Friday, October 10, 2003

Todays topic is The Rave as Immersive Experience

I have been reading reading reading....some good stuff and some great...all concerning this digital narrative construction. Trying to pin down the differences from literature, the similarities and where it all might be going. I was sitting in the library today reading this book when a thought errupted from somewhere concerning Immersion: the entry and pressence in a created enviroment to the point of complete or near complete acceptance by the perceptual mind of it as reality. This applies well to the 3D vitual interactive worlds of games, avatar and role playing situations. It could also be applied to installation and perfomance art, which is where I first experienced it. It could also be applied to Rave.......

My first Rave was a Vibe Tribe three day extravaganza on the banks of the Hawkesbury River near St Albans north of Sydney Australia in 1993. I felt like I had come across something that had been like nothing else in my life up to that point. Compared to most of the 1000 odd others at this bush vision of Mad Max meets The Feary Qween I was straight as an arrow. However I was undoubtedly immersed in the world of bizzare sculptures, lights, costumes, behavoirs and music that had my blood jumping.

My last rave experience (location an lifesyle hae changed) was the New Years Eve 1999-2000 Bedlam Rave with 5000 on the beach near Byron Bay ( a lightning storm off the coast and hundreds of tens and flags blowing in the warm breeze. it looked like it was 1000BC rather than the beginning of 2000). In between these two points I have attended dozens of these freezones of other worldliness. Some of course have not been as good as others, but there is the memories of the best that compels one to such activities as spending 8 hours in a VW Kombi driving around Sydney chasing a Rave that was being chased by the police, only to finish up at sunrise listening to a car stereo in a carpark with half a dozen other unhappy questers. Some of the best have been many city and bush raves in Oz (Golden Ox Redfern 1993-1996, Toonenbah Trance Fest in 1995 was one ), Three squat parties in London in 1997 which were unreal (one in Mile End was 7000 dancing in a 9 floor occupied highrise, each floor had it's own soundsystem), and then a year of parties in Amsterdam amoung the squats and abandoned factories (the Belgian Embassy was squatted as the ELF (Eternal Light Family) house with 100 occupants when I was there and they had parties almost every week, finally the besieged feeling of Docklands in Stockholm (one party only but not bad...apart from the savage police pressence). Which brings me to my next point;

Clearly there is some connection between drug culture and Rave, but no more than at a pub. In fact in a pub 99.9% of the occupants are for certain wasted. At a Rave there are many who are simply beyond the drug experience and instead they are immersed in an enviroment that cannot be described but only experinced (of course it is not everyone's cup of tea as it can be quite disorientating to those who are not familiar with it, just as a VR helmet can be to begin with). Those who damage themselves at Raves are those who are illinformed and often young (more the tragedy I suppose)...there out of curiosity, often their ignorance is exploited by those who do not care for the welfare of others. These are in a clear minority at the parties I have been at where most people know exactly what they are doing and are there to change their reality for 12, 15 or 20 hours. they release something within them that is not new to humanity as once huge groups gathered to dance in trance and remake themselves.

"If you look around you what do you see....squares...everywhere squares" (from Lucky People Centre International 1998). People living in their boxes, watching each other on the bus, avoiding touching each other in the shopping ques. However everybody is trying in one way or another to get out of themselves. Whether it is with money (popular choice), knowledge, power, objects, family, love, sex, food, work...etc.etc.etc....or in other words: Immersion
"a metaphorical term derived from the physical experience of being submerged in water. We seek the same feeling from a physiological immersive experience what we do from a plunge in the ocean or swimming pool: the sensation of being surrounded by a completely other reality, as different as water is from air, that takes over all our attention,our whole perceptual apparatus." Janet H Murray Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace p98.

So then I was wondering about rave as immersion and why it is not tolerated and why other forms of immersion are allowed, even encouraged.....and then...***##^^^^..It is not's's real immersion and anything that is real can be dangerous, even revolutionary.

No comments: