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“Rational conduct depends not only upon knowing what is really happening and being able to interpret it, but on having present in our minds a representation of what is going to happen next. This representation is not an account of what is the case, but a continuous prognosis of what is about to be reported to us as being the case. It is a prognosis continuously corrected by feedback.”
-- Stafford Beer
Sunday, May 27th, ISSUE is pleased to present the final evening of 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 SIGNAL/MODEL/FEEDBACK as a point of departure, the Sunday event features presentations by composer of “NIHILIST QUEER REVOLT MUSIK” Dreamcrusher, writer and lecturer Sami Khatib (focusing on the thought of Walter Benjamin), Oakland-based multidisciplinary sound artist Neha Spellfish, Stockholm-based cultural theorist Jon Lindblom (with work mainly focusing on rehabilitating the grand dimensions of cultural and aesthetic modernism), and author and scholar Paul Rekret. The panel is moderated by Colin Self. In addition, the evening also features interlocuting performances from London-born producer, writer and DJ Flora Yin-Wong, as well as Colin Self presenting a talk and demonstration of Xhoir, a non-utilitarian choir focused on alternative modalities of group singing.
6-8pm: Presentations and Roundtable
9:30-10:00pm: Xhoir with Colin Self
In musical perception there is no correct way of listening, as there is no correct way of producing “creative sound.” The understanding of any given piece of music depends merely on the capacities of the hearing parties and their willingness to listen. Moreover, different musical materials touch upon different abilities to discern meaning: beats, screams, melodies and noise all appeal to different types of subjectivities and somatic constraints. One does not need to have even the most basic knowledge of musical concepts in order to listen with understanding. Music happens, brains process and predict: predict and process. Sometimes one hears, sometimes one listens. The medium that is sound escapes rigorous scrutiny in that it cannot be grasped. As artist Jules Gimbrone has argued: “Sound is the most queer medium in the sense that it is both physical and uncontainable and doesn’t have the bounds that other forms do.” Sound does not conform to a structure which humans can delineate, confine or define. What one person takes away from a musical piece may completely slide off another as total nonsense. What makes one body thrive and feel empowered may make another shiver and coil up.
However, the potential contained within musical materials -- as objects which can bridge mental capacities and provide meaningful exchanges between individuals -- is one of the most interesting aspects of the medium. The bridging of our respective mental conditions is what rests at the very core of our capacity for empathy and understanding, as Krista Tippett suggests in Becoming Wise: “I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience. And once I have a sense of your experience, you and I are in relationship, acknowledging the complexity in each other’s position, listening less guardedly.” Music inspires a sense of “listening less guardedly,” and this challenges our understanding of meaningful interaction on a plurality of levels. Music as target-less intentionality, music as “increasing/sharpening” our perception, music as mental space, music as a voice, music as the chance to take action, music as a radical shift in awareness, music as a critical commentary, music as (censored) political advances, music as a bridge between communities, music as sensibility and affect, music as the radically progressive and the cautiously conservative, music as advocacy and secrecy, music as sound and form, music as the plural in the individual and vice versa, music as solitude and music as collectivity, music as noise, music as arduous effort, music as simple mindlessness, music as the massively popular, and music as the cornered underground, etc.
But while some of these ends are admirable, clearly: reality demands more. This series attempts to rehash utopian aspirations to learn how to think, hear and listen anew. One cannot ignore the urgency to take action in light of the global sociopolitical vacuity. The devastating and nearly irreversible results of the celebration of ignorance in the face of disaster urge a rethinking of desires and capacities. The challenge was always outside, but society is now in the process of realizing what it has become -- or what it always was -- a particularly human challenge. In honor of Mark Fisher’s legacy, Regenerative Feedback organizes thought around the light at the end of the tunnel, around the hope for our capacity to change. Taking advantage of the spectacle-ethos of culture, constant spectatorship -- or auditorship -- offers a chance for at least a few Trojan horses.
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.”
Referring to their work as "Nihilist Queer Revolt Musik," Dreamcrusher is a gender non-binary straight-edge vegan from Wichita, Kansas. Their harsh, distorted music owes as much to power electronics as to industrial, rave, goth, and shoegaze. While associated with the experimental noise scene, Glass has trouble relating to many of its more alienating tendencies. Undeniably challenging and intense, Dreamcrusher's music is inclusive of blown-out melodies, pulverizing beats, and sometimes bleary vocals. After releasing a few EPs of original material, Glass began performing live shows in 2012. Soon after, their unique, uncompromising music and confrontational performances began attracting attention from various corners of the underground music world. Cassette releases quickly appeared on labels like This Ain't Heaven Recording Concern and Dionysian Tapes. In 2014, Chicago-based Hausu Mountain released Dreamcrusher's Suicide Deluxe (previously self-released digitally in 2013) to much acclaim. Glass raised money to tour across the country, and relocated to Brooklyn in 2015. By the end of the year, Dreamcrusher signed to Fire Talk, which released Hackers All of Them Hackers. In March of 2016, the label reissued nearly a dozen items from Dreamcrusher's back catalog in addition to releasing a newly recorded EP titled Quid Pro Quo.
