Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dial-a-Poem Documentary BBC4

Brian Patten, one of the original Liverpool poets, explores how radical, subversive and occasionally risqué poetry - rooted in the counter-culture of the late 1960s - became available to a mass audience at the end of a phone line for the first time. 

In this radio documentary I speak about the role Giorno Poetry Systems played in my formative years and how we can today critically relate Dial-a-Poem to so much of the media ecology we have around us. Right click on the image and save link to hear an archived version of the production.

Dial-a-Poem changed the public face of poetry for generations.

Producer: Llinos Jones
A Terrier production for BBC Radio 4.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Game Tour #1 - The Rome of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Game vs Real Photos - Part 1

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Game vs Real Photos - Part 2

In two days I will be traveling to Rome to spend some time wandering around the city with my son. One of the things we are going to do there is seek out the places featured in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a 2010 action-adventure stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is the third major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, a direct sequel to 2009's Assassin's Creed II, and the second chapter in the 'Ezio trilogy'. The game was released worldwide for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, beginning in North America on November 16, 2010. It was later released for Microsoft Windows in March 2011, followed by an OS X version in May 2011.

The story is set in a fictional history of real world events set in two time periods, the 16th and 21st centuries. The main portion of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood takes place immediately after the plot of Assassin's Creed II, featuring 16th-century Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze in Italy and his quest to restore the Assassin order, and destroy his enemies: the Borgia family. Intersecting with these historical events are the modern day activities of series protagonist Desmond Miles, who relives his ancestor Ezio's memories to find a way to fight against the Assassins' enemies, the Templars, and to prevent the 2012 apocalypse.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is set in an open world and presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on using Desmond and Ezio's combat and stealth abilities to eliminate targets and explore the environment. Ezio is able to freely explore 16th-century Rome to complete side missions away from the primary storyline. The game introduced a multiplayer component to the series, portrayed as a Templar training program.
Locations in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood include the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Passetto di Borgo, the Castel Sant'Angelo and the Cappella Sistina.

Tempio di Saturno – the Temple of Saturn, which is present in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood 

Outside of the Colosseum in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

The Catacombs
Ezio in the Catacombe di Roma

The Pantheon in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

The original pantheon was built to honour the ancient Roman gods. Literally, it means 'temple of all the gods'. It was, however, destroyed by a huge fire and a new one built in its place approximately 50 years later. It is unknown exactly what the new building was used for, but it was converted to a Christian church in medieval times. This probably accounts for why it is so well preserved. Unlike other buildings from this time, the Pantheon was kept up by the church. It has since been used as a tomb, and many famous people were buried there such as Raphael. It continues to be used as a church to this day, with masses still held regularly.

A Follower of Romulus from Assassin's Creed and the Tempio di Romolo (the Temple of Romulus)

The Piazza del Popolo in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Piazza del Popolo

"Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dial-A-Poem Poets: Radicalizing space with the telephone

John Giorno with the  Dial-a-Poem telephone set up in 1969
One day a New York mother saw her 12-year-old son with two friends listening to the telephone and giggling. She grabbed the phone from them and what she heard freaked her out. This was when Dial-A-Poem was at The Architectural League of New York with worldwide media coverage, and Junior Scholastic Magazine had just done an article and listening to Dial-A-Poem was homework in New York City Public Schools.” - John Giorno, August 1972

“Every faggot hiding in bar/political prisoner/Every junky shooting up in john/Political prisoner” - Diana De Prima, Revolutionary Letter No. 49
Dial a Poem began in 1968 when New York artist, actor, poet John Giorno linked up 15 connected telephones to reel-to-reel tape players and made it possible for anyone to call a telephone number and listen to a poem recited by an established, often radical, poet or author.
Millions called. "The busiest time was 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so one figured that all those people sitting at desks in New York office buildings spend a lot of time on the telephone," wrote John Giorno, the founder of Dial-A-Poem. "The second busiest time was 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. ... then the California calls and those tripping on acid or couldn't sleep, 2 a.m. to 6 a.m" (New York Times).
Comparisons with current information systems are obvious. With Dial-a-Poem a network was established that created a space for experiencing language. Along with this experience of language came a lot of assumptions about culture, often related to gender, sexuality, class, generation and political affiliation. Giorno and his associates (William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsburg, Diana De Prima, Clark Coolidge, Taylor Mead, Bobby Seale, Anne Waldman and Jim Carroll) created a radical space that anyone with a telephone could access.
Burroughs in his dry cackle describes an old Mexican assassin "with eyes the color of a faded gray flannel suit." Diane di Prima talks calmly about the proper use of knives and Molotov cocktails. Clark Coolidge drags out every four-letter word he can think of: taps, buns, keys, cans, arms. Taylor Mead sputters like a motorcycle. Bobby Seale charismatically hates white people, while people cheer. Ms. Waldman singsongs about her sagging spirit at age 26. Jim Carroll coolly reports how he took off his shirt, then his pants, for his coach, when he was 12, to try on a new uniform. "He told me it fit perfectly over my body" (New York Times).
The space created by sound is a space of potential dissidence. This began a long time ago. The audio of song, music, poet breaks up official space, monumental space, and gives time to the carnival or the revolution. This is why we have noise ordinances in urban spaces. To break through the wall of an apartment building with music is to reclaim space for the purposes of joy. The experiments of William S Burroughs came to similar conclusions:

“Could you cool a riot by recording the calmest cop and the most reasonable demonstrator? Maybe! However, it's a lot easier to start trouble that to stop it. Just pointing out that cut/ups on the tape recorder can be used as a weapon. You'll observe that the operators are making a cutup as they go. They are cutting in Chicago, Paris, Mexico City, Kent Ohio with the present sound effects at random and that is a cutup.” - The Electronic Revolution (

Space is communicative in media according to how it can be “tied to the relations of production and to the ‘order’ which those relations impose, and hence to knowledge, to signs, to codes, and to ‘frontal’ relations” (Lefebvre 33). In the design of digital narrative works on the World Wide Web similar relationships between signifying elements in space, such as emphasized structures, repeated components and specific perspectives, make up this communication. In this sense the signs and codes that operate in space form a symbolic order in the digital works. The reading subject can only approach the works according to these codes, which compose “the locus of communication by means of signs, as the locus of separation and the milieu of prohibitions” (Lefebvre 134-135). The interpretive responses to these signs inevitably call upon a separation, an interpretive distance and as a result a set of prohibitions, between the reader and the work. With Dial-a-Poem the radical space of the poet has admitted you the listener for the duration of the telephone call. [1]
Prohibitions are encoded into representational space. Thomas Nolden clarifies this further:

For Lefebvre, ‘frontal relations’ of production codify power relations, for example, in the form of buildings or public monuments: ‘Such frontal (and hence brutal) expressions of these relations do not completely crowd out their more clandestine or underground aspects; all power must have its accomplices – and its police’ (33) (Nolden 128).

This is representational space, which Lefebvre defines “as directly lived through its associated images and symbols, and hence the space of ‘inhabitants’ and ‘users’. [...] Thus representational spaces may be said, though again with certain exceptions, to tend towards more or less coherent systems of non-verbal symbols and signs” (Lefebvre 39). Similar representational space exists in digitally mediated narrative as “non-verbal symbols and signs”, which evoke “not ‘stories’ but suggestive markings” and “trigger reactions in players in order to help them to create their own interpretations” (Nitsche 44). These ‘suggestive markings’ I equate with the dry rattle of Bill Burroughs' voice as he speaks of hipster junky life in Mexico in the 1950s, the excited chant of Ginsberg, and the echo of De Prima as she tells you where you are; “Every faggot hiding in bar/political prisoner/Every junky shooting up in john/Political prisoner”. You are in the same prison she is in, and that which connects you both is the telephone and the voice you hear holding it to your ear. Like the visiting rooms in prison they show in the movies on TV, but only now you are there holding the phone and listening.

