The pseudo-dominant hype that comes alongside ontological thinking: a kind of extension of postmodernism’s apolitical arabesques, which then moved into the digital. This most likely reflects a lack of political consequence amongst the wider left in the metropolitan centres. Spare time on their hands, fairly comfortable economic circumstances, and no practical occupation, meant speculations and flights of fancy with ‘radical’ inclinations but no connection to expressed political needs or mobilisation. A theoretical dominance that treads water in the flow of cultural politics.
The analysis of trinkets, objects, souvenirs or commodities remains wholly bourgeois if things are not seen as first up, against the grain, the embodiment of social labour power and prevailing relations of production. From there the examination of class struggle and the relations of production as they shift according to distribution of resources, labour, machinery, market and state becomes the necessary context to understand the role trinkets play in crises, conflicts and historical change. Trinkets do not have autonomy, but are contexted by the political, social and historical conditions they nevertheless allow us to describe. Appearance form.
Am continually amazed at the truly fucked up and arrogant entitlement of the middle class Brit – especially those of that middle class which still claims some distant working class origin. It manifests in a unbroachable passive aggression as if the Empire continued, as it objectively does, for them by right of a trickle down inheritance. It almost makes one prefer the polite but honest nostalgia of the debauched ruling class in their sanatorium suburbs. They at least can be put to work as national treasures and relics. The spectrum of those from rich off shore fund pig fucker to arsehole self-regarding Wikipedia entry tending bureaucrats of the Arts constitute the real impediment to any sort of social transformation in the back of the queue Isles.
Bright side of the current reaction. The decline of the European powers was bolstered by the land grab that was the USA – basically the oppression of indigenous and slave Americans was invested in a temporary world domination culminating in the Marshall Plan and Marilyn (the famous Monroe doctrine of coca-colonisation). But the only America that can be made great again by incompetent boorish land speculator Trump will be his accidental spurring of central and south America towards cross border action. Take a longer view and recognise how the anti-colonial triumphs of the 20th Century will, no doubt in convoluted ways, deliver on the promise of the massive transformations (Russia, China etc) of populations and aspirations for justice in the 21st. The centre is real old and the periphery is on the up, dialectics is not just propaganda but recognition of patterns and analysis of historical shifts. Migration changes the world for the better, and claims to any other outcome are myopic idealism, racist self-harm and stalling of the inevitable.
(On inadvertently hearing The Donald on the radio).
What if: the digital humanities represents a wanna be elaborate theoretical effort with a retrograde political conception and naïve economic complicity – an intellectually restrained class bought off with moderate comforts one step above the austerity imposed by upon the majority lower tiers by a cynically corrupt ruling class.
“This week Ellen Carey talks about her beautiful and ground breaking work, and Rob Green articulates the downfall of the art economy and closing of his gallery while Jessica Backus from Artsy sees a global upswing in art sales and Zlatko Kopljar compares the artist relationship to the capitalist system as similiar to the Stockholm syndrome – where long term hostages start bonding with their captors and acting like them.
More artists and theorists are here talking about what they love, which is why I love doing this.
– the new additions are these on the list below.
National Gallery of Victoria
Book Launch: Lockjaw
Surpllus/Telephone Publishing co-production
Sat 30 Apr, 1.30pm
Part of Melbourne Art Book Fair 2016
Zerox Dreamflesh (1979–1984) worked in the underground and around the edges – but mostly against the grain of – Sydney’s early-1980s postmodern philosophy and art scenes.
Dreamflesh was a loose group of writers, graphic artists and musicians who would have rejected the term “collective” in favour of something more like, say, “gang”. They produced a series of ’zine-ish print objects, music cassettes, colour Xerox postcards and a Super 8 film (The Black Cat, a riff on an Edgar Allen Poe story), working loosely – sometimes all together, sometimes not.
Their work was oppositional, not very accessible (though when you got it, you really got it), and always inspired and inspiring. Lockjaw (1983) – their fourth print object – was probably the most fully realised Dreamflesh project: A5, perfect-bound, part book, part magazine, part cultural terror manual.
Lockjaw was produced in a small run of a few hundred copies using a mix of two-colour xerography, offset and screen printing, and was collated and bound by hand. It was sold in independent bookshops, galleries, music stores and through the mail-art network.
Lockjaw is a multi-layered mix of photocopy, cut-and-paste graphics and text – a mashup of the intellectual and cultural world of 1982. The dense layering of words and images reflects an equally dense intellectual and emotional layering. It’s difficult to read, but rewarding, the writing a mix of metafiction, reflection, edgy philosophy, cultural journalism and existential comedy splashed across the page.
Dreamflesh’s work was produced in the spirit of Situationism and punk rock – it was ephemeral, not meant to last. Their physical traces today are scant: leftover copies of Lockjaw and their other publications (Zerox #1, Zerox #2, La La Sequence Bruit and Cargo, some colour Xerox postcards, and several music cassettes, including Wampum, a companion to Cargo) stashed on bookshelves and in boxes under people’s beds.
This reissue of Lockjaw is a co-publication of Telephone Publishing and Surpllus. The book has been scanned from an original copy and been reproduced by risograph – a 21st century analog to early-1980s photocopy art.
This new edition includes a separate section with essays by George Alexander and Professor Ross Gibson, an introduction by Sonya Jeffery, and a reflection on Lockjaw’s impact on one reader by Matt Holden.
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Booking is not required.