Walking through the work of Alona Rodeh

1 February 2016

Sometimes when looking at art my thoughts wander outside the white cube. Scenes from grey streets, rough stations and chaotic crowds come to life in my mind. In the case of Alona Rodeh this experience is reversed. As I wander in a city’s streets, whether in our shared homeland city that “never stops” or in any of our new European global residents, Rodeh’s work echoes in my head and in my body. Rodeh is one of those artists whose practice conveys and celebrates the city, the metropolitan space and its materials, sounds and subcultures. Appearing in rhythmic spasms, her work surrounds its viewers (from outside and from within their bodies) and holds a lasting but temporary spectacle which is at once enticing and alienating. This experience, just as in random poetic urban encounters, feels as if you are a stranger to it or as if you just now found a piece of yourself, a scene in which you can belong.

Playfully composed, Rodeh creates sculptures, video works, sound pieces and light installations using what she calls “cultural phenomenons”. Taken from her own experiences, the materials she uses are tangible, non-physical and emotional. Like many other urban agents of our time, emotions for Rodeh are not materials for romantic expression, nor for analytical psychological claims. In her practice she treats emotion as she would any material, which is then translated to frequencies activating the viewer’s body.

Alona Rodeh, 'Above And Beyond' (2013). Photo by Elad Sarig. Courtesy the artist.
Alona Rodeh, ‘Above And Beyond’ (2013) Installation view at CCA Tel Aviv. Photo by Elad Sarig. Courtesy the artist.

As part of a new contemporary art generation of the ‘urban class’, Rodeh is based in two cities –Berlin and Tel Aviv. In the German city, to which she moved in recent years, the artist is currently showing under the ‘meta-title’ Safe and Sound at Vesselroom Project Space and is about to take part in transmediale 2016 with ‘The Chase‘ between January 29 – February 20Working over the past decade in Tel Aviv, Rodeh established herself as a well-known and original artist in terms of her content and her intuitive approach. Communicating via email she describes her existence between these two cities as “literally jumping in between hot and cold showers”. It’s a description that somehow captures her great ability to translate complex cultural infrastructures into immediate experiences. In a similar way it seems that Rodeh’s roots, coming from a highly complex political environment on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, are translated in her work into a sensual presence that surrounds her audience. To put it in her words, “Israel and Tel Aviv are embedded in my work in many ways. My work can say a lot to a non-Israeli audience, but I see how an Israeli audience can recognise more depth in the work. It’s just like that.” Rodeh’s politics, much like the emotions and materials she encounters and gathers, exist for the senses.

An installation called ‘Above and Beyond’ (2013) replicates Jerusalem’s Western Wall (also nicknamed the Wailing Wall) and transforms the holy site of gathering into an urban disco dance floor. Made out of cardboard, it sits at the end of a darkened gallery space. Approaching it the viewer is faced with direct rays of projected light breaking through its bricks, and a musical piece by musician Yoni Silver composed of hand clapping, whistles and footsteps in a syncopated dramatic beat. In this work Rodeh manages to translate the iconic monument and its age-old religious, political and cultural baggage into an overwhelming and somehow ecstatic secular experience. The political symbol becomes a site of irony. This irony seems to be central to Rodeh’s interest, her artistic gestures are humorous and cool, while holding a certain level of ambiguity which can be encoded only in her viewer’s mind and eyes.

Alona Rodeh, 'Rachid' (2015). Video still. Photo by Vlad Margulis. Courtsey the artist.
Alona Rodeh, ‘Rachid’ (2015). Video still. Photo by Vlad Margulis. Courtsey the artist.

Rodeh defines this piece as one which belongs to an older chapter in her practice: large, complex and correlated monoliths which maintain one channel of energy. After moving to Berlin in September 2013, the artist’s practice took a turn towards being more fragmented. She says she felt that “it might be interesting giving audience dots to connect between” and so started working on pieces that are presented together as one body of work, but do not attempt to function as a complete whole.

The first work presented in this new chapter of Rodeh’s practice was an homage she created to the Israeli Iron Dome (Israel’s recently developed air defence system). The work was entitled ‘Safe and Sound (Iron Dome, Sound)’ (2015) and included a sound installation engulfing the entire museum space, a large scale figurative graphic  sculpture and a still photograph. Surrounding the The Crystal Palace & The Temple of Doom group show (held at Petack Tikva Museum of Art and curated by Hila Cohen-Schneiderman) were speakers planted by Rodeh. They emitted disturbing, quick and intense noises that faded in and out in different parts of the space every fifteen minutes. The sounds were composed of sirens, which then turned into dance music tracks, and were created by music artist Harel Schreiber (known as Mule Driver). This homage to Israeli engineered defence technology grew, then, to a paradoxical embrace of urban anxious ecstasy.

In the upcoming transmediale 2016, Rodeh will give a performative talk presenting the more research-based aspect of Safe and Sound. It seems that Alona’s move to Berlin and working “outside her comfort zone” gives her practice a very fruitful ground to grow on, as well as rich new forms and audiences. When I ask her how the project came about she writes in reply:

“By now I call ‘Safe and Sound’ a meta-project, since I don’t see the end of it and for every show/project the emphasis is on specific things, but all in all in the last 2-3 years my work is all around these subjects of visibility of safety in the city. When I say visibility I mean ‘presence’; it can be sonic, behavioural etc… It started with the link between club culture and a sense of security. A club has its own unwritten rules, and when the system works, you can be inside for days and feel very well protected. From there it expanded to the streets and to the different aspects in light, sound, architecture, clothing and more and more.”

Alona Rodeh, 'Safe and Sound Deluxe Edition' (2015). Photo by Shaxaf Haber. Courtesy the artist.
Alona Rodeh, ‘Safe and Sound Deluxe Edition’ (2015). Photo by Shaxaf Haber. Courtesy the artist.

One of Rodeh’s most concise works from this meta-project appeared recently as part of her recent Safe and Sound (Evolutions) exhibition, opened at Berlin’s Grimmuseum in September 2015 and later Tel Aviv’s Rosenfeld Gallery in December. Here the video ‘Rachid’ (2015) shows a man staring beyond the screen. His frozen gaze is disrupted by a flickering red and blue light and the ambience of clubs and sirens implies a scene. The man named Rachid is either facing a police car, or is inside a nightclub. The frozen body animated as a performative object is screened on a light reflecting fabric. The screen agitates the video to transform it into a material or even an object in itself, and the projected and reflective image of Rachid is disrupted by the surrounding environment. The work was presented alongside sculptures, light installations and posters, all inspired by Rodeh’s rich research. Her upcoming talk at transmediale, Fear of Silence, or A Brief History of the Air-Raid Siren will present the history of the siren’s sound and technologies that follow art movements, military uses, international trading connections and more. All will be presented back-to-back with live musical performances by Mule Driver and Siren Diva AKA Haim Vitali. While exchanging emails regarding this text, Rodeh is in the process of finishing her new installed work Safe and Sound: The Chase which is a silent light installation. When I ask her about it she reveals the experimental nature of her practice, saying “we’ll see how that feels. Better bring your sunglasses, I guess.”

Rodeh’s meta-project, which started as an ironic homage to Israeli defence carries her back to a long history of western culture and its manifestations in urban subcultures. It conveys her deeply intuitive and experimental artworks which capture in them some of the anxiety they relate to. Rodeh sees this anxiety as a sort of momentum; within every new work she creates there is always something still unknown, even to her. As her research reveals, the technology and sounds of anxiety which are placed in Israel are very specific, but also connected to European ideas and industries. Anxiety is part of urban culture, and it manifests itself as different spectacles in different cities. As a viewer I feel as if our feelings could be one of the many frequencies she receives and transmits.

Safe and Sound was also manifested in the form of a publication titled Safe and Sound Deluxe, published in collaboration with The Green Box Kunst Editionen. It includes images Rodeh collected as part of her research as well as texts written by Shachar Atwan, Fabrizio Gallanti, and Hillel Schwartz. Just after our correspondence, I’m tempted and order one myself. As no element of Rodeh’s work can remain still, it will arrive with a bag made out of light reflective fabric. It is as if the artist is trying to spread the presence of safety agents into new urban territories. As I get on the bus one day I encounter two policemen wearing bright yellow reflective light vests. I feel a bit anxious and stressed. I don’t know why, but instead of feeling safe I start to panic. Then I remember the character Rachid’, and I imagine how this would feel if I was wearing Alona Rodeh’s bag. I would probably walk past them feeling safer and my mind would break out onto the dance floor. **

Alona Rodeh is a Berlin and Tel Aviv-based artist taking part in transmediale 2016 at HKW Theartersaal on February 5 and 6, 2016.

Header image: Alona Rodeh, ‘The Chase’ (2016). Courtesy of the artist.

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CTM 2016 – New Geographies, Jan 29 – Feb 7

28 January 2016

CTM electronic music and art festival returns this year across multiple spaces in Berlin, opening January 29 and running February 6.

CTM 2016 is titled New Geographies, and in direct response to rapidly collapsing borders and hybridising topographies, as well as the backlash of tense essentialist reaction to these changes, invites more artists, contributors and voices operating in less familiar localities than ever before.

Guest curators are Rabih Beaini, for the music programme and Norient who have organised a “multi-authored” exhibition with over 250 artists working in 50 different countries with video, sound and music. Cult independent film maker Vincent Moon is opening his ‘Rituals’ installation at HAU2 on January 30 and talks led by the links of The Wire editor Emily Bick and journalist Adam Harper.

Included in the amazing line up are Hatsune Miku, and MBJ Wetware who will collaborate with JG Biberkopf, for whom aqnb has recently written a series of short texts to be read alongside his unthinkable show on NTS radio.

Here are some of our recommendations:

Zones 1 with Visionist, Thug Entrancer, J.G. Biberkopf and MBJ Wetware on February 2.

Zones III with Le1f, Aïsha Devi and Tianzhuo Chen on February 4.

Flow II with Jlin, Nkisi, Nidia Minaj and Kablam on February 4.

Steven Warwick and Anna Homler’s ‘Breadwoman‘ performance on February 5.

Zones IV with Kassem Mosse and others on February 5.

Still Be Here with Hatsune Miku, featuring Laurel Halo, LaTurbo Avedon and others on February 5.

Grid Line with Why Be, Mum Dance and Rabit on February 6.

Fis at Coordinates VI on February 6.

New Geographic with OG Maco and Easter on February 6.

See the CTM website for details.**

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Berlin Current X PHONO Festival @ Jazzhouse, Oct 22 – 23

21 October 2015

CTM Festival is partnering with Odense’s PHONO Festival and Copenhagen’s Jazzhouse to present the Berlin Current X PHONO two day event in the latter Danish venue, running October 22 to 23.

The event will showcase what its press release calls the “unconventional pop and electronic music hybrids” of the likes of Berlin-based producers Kuedo and Amnesia Scanner, Melbourne-born Phoebe Kiddo and Vilnius’ J.G. Biberkopf –who also presents NTS Radio’s monthly ‘Unthinkable‘ series –on the first night.

With its focus being on “musical diversity”, the following day will feature sounds that are less “hypermodern” and more analogue and organic with Rabih Beaini, OAKE, Demdike Stare and more.

See the CTM Festival website for details.**

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An interview with Annie Goh

19 February 2014

A recent event as part of the CTM Festival’s discourse programme revisited and questioned the 90s cyberfeminist dream of the subversive potential inherent in technology, through talks by four panelists from across the UK and Germany –author of Ones and Zeros, Sadie Plant, artist, researcher and writer Marie Thompson, audiovisual and media designer Fender Schrade, and musician and composer Susanne Kirchmayr

Perspectives ranged from academic reflections on cybernetics and the female voice, to the lived experience of women and transgender people in live sound engineering and electronic music. Kirchmayr is a founder of the international network of woman artists in electronic music and club culture, female:pressure. The group recently published a statistical analysis of female representation in a selection of the world’s biggest musical festivals. In the wake of that report, several mainstream publications covered the problem and the now familiar anecdotes of woman DJs and musicians experiencing sexism from male DJs or technicians began to flood in. The panel at CTM, curated by Berlin-based artist and DJ Annie Goh, aimed to diagnose the structural problems underlying this state of affairs.

Image courtesy Annie Goh.
Photo by Tom Tomczyk. Image courtesy Annie Goh.

Cyberfeminism emerged in the 1990s as a reaction against the male-domination of technology and a critique of second-wave feminist reinforcements of that idea (in the form of feminised ‘earth-mother’ characterisations). Instead, cyberfeminists proposed a total assimilation of the body into technology.

As Goh writes in a recent article ‘Sonic Cyberfeminism and Its Discontents’ for the CTM Festival publication, “Cyberfeminist theorists were often also net-artists, hackers and activists using art as an outlet, putting these ideas into action and co-opting the internet to explicate continued norms and prejudices.” Two decades later, the panel discussion focused around the efficacy of this approach today, and the failure of cyberfeminism to account for the role of women in sound and electronic music in particular. Events like the 2012 Her Noise symposium at the Tate Modern have attempted to probe this question but often ended by reinforcing the notion that women in sound still inhabit an exceptional role.

I spoke with Goh about the motivation behind the ‘Sound, Gender, Technology: ‘Where to’ with Cyberfeminism?’ panel and her own research on the commercialization of affect, generative art and archaeoacoustics.

How did you choose the topic and speakers for your panel?

Annie Goh: The main motivation was that CTM was one of the festivals which was dealt with by the female:pressure statistics and implicitly criticised, even though it was just data. CTM is slightly above the world average for festivals in terms of how many women or mixed acts are represented, but it’s still abysmal. Women: 8%-10%, mixed acts around 15%.

I had read an article in The Wire called ‘Invisible Women’ by Abi Bliss. She made a really good point: obviously there are too few women in electronic music but then there are pioneers like Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Éliane Radigue who are painted as heroines. This is well and good but it also serves to reinforce the mainstream narrative of the male-dominated world of electronic music, experimental music and technology. And within that then occasionally finding one cool or sexy woman we can praise as a heroine. She had an uncomfortable feeling about why it had to be this way.

The idea behind the panel was to look at the topic from a more abstract level, to investigate the structural issues and where they come from. Why is it, when you open up a magazine, audio equipment always seems to be geared towards a male consumer?

The work of Tara Rodgers was also a great influence. She gave a talk after the panel. She’s written a book called Pink Noises and she’s currently working on a feminist historiography of synthesised sound. A lot of the feminist discourse in sound studies tends to be dominated by a focus on the female voice. It’s interesting but it can get boring, if it just stops there.

‘Sound, Gender, Technology : ‘Where to’ with Cyberfeminism?’
Studio 1/Bethanien – © CTM/Stefanie Kulisch 2014

Marie Thompson did have some great things to say about the voice on the panel, though – dividing women’s voices in to three categories: gossips, sirens, and hi-fi wives.

AG: Yes, absolutely. And Fender Schrade’s talk was really enlightening in terms of other ways of practicing live-sound engineering. His_her practice is really in the moment, very temporal and dynamic. Sound events can’t always be met with fixed ideas concerning the space and tech needed.

Why did you interrogate cyberfeminism in particular as the focus for the panel?

AG: I guess I figured it was time for a revival. I thought it was really important to have a diverse panel to avoid a kind of dry theory conference, which ignores the existence of the real world. I thought the mixture was successful. Ideally I would have done one panel about cyberfeminism and one about sound and feminism.