Works Cited
Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Oxford: Basil-Blackwell, 2007.

Nolden, Thomas. “On Colonial Spaces and Bodies: Hans Grimm’s Geschichten und Südwestafrika.” The Imperialist Imagination: German colonialism and its legacy. Ed. Sara Friedrichsmeyer. Sara Lennox, Susanne Zantop. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1998. 125-141. Print.

NOTE: On Saturday 26 June 2013 at 20:00 GMT I speak in a BBC4 Radio documentary on the Dial a Poem poets along with,
Brian Patten, one of the original Liverpool poets, explores how radical, subversive and occasionally risqué poetry - rooted in the counter-culture of the late 1960s - became available to a mass audience at the end of a phone line for the first time.
I also understand the great biographer and friend of Burroughs and Gysin, Barry Miles is included in the program. You can tune in online here: 

[1] Interpretation, linguistic or spatial, always includes the possibility of misreading. Interpretation is structured toward multiplicity and the digital works are no different. I do not need to account for my readings as preeminently correct’, merely demonstrate how narrative can be read and how the digital works attempt to guide this reading.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cut Up of Julian Assange's Speech After One Year in Ecuadorian Embassy

Julian Assange Needs Laundry (Send Clothes to Flat 3, 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 0LS, United Kingdom)

Monday and every one of us.

After a litany of wrongs done to an expanding terrific of fatal consequences for justice.

Edward Snowden is the eighth espionage indictment from the US department for tipping us off.

It is getting to the world.

As if by clockwork, he has been longer than the Nobel Peace Prize, but with a beginning.

Two dangerous runaway processes spying on each other, but it as this trial enters its fourth week on the intelligence community and the internet distinction and service to humanity there is no point where the mark of an international embassy has sought refuge from charges with espionage by the Obama services giants - to spy on everyone is the root of the last decade with scale.

Simultaneously, human privacy today is just Edward Snowden's ordeal of persecution.

As a result of that decision, it has now been a year since I entered this work in relative safety as a leaker to be charged with espionage under the program - involving the Obama administration. The US government is trying to convict Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage. Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing administration.

The US government is being secretly eradicated.

A few weeks ago, President Bradley Manning showed democracy.

Government secrecy has been for us an espionage of investigation.

(Original Speech is Here)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sound Self: A Oculus Rift VR Application

In the video above, SoundSelf’s designer Robin Arnott shows you the ins-and-outs of his LSD-trip inspired VR game, which he was showing off at the IndieCade booth at E3.

SoundSelf is not exactly a new project — the project met its Kickstarter goal last March. What has changed is the Oculus Rift integration, a feature that was not originally planned when the game started out.

Imagine being in a virtual tunnel 3D telescoping fractals that pulsate along with the sound of your own voice, which is then fed back to you as an ever-growing, Bodhisattva hum. It looks absolutely absurd when you see someone doing it, but when you’re inside that headset, it’s absolutely sublime. It's like the virtual reality dream of countless tech nerds, psychonauts and cyberpunks finally made manifest after so many years.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Surveilled Imagination – A World Watched to Make Information

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks about his leaking of information about PRISM

