“The required subject—a collective subject—does not exist, yet the crisis, like all the other global crises we’re now facing, demands that it be constructed.” & “To reclaim a real political agency means first of all accepting our insertion at the level of desire in the remorseless meat-grinder of Capital.” -- M. Fisher
Friday, May 25th, ISSUE is pleased to open Regenerative Feedback: On Listening And Its Emancipatory Potential, a three day symposium of talks, presentations, discourse, and performances centered around biological, social, political and cognitive negotiations in music. Experimental in form, each evening of Regenerative Feedback explores various ethical dimensions, historical circumstances, and cultural resonances of musical artifacts through a series of individual presentations, a roundtable conversation guided by a moderator, interlocuting performances, and extended Q&As.
Taking the general heading SOURCE/CHANNEL/NOISE as a point of departure, the Friday event features presentations from artist and composer Colin Self (returning to ISSUE after the 2014 premiere of The Fool, co-written with 2014 Artist-In-Residence Raul de Nieves), Sukhdev Sandhu (Director of the Center for Experimental Humanities at NYU), UK producer and activist Mannie Dee, music critic and musicologist Adam Harper, Polish electronic noise artist Ewa Justka + artist and EVOL member Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, and art historian Andrew Capetta, who also moderates the panel. In addition, the evening also features interlocuting performances from artist, composer, and former ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Jules Gimbrone and a DJ set from Mannie Dee.
7-9pm: Presentations and Roundtable
In SOURCE/CHANNEL/NOISE, Regenerative Feedback’s various points of discussion embark from considerations of music as “the mirror of reality” (Marx), to music as an “expression of truth” (Nietzsche), to music as a “text to be deciphered” (Freud), or music as “the language of matter” (Schaeffer). Here, there has been an abstract belief in the emancipatory potential of music for generations, embedded in the history of Western thought. Whether this belief rests on its communicative force, on the affirmative power of its affect, on experiential curiosity surrounding sonic formalisms, on a physiological proclivity towards the sonic, or on the evasive nature of sound and the obsession with temporal perception is to be discussed. Whether or not music gave rise to language or language to music, the bio-socio-cultural significance of music remains vastly understudied, particularly with regard to its significance as a driving social and cognitive force.
How can the belief in the compelling power of music be reassessed in light of the present global dischord? Whether society has always been at the brink or whether it is simply just choking in self-made reverberatory echo chambers does not disregard the importance of the felt, urgent call for a reconsideration of present affairs. How does the musical factor into this conversation? How can thinking about a system -- whose very nature rests on the intently organized or purposefully disarranged -- help us in thinking about the cognitive challenges we face as self-acclaimed ‘modern’ beings?
While it is of crucial importance to scientific research that fields specialize and diverge, contemporary investigations which frame any and all types of music as central to the discussion are lacking, especially those that involve the general public. Regenerative Feedback’s extended Q&A sessions that end each evening are an invitation to all audience members to take a leading role in the conversation.
Following Foucault: where there’s power, there’s always resistance. But what if this resistance is not only expected by said power, but actually generated by it? How does one escape this schema? How does one fulfill the role, not of the normalized enemy which power expects, but the role of that which de-normalizes and actually makes power-resistant relationships evolve? Thinking about resistance is a form of resistance as well, we hope. Coming to terms with the insertion of resistance at varying degrees in malicious as well as benevolent systems, is the first step towards the recognition of the malice or benevolence of said systems. This may sound straightforward, obvious even, but it remains relevant to emphasize that doing so together, for the sake of reflection and a more careful understanding of what is at stake, is at the core of social change, real future imaginaries.
While contemporary society allegedly no longer believes that there exists any grounds for trivial superiority or violent oppression, it still religiously abides to the laws of degenerate market systems, dysfunctional democracies, meritocratic opaqueness and other ideological structures which, on top of their de facto injustice, are conditioning a generation of humans who hold a damagingly fragmented view of society and an indifference towards political thought. These structures are, at the same time, the paradigmatic cause of global catastrophes at the level of climate, law and survival of the marginalized. It is time for a new listening that is apt to the conditions of these times.