The term cyberfeminism came around in the beginning of the 90s, for example with VNS Matrix – they were these Australian artists who were reacting against the exclusion of women in Internet and technology. They spread their manifesto around the web. Sadie Plant wrote Zeros and Ones, and I was really blown away by this book when I read it in my early 20s. She countered the male-domination of technology and focuses in part on Ada Lovelace, who is considered the first computer programmer, before computers were even invented.

You mentioned her book during the panel as a big influence on your own work.

AG: Yes, her book influenced the panel but also the lack of depth in the conversation (on sound, gender and technology) more generally. Cyberfeminism seemed like a good concept to hang the discussion on. There’s already been a big discussion about women and technology 20 years ago, and we wanted to talk more specifically about women in electronic music. I think 20 years is a good amount of time to start reflecting on something.

Was it the first time you co-curated the discourse programme for CTM?

AG: No, it was the second time that I curated something for the discourse programme. Last year I did the Death of Rave –a whole day event. It was a lot bigger, I had three panels: a UK panel with the CCRU [Cybernetic Culture Research Unit], theorising about the CCRU (Steve Goodman, Mark Fisher, Lee Gamble and Alex Williams, moderated by Lisa Blanning) –it was interesting to look at not only this time in the middle of the 90s in dance music culture, particularly jungle, but also how it intersected with theory. The CCRU often mention what an exhilarating time it was to be making and listening to music, but also reading and writing philosophy.

There was a Berlin panel, comparing how these themes overlapped with the fall of the Wall and the beginning of the Berlin techno scene. And then there was the ‘Virtual Futures’ panel. ‘Virtual Futures’ was a conference that took place at the University of Warwick in ’94, ’95, ’96 and then, recently, a younger guy, Luke Robert Mason, who was studying in Birmingham discovered this had been happening 20 years ago and decided to resurrect it. He and Dan O’Hara curated that panel. There was also a screening of a wonderful audiovisual work by 0rphan Drift, who remixed rave-inspired works from the 90s.

I’d like to hear a bit about your own work as an artist and electronic musician. You had a piece in the Art Hack Day event during the Transmediale 2014 Afterglow opening.

AG: Yes, my piece ‘The Banality of Affect’ was kind of inspired by the Death of Rave panels. One thing that came up in the panels was the idea of forced enjoyment these days– going to a club and feeling the imperative to have a good time. We talked a lot about the question of meaning in dance music.

The installation came out of this question of enjoyment and I was personally interested in looking at commercial trance music, like DJ Tiesto, who has insane revenue, something like $22 million a year. I watched a lot of Tiesto videos, and Armin van Buuren and all these big guys. I was interested in the euphoria that they aimed to cause with their music and whether I could generate this kind of euphoria in computer code. So through generative art, which I’ve been working on over the last three years with my professor Alberto de Campo at UdK, I am trying to synthesize sound. I wanted to generate these build-ups and drop outs that you get in trance music using data from the top five trance DJs on Twitter and five major news agencies.

So there’s good and bad news coming in and I do a mood measurement. There’s a dictionary that someone called Finn has made with thousands of words that he has given a value. ‘Amazing’ is +4 and ‘bomb’ is -3 or something. When the word ‘bomb’ comes in, there’s a code that grabs this number and, in my installation, translates this bad news into more euphoria. If the news is good – if Tiesto is saying “Amazing gig last night, Serbia!” – then the trance can be more melancholic. That will all be online very soon, I just bought the web domain, banalityofaffect.net.

Your artist name is also TranceGendy…

AG: Gendy is a principle that the composer Iannis Xenakis describes in his book Formalized Music. He wrote in French so it was Génération Dynamique Stochastique: abbreviated to Gendy. In SuperCollider there’s an object called Gendy and I used it in my live set as well.

I was checking out your piece ‘The Loss of MWA(HAHA)’ –can you tell me a bit about it?

AG: That was for the Art Hack Day event with the theme ‘Going Dark,’ this past autumn. My idea was to look at lost bits of information that never get to where they’re supposed to be. In terms of data protocol, there are protocols where you can just blindly send something and you don’t check that the message was received, so it can get lost.

This work was about the loss of protocol and the idea that there was this evil force gobbling the data, portrayed by this really hideous but fascinating object that had appeared on my stove one morning. It was a pot filled with a black, very fibrous and detailed texture. Basically, my housemate had decided to wax her legs and her mum called so she left the room, completely forgetting she had left it on the stove. The kitchen was full of smoke and the pot was black with burning wax. So I put a speaker under it and used it for the evil data gobbler.

Now that CTM is over, what’s your next project?

I’m currently working on a project on archaeoacoustics, which is a fairly recent sub-discipline within archaeology, focusing on the role of sound. For me, this brings up fascinating issues about how our visually dominated culture can be so wrong about some things!

Studies of the acoustics of archaeological sites have shown, for example, correlations between rock art and the size of resonances and echos at these points, indicating that hearing was of huge importance, much more than has previously been thought. The work of Steven J. Waller, among others, has done this, and he has pointed to echo myths all around the world.

My project is interested in these mythical meanings of echo, before science came and kind of destroyed fantasy with its explanations. Now, given our educated ears, we all know what an echo is. My question is whether we can somehow resurrect this feeling of wonder via acoustic experiences. **

Annie Goh is a Berlin-based artist. The ‘Sound, Gender, Technology: ‘Where to’ with Cyberfeminism?’ panel was held at CTM on February 1, 2014.

Header image: Photo by Lauro Cress. Courtesy Annie Goh. 

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CTM14 first announcement, Jan 24 – Feb 2

6 November 2013

The 15th edition of CTM Festival in Berlin will be running under the theme Dis Continuity next year, from January 24 to February 2.

With an aim for encouraging “dialogue between past experimentation and a rising generation of creative minds” there’ll be music from the likes of 1991, Metasplice, James Holden and Mika Vainio, along with commissioned works from P.Node and Lukatoyboy, as well as multi-instrumentalist Kathy Alberici and analogue film artist Martha Jurksaiti.

The exhibition at Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien will be called Generation Z : ReNoise, exploring Russian pioneers of sound art and musical technology in the 20th century and curated by interdisciplinary artist and former director of the Theremin Centre for Electroacoustic Music at the Moscow State Conservatory Andrey Smirnov.

See the CTM website for full line-up. **


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CTM & Deutschlandradio Kultur joint call for works

18 July 2013

German public broadcasting service Deutschlandradio Kultur and CTM Festival are calling for submissions of their Ubiquitous Art and Sound commission, closing August 30. They’re looking for artists in experimental music, sound art, new radio drama and performance to produce and unique work combining radio and live performance or installation. The winning bid will in turn be broadcast live and during next year’s CTM in Berlin, running January 24 to February 2, under the theme of ‘DIS CONTINUITY’.

A jury of five artists, curators and journalists will be selecting the funded work, to be revealed on announcement of the award granted a production budget of 5,000 EUR. See the CTM website for more details.**

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CTM & transmediale Festivals reviewed

7 February 2013

Now that the apocalypse has passed, the time has come to figure out where we’re headed. That’s certainly the sense one gets when juxtaposing last year’s The End-themed Unsound Festival in Krakow with CTM’s The Golden Age in Berlin. Oddly, where the contrasting programme titles imply doom and hopelessness, progress and innovation respectively, they both share a common thread in that they appear to be communicating in opposites. That’s why the overriding themes of CTM and its corresponding art and culture-centred counterpart, transmediale, concentrate on deep self-assessment, re-evaluation and a look to an exhilarating and sometimes frightening future –all with the benefit of hindsight.