This is a short essay on surveillance as commodity acquisition and the social contract. I have been following the story of PRISM, which according to the United States Army Field Manual, as quoted by Mother Jones, is
“A subsystem of collection management mission application, is a Web-based management and synchronization tool used to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of theater operations. PRISM creates a collaborative environment for resource managers, collection managers, exploitation managers and customers”.
Based on information leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contracted manager for the National Security Association, PRISM is used to collect and monitor information from millions of people inside and outside of the United States of America. Unless you have been offline over the past week, you have probably heard about this, as it is just beginning to have consequences, due largely to the extent of the allegations and the time it took for most governments and public figures to understand precisely what the PRISM Leak means. It means so much and could be of such far-reaching consequences that many of the departments and institutions responsible for this sort of knowledge were initially silent, presumably trying to fathom it. One of the more intelligent speculations I saw about PRISM was from Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group in the European Parliament. Guy tweeted;
“#prism How has data been used and is it in conflict with EU data protection? The Commission, best @BarrosoEU must answer this at next #EP”
I am sure Mr Barrosso is looking into it right now. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to PRISM. But I want to back off slightly from the revelations of PRISM to what it means in broader terms. I want to ask here, what is the reality of surveillance? I mean mass surveillance; "the pervasive surveillance of an entire population, or a substantial fraction thereof" (Wikileaks).

I started following the developments around the PRISM leak on Twitter as they were published on The Guardian website. I noticed this tweet from Mark Vanderbeeken (Senior partner at Experientia and editor of Putting People First, Turin, Italy);
“But is it actually possible to return to a non-surveillance world? The genie is now out of the bottle”
I replied to Mark that it is not possible to 'go back' to an imagined "non-surveillance world" (if that ever existed); but what we are actually witnessing today is the process of shifting power and control under the auspices of digital technology and the mass surveillance it makes possible. In writing this I thought particularly of the life of Christopher Marlowe, the famous playwright and contemporary of Shakespeare. Marlowe was at the center of a surveilled society, a society which was undergoing dramatic changes. Marlowe worked as a spy, and was also the subject for surveillance, dying at the age of 29 in 1593 as a result of an altercation in an inn under suspicious circumstances.

Up to his eyeball in surveillance; Christopher Marlowe 1564-1593 (spy poet trouble maker)

Surveillance today is beyond anything Marlowe could have imagined even in his most extravagant stage drama. With a massive digital network of communication, mediation and simulation now well established around the planet, it is possible to gather information about people at a level of detail unparalleled in human history. Many nation states are now spying on their general populations. Information is collected en masse and stored not for individual identification, but to construct patterning in the population. Mass information is about demographics, trends, movements on a large scale towards ideas, issues or cultural trends. At the same time individual privacy is no longer possible for anyone that uses digital media, although encryption such as Tor does hide connections between people and sites online.

"The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential prerequisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country." -  United Kingdom House of Lords Constitution Committee, "Surveillance: Citizens and the State" (2009)
I returned to Twitter, filled with ideas about what mass surveillance was doing to our societies. If the constant unmonitored gathering of information by the public and private security industry ("70% of the intelligent budget of the USA today goes to private contractors like Booz Allen" -whistleblower Chris Pyle) is damaging democracy and individual freedom, what else it is doing? I dug up my favorite theorists when it comes to information and the body politico in a globalized interconnected 24-hour digital society. I see the perceived need for surveillance as part of the "deterritorialization of production" (Negri & Hardt) and this can be transparent or opaque. All are networks monitored and this includes production. Surveillance creates what is one of the most valuable resources of the 21st Century, information. Mark Getty, chairman of Getty Images, once said, "Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century". I believe surveillance is the State using the tools at its disposal to create a vast resource. So the problem with surveillance is structural. Information is resource. Value is added by scarcity, effect and processing. In this sense surveillance is monopolistic as it can only be created on a mass scale by a level of infrastructure that has a budget of governmental proportions. I could spy on my neighbors, or even a town, but it could not be used in any meaningful way and besides it is illegal. The government on the other hand is already doing this and a lot more.

