In the world of modern electronic music and sound art, Ultra-red distinguish themselves for their intrepid blend of political commitment and innovative sound.
In the world of modern electronic music and sound art, Ultra-red distinguish themselves for their intrepid blend of political commitment and innovative sound. Rejecting both self-satisfied formalism and convenient political posturing, Ultra-red have for over ten years pursued a precarious but dynamic exchange between art and political organizing. Collectively, the Los Angeles-based group has produced radio broadcasts, performances, recordings, installations and pubic space occupations (ps/o).
Working within a variety of urban ambiences, Ultra-red have investigated the spaces of needle exchange (Soundtrax, 1992 - 1996), public sex (Second Nature, 1995 - 1998), public housing (Structural Adjustments, 1997 - Present), resistance to global capital (Value System, 1998 - Present), labor (Social Factory, 1997 - 2002) and education (School of Echoes, 2001 - Present). Throughout each of these efforts, Ultra-red have pursued two aesthetic-political objectives: to explore acoustic space as enunciative of social relations and, secondly, to radicalize the conventions of electro-acoustic art.
Founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists, Dont Rhine and Marco Larsen, Ultra-red have expanded over the years to include activists and organizers from a variety of social movements both in Los Angeles and abroad. In 2004, on their tenth anniversary, the four members of the new group launched a restructuring of Ultra-red into an aesthetic-political organization. The newly reorganized Ultra-red permits a greater diversity of projects and campaigns on a local and international level, with multiple groups and alliances taking up the Ultra-red moniker.
Ultra-red has established partnerships with community-based organizations like the Union de Vecinos in East Los Angeles and, internationally, with Ballymun Women's Resource Centre in Dublin, Ireland and the Germany-based migration and anti-racist network Kanak Attak. In addition to these groups, a number of artists have entered into tactical and provisional alliances with Ultra-red for purposes of specific and on-going cooperation. Some of these artists include Eddie Peel (of Sony Mao and Needle), Elliot Perkins (fka Phonem), Terre Thaemlitz, and others. To offer an outlet for the release of projects to come out of these alliances, in 2004 Ultra-red launched Public Record, a fair-use on-line archive for audio, text, image and video documents.
Since the late 1990s, Ultra-red have featured the following four artist-activists: Elizabeth Blaney (artist, organizer, Union De Vecinos), Pablo Garcia (musician, organizer, Woodcraft Rangers), Dont Rhine (artist, AIDS activist), and Leonardo Vilchis (artist, organizer, Union De Vecinos).
More recently, the band has expanded further with new members Manuela Bojadzijev, Janna Graham, Taisha Paggett, Elliot Perkins (formerly Phonem), and Robert Sember.