 The outcome is one of confusion and a feeling of helplessness; if not in the physical impossibility of attending all the discussions, workshops, exhibitions and performances taking place on either side of the river Spree, then in reflecting the same sense of information overload that every voracious human-cum-digital-data-processor experiences on a regular basis. Apart from the distinction between the music-related projects and everything else, there’s a practical, though significant division made between the two worlds of transmediale and CTM. Where the privileged position of the art of transmediale is centred at the Das Haus der Kulturen der Welt (The House of World Cultures) in Berlin’s political heart of Mitte, music is relegated to where it belongs; on the vibrant cultural fringe of cheap real estate and free artistic expression around the south-eastern regions of Neukölln and Kreuzberg.

Exhibition Imaging with Machine Processes. The Generative Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan. Image courtesy of transmediale.
Imaging with Machine Processes: The Generative Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan. Image courtesy of transmediale.

That blurred distinction between art and economics is a recurrent theme in discussion on either side of the dual festival circuit. Steve Warwick, of looping sensory experiment Heatsick, attests to eschewing his fine art background in favour of the freedom and spontaneity of live music performance. Sonia Landy Sheridan, the proto-psychedelic generative artist pioneering in machine processes also actively avoided the restrictions of a gallery career, while doctoral candidate Holly Herndon takes her scholarly experiments in embodied laptop performance and vocal processing to the famous Berghain instead of a sound lab. Even artist and academic Terre Thaemlitz, famous for releasing a 32+ hour long album Soulnessless on mp3, expresses a similar sentiment in conversation with Electronic Beats editor Max Dax. Hers though is a far more cynical reason for choosing music as an outlet for her investigations in identity politics, describing the medium as “a petri dish of all that I hate about society”.

Thaemlitz’ candid statement, “hopeless. Doomed. Everything is shit. No hope,” is a feeling seemingly shared by author and political and cultural theorist, Mark Fisher. He applies his anti-capitalist ideals to a call to reject ‘hope’ as mere distraction, in favour of mobilisation against the evils of neoliberalism, while loosely relating that to his belief that there is nothing truly new in music anymore. That’s an idea that is both reinforced and destroyed by Oxford PhD candidate in Musicology Adam Harper in his dissection of a new online music phenomenon, known as ‘vaporwave’, with the likes of James Ferraro, Fatima Al Qadiri and Gatekeeper at the helm. For Harper, these artists’ simultaneous rejoice and implicit critique of corporate culture echoes the “technofuck buzz” of Nick Land’s Machinic Desire and display some, but not all, of the characteristics of a contemporary philosophy of Accelerationism.

Equally exhilarating and disturbing as Harper’s Virtual Plaza is an examination of the so-called ‘ruling classes’ of the new world order. Artist Andrew Norman Wilson exposes the problematic caste system of the Google Empire in Workers Leaving the Googleplex, as well as the parallels with Aldous Huxley’s dystopian fiction, Brave New World. Digital activist Marcel Mars, on the other hand, takes a more practical approach to his privately held anarchist ideals, by revealing the digital infrastructure of those major informational monopolies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay (GFAeB). He encourages active engagement and public investment in free open source software, in striving toward an economic and political balance.

Incidentally, keeping off Google search results is a constant battle for poet and ubuweb founder Kenneth Goldsmith, who encourages crowdsourcing as a vehicle for positive change in response to criticism that his archive of avant garde educational resources lacks diversity. His desire to collect and classify comes with the surplus of information available through the internet, which is why his advice is that every one of us should take on the role of archivist as a result and above all, “don’t trust the cloud”. Goldsmith even notes that since the dawn of file-sharing sites like Napster, the way media is filed and displayed has changed the way we all interact with it, shifting the connections and articulations between genres, ideas and artists.

So, now that the end is passed and the future can begin, it’s recontextusalisation, redefinition and making sense that is the goal for all of us. Festivals like CTM and transmediale are trying to do just that.

 CTM runs in various venues in Berlin, Germany annually.


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