Reviews

FLESH MACHINE

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Critical Art Ensemble
Autonomedia, 1998

Critical Art Ensemble’s first two volumes, The Electronic Disturbance and Electronic Civil Disobedience, established that they’re among the few people saying something coherent about ‘nomadic power’, and even more unusually, proposing an organizational model for resistance. Flesh Machine promises to extend their critique of techno-politics to cover bodily experience and the role of health administration.
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Chrome

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San Francisco mid-seventies, a dark shadow is hanging over Height Ashbury, hippie burnouts populating the streets – Deadheads, locked in a new nostalgia in the face of the grim reality of 70’s re-consolidation. LSD still pumping in the bloodstream, having been consumed in absurd quantities in the previous decade, but Tim Leary had turned snitch for the state prosecution and had not reinvented himself yet as cyberspace guru and Marlboro rights campaigner as he would in the even grimmer 80’s.
The Weather Underground, who had understood that the solution to Vietnam was not to just stop the war, but to bring the war back home, had been beaten.
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“INVOLUTIONARY MUSIC”

Ultra-red: Second Nature – An Electroacoustic Pastoral [Mille Plateaux]

“Thus it was the time of year at which the Bois de Boulogne displays more separate characteristics, assembles more distinct elements in a composite whole than at any other” (1)

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A CD of aural psycho-geography that draws documentary and acoustic sources from a three-year project spent in and around LA’s Griffith Park. This park, a well-known site for public sex, is presented as the locus for a political struggle against the specific targeting, entrapment and policing of homosexual men: “to turn a back on the park is to turn back on a sexuality liberated from identity”.
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MINISTRIES OF THE ORGASM

‘Sexpol’ in Reich and Makavejev

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On the night NATO blew up the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavian (Serb) director Dusan Makavejev’s film WR: Mysteries of the Organism was shown for one night only at the NFT in London.
Given that ‘WR’ stands for ‘Wilhelm Reich’, and ‘organism’ flimsily disguises ‘orgasm’ (a euphemism supposedly urged by censors), it’s hardly surprising that institutional Western bohemia has loved the work since it it first appeared in 1971. Portly, bearded English critic Raymond Durgnat, the author of a recent monograph on the subject, claims it on behalf of all those turned off by ‘unpleasure’ in Godard and Brecht. Nearly 30 years later, free love and ideological boxing have disappeared into demographic margins for error (at least as practices), but Reichian notions of sexual ‘repression’ and organic psychology have taken over the asylum, so to speak, setting the policy agenda for the coming century.
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“LONG LIVE DEATH”

On Pasolini’s Salo

The attempt to deny differences is a part of the more general enterprise of denying life, depreciating existence and promising it a death where the universe sinks into the undifferentiated
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Being one of the most celebrated films that has yet to be issued with a certification by the British Board of Film Classification, Pasolini’s Salo is perhaps the most controversial of all banned films in a list that includes Clockwork Orange and Straw Dogs. In many ways it is easy to see why Pasolini’s film has created such a furore. Critically acclaimed yet hardly ever seen, Salo, from its banning in Italy to its seizure by the Met’s Vice Squad in August 1978, is possibly the most provocative and disturbing political film ever made. [Read more →]

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