NEW music video work, Derrida, A haunted GAZE...

"[T]he world [is] suspended by some unique tear … reflecting disappearance itself: the world, the whole world, the world itself, for death takes from us not only some particular life within the world, some moment that belongs to us, but, each time, without limit, someone through whom the world, and first of all our own world, will have opened up….”  - Jacques Derrida

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Those who know me doubtlesly appreciate my ongoing fascination with the writings of the late Mark Fisher; one of the great champions of Jacques Derrida.

Fisher's books "Capitalist Realism - Is There No Alternative?" and "Ghosts of My Life" give eloquent shape to the sense of existential "future loss" so many of us feel, swimming in a digital culture defined by 'cultural re-treads' of once radiant fictions.

From widescreen remakes of "Wonderwoman" or "Friends", to a fascination with analogue recording technology, vintage synths (and the recreations thereof) and 'relicked' guitars, the implication persists that a new post-millenial 'authenticity' is measured by ghostly,  nostalgic signifiers, forever locked in the amber of an imagined past few actually experienced.

If "the medium is the message", what then is the message, when the medium resembles an opaque replica (plugin, filter, artificial noise-floor) of an older medium, originally designed for 'transparency'?

We are viewing 'through a glass darkly', only this time intentionally, literally.

Reflections of reflections.

Grafton Tanner's excellent "Babbling Corpse" expands further on notions of 'hauntology' examined by both Fisher and Derrida, examining musical forms like Vaporwave through this lens of the uncanny. It's vital reading, well written and engaging.

As part of of my own teaching and composition work, I've just completed the sketch below - a video response to a piece I composed as part of a previous EP, itself something of an exercise in unwitting hauntology. The video itself is composed entirely of youtube clips, most of which are digitisations of kids' toy advertisements from the 50s to 70s -  including a number for products for "mothers". I'm fascinated by the maternal gaze here, and that of the 'child' - the lines between volition and passivity which the camera imbues both with, and how these parlay with each other, dependent on product and circumstance.

You may well recognise the brief segments I've culled from the Johnson & Johnsons 'Language of Love' commercial(s) - unlikely examples of prescient hauntology in the 80s advertising cannon. We are as disconcerted by this advertisement's unanswered questions, moved by its exaggerated emotional caricature,  framed as voyeurs in an intimately uneasy emotional discourse,

In an era of rampant 'oversharing' on Facebook and Instagram, pre-internet commercials like 1987's "The Language Of Love" are eerily prescient, sitting at a hinge-point between 2nd and 3rd wave Feminism. Prototypical legitimacy via contrived confessional.

Who is this (wealthy?) young mother, so palpably alone in her ward after childbirth?
Where is her partner, family?
Why has her child been taken from her, set to be returned whilst she anxiously waits in psychic limbo?
What is this deep distress which haunts here?
What future awaits which she is so noticeably anxious about?

The dominant tone here is one of deep loneliness, and perhaps a loss of 'self' - an advertisement which speaks to a sudden erasure of one future and the giddy adrenal aftershock of a strange new kind of love.

It struck me enough to create (something of) a video response to.

"The lie is the future, one may venture to say [...]. To tell the truth is, on the contrary, to say what is or what will have been and it would instead prefer the past." - Jacques Derrida
 

When The Future Stopped - a chat with Native Instruments

I recently had a wonderful chat with Native Instruments in Berlin, about.....what happened when the future stopped.... check out the full interview here and linked below....

Perhaps in some sense, it’s a sound aesthetic reacting to the tropes of ‘realism’ or ‘authenticity’, which are the byproducts of the neoliberal sound machine. I’m not interested in the sound of a ‘real 808’, or ‘old-school’ house or techno, or ‘authentic’ tape saturation. These technologies were so vital because they sprung from a time when the ‘future’ was still being invented, and so often now we look ‘back to the future’ which never came to pass.

Ghosts And Wanderings (Mark Fisher)

"And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”  - Genesis 4:11-12

The late, great Mark Fisher is one of the most potent 'latter day' voices in contemporary music critique for me. Like so many of us from his generation (and perhaps a little younger!), I felt like there was a sense that the 'future' we were sold in the 70s and 80s never quite came to pass - infact, in many ways it seemed to stop, abruptly, without warning, in a way none of us had the words to adequately intellectualise.

When we stood back, however, we DID hear a contemporary art and music suddenly sounding very much like the 'past'. What happened? What was lost? What happened to the beating heart of the 'now'?

When did 'authenticity' start to sound like the tape-saturated 60s? When did the vitality and danger of 90s techno suddenly become trope-ified, dogmatised? And more importantly, WHY?

Mark Fisher combines savage, compassionate critiques of neoliberalism with a deep and abiding love of music. There are simply few other writers of his ilk i reference so frequently.

Examining hauntology, hypnagogia and late-stage capitalism, Mark Fisher not only NAMES the sense of existential loss many of us feel in our weird cultural half-light, but perhaps also gives us tools to continue the work of exorcising the demons which terrify us.

He's also a bloody good writer, with a visceral love of electronic music - from Joy Divison to Burial and beyond. Vital, accessible, compassionate reading for anyone invested in contemporary music culture.