Regenerative Feedback is an attempt to reconcile new approaches with older methods in order to forge new disciplinary idioms, while attempting to construct new definitions and concepts within fields outside of musicology. The series is an attempt to make popularly available what has often seemed inaccessible to the general public: to attempt to inspire new disciplinary directions, bridge social dialogues, challenge the confines of politics and musicology, and develop stronger motivations and ways to take action.
“We have good reason to be cautious, to be quiet, not to rock the boat. A lot of peace and comfort is at stake. The mental and moral shift from denial of injustice to consciousness of injustice is often made at very high cost.” -- Ursula K. Le Guin
Regenerative Feedback is organized by Sonia de Jager, a Rotterdam-based researcher currently residing in New York, working at the intersection between philosophy of technology, philosophy of language, media studies and cultural analysis. De Jager has stated the following: “Curator is an uncomfortable word these days, and definitely not the role -- as it is most commonly enacted and perceived -- I wish to associate myself with. Having said that, I do want to state as an organizer/initiator/instigator, that despite my general conceptual framing of this project: none of the above would have been possible without the bonds and feedback loops I entered into with other people during the planning of things. From age-long inspiration from friendships and collaborations, to structural and technical suggestions, to the recommending of then-unknown people as possible speakers, to overall moral support and human enthusiasm. This is, above all, a collaborative effort.”
Manni Dee is a London based producer, DJ and engineer with over 15 years experience in the music industry, releasing music on imprints such as Perc Trax and Osiris Music. As uncompromising in sound as he is politically aware, Manni is leading the next generation of London techno artists who continues the city's rich history of producers operating at the more extreme edge of the genre. For Regenerative Feedback, Mannie Dee presents a talk on “Techno as a political tool” -- how identity, exclusivity and a sense of ownership limit the political & emancipatory potential of techno & electronic music. He will be touching upon re-appropriation of black and gay music, classism, access to opportunity and sexism within the scene which so often wears the mask of inclusivity. How the inherent biases of capitalism penetrate the underground, and how escapism and hedonism through sound can be utilised to achieve a greater sense of empathy, acceptance, solidarity and community.
Colin Self is an artist and composer based in Berlin, Germany. He creates music, performances, and environments as devices for making trouble and distributing care. Colin has presented work at The Dutch National Opera, Issue Project Room, The Hammer Museum, MCA Chicago, The Kitchen NYC, and HAU Berlin, amongst various other international festivals. In 2016 he toured internationally with Radiohead as 1/3rd of the Holly Herndon A/V Trio. His last opera, The Fool was co-written with Raul De Nieves and presented at The Kitchen NYC in 2017. Self received his MFA from the Bard Milton-Avery Program in 2017 and runs a non-utilitarian choir internationally. Self is a 2018 resident fellow at Etopia for FUGA in Zaragoza, Spain and will be releasing his second record, Siblings, on RVNG International in late 2018.
Sukhdev Sandhu is organizer of the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University, where he is also Director of the Center for Experimental Humanities. His teachings range from hydropoetics and ghosts to cinema and sound art. His books include London Calling (2003), I’ll Get My Coat (2005), Night Haunts (2007), and Other Musics (2016). A former Critic of the Year at the British Press Awards, he writes for The Guardian, The Wire, Frieze, Sight and Sound, Bidoun, and Suddeutsche Zeitung. He makes radio documentaries for the BBC and runs the publishing imprint Texte und Töne. For Regenerative Feedback, Sandhu presents loosely on music infrastructure with a focus on distribution. How might ideas of network theory, transnational solidarity, and hidden wiring apply to organisations devoted to moving analog data around the world to NYC?