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.
For Regenerative Feedback, Colin Self presents Xhoir, a non-utilitarian choir focused on alternative modalities of group singing. Rooted in somatic research and experimentation, the goal of Xhoir is to foster a generative environment for individuals to connect with voice and vocality on an individual and collective level. Since its inception in 2013, the project has stemmed into a decentralized international choral project with multiple leaders and continues to evolve in creating new opportunities for choral participation. For (name of event), Self will be mapping the impetus and current pathways of Xhoir in relation to cognitive activism, deep listening, and somatic research.
Flora Yin-Wong is a London-born producer, writer and DJ, working with field recordings, dissonance, and influences from contemporary club culture. Part of the Berlin-based label PAN, she has played its Berghain and Bloc showcases, as well as across the UK, Europe and Asia. In summer 2017, she curated and performed her first live shows at Cafe OTO. As a producer, her debut EP 'City God', a tape release on New York’s PTP, was followed up by releases on PAN's ‘mono no aware’ double LP, contributions to the Objects Ltd imprint and Caridad Records alongside Lolina (Inga Copeland) and IVVVO. She has remixed for the likes of Halcyon Veil's Celyn June, to Eaves and Scintii, and is currently working on a book and collaborative tracks for Milan's Haunter Records and Holodisc in Stockholm/London.
Neha Spellfish is the convergence of the speculative and the experimental, a recollection of natural sound phenomena and exploration of the oceanic subconscious. A project of Oakland-based multi-disciplinary sound artist Neha Chriss.
Sami Khatib taught at Freie Universität Berlin, Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht, American University of Beirut and Akademie der bildenden Künste Vienna. He is a founding member of the Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR). Currently, he is a researcher at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg. He is author of the book “‘Teleologie ohne Endzweck’: Walter Benjamin's Ent-stellung des Messianischen" (Tectum, 2013).
For Regenerative Feedback, Khatib will elaborate on Walter Benjamin: "Each season brings, in its newest creations, various secret signals of things to come. Whoever understands how to read these semaphores would know in advance not only about new currents in the arts but also about new legal codes, wars, and revolutions. – Here, surely, lies the greatest charm of fashion, but also the difficulty of making the charming fruitful.” (W. Benjamin, Arcades Project)
Jon Lindblom is a cultural theorist and editor based in Stockholm/Sweden. His research examines the link between formalism and utopianism in cultural and aesthetic modernism, as well as the distribution of modernist experiments in post-war and contemporary popular culture. In addition, he is also working on developing a publishing platform and imprint that operates at the junction between the popular and the academic, and explores the novel opportunities for publishing provided by digital technology.
For Regenerative Feedback, Lindblom speculates on how to rebuild the circuit between the experimental/theoretical and the popular within a late capitalist/digital culture That is, if the physical cultural spaces that we are familiar with since the post-war decades are now becoming more or less obsolete, how do we create digital cultural spaces capable of supplementing and even replacing them without falling into the deadlock between intellectualism and populism (focusing on sound and listening in particular)?
Paul Rekret is author of Down With Childhood: Pop Music and the Crisis of Innocence (Repeater 2017) and Derrida and Foucault (Rowman & Littlefield 2017) and has published widely on social and political theory. His writing on music has appeared in the Quietus, Cesura//Acceso, and the New Inquiry among others and he is host of Beholder Halfway, a series of radio essays on music politics broadcast monthly on Resonance.E
For Regenerative Feedback, Rekret presents “Work It: Dance, Labour, Capitalism.” The demand to “work bitch” (Britney Spears) or “work hard/play hard” (David Guetta and others) is typically interpreted as a new genre of motivational music. Where music demands we work, the claim goes, ideology folds back on itself so that “party culture” is now an inherent part of work. One’s work and one’s identity become inseparable: Personal brands or walking CVs, our very humanity, including our leisure, is subsumed by the demand to work. But these sorts of arguments, that contemporary culture has totally subsumed pleasure and leisure, understand music as a passive zone of reception for the dominant culture. Moreover, given the long history of exhortations to “work it” in dance music, what might in the first instance appear as the intensification of labour through leisure, might in fact prefigure a post-capitalist transcendence of work. Dance, after all, directs human activity much as wage labour does, but it does so for no function and towards no particular goal. Looking to the history of invocations to “work” in the history of popular music, from the early 20th century to the 21st, this presentation examines the shifting coordinates in the relation between music, dance, and work in order to uncover a much more complex and varied set of meanings to the demand to “work it”.
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