NEWS 23/04/01

 

EDITORIAL: Email won't save the world

[skip this and get to the news]

I don't normally write too much about popular culture and stuff that normally gets covered in mainstream places. That said, it's been a bumper month for spam and I'm amazed that people who ordinarily possess a firm grip on reality are forwarding dubious emails willy-nilly.

MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU

I've now received that email about the UK census about 20 times. If you've managed to avoid it (how? do tell!) - it's an email saying that the Census is coming 'round and wouldn't it be a laugh if we all put "Jedi" down as our religion. Which is fair enough, I'm all for short-circuiting the State's bureaucracy. It just seems a little short sighted to me. Obviously people are going to put whatever they like on the census form, but it seems to me that if you don't care particuarly about religion, then it's probably more in your interest to put your tick in the "none" box. That way the Church of England (and indeed, Xtianity in general) looks like the minority hobby that it is. Maybe that way the ludicrously titled "Moral Majority" will be made to look like the idiots they are the next time there is some moral panic about censorship or people following their naturally responsible hedonisitic natures. Maybe the enormous amount of property and priviledge afforded to the Church will also be questioned, as will the links with the Monarchy, etc.

But no, that isn't exciting as the email's claim that if "about 10,000 people" put "Jedi" in the box then that will become a legally recognised religion. Bollocks will it. Even if we ignore the fact that the Jedi faith isn't exactly laid down anywhere (looks like a mixture of taoism and xtianity to me) and lacks something of an infrastructure, the UK government doesn't as a matter of course recognise religions outside of the big faiths. Just ask your local Rasta about it - (in fact users of certain herbal infusions would have far more to gain by putting rastafarianism as their religion).

It may be a different matter in New Zealand, where the email is said to have started (hence some of the mails having the date of the census as August rather than April), but somehow I doubt it.

SPURIOUS OPPOSITION

The other email that's been doing the 'rounds since last time I updated the site is that one about emailing G.W. Bush about his refusal to see any sense in relation to environmental issues the Kyoto agreement, etc. The idea being that if thousands of people across the world email Dubya personally and appeal to his better nature, that he will somehow be shamed into mending his evil ways. The Whitehouse will turn into an organic commune, America will be become the New Eden and we'll all get as many veggie burgers as we can eat.

This again shows an alarming lack of critical thinking, and a large dollop of ignorance of how government works. How many of the US Electorate are plugging away at issues like these? Probably the same percentage as in every country. Not enough to get the current administration scared, that's for sure. Particularly if all they get is an identikit email which someone has sent by clicking a button on a web site or pressing their "forward" button.

And the climate change treaty is a load of old cobblers anyway, isn't it? So it's a totally useless campaign, this email stuff - in both method and aim. People I've sent snotty replies to about this, have come up with the response that "Well, it's better than doing nothing!" - it isn't. It's worse than doing nothing, because when you've done nothing you know that, you're not lulled into a false sense of security that by clicking a few buttons you have done your bit and can smugly go about your business.

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this is the fact that all those emails caused the Whitehouse server to crash - which must have been annoying if nothing else. Like the only thing that will come out of the Jedis and their census returns is that a few bureaucrats will be annoyed. Which is fair enough, but it won't save us from eco-meltdown. It's trite, but the only thing that WILL stop that is establishing a world human community in which the interests of humanity (and other species) are prioritised over those of our rulers and their industry chums. Unfortunately there's no button to push for that.

John Eden

 

NEW ON THE SITE THIS MONTH:

 

Dancing About Architecture by the Out of Order Order.

We are pleased to welcome back Loki after a prolonged bout of caning. His Last Night A DJ looks at the role of DJ as specialist, and suggests some ways of livening things up at bit...

Our mp3 of the month is a bit of blazing breakbeat badness from the Grievous Angel Soundsystem.

Lots of nice reviews for you to check out - Stewart Home, Smile Magazine, Ambush Records, Pole live, and much more!

 

Plus:

Some more anarchopunk links.

AAA wants list (can you help?)

After the office politics of last month's MAP piece on General Ludd, I have overhauled the text for Notes From Office Britain in the 2012 section and added some suitably corporate graphics.

No charts this month, because nobody sent any in - come on, people...

