A double page spread in the first issue of Alien Underground dealt with the (then) threat of the new Criminal Justice Bill (which was to become law in as the 1994 Criminal Justice Act shortly after with minor alterations) in three sections. The first was more of an opinion piece, the second a brief rundown of central sections of the law, the third a report on (then) recent protests. Published in 1994 in Alien Underground 0.0 [Read more →]
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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There have always been gatherings of people who want to let off steam – and there always will be. Our generation seems to prefer massive speakers and bass that shakes your chest to tie-dye and Rock through your parent’s gramophone. For me though, underground events have always been interesting because of the spaces they were in. Abandoned warehouses were brought back to life with an echo of their industrial past; factories next to beaches were blasted with the music of machines, a soundtrack to what that place had now become.
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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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