Ewa Justka is a polish electronic noise artist, teacher and instruments builder based in London. Justka’s main field of research is based on exploration of materiality of objects, vibrant, ontological systems (human bodies, plants’ bodies, electronic circuits: varied range of micro and macro environments and relations between them) and an investigation of modes of quasi-direct perception through light-noise performance actions, interactive installation, DIY electronics, hardware hacking, plant-molesting, breaking, deconstructing and collaborating. In her artistic work Ewa attempts to explore the concept of materiality of the hidden. She has performed at Network Music Festival, Birmingham, UK; Supernormal Festival Oxfordshire, UK, Club Transmediale Festival, Berlin; Exploding Cinema, Goldsmiths College, London, UK; STEIM, Amsterdam, NL; Moving Forest, Chelsea College, London, UK; Colour out of Space, Brighton, UK; Beam Festival, Brunel University, London, UK; Cafe Oto, London, UK and more.
Roc Jiménez de Cisneros (Barcelona, 1975) is an artist and member of computer music group EVOL together with Stephen Sharp. Their work together is about time manipulation, space and some of the standards of the techno culture. It has been released with international labels such as Editions Mego, Diagonal, Entr'acte, Presto!?, or ALKU, the label that he co-directs since 1997.
For Regenerative Feedback, Ewa and Roc both present on how the development of early electronic and computer music tools is closely related to imitation. From the interfaces (keyboards similar to the ones used in organs and pianos), to their first applications, which to a large extent replicated previously existing musical structures, much of this rich history was fueled by mimicry. When Max Mathews wrote his famous Daisy Bell, a computer-generated rendition of the popular 1892 tune by Harry Dacre, he was not interested in capturing the uncanny, by that time necessarily eerie effect of a synthesized human voice. Something interesting happens with synthetic sounds that are NOT an imitation of preexisting ones, but completely made up instances of imaginary events. How does a dinosaur roar? How do laser guns sound? Sounds for which there is no standard, no parallel, no precedent. Much like the imitations of pianos and flutes in the early days of electronic music, these synthesized imaginary sounds can also establish themselves as templates for future incarnations. We also propose a workshop to build a DIY custom-designed circuit that is our very personal approach to some of these ideas feeding back on each other. A weird intersection where imitation, emulation and simulation point towards otherness and hybridism.
Adam Harper is a music critic and musicologist. He was written on musical pasts and futures for Wire, The FADER, Resident Advisor and Dummy as well as on his blog Rouge's Foam, and lectures at Goldsmiths and City, University of London, Oxford Brookes University and the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford. He is the author of Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making (Zero Books, 2011). For Regenerative Feedback, Harper presents on “Music and Technology Beyond the Present.” He discusses how underground politics has long struggled with the complexities and ironies of engaging with, adopting, or re-engineering dominant systems (such as authoritarianism, capitalism, technocracy), and not least in its music and art forms. Today those dominant systems are more ubiquitous and more closely woven into emerging technologies than ever before, as seen by the growth of the internet, surveillance, and automation. In what ways can and have artists embraced technology without become mere content providers, cogs in the Machine? What forms of humanity can be abandoned or preserved? Are similar cases from the 1960s onwards comparable or instructive? As ever, musical practice and experience can hint at models for better - or worse - forms of society and its technological mediations.
Andrew Cappetta is a doctoral candidate in the department of Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His forthcoming dissertation, “Pop/Art: The British Art School and the Birth of Underground Music, 1960-1980,” traces the connections between pedagogical changes in British art schools in the late 1950s/early 1960s to the development of underground music. He is an educator at Parsons, The New School for Design, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His writings have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail. For Regenerative Feedback, Cappetta speaks on his dissertation project, tracing the development of underground music in the UK from different sites of experimental art education, both inside and outside the art school. Research subjects include Brian Eno, Genesis P-Orridge, Wire, Gang of Four, The Raincoats, among others. In tracing these developments Cappetta also touches upon Mark Fisher’s work as well as his k-punk blog.
$20 / $15 Limited Early Purchase / $15 ISSUE Members + Students / $30 Series Pass (Exclusive to ISSUE Members)