Tortugan tower blocks? Pirate signals from the margins


1. Talented performers belong to the industry long before it displays them

On 16 June 2010 after sixteen years of unlicensed transmission the UK broadcasting regulator OfCom announced that Rinse FM was to be awarded a community radio FM licence. The announcement was enthusiastically reported in the UK press (Rinse FM finally gets the recognition it deserves: Guardian Newspaper UK: 18062010), and received a surprisingly positive response from contributors to the dubstep.co.uk forum.

Rinse’s press release regarding the announcement is low on concrete details but replete with a selection of quotes from gushing music industry ‘supporters’ such as Fergal Sharkey (Director of UK Music) who feels that Rinse has been ‘nurturing the next generation of inner city talent on which our industry and nation is so dependent’, and Guy Moot (President of EMI) who agrees that Rinse ‘feeds into the wider music industry bringing and generating more income’. Rinse echoes these industry comments in its own statement pointing out that they ‘provide a […] grass-roots gateway into broadcast radio and the wider music industry’, while at the same time attempting to reassure its listeners that it will remain in ‘stark contrast to the homogenous radio landscape’. What Rinse either fails to realise or refuses to accept is that it is already part of a homogenised landscape. Rinse’s press release and the accompanying supporting statements demonstrate this, but more interestingly, the texts clearly display the dependence the Culture Industry has on unregulated zones of creativity, and the continued willingness of those involved to capitulate. [Read more →]

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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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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