entirely out of matchboxes and beans. Expect live and unscripted ruminations on music-making machines: ‘the other kind of instruments’, typewriters, early movie cameras, factory assembly lines, opera houses and concert halls. Specially commissioned musical interludes will be by Radiophonic, with additional moods by the ‘Hollingsville’ composer in residence, Graham Massey, plus ins and outs by Indigo Octagon. Now press play.

A World’s Fair of the airwaves, each episode of ‘Hollingsville’ will chart a different aspect our historical relationship with technology. From architecture to bodies, computers to phantoms, machines to monsters, my guests and I will be exploring the digital regime. Join us, won’t you? Every Thursday between 7 and 8 pm (repeated every Tuesday at 11.00pm with the podcast available by noon the following day) on Resonance 104.4 FM or streamed from their website.

See also:
Hollingsville Posts

Pictured above: Roll Picture, Roll Sound

Sunday 25 April 2010

Hollingsville TX1/12 Podcast Now Available

Visitors to Hollingsville are advised that the show is now being posted as a regular podcast on the Resonance FM website. Hollingsville TX1/12 ‘The Future: Suddenly it’s 1960!’ – featuring contributions from Matt Jones, Steve Beard and Graham Massey – is currently available as a download. The show is broadcast live every Thursday evening between 7.00 and 8.00 pm on Resonance 104.4 (with live streaming from the Resonance homepage ) with a repeat the following Tuesday at 11.00 pm – the podcast should then be put online by Wednesday noon. Please check the calendar elsewhere on this blog for a more precise timetable; or you can access the show either by clicking here or by going to Absolute Elsewheres in the top right-hand corner of this page and clicking on ‘Hollingsville Podcasts’. This has been a public service announcement. Thank for your attention.

See also:
Hollingsville Posts

Pictured above: Hollingsville welcomes careful drivers

Friday 23 April 2010

Hollingsville TX2/12: Media Blowback

Doing a live broadcast that examines our relationship with technology in terms of today’s media is always going to defy the fates not to roll you a big fat four; so it probably shouldn’t come as any great surprise when the press of a laptop key does absolutely nothing at all. Instead of Indigo Octagon’s splendid opening theme, episode two of Hollingsville, ‘Media: The Extensions of God’ began with what sounded like the crashing of surf mixed with a swirling downpour of volcanic ash in my headphones – this, however, turned out to be my own breathing relayed live, direct and unscripted to the Resonance audience from the studio. After that, things got a little confused.

However, my guests Russell Davies and Richard Thomas spoke with considerable poise on the subject, taking the conversation in some unexpected directions, from on-air cricket commentary as an ambient radio event in which nothing much happens (a concept with which I am now very familiar) to the communications potential of village halls and the four-minute podcast. During the course of the conversation Russell also revealed that Interesting 10 will be taking place at the Conway Hall on Saturday October 9 – so keep watching the skies for more details on that one. My sincere thanks to both Russell and Richard – and to ‘Hollingsville’ composer in residence Graham Massey – for their magnificent contributions. Now let’s make 1967 our best selling year yet.

Those of you who missed TX 2/12 and would like to hear the exciting sounds of me breathing should be advised that ‘Media: The Extensions of God’ will be repeated at 11.00 pm this coming Tuesday April 27 on Resonance 104.4; and that the podcast for TX1/12 ‘The Future: Suddenly it’s 1960!’ is now available from the Resonance website. TX2/12 will join it in due course.

See also:
Hollingsville TX2/12 ‘Media’
Hollingsville TX1/12 ‘The Future’
‘Hollingsville’ To Start On Resonance FM
Interesting 2009 - Site Report
Interesting 2009 Running Order
Interesting 09

Pictured above from top to bottom: Richard Thomas discovering radio’s hidden dimension; Russell Davies in good form and as serene as ever

Thursday 22 April 2010

‘Johnny YesNo’ Talk at Sensoria 10

Anyone in or around the Sheffield area tomorrow evening (Friday, April 23) might like to know that I will be giving a talk at a special one-off screening at the Showroom Cinema of ‘Johnny YesNo’ , a short film by Peter Care featuring a soundtrack by Cabaret Voltaire. The film was originally released on Double Vision, the Cabs’ own video label, back in 1983: on the same tape were examples of further collaborations between the two parties. Tomorrow night’s programme, part of this year’s Sensoria festival, will also feature newly reworked versions of this material predominantly based around Richard H Kirk’s remixes of the original tracks like ‘Invocation’, ‘Loosen the Clamp’ and ‘Yashar’ combined with Care’s digital reshoots inspired by the videos he made for them at the time. Expect other surprises as well. The whole thing is scheduled to start at 8.30.

Pictured above: the original cover art for the Double Vision videocassette release of Johnny YesNo, courtesy of RH Kirk – design by Neville Brody.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Hollingsville TX 2/12: ‘Media’

The Extensions of God

In January 1996, as we approached the edge of a new millennium, Wired published an exclusive interview with Marshall McLuhan in which he discussed at great length the effects that the new digital technologies were having upon our most basic perceptions. He emphasized the importance of promoting inefficiency among the business communities of the twenty-first century, argued that ‘the product promotes the consumer’ and dismissed cyberpunks as mere ‘sentimentalists’. In fact, the author of Understanding Media seemed remarkably alert and well-informed for someone who had actually been dead for more than fifteen years. As citizens of the digital regime, we have grown accustomed to such intrusions. ‘The real message of media today is ubiquity,’ declared the newly reanimated McLuhan. ‘It is no longer something we do, but something we are part of. It confronts us as if from the outside with all the sensory experience of the history of humanity. It is as if we have amputated not our ears or our eyes, but ourselves, and then established a total prosthesis – an automaton – in our place.’

McLuhan’s Understanding Media was subtitled ‘the Extensions of Man’; while Freud famously described man’s condition in the mechanical age as that of ‘a god with artificial limbs’. Does our newfound ubiquity in the digital regime come at a price – especially at a time when we can’t even get a plane off the ground?

Welcome to the second episode of ‘Hollingville’, which is scheduled to go out live at 7.00 pm on Thursday April 22 on Resonance 104.4 FM. My studio guests will be Russell Davies, noted cultural commentator and inventor of the ‘Post Now’ theory, and Resonance’s very own Richard Thomas, graciously filling in at the last minute for Gary Lachman, who is currently stuck in Florida, waiting for a flight back to London. Expect unscripted ruminations on the ecology of live and dead media, digital dematerialization, lo-tech art forms in a hi-tech world and how to get the most out of your new i-Pad – well, perhaps not that last one: sorry but the silence of the empty skies above is making me giddy. Specially commissioned commercial breaks will be by the ‘Hollingsville’ composer in residence, Graham Massey, with ins, outs and moods by Indigo Octagon. Radio is a medium too, you know.

A World’s Fair of the airwaves, each episode of ‘Hollingsville’ will chart a different aspect our historical relationship with technology. From architecture to bodies, computers to phantoms, machines to monsters, my guests and I will be exploring the digital regime. Join us, won’t you? Every Thursday between 7 and 8 pm (repeated every Tuesday at 11.00pm) on Resonance 104.4 FM or streamed from their website.

See also:
Hollingsville TX1/12 ‘The Future’
Hollingsville to Start on Resonance FM

Pictured above: the secret architecture of radio towers, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Machine Music Reviews Krautrock

Taking an apparent delight in sonic experiences that transcend the human, Machine Music has recently posted a very favourable review of the Black Dog volume, Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and Its Legacy, which features my essay ‘Background Radiation: The West German Republic Tunes In To The Cosmos’.

‘This collective effort,’ runs part of the Machine Music review, ‘is a hybrid of some sort – it is both a reference guide to kosmische musik and the first available coffee table book on Krautrock. This is not meant to be derogatory in any way. Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and its Legacy is the first book of its kind that combines engaging content with dozens of photos and full-color illustrations of album covers and posters. It is not the kind of book you want sitting on a shelf far out of reach.’

Full of interesting posts on matters ranging from early electronic music created for the National Film Board of Canada to Ambrose Bierce on noise, Machine Music really distinguishes itself by featuring a picture of Deutsche Grammophon’s 8-track cartridge release of Stockhausen’s Gruppen – a truly awe-inspiring sight.

See also:
Krautrock Kristmas Broadcast Details
Recording Resonance FM’s Krautrock Kristmas Special
Black Dog Krautrock Launch: Systems AOK
Black Dog Krautrock Launch

Pictured above: space porn from io9, ‘Mysterious Radio Waves Emitted from Nearby Galaxy’, reposted from the New Scientist site.

Friday 16 April 2010

Hollingsville TX1/12: Backing Up The Future

As a follow-up to last night’s live broadcast, here are a couple of links you might find useful:

You can access Matt Jones’s io9 post , The City Is A Battlesuit for Surviving the Future by clicking here. It’s a really fascinating piece and has been generating an interesting thread of comments in its not inconsiderable wake.

You can also discover more about Steve Beard’s remarkble new film, Voodoo Science Park, made in collaboration with Victoria Halford, by clicking here. Steve’s book of the film is due from Zero Books towards the end of this year. More on that as it happens.

In the meantime, this is to remind those of you who missed TX 1/12 that it will be repeated at 11.00 pm this coming Tuesday April 20 on Resonance 104.4; and the podcast will be available on their website from Wednesday April 21.