 

 

AND ELSEWHERE:

 

THERE'S NO "PLACE" LIKE HOME

Stewart Home's essay "The Psychogeography of Zeros and Ones" is now available as a free e-book. You basically download a PDF which can then be made into a nifty little booklet if you print it out. The text covers things like copyright on the internet and thankfully manages to avoid both Napster-phobia and "Information wants to be free" hippy-utopianism. Well worth checking out:

http://www.proboscis.org.uk
http://www.metamute.com/mfiles/index.htm

There is also a rather good essay about Stewart up at:

http://www.3ampublishing.com/

And don't forget our new review of his latest booklet.

 

FROM THE DESK OF ANONYMOUS:

"Ok, Some of you might 'know' this already, some of you might not care, etc.. BUT, a short & simple-minded anti-Pavlovian movie of mine entitled "Department of Failures" has been put on-line @: - http://www.sirius.com/~sstark/mkr/tac/failure.ram

SO, maybe you're at work, maybe you're bored, maybe you've got nothing better to do - it's 2:35 long. Be a witness & be reminded: if even (wo)man's best friend can be so easily manipulated, how 'bout your bad ole self, eh?! your eternal friend,

t"

BOW DOWN TO THE EXIT SIGN

Those nasty Exit borstal boys (formerly involved with the infamous AAA Maya) have got a web site up. Still rather formative, but looks like good things will follow. Check their net radio show for now...

http://www.btinternet.com/~jesus23

 

OPERATION REAPPROPRIATION
INFOPOOL @ TATE MODERN 9.2.2001

We make no apologies for reprinting this text in full:

"On 6th February, a week after the Century City show opened at the Tate Modern, we learnt that the three Infopool pamphlets first circulated in summer 2000 had been used as part of the London contribution in the Turbine Hall. The format of the pamphlets had been altered: the three seperately published pamphlets had been renumbered, compiled and bound as a hardcover book to give them a uniformity with other documents on display: artist's monographs published by Phaidon, artists' books and magazines etc.

We were not contacted about the use or alteration of these pamphlets by any representative of the Tate gallery even though each one carries an e-mail address. When looking more carefully into this, to clarify how the pamphlets were used, i.e. whether they were included as a contribution to an adjacent reading room or whether they were used as 'documentary' exhibit in the main body of the London display, we found that the pamphlets had been used more as an exhibit than as supportive material.

Even if the pamphlets are seen to be 'in the public domain' we feel it is a minimal requirement of good practice to consult with the authors/publishers. This is especially the case with small press publications that are self-financed and, in their very raison-d'etre, indicative of an autonomous ethos.The fact that they are not copyrighted and hence have no recourse to protection under any law means that a form of moral protection is theirs under a 'contract' of trust; a trust that extends to a sensitivity to their content and a respect of their aims. This is an old argument that has dogged a colonialistically orientated museum practice for centuries. It is a question of what is the public domain: a collection of commodities where ownership determines use or a social relationship that no one can own.

Whilst most of the texts from the pamphlets appear on the Infopool website their taking the form of pamphlets is not irrelevant. Using a small press, or post-media form, implies that they are documents that are circulated in extremely small numbers. They are, in a sense, intimate and specific and, crucially, the communication they aim for is one that is unmediated. In short the pamphlets, infopool projects, are concerned with developing their own contexts. It is concerned with and informed by a distance from all other institutions in their varying and intermixed modulations as cultural, political or academic institutions. The pamphlets thus represent an autonomous, self-financed research, and Infopool is a project, an effort towards self-institution. We find it objectionable that they have been misunderstood, treated solely as commodities and are on display at the Tate Modern without our knowledge.

As ongoing samples of various practices united under the Infopool project their appearance within the Century City show reconfigures them as discourse objects. On display in a new hardback cover and threaded through with wire (the new vitrine) the pamphlets take on an aura that undermines both their form and content. They are no longer able to be passed on, given as gifts, and circulated to friends and fellow travellers i.e. to be self-institutional. In short the pamphlets have been commodified beyond their informal and nominal 1.00 price. The generator of value that is the Tate Modern has allotted them an immaterial cultural value (prestige, distinction) in exchange for the appearance of the value of their autonomy. Remember we were not party to such an exchange. Acting autonomously and in terms of a new relationship based on trust rather than ownership and with respect to our future collaborators we hereby claim the right to re-appropriate the pamphlets.

