we are craving a certain unattainable density in emotions subtle gestures that suggest something complex and vague I will kiss you everywhere and recklessly
The event will dive into the rituals of the everyday, mixing language, myth and their power to attract. Devoted to what we can’t quite grasp, the works as us to ‘project our own obsessions’ and give into “superstition, exaggeration, and the cliché.”
The Chinese Seismic Investigations present Emily Jones and Nina Wiesnagrotzki joint exhibition is on at the temporary Berlin space, opening February 11 and running to March 4.
Alongside new work by Jones and Wiesnagrotzki is a text written by fellow artist Holly White who also performed a reading on the night of the opening.
“A fox had died in the bushes on the side of the motorway. We had to walk up the hard shoulder 3 times that week and the smell got worse each time. But eventually it didn’t smell anymore. We remembered when people lived here and talked about cities we could move to. Later we walked through the village and found a button that, when you pressed it, played recordings of people applauding.” – excerpt from Holly White’s, Green Flash (2016).
The installation consisted of sculptural interventions by both artists, as well as a film by Wiesnagrotzki shown below. Chinese Seismic Investigations examines “earthcult, human-technology-nature-counter-realities, and alternative body languages of history, science and politics as unstable utopias of the future.”**
Goth Tech is presenting a live “karaoke-style” event, performance and screening of 1995 cult film Clueless at London’s ANDOR on April 22.
The London-based art and production duo featuring Josh Grigg and Holly Whitereleased GT My First Movielast year, following their impressive 2013 digital LP, released via one track per month, Year of Goth Tech on their Soundcloud.
The producers are no strangers to events either, their “lychee bomb” Sour Hour at Edinburgh’s EMBASSY being just one of many efforts at immersive music and performance.
For this Clueless show, the press release promises ‘cheap’, as well as ‘free’ snacks to accompany a custom version of the Alicia Silverstone movie with a Goth Tech soundtrack and subtitles allowing participants to act along: “Look like you’re having fun and you’re really popular.”
The second in a series of London’s The White Buildingresidency programme, This Time With FEELing is culminating in a show by the artists who participated in the cycle, opening March 11 and running March 20.
Featuring Adham Faramawy, Fleur Melbourn, Holly Whiteand Sophie Hoyle, the artists have been thinking about and putting on events that look at shifting dynamics between affect and its site of production or receivership. They take a critical approach to these boundaries, questioning “the commercial drive towards the naturalizing and subsumption of technologies that enable the trading in and simulating of algorithmic emotional capital”.
The lunchtime conversation series runs into December and is curated by the South Bermondsey art space, which aims to invert the tropes of the studio visit, artists are asked to elaborate on their practices in relation to the gallery. Whether that is artists who have previously exhibited at Jupiter Woods or those, like White, whose relationship is speculative and potential.
The Lond0n-based artist recently launched her “spa ebook” on Etsy and generally explores identity, consumption and a range of aesthetics online in her practice. She will be showing a film alongside the conversation.
Artist Holly White launches her “spa eBook” with recipes for DIY products like soaps and shampoos as a PDF on Etsy on November 10.
The idea came as a result of the DIY spa and research lab White ran at Grove House “where people could come and relax and I gave them baths and we shared recipes”, developing into a short PDF instructional, teaching one how to have a DIY spa at home with cheap products derived from nature.
Examples: how to make basic bathroom products, like moisturiser, bath bombs, shampoos, and lip balms. The PDF gives starting recipes to be developed and adapted for your personal needs/budgets.
Now that we’re free, where are we going? So ends a speech by science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin and begins the introduction to Living in the Future’s third issue, ‘New Lands: Beyond the Fields We Know’. While I don’t know that anyone living in today’s free world would be so simple as to call it free, Le Guin’s question remains: where are we going? Are we going anywhere at all? There was a time when science fiction writing felt surreal, otherworldly, hanging on to the realities of our existence only by the thinnest threads of plausibility. Now, it reads as uncanny at best. Everything that is written about, everything that is caricatured and exaggerated and futurized, comes to fruition by the date of release, always sooner than we thought. There is no future that is not already happening.
Living in the Future is living in the present, too, in a sense. Many of the 20-plus stories and excerpts read as blankly present-day as “A week later you texted me: Want to have breakfast with me?” from Holly White’s short story, ‘Dogs’. Some swing back before falling forward, like Francis Patrick Brady’s Houellebecqian ‘The Mundane Edda and the Tale of Forty-Six Thousand, Six-Hundred and Fifty-Six’ which takes the reader from the blank Word document of a new Windows 95 PC to the abandoned floor of the Grand Hotel some thirty years into a war no one has yet envisioned.