Many citizens believe it is necessary to be surveilled. Paul Sheehan, a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia wrote that the problem for those seeing Edward Snowden’s leaking of information about PRISM as a heroic act based their assessment on  “The final inconvenient fact is a practical one: all government agencies except the tax department do not have the time, the resources, or the interest to examine the activities of private citizens without good reason. Most of us are of no interest to the government unless we are doing something dangerous to others. Paranoia is invariably self-absorption” – (Tuesday 11 June 2013). With his use of Newspeak ('Paranoia is invariably self-absorption'), Sheehan totally misses the concept of information as a resource. What if information is not gathered to catch the feared ‘bad guys’ but in order to create something of value? If this is so we have to ask how the subjects that are surveilled contribute to the creation of this value. The government does not have the ability or interest in monitoring the daily activities of the majority of the population. But it does have an interesting in monitoring mass opinion, demographic behaviors and cultural shifts that occur in the governed population. This is largely done without the consent of the people. While laws are introduced to contain and combat security threats, the same legislation used to create these laws can be used to create the ‘oil of the 21st Century’.

The most worrying possibility is that the leaks we are seeing now are not particularly relevant to the security apparatus, that these low-level figures in the system releasing information are actually playing into the argument for a greater degree of security and monitoring and as a result there will be tighter controls and less transparency in the future. The news of PRISM was first broken in May 2006 by Walter Pincus writing for USA Today

"Disclosed that the NSA "has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth," attributing that information to "people with direct knowledge of the arrangement." The newspaper continued: "The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans - most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews."
Today Pincus is writing about a history of surveillance in the USA, but few people seem to be paying attention to him then or now. Pincus states "It is worth noting that two days after the USA Today disclosure, a Washington Post poll showed that 63 percent of those polled said it was acceptable for the government to collect tens of millions of phone records, while 35 percent considered that unacceptable."

Mass surveillance contravenes the social contract, as an infringement upon the right of the sovereignty (the people) to full disclosure of the body politic;

"Rousseau emphasizes that the general will exists to protect individuals against the mass, not to require them to be sacrificed to it. He is, of course, sharply aware that men have selfish and sectional interests which will lead them to try to oppress others. It is for this reason that loyalty to the good of all alike must be a supreme (although not exclusive) commitment by everyone, not only if a truly general will is to be heeded but also if it is to be formulated successfully in the first place" - Entry, "Rousseau" in the Routelege Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward Craig, editor, Volume Eight, p. 371
For this reason there must be disclosure in order for democracy to be restored to those countries currently operating secret mass intelligence networks against their own citizens. The PRISM affair can be argued to be an attempt by one man to manifest disclosure. This is an idea shared by others. Dean and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore Simon Chesterman writes in One Nation Under Surveillance – A New Social Contract to Defend Freedom Without Sacrificing Liberty (Oxford 2011) of a need for a “new social contract” that should be characterized by three principles:

(1) The intelligence powers exercised must be public,
(2) The entities carrying out these functions must be legal, and
(3) Accountability for activities of intelligence services must be consequence-sensitive (as opposed to having the aim of deterring or responding to abuse) (See Dreier).

These three additions to the Social Contract will change the nature and affect of mass surveillance on society. However, if the reason behind the mass surveillance that has developed in many nations is because of the value of information then there is unlikely to be a change in relation to the social contact. It is at this point we must consider the role of capitalist ideology in mass surveillance. If "Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century" then the masses of information gathered on the public is valuable. If surveillance is made public, legal (i.e. a result of due process), and driven by consequences then it will cease to have the same value according to commodity relations (i.e. scarcity, processing into tangible goods etc.). It is at this point I consider we are now at a crossroads for the continuation of the human project. How we move forward on this question will alter the community of the species.