We have no doubt that this not only refers to a gross misunderstanding on the part of Tate curators but also to the improvised way in which Infopool operates. We are defining our practice as we go along - projects that appeal to our desires, that can give reign to the desire to know, experiment and communicate, are chosen rather than our sitting down and defining Infopool in the manner of a manifesto or a movement. That the pamphlets have turned up at Tate Modern may be cause for reassessment (how do we defy the commodification of knowledge? how do we attempt to profile a new social relation?), but why should Infopool, which has been 'established' to enable the creation of a fledgling conceptual space, to link-in with other secessionist efforts to redefine the 'public domain', have to be forced to be defensively ideological every time it produces a small run pamphlet? We perhaps idealistically assumed that all those who showed an interest in the pamphlets would thereby respect their ethos: that we were offering to them the escaping values of desire - exodus towards self-institution.

The gross curatorial misunderstanding is related to a gross overestimation of the power museums like Tate Modern have in culture. Sadly many believe in this power and would be only too happy to have their projects included in such shows as Century City. We wonder whether it is this very illusion of power and the fact that those wielding it feel certain that everyone else wants a share in it that led to a whole team of Tate curators to neglect to approach us for our consent to this new exchange of values, this re-commodification of the pamphlets that is the real basis, however unconscious, of the Tate's power? Is it also that this overriding view of cultural practices as commodities and the curators' role as re-commodifiers that gives them the feeling of ownership over the pamphlets?

Within the Infopool network culture is understood as a social relation. The Tate Modern trades on that social relation as 'art', it packages it as an event, a revolving spectacle that recontextualises contexts and activates a form of value that was never intended. Infopool is the effort of a social relation which attempts to resist commodification. We feel that the vulnerability of the Infopool project - it's unprotected offer of communication, its fledgling self-institution - has been exploited in an episode that reveals to us not only the reconfigured colonialism of a desperate institution, but the ongoing valorisation of socialisation that more institutions than Tate Modern are engaged in.

Again we reaffirm the right to re-appropriate them. We picked the pamphlets up on Friday February 9th. To negotiate their exit would have taken too long."

www.infopool.org.uk

 

STRING PUDDING

"Elegant Corpse Theory - superstrings strangle the organical" is now up at:

www.sparkchamber.co.uk/elegant1.html

"... the two sacred pillars of modern physics are in conflict! Yes indeed, toss the phosphorus of Quantum Theory in to the ocean of General Relativity and you get the fizz of infinite discord."

 

WORLD FUCK DAY

The Dead Poets are after your ideas as to whether a World Fuck Day should be organised: "On that day, you can Fuck everyone you like, everyone you don't like or just those who need a Fuck; and in turn they will Fuck you."

http://c6.org/evol
deadpoets@fuckyou.co.uk

 

FREUDIAN SLAP

Issue 4 of Melancholic Troglodytes is now available for 2 quid from Box 44, 136-138 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2NS. This issue's theme is "Psychology and the Class Struggle" and it takes in some pretty high-brow theorists like Kovel, Spivak and so on. We don't feel confident enough to formulate a review for now, but it looks good if that is your bag.



SEE YOU IN SPACE

Good piece on dissident physicist and AAA collaborator Millenium Twain from the New Zealand Herald:

http://nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=180180
&thesection=news&thesubsection=general

 

BASS CULTURE

Backyard Movements are soon to release `Disciples presents Backyard Movements Dubwise 2001` CD and LP - check the site for soundclips and updates:

http://freespace.virgin.net/russell.bell-brown/bslpnews1d.htm

our interview with Russ Disciple is still up here in the Dub section.

 

PROLECULT

Those funky anarcho-commies Antagonism have updated their site and it now includes an interesting overview of their activity in the 80s and 90s:

http://www.geocities.com/antagonism1/our80s90s/index.html


On a similar note Paul Petard's cartoons are wicked and he has some reminiscences about the 121 Centre up at:

http://www.petard.homestead.com/page1.html

 

IN BRIEF:

Psychogeography.co.uk is up.

2 new mp3s for download at: www.lockheedonline.com.

Esoterra 9 imminent: www.esoterra.org.

www.aux2.cx - more KLF related roadtrip madness, and a whole lot of other cool stuff.

http://members.aol.com/lumpenilluminate/ updated.

 




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