Teknival and the emancipatory potential of technology

This text is based on a talk given at the One-shot Art Festival in Berlin, October 2007 as part of an evening organised by Datacide that explored the theme: noise, politics, autonomy and recuperation.

The purpose of this text is to historify the Teknival/Free-Party scene as belonging to a history which views technology as having emancipatory potential. This history extends back to the 1930s when Walter Benjamin along with Bertolt Brecht produced a penetrating analysis of the potential offered by, the then emerging, technics to provide the tools to change the conditions of cultural production and eventually offer a renewed social configuration. Their legacy has been developed beyond the Teknival scene in various directions and is currently being discussed in Open Source Culture with some parallels to Teknival. There are different layers to this history and it is clear that the Teknival scene did not by any means offer the most advanced analysis of the emancipatory potential offered by technology. Looking at the theories of technology that have emerged, both positive and negative, and placing Teknival among such histories we are able to see some of its shortcomings and begin to discuss future strategies. As in the 90s Capital is consistently recuperating any ruptures that appear to open enough space to begin to redefine the social and technical landscape. Unlike Heidegger’s pathetic suggestion that only a God can save us now, it seems much more likely that a critical theory of technology is going to be of more use if we are to agree that ‘what human beings are and will become is decided in the shape of our tools’ (Feenberg: 2002:3).
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Commodities for the Jilted Generation

Thoughts on the presentation of rebellion in the artwork of (Post-)Rave records.

Abstract
On the basis of two drawings I´m going to show the conception of rebellion in record artworks from 1994 and 2003. Based on that I draw conclusions about political ideas as a criticism of ideology. The drawings were part of the artwork of the album „Music for the Jilted Generation“ by The Prodigy and „Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You“ by Kid606. Because the latter is a caricature of the first one it´s possible to spot the commonalities and differences.
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visible and invisible fragments of experiences

– ABOUT BOGOTRAX FESTIVAL –

“Every possible of the individuals is then
a shadow that gives a sound.”
Kierkegaard – in Repetition.

Incipit comoedia

In between a cancerous tumor and the form of a new life, the echo of the city is reproduced through the name of the festival: Bogotá, cold and warm, nasty but full of life and colours. Wasn’t it Allen Ginsberg who that said, “Bogotá was a cancer of the soul”? No, no, it was a Colombian poet, Gonzalo Arango, the founder of Nadaism. Ginsberg would have probably said it was simply a cancer… Unsatisfied with the impressions the ‘’Sud Lands’’ gave to the North American poet, one can be puzzled by what has to be the curse of a soul to be touch by this malefic and material form of biological immortality, i.e cancer1. Sounds like Gnosticism: an immortality against another, immortal dead cells against spiritual life: blessing and curse being deeply mixed.
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You’re too Young to Remember the Eighties – Dancing in a Different Time

It’s easy to forget in this age of all night parties, after-hours clubs and late licensing that there was once a time when all venues were shut by 2am. The early Eighties were a grim time for going out to party. Most discos were overpriced watering holes where entrance meant being scrutinized by door staff checking that you looked respectable. For some reason white shoes were de rigueur. The first album I owned in the late Seventies, which I had listened to religiously on cassette tape, was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It introduced me to the concept of a glamorous nightlife where DJs mixed the beat and beautiful people danced the night away; this was something strictly lacking in the nightclubs of South East London at that time. There, music was strictly soul boy jazz funk and “sophisticated” meant getting down onto the floor to do the rowing boat dance. Going out dancing in Woolwich on a Saturday night was more a case of surviving the beer boys and avoiding handbags strewn on the dance floor.
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A Loop Da Loop Era:

towards an (anti-)history of rave

“The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action. The great revolution introduced a new calendar” (Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History, 1940)

Introduction

We are all familiar with those superficial overviews of ‘popular culture’ in which the same clichéd images are used to denote entire social movements – a few naked hippies at Woodstock standing in for the 1960s counter-cultures, a couple of Mohicans for punk and some gurning ravers in smiley t-shirts for twenty years of electronic dance scenes from acid house to breakcore. In this way history affirms the status quo by suggesting that nothing fundamental ever changes, and the multiple possibilities of negation and creation opened up by these movements are denied.
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