One Nation Under Surveillance: A New Social Contract with Simon Chesterman (click on image)

There will always be surveillance and in an age where information is as valuable as oil there will only ever be more. But can information produced by surveillance be used for bettering society rather than controlling the more radical/progressive (depending on your perspectives) elements? Instead of using surveillance to create ‘security’ alone we could be using this information to organize community action, make free media for people to use, creating databases for culture, art, and knowledge. If we can collect the data from the phone calls people make, why can’t we make a system where information is shared for knowledge, art, science and research, social development and solidarity? This is a surveillance system that would take the forms of open information, universal access, networked and self-organizing systems run by users.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Blade Runner Sketchbook (1982)

Coinciding with the release of Blade Runner in 1982, David Scroggy published the Blade Runner Sketchbook, a book with 100+ production drawings and artwork for Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi film. The sketchbook features visual work by Scott himself, artist Mentor Huebner, and costume designer Charles Knode, but most notably a slew of drawings by artist, futurist, and illustrator Syd Mead.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Alchemy (poem from 2007)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The 1990s Anarcho-Punk Doof Scene in Sydney

In 1991 I traveled to Sydney from my home range of The Darling Downs (think rural right-wing Christian). I spent a week in Sydney, saw my favorite band The Butthole Surfers at the St Georges Hall in Newtown, went to parties in collective houses, spent a Saturday at The Glebe Markets. Basically the experience changed my life. I moved to Sydney the following year to live and made the city my base in the world from then until 1999.

The Butthole Surfers in 1991, the year I saw them and they smeared my mind around the backstreets of inner-city Sydney.

From the end of 1993 I started going to rave parties ('doofs' as they are called in Australia) in and around Sydney, mostly put on by The Vibe Tribe. I have written about my experiences as an anarchist raver in the mid-1990s elsewhere. Here I just want to say a few things about the anarcho-punk scene around a particular sound system in Sydney at the time, the mighty Non-Bossy Posse.
We didn’t dig the oppressive nature of the state or some nightclubs. Many mainstream clubs often exist to sell alcohol, make loads of money, enforce style conformity and are generally inaccessible to lots of people. We are now in a position of overflowing our warehouses beaches etc with a totally awesome array of raver/freak-hybrid geek humanoids who have come to expect nothing less than a wild frolik-razzamatazzical glitter infested cabaret – from sequins to sequencers.  - Vibe Tribe Statement
This post opens with the most famous work of the Non-Bossy Posse, a cassette that passed around from hand to hand at the time, Saboteurs Of The Big Daddy Mind Fuck (1993). The cassette opens with a fast track that states "Revolution has to include all people". This statement indicates precisely why I was drawn to the rave scene in Sydney at the time. It was very inclusive with an openness towards LBGT people, no age requirements or restrictions, few rules apart from respect and cooperation.
"In an inner city area where public space is almost non-existent and young people excluded from notions of "the community", the free parties in Sydney Park were a vibrant, peaceful and joyous reclamation of space. More open-ended than the concurrent rave scene, they drew a more diverse crowd many of whom would otherwise never had the inclination or opportunity to hear and dance to such strange music. Sydney Park was the ideal location being close to transport, open-air, and most importantly it was uniquely acoustically shaped so as to direct all the sound of the party over the industrial areas of Alexandria and away from residential properties. With a few hundred dollars a party could be quickly and communally organised, word circulated through the local community by word-of-mouth and a few photocopied flyers, and then a bucket passed around on the night to recoup some costs" - The Cops are Jammin the Frequency.
The next vocal sample on Saboteurs Of The Big Daddy Mind Fuck - "Its going to bring the whole world looking in" refers to what in my mind destroyed the best of the Sydney scene, the 2000 Olympic Games. The Posse knew this already in 1993 that the Olympics would spell the end for the cooperative, community culture that thrived in inner-city Sydney until the end of the 1990s. Next up is a sample from then Prime Minister Paul Keating's Redfern address; "we committed the murders. we took the children." -
"It begins, I think, with the act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion."
Just a few minutes into the first track and we already have a clear political and social trajectory that can be termed confrontational anarchist.

Making a Noise – Making a Difference: Techno-Punk and Terra-ism by Graham St John (University of Queensland) takes up many of the political and social concerns of the movement around the anarchist rave scene in Sydney in the early 1990s.