Or maybe we have. Maybe the war, too, is too near-future to be science fiction, but reads instead more like a newspaper: horrifying in its absolute predictability. “[E]vents are broken into forgetting,” Llew Watkins writes in part 3 of ‘Hinterland Shift’, another story found in ‘New Lands’ that tells, fleetingly, of Emily and a disheveled, Beer Festival shirt-clad Captain. “[T]he strongest constant is always forgetting,” Watkins continues. It is forgetting that allows history to repeat itself, and it is a willful forgetting that allows the oppressed to remain oppressed and their oppressors to remain unsullied. To forget one’s history is to self-colonize, to allow a hegemony without domination. In fact, Watkins begins the story with a question: “Can we consider that Emily is a world that is perpetually self-colonizing?”
Signalling her ironic take on Le Guin’s quote, Living in the Future co-editor Rebecca Bligh in her introductory essay quotes the cyberlibertarian John Perry Barlow and his declaration of freedom, speaking “with no greater authority than that which liberty itself always speaks” when he proclaims: “On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.” Bligh knows, as we do, that the assertion “now seems impossibly naïve”—not only is cyber space no longer free, quite literally, but it was never free of coercion, and here Bligh cites both Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide while under federal indictment for data-theft, and Anita Sarkeesian, who underwent a systemic campaign of sexist harassment for daring to mention a lack of female representation in video games. “Likewise”, Bligh writes, “white/male freedom to–, has often conflicted with other people’s freedom to–, and freedom from–.” Freedom, too, is a zero-sum game. **
Generation & Display is celebrating its inaugural exhibition at their new North West location with a massive group show titled K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid!) and running from March 20 to May 2.
While no description is given about the thematics or aesthetic leanings of the show, its lengthy list of participants gives an idea of what to expect. Included in the line-up are Paul Kneale, Jesse Darling and Ben Vickers, who are simultaneously participating in the Berlin Lunch Bytes conference that weekend.
Finishing off one phase and beginning with another, South East London artist/music production duo Goth Tech are starting to drop a new run of tracks to go into a new ‘full-length’ recording that for now comes up in the album title column of iTunes as a blank.
In 2013, they released a digital LP – one month and one song at a time on their Soundcloud – to make up the aptly-titled Year of Goth Tech, which included 12 tracks of varying lengths, while strictly adhering to a 111bpm constraint. It’s an arbitrarily assigned tempo applied to what is a musical oeuvre and visual aesthetic that follows some fairly rigid guidelines, only to generate a primitive pastiche of signifiers that are firmly embedded in the social media interfaces that Goth Tech draws from. “Sometimes I imagine the music as a loose cloud of ideas, things like 90s house and trance and 909 hi-hats, all surrounding someone but barely holding things together,” types Josh Grigg in pink font, to Holly White’s lime-green, on a Google doc stand-in for an in-person interview.
It’s a chat that was meant to happen at Brick Lane’s Dosa World, a South Indian restaurant with good food and equally enticing front signage that resembles the kind of naïve aesthetic and Microsoft XP-esque fonts that the two 80s-born artist’s work delights in. It’s the sort of Word Art arc –probably the default settings of iMovie –that rises up from behind an image of the globe at the end of their GT My First Movie video announcing “everybody understands you”. Said sequence marks the end of a 35-minute farewell to all that came before, with a glance towards the future. “It’s a summary of the album and influences from 2012 to 2013”, writes White about the video premiering online here at aqnb, which Grigg seconds: “it was sort of a way to bring together all the things we’d worked on up until that point in order to enter the next phase”.
And bring those things together it does, as the video follows the smooth glide of a cursor through the Goth Tech Tumblr, footage of people crying into their webcams, the pink and blue cartoon mascots animated for the band and a lovesick Cher from Clueless complaining, “But now I don’t know how to act around him”.
“Goth Tech really wanders around the line between fact and fiction”, writes Grigg in light of GT‘s GOTH TECH TV segments, seemingly personal vlog posts and excerpts from a reality show collage –cut from an original ‘Nothingness’ video –where a woman moans on a mobile phone next to a pool, “I miss my childhood, so much”.
“There’s definitely a teenage nostalgia caught up with Goth Tech”, writes White, citing a past spent in Camden and at festivals as early influencers and Grigg’s early days out at hard house and trance clubs. “[It’s] sort of clashing, or drifting out of time, or tune with each other, like memories”, he offers, adding that there’s a certain element of “greed” in the music that comes from Goth Tech’s shared fascination with YouTube, “people just grabbing at history and culture to patch themselves together”.
Mining a decidedly 90s aesthetic with a particularly contemporary user-defined online youth subculture, Goth Tech draws on a thematic thread of consumption and branding that also runs through White’s solo work, with its fixation on Snickers bars, Lana Del Rey and Baskin Robbins, as well as a recent video series that takes place at Sainsbury’s supermarket. “We had the idea for that story about the couple that divorce and have to divide up the Sainsbury’s when we were in Edinburgh Sainsbury’s together”, writes Grigg about the shared inspiration behind White’s ‘Supermarket Café’. “We actually have an agreement that we can both use that storyline, I just haven’t made my version yet… I don’t think my one will have time travel in it”.
“I’m not sure my one is specifically about divorce”, adds White, “but, yes, that is true.”
In their own words Goth Tech is an art project that draws from YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and other online social media to explore, as Grigg describes, “the ways that people absorb culture around them and then show their influences aesthetically”. For Grigg and White, that means on-the-road renditions of Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’, public confessional videos and an opening segment from another guy also called Goth Tec who doesn’t quite approve. “He’s someone we found once we started, and got really into watching, ‘cos we had similar names and he’s into larp [live action role-playing] and being vegan etc”, writes Grigg about their almost-namesake, “We contacted him, to say that we had been watching, and he told us we had to stop because there is already a music genre called goth tech and he said our website was shit… it was very sad.” **
“People walk around because they are looking for shops. I walk around because I am looking for you.” A line from the first issue of Holly White‘s Feelings Offline zine. It’s one of a short series of A4 sheets of paper, photocopied and folded in half, with content taken from online sources – namely Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube – where the London-based artist ‘stores her feelings’. Two years later White’s soul still lingers within these networks of affective commodity, whether it’s in the defunct Baskin Robbins as envisaged at her recent solo exhibition No one is going to go there anymore (photos top right) at Evelyn Yard or the story of a shopping aisle/coffee table split in her Supermarket Cafe video series.
Part one, published last year, presented a partition of consumer spaces between White and Lyndon Harrison; a break up that saw the two protagonists respectively restricted to Starbucks and Sainsbury’s, while each of them navigated the privations of the single life within the infrastrucutre of the shopping complex: “it’s not that great being in the supermarket, I never sit down”.
For the sequel, ‘Supermarket Cafe 2 (Christmas Special)’ (2015), White and Harrison explore the possibilities of reuniting under the dazzle of festive tinsel and branded Christmas coffee mugs to the tune of Barry White’s ‘It May Be Winter Outside (But in my Heart it’s Spring)’, as performed by Adam Christensen singing to an accordion (“I miss my baby’s arms”).
The video offers 20-minutes of Harrison roaming the terrain of teeth whiteners, christmas crackers and magazines before finally folding and asking White to join him, “just one day. You could come in the supermarket. I could come in the coffee shop, for Christmas”. With matching Mockingjay™ pendants and take-away coffees in hand, the two rebuild their relationship over vegetarian-option readymade meals and speculations on gluten-free crustless bread. That’s before resolving to send a message to their past selves via the 0s and 1s of a binary-numbered coding system sent via baked goods and a wormhole in aisle 25. It warns, “DON’T SPLIT”. **
Occupying a transgressive space, not only in crossing boundaries in a hybrid approach to art but also in considering the notion of Orgasm as “a moment where matter and energy create a time-based phenomenon”, artists question notions of “honesty, physicality, objecthood, patriarchy and the personal/political dichotomy”.
London classic house/techno/Tumblr feelings producers Goth Tech (aka Holly White and Josh Grigg) released a new track and video for ‘Let Me Go’, cut from their performance at Edinburgh artist-run gallery EMBASSY‘s u always know the right thing to say group exhibition, opened March 7 and running to March 23.
Featuring visuals of the duo’s multimedia Sour Hour, of giving out and partaking in “lychee bombs”, while their “animal friends” are projected behind them, the track treads the compassionate line between connection and alienation, often felt “in a bar with your friends, having fun with strangers”.
Between Paul Kneale’s intermittent “tweets” in ‘UNTHESIS’ and Harry Sanderson’s detailed exposition on the violence of the immaterial in ‘Human Resolution’, Arcadia Missa’s fourth edition of bi-annual journal How to Sleep Fasterhas the current art world covered. It goes without saying that we’re living in strange times and, in a networked collaborative discussion spanning art aesthetics, materiality and politics, this collection of essays, artworks, creative writing and ‘other’ illustrates that. For some, it might be hard to care about feminism and queer theory in the face of PRISM, economic crisis and global exploitation but its all discourse that emerges as central to the ultimate problem of Capital.
From Julian Molina’s critique of claims that “social justice could be achieved through markets” to Jesse Darling’s “phallic modernity”, its clear that myriad oppressions and exploitations are key in the Patriarchal despotism of Western neo-liberalism. Maja Malou Lyse’s (Boothbitch) two-page colour spread selfie –reclining, armpits au naturale, complete with an unfilled tag box begging “type any name” –expresses liberated pubes as still the exception and not the rule amidst Hannah Black’s “sexy but not sexual” ‘Hot Babes’. That in turn echoes Ann Hirsch’s praise of the selfie in ‘Bitching and Whining’ while expounding on the productive and political power of online “bitching”. That’s in as much as the selfie helps propagate images in opposition to the unfair ideals of traditional media, and public whining can do the same.
The power of those mediated conventions in shaping the public consciousness is explored by John Bloomfield in ‘Lessons in Becoming Heterosexual’ where film establishes and normalises sexual behaviour as being heterosexual. Huw Lemmey’s ‘Isherwood’s Gay Cinema’ goes on to investigate the effect of that resultant “orthodoxy of default heterosexuality”. Both pieces explicitly politicise their subject, where Bloomfield’s “heterosexual behaviour” is inextricably linked to Capitalism through work, Lemmey’s “gay subjectivity” as a means towards anarchy. Inherently radical by its very ‘deviance’, its a way towards dismantling those precarious establishments, which Darling defines later as “all things even big things”.
A call for resistance then. ‘FEMININE//FEMINIST’ and Arcadia Missa co-founder and co-curator Rózsa Zita Farkas makes claims to resisting commodification and total subsumption by “owning the feminine in a feminist context” because “they themselves have incorporated the object image”, not big business. Harry Burke and Metahaven propose to “strike at the level of discourse” by uniting people in dissent “in the space of a LOL or a raised eyebrow”, ridiculing authority and encouraging “collective disobedience, while revealing structural injustice” in ‘Metahaven, visibility and the joke’. William Kherbek too, stopped looking for love and “started looking for lulz” by settling for online bi-curious sex with a “dude cybergremlin” in ‘Tomorrow, the New Earth’. Because, as Eleanor Ivory Weber points out in ‘Anno Domini but add another D’, feminine love-pleasure and the masculine (or Patriarchal) envy of it equates to Franco ‘Bifo’ Beraldi’s “acquisition, possession and containment” and the acceptance of the “finite (male) version” of universal truth. The role of ‘love’ as just one system of control carries on into Weber’s citation of art critic Jan Verwoert’s essay, ‘Faith Money Love’, where economics replaces religion as Divine Sovereignat the “amorphous altar known as the stock exchange”.
Our complicity in these systems of control is also given an accusatory glance inwards. Rosa Aiello’s ‘Alien Logic’ explores her own acceptance of the “blank ‘terror’ space” propagated by Soft Horror TV and “the couch of dramatic irony”. Holly White recognises the role she plays in globalisation by eating Snickers and listening to Lana Del Rey every day, at home and abroad: “my love of brands was part of the problem”. Consumption as cause of exploitation is nowhere more explicit than in Sanderson’s ‘Human Resolution’, illustrating the ubiquity of the digital commodity and the physical labour required to produce it.
It’s a focus on these realities and their very human effects that Georgina Miller and Felix Petty demonstrate in ‘Clean Sheets’ and ‘Welcome to Vukovar’, respectively. One, her regrettable relations with a male admirer “because you feel grateful” (“that flaccid pile of pulp should pay for my sheets”). The other, the potential for proletariat resistance in football culture and its fragile position balanced between “the disorganised violence of the mob” and “the organised violence of the State”.
Finally, Kneale heralds the ‘TUMBLR DARK AGE’ under the “totally, vertically integrated, end-user-system” of a New Christendom, which you could easily identify as the Metahaven-defined “new type of US imperialism”. But, perhaps there’s still hope, or at least potential, in a final footnote by Darling in ‘Precarious Architectures and the Slippage of the Phallic Modern’: “You know there’s a hole in the ozone the size of North America? That isn’t so big.” **