My thanks to Matt and Steve for stepping up to the microphone for the inaugural episode of ‘Hollingsville’ – commemorative mugs, pens and trucker’s caps will be in the post to you both soon.

See also:
Hollingsville TX1/12 ‘The Future’
‘Hollingsville’ To Start On Resonance FM

Pictured above from top to bottom: Matt Jones giving the controversial ‘v for volcano’ sign just prior to all of the UK’s airports shutting down due to volcanic action in Iceland; Steve Beard preparing himself for life in the Space-Age Stone Age.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Hollingsville TX 1/12 ‘The Future’

‘Suddenly it’s 1960!’

This was Chrysler’s proud announcement when marketing the ‘57 Plymouth as part of its new ‘Forward Look’ campaign. With the calm assurance of someone asleep at the wheel, the public started to adjust its rear-view mirror. Progress is for those who can’t quite take in the future. It comes at us a second at a time, its approach indicated by the changing design of a car radiator grill, the cut of a T-shirt, the lettering on a stop sign or an advertising display. Progress becomes the inevitable by-product of daily life piling up before us, taking away our dreams and assumptions, encouraging us to view tomorrow as little more than a slightly different version of today. We have no choice but to allow ourselves to be moved forward: things change without any outward sign of effort or volition on our part. The future is, after all, what happens after you’re dead, which also means that we are condemned to inhabit someone else’s future: dreamed of and planned for by others in the name of progress. No one can embrace progress without also accepting that the dreams and assumptions of the dead have somehow shaped their present circumstances.

Welcome to the inaugural episode of my new series ‘Hollingville’, which is scheduled to go out live and unscripted at 7.00 pm, Thursday April 15 on Resonance 104.4 FM. My main studio guest will be writer Steve Beard, plus – if we can swing it in time – designer and infonaut Matt Jones in pre-recorded conversation from somewhere in deep space. Expect live and unscripted wanderings around voodoo science parks, examinations of cities as battle suits and thoughts on pods, capsules and world expos. Specially commissioned musical interludes will be by the ‘Hollingsville’ composer in residence, Graham Massey, with ins and outs by Indigo Octagon. This programme will be taking place in your future: so you’d be crazy to miss it.

See also:
‘Hollingsville’ To Start On Resonance FM
The Future is What Happens After You’re Dead

Picture above the 1964 New York World’s Fair, courtesy of Loge 13

Thursday 8 April 2010

‘Hollingsville’ To Start on Resonance FM

After visiting Mars, where to next? Welcome to ‘Hollingsville’: my new twelve-part series on Resonance FM. A World’s Fair of the airwaves, the show will focus each week on a different aspect of our historical relationship with technology, from architecture to bodies and from computers to phantoms. I imagine the whole series as taking the shape of a sprawling Radio Expo with each individual episode being one of those grand pavilions dedicated to some subject that seems pretty specific and yet oddly vague at the same time: somewhere between an information-rich environment and a theme-park ride still standing long after the crowds have gone by. From Disney’s Carousel of Progress and the General Motors Futurama Ride in New York to Le Corbusier’s Po√®me Electronique and the giant Atomium in Brussels, the grand expositions of the twentieth century represented some kind of missing link between the artificial spaces of Suburbia and the more experimental structures envisioned as shaping our future: ‘Hollingsville’ is located inside a large geodesic dome in the same area.

Each episode will start with an unscripted tour through a different theme with special contributions from a wide range of guest speakers, including Steve Beard, Adam Curtis, Russell Davies, Mark Fisher, Laurie Lipton, Edwin Pouncey and Cathi Unsworth; and with musical interludes from the likes of English Heretic, Simon James, Richard H Kirk, David Knight, The McCarricks and Frances Morgan. Composer in residence for the entire ‘Hollingsville’ series will be Graham Massey, and the show’s spiffy new title theme is the work of continental electronic popsters Indigo Octagon.

You can hear episode TX1/12, ‘The Future’, going out live between 7.00 and 8.00 pm on the evening of Thursday April 15. Further details will be posted on this blog a little nearer the time.

‘Hollingsville’ is, as always, a Project Thrust production. Project Thrust: The Name You Can Trust

Pictured above: The Rem Koolhas ‘Dubai Death Star’ vapour build, courtesy of Eating Bark

Thursday 1 April 2010

Catching Up With The Winchester Cathedral Diver

‘William Walker the diver was brought in to underpin the tottering foundations of Winchester Cathedral between the years 1906-1912. The statue in the Cathedral emphasises the hands of the diver because it was due to his handling of the thousands of concrete blocks and bricks that the walls were finally made safe, and the collapse of the Cathedral avoided. He is remembered each year on the Festival of St. Swithuns on July 15.’

Pictured above: the Diver’s statue in Winchester Cathedral, picture by Kitty Keen. Happy Easter to all my readers.