In Sydney at the time there were two anarchist book shops. Black Rose Books and Jura Books were the sources for much literature that fueled the cooperative culture of inner-city Sydney in the 1990s. Both shops continue today.
"Pour sugar into the petrol tanks of expensive cars, Burn the flag, Destroy the pig nation, Steal goods from your boss and give them to your friends" -  Non-Bossy Possy, Anarchy.
The anarchy of Australia comes with a strong DIY flavor that is influenced by the bush and a lot of disrespect for authority that is part of the traditions of a country founded as a penal colony.

"Consumption the drug. Consume. Be Silent. Die." is the sample on a latter track of Saboteurs Of The Big Daddy Mind Fuck. By 1995 the music of the rave scene was becoming popular enough to have clubs on Oxford Street hosting all night parties. This coincided with a media frenzy around the death of Anna Wood from water intoxication at a rave. The police began seriously prosecuting rave parties at this time as well. Big money followed the move into the clubs and soon the energy of the anarcho-punk doof scene was but a memory. Of course the politics did not survive long on the well lit dance floors. As the Non-Bossy Possy Facebook page states today, most members of the scene from this time are now scattered all over the globe. 

'Frequency' 8th April 1995 - The dark head in the bottom right corner is me. I have no other photos from the time. No camera and no time at the time. I was arrested shortly after this way taken and spent some hours in a police van in an underground car park. All for dancing without a permit.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Digital Humanities: fact and fiction

The term ‘digital humanities’ is very troublesome, but the focus on using digital media to make things is only a part of the complex network of practices, methods, ideas and disciplines that meet within the somewhat fluid boundaries of the term. I recently read that the digital humanities could be summarized as “the digitization of texts, adding hypertext and some visual references that link to further definitions or information”. But this is only a small part of what is termed the ‘digital humanities’. Firstly I do not believe it is a discipline. Secondly I do believe it relies heavily on a) method and b) objects of study.

We need to step away from the humanities' focus on the production of text and observe how digital technologies are changing relationships, identities and meaning making. The implications of a digital technology like Google Glass is a good example of the need for a humanities that is aware and engaged with the digital. What are the implications of a socialized image making, communication device that is connected to a publishing and distribution network 24/7? Answering this question is a job for a body of knowledge and practices that could be termed the digital humanities.

The implications for society, culture, politics, communication, community, art and language from digital technologies are so great and far reaching that is makes my breathing quicken at times. We are not even dealing with simple mediation here, as the interaction with digital technology between people is now reaching such a level of development that much of it appears as what was once termed ‘reality’. Last night I watched a news broadcast about the current proposal before the United Nations for a moratorium on the production of killer robots. One of the concerns raised is that a human being killed by a machine is part of “the increasing detachment between people and the decision to kill”. Here we have ethics, technology, politics and philosophy meeting in an area that we have yet to have as a university discipline, but that is making the reality we live in.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Slavoj Zizek - "The Reality of the Virtual" (2003)

For those who found the documentary "Zizek!" spoiled by an excess of action sequences, there is now "Slavoj Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual," in which the Slovenian intellectual of the title sits in front of a camera and does nothing but talk. And talk. Shot by Ben Wright over the course of a single day, here is the apotheosis of the talking-head movie, made up entirely of seven long, static takes of Mr. Zizek seated in front of a bookshelf. His discourse is accompanied by a habitual repertory of twitches, spasms and uncontrolled perspiration, an alarming frenzy of exuberance that contributes to his reputation as a rock star of philosophy.

In this filmed lecture, Slavoj Zizek lucidly and compellingly reflects on belief - which takes him from Father Christmas to democracy - and on the various forms that belief takes, drawing on Lacanian categories of thought. In a radical dismissal of todays so called post-political era, he mobilizes the paradox of universal truth urging us to dare to enact the impossible. It is a characteristic virtuoso performance, moving promiscuously from subject to subject but keeping the larger argument in view. Based at Ljubliana University, Slavoj Zizek's main body of work includes Welcome to the Desert of the Real and, most recently, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity.