Saturday, 31 May 2014

Mixcloud - A Woman Under The Influence

Circa 2007, a vintage playlist of emotional dissonance: 

1. Juanita Rogers - Teenager's Letter Of Promises
2. Yellow Magic Orchestra - Wild Ambitions
3. The Crystals - He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)
4. Barbara Lewis - I Can't Break Away (From Your Love)
5. Ennio Morricone - Come Un Madrigale
6. White Noise - Your Hidden Dreams
7. The Beach Boys - The Lonely Sea
8. Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab - The Message
9. Lalo Schifrin - To Cast A Spell
10. Goblin - Sighs
11. The Poppy Family - There's No Blood In Bone
12. The Bitter Sweets - What A Lonely Way To Start The Summertime
13. Julee Cruise - Questions In A World Of Blue
14. Bonnie Dobson - Milk And Honey
15. Michael Cashmore - My Eyes Open
16. The Cryin' Shames - Please Stay

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Daphne Oram - Oramics

Daphne Oram (31 December 1925 – 5 January 2003) was a British composer and electronic musician. She was the creator of the "Oramics" technique for creating electronic sounds.

In 1959 she installed her Oramics Studios for Electronic Composition in Tower Folly, a converted oast house at Fairseat, near Wrotham, Kent. Her output from the studio, mostly commercial, covered a far wider range than the Radiophonic Workshop, providing background music for not only radio and television but also theatre and short commercial films. She was also commissioned to provide sounds for installations and exhibitions. Other work from this studio included electronic sounds for Jack Clayton's 1961 horror film The Innocents, concert works including Four Aspects and collaborations with opera composer Thea Musgrave and Ivor Walsworth.

In February 1962, she was awarded a grant of £3550 from the Gulbenkian Foundation to support the developments and research of her "Oramics" drawn sound technique. This method of music composition and performance was intended by Oram to allow a composer to be able to draw an "alphabet of symbols" on paper and feed it through a machine that would, in turn, produce the relevant sounds on magnetic tape. A second Gulbenkian grant of £1000, awarded in 1965, enabled the Oramics composition machine to be completed. The first drawn sound composition using the machine, entitled "Contrasts Essonic", was recorded in 1968.

Oram left behind a hugely influential body of work when she passed away in 2003, including her famous "Oramics", a process of creating sound through hand-drawn 35mm film strips that were then read by a specially-constructed machine and converted into sound. The Science Museum ran an exhibition showcasing the machine last year; you can watch a short documentary about Oramics on their website. Much of Oram's work, taking in commercial, broadcast and performance commissions, was made after she left the Radiophonic Workshop after only a year due to the BBC's lack of interest in her more experimental work, and was recently collected on the 2007 compilation Oramics.
Ed Ledsham

The Oramics Machine allows the composer to feed a series of slides into the machine which give instructions about pitch, vibrato (the level of pitch modulation), tremolo (the level of volume modulation), overall volume and timbre (basically its harmonic content). Using a brown ink, the composer draws shapes onto the slides which influence those five parameters as they are read. The machine was designed so that there would be some continuously changing (or gliding) parameters, but so that the pitch would be "stepped."

Parameters like vibrato and level involved in expressive playing could be varied continuously but the note's output would fundamentally remain fixed for the duration of the note, not unlike the way in which a modern music sequencer works. Without this consideration, the machine would have sounded something like a Theremin, the familiar gliding synthesizer sound associated with science fiction movies. Instead it could be made to play a series of discreet pitches. In essence, Oram was building a sequencer in the '50s, with a far more complex design than the ones that eventually came to the market which could only influence one parameter of sound at once. We can only speculate as to how it might have impacted on popular music had it been available as a commercial unit in the way the Minimoog, for example, was. The engineer who helped build the system for Oram was a man named Graham Wrench. He had worked in radar technology during the War, and had come into contact with something called a "video mapper" which would scan a photographic image and superimpose it onto the radar image. This principle became the basis of the waveform scanner which was used in the Oramics system, though he adapted the idea to create a more cost-effective solution.

To build the Oramics system, Wrench used a Cathode Ray Tube, a piece of equipment which projects a dot of light onto a screen. (This is the same piece of equipment employed in CRT televisions to create a picture.) A photomultiplier at the other end would detect the presence of light anywhere on the screen. By using the ink-drawn slide to obscure the light at various points, it was possible to create a continuous voltage proportional to the outline of the waveshape drawn on the slide. By repeating this process very quickly—and by scaling the voltage to a sensible level—a continuous tone was produced. A similar mechanism was used to read the shape of complex level, vibrato and tremolo envelopes.

The story of Oram and her work has until now been a question of "What if?" It's clear that alongside names like Stockhausen and Schaeffer she was crucial to the development of electronic music during the '50s. Had her machine been developed and been available in the BBC studios, would it have changed the way people composed popular music? We will never know. Recently, however, the story has become less tragic than it seemed only a few years ago. At the very same point in history that the iOS has made freehand data input an almost universal possibility, interest in Oram's work is experiencing a fresh lease of life. The Oramics application for the iOS platform means that her system can be purchased for experimental purposes by composers who own an iPhone or iPad.
Benji Lehmann

Similar in concept to Yevgeny Sholpo's Variophone optical synthesizer, the Oramics synthesizer encompasses a large, rectangular metal frame upon which pass ten synchronized strips of clear sprocketed 35mm film. Shapes and designs etched into the filmstrips are then read by photo-electric cells and transformed into sounds. Because the output was monophonic, multi-track tapes were required to create polyphonic textures.

The flexibility of control over the nuances of sound production afforded by the relationship between graphics and audio signals nevertheless positioned Oramics as a viable and innovative approach to electronic music production, however, and Oram continued refining her principles across a series of installations and exhibitions. In 1961, she collaborated with film composer Georges Auric to score the Deborah Kerr horror feature The Innocents, and a year later completed her first LP, Electronic Sound Patterns, in addition to writing advertising jingles for brands including Nestea.

Referring to the Oramics equipment, Oram wrote, “One lifetime is certainly not long enough to build it and explore all its potential.” And in fact the Oramics system would eventually move way beyond the drawnsound concept to become part of a far-reaching philosophy of sound. She later described Oramics as “the study of sound in its relationship to life”.

In 1960, as the Oramics studio was taking shape, Oram wrote a futurological manifesto updating Bacon’s New Atlantis and outlining a future soundhouse based on her own hopes and aspirations. She titled it “Atlantis Anew”: “We have also soundhouses, where we practice the healing powers of sound; where we analyze each human being’s innate waveform and induce those harmonics to resonate which have fallen out of sorts; where the criminal is put into a harmless, restful sleep until his mental powers have come to terms with themselves and he is again in harmony with mankind; where man and beast are given the means of communication, one to the other, so that man despises not the animal kingdom, nor any other form of life, no, nor even the ‘inanimate’, but humbly learns the wisdom derived from contact with another aspect.

“Here we learn the harmonic series of the elements, the cycles of the years, the oscillations of the tides, and the induced resonances from those forces far out in space. We explore the sounds which move boulders, the overtones which transmute the metals, but moreover, we acknowledge the wavelength of our own time and respect the existence of beings without that time, finding thereby means to produce summation tones penetrating the very fundamentals of these worlds beyond our frontiers. For here we excite by the subtle higher frequencies the inner consciousness of man linking him, in truth, with the infinite timelessness of that still point where all is comprehended.”

The Oramics equipment provided a holistic approach to sound, whereas conventional synthesizers offered merely a linear approach, with chains of modules connected in sequence. The Oramics machine allowed for close analysis of the interactions between different parameters, and the subsequent modification or amplification of any unpremeditated interplay. These studies of the subtle nuances and interactions between sonic parameters led her to explore the outer reaches of human perception.
Bill Smith

Monday, 26 May 2014

Richard Wentworth - Making Do and Getting By

London, 1999. Making do and getting by, 2000
Richard Wentworth CBE (born 1947) is a British artist, curator and teacher. He was Professor of Sculpture at The Royal College of Art, London from 2009-11.

Wentworth became identified with the New British Sculpture movement. Wentworth’s interest is the juxtaposition of materials and found elements that do not belong together. Wentworth is also interested in the bizarre coincidences of urban life that he documents in photographs.

Richard Wentworth is best known as a sculptor whose work tends to focus on the idea of transformation in alteration and juxtaposition of everyday objects. Looking at his works our perception of our world is changed too, because of the alteration of the connotations of those objects and their inherent symbolism.

The images below are from his photographic series Making Do and Getting By in which he observes the ingenuity of humankind in the appropriation and adaption of everyday objects for new uses, new meanings, and new narratives. A wellington boot becomes a doorstop, a cup becomes a window prop, a brick and piece of board become a ramp, a book becomes a means to steady a chest of drawers (but is rendered impossible to read).
Johanna Dennis

The way objects are arranged in Wentworth’s work bears a strong relationship with the fragility and precariousness of positioning found in the way we deal with objects in daily life. Placing a cup of coffee on top of a book that is just too narrow to hold it completely, is the kind of everyday balancing act that we perform without thinking, and which demonstrates, when we do think about it, just how well developed our sense of natural physics really is.

Often these qualities are combined with a related formal associations. Placed as if laid down to await future use, the two beakers in Lapse look like binoculars, yet do not invite their use in that manner. A single stainless steel beaker and an unglazed earthenware flowerpot are the same shape, and share a visual similarity, yet their differing sizes and textures mean that they are not interchangeable: drinking tends not to be associated with rough, porous surfaces. Paradoxically, these visual similarities force home what it is about the two objects that makes them different and unsuitable for each other’s tasks.

This sense of recognition of difference is touched upon in another recent work, entitled Balcone: a kind of identity parade of farm implements, that plays upon the extraordinary diversity of tools created in different cultures in response to the same basic needs. Perhaps, if it can be said that there are typically English, or Italian, faces, that there may be typically English and Italian tools, whose differences are of variety rather than function. The differences in approach and end product are legible because we understand the needs that formed them. A Spanish hoe and a Dutch hoe may have variations in design, but they are both used to dig up weeds. There is a certain cultural pleasure in discovering their differences, and a sense of satisfaction in the fact that we can identify the items at all.

One of the most surprising aspects of Wentworth’s sculpture is its very legibility . This is echoed in the photographs from the series Making Do and Getting By - Wentworth’s global mapping of imaginative incident - where the same attempts to wedge things open, prevent access and keep things dry are found solved in very similar ways from Barcelona to Peking. Local differences add colour and provide insights into how variables like climate, housing and public facilities may differ from country to country, but the overall impression is one of the extraordinary similarity of situation that people find themselves in the world over, and have to come to terms with using their own devices when readymade solutions are not to hand.
James Roberts

Artist and photographer Richard Wentworth registers chance encounters of oddities and discrepancies in the modern landscape. Renowned mostly for his readymade sculptures but also known for his photographic series, namely Making Do and Getting By, Wentworth is inclined to explore the nuances of modern life and the human role therein.

Mundane snapshots and fragments of the modern landscape are elevated to an analysis of human resourcefulness and improvisation, whereby amusing oddities that would otherwise go by unnoticed become the subject of intent contemplation.

Wentworth captures pictures of improvisation, where objects are removed of their original context, stripped of their ordinary function and yet often rendered functional in an altogether new and unexpected way. A car door serves to mend a wire fence. Wooden crates, wedged into a doorway, exert the function of a door.

There occurs a rupture between object and function, which allows a subsequent rupture between function and meaning. Meaning is no longer hinged on the commonplace and uniform functionality of the mass produced object, but rather augmented by the unfamiliar and, thus, noteworthy new function with which the object is instilled. Wentworth’s photographs bear witness to instantaneous transformations, wherein everything is celebrated for its conversion into something else.

Such encounters with incoherencies in the modern landscape, resulting mostly from the mutation of function, are injected with an inherently human vigour, despite the blatant absence of the human figure. It may even be argued that the centralised objects stand in for the metaphysical human presence they symbolise, precisely by occupying the central foreground, which, in popular amateur photography, is generally inhabited by the human figure.

His subject matter deals primarily with a vision of a deliberately altered modern space of which, in Wentworth’s own words, “the chief components are humans who simply don’t conform to the rules”. It signals a sort of victory over the mass-produced, materialistic modern world, for it is both due to and in spite of the absent human figure, that its unique metaphysical presence becomes manifest.
Just as Wentworth renders the familiar unfamiliar, he converts ordinary situations into insightful remarks on seemingly mundane but rather extraordinary human experiences of modern life.
Renata Bittencourt Grasso

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Self-Portrait Day: The international male escort impersonators of DC's *

* in which volunteers amongst the commenters and readers of DC's were assigned pre-existing escort photos and given the standard template of an escort profile and asked to invent therewith.

Below is my contribution to today's Self Portrait Day at DC's blog. Needless to say, this and every other SP are very much NSFW:  

Le Chat Noir, 34

I am but a space, a void, an abyss. Oh please, I just need someone to fill this emptiness with feelings for a second. You see, that way I can pretend I exist. I’ll be whatever you want me to be and I’ll play whatever role you like. I'm begging you, please give meaning to the empty chasm that yawns inside me. No time wasters.

Dicksize S,M,L or XL
Position Versatile
Kissing Consent
Fucking Flexible
Oral Easy
Dirty Ask
Fisting Active/Passive
S&M No entry
Fetish Negotiable
Client age No restrictions
Rate hour ask
Rate night ask

Thursday, 22 May 2014 update

HRH Kate, Inverted, 2014, collage

Website now updated with new ART, WRITING, DJing and even some ART101 preview action:

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Manuel Göttsching - E2-E4

E2-E4, released in 1984, is the first solo recording album by Ash Ra Tempel / Ashra guitarist Manuel Göttsching. The album consists of a minimalistic hour-long progressive electronic track that is subdivided into single tracks according to the stage of the song. The second half of the record is notable for Göttsching's guitar playing. The album is named after the most popular opening chess move 1. e2-e4 (Which is expressed in long algebraic notation). A noteworthy pun on E2-E4 exists because the guitar is tuned from E2 (the low string) to E4 (the high string).

The album was named as one of the best 1980s albums for its important role in the development of house music and techno of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sueño Latino sampled E2-E4 on its 1989 song "Sueño Latino." In 1995, the German electronic music duo (and label) Basic Channel (Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald) released a remix of E2-E4 titled "e2e4 Basic Reshape" on the BCD compilation album.

E2-E4, one of the few records Göttsching released under his own name, has earned its place as one of the most important, influential electronic records ever released. It's also the earliest album to set the tone for electronic dance music; simply put, it just sounds like the mainstream house produced during the next two decades. Similar to previous Ashra albums like New Age of Earth and Blackouts, it does so with a short list of instruments -- just the nominal drum machine and a pulsing guitar line in the background plus some light synthesizer work. What sets it apart from music that came before is a steadfast refusal to follow the popular notions of development in melody and harmony. Instead, E2-E4 continues working through similar territory for close to an hour with an application to trance-state electronics missing from most of the music that preceded it. Though the various components repeat themselves incessantly, it's how they interact and build that determines the sound -- and that's the essence of most electronic dance music, that complex interplay between several repetitive elements.
John Bush

In December 1981, Manuel Göttsching was due to fly from his native Berlin to Hamburg. In need of some music for his Walkman, he decided to record an idea that he was working on. Thirty-two years later, the reverberations of his work in Studio Roma that Saturday evening are still being felt. In terms of modern dance music's DNA, the hour-long piece that he produced, E2-E4, is as important as any disco, funk or Kraftwerk record. Recorded in one take, with Göttsching improvising keyboards and noodly guitar over its insistent synthesizer patterns and metallic percussion – a process made possible by the recent advent of the sequencer – E2-E4 distilled the classical minimalism of Terry Riley and Steve Reich into a groove that became a Paradise Garage anthem. In 1989, it was rebooted by Italians Sueño Latino as a rave era chill-out classic.

"When I found out E2-E4 was played in clubs, I couldn't imagine people dancing to it," he says. "There's not a strong bass drum and the rhythm is very subtle. I took ideas from dance music, but my composing goes more into the minimalist style of Steve Reich, Philip Glass. It could be played with an orchestra." He reminds us that when E2-E4 was finally released in 1984, at the height of synth-pop, the critics hated it. "The first German critique called it complete 'muzak' and said that I'd missed every development in electronic music and I didn't know anything."
Tony Naylor

I first heard this at a club in Philadelphia called The Black Banana. My good friend GiGi, then married to legendary photographer Maripol, would play there weekly. One morning around 4am he played this as the last song. He had two copies, so played the entire song, and I was absolutely floored. I was put into a trance and transported to another dimension for sure.

The soft synth drums, the polyrhythmic arpeggios and dreamy guitar provided the most captivating combination of elements ever. I was a fan of Ashra Tempel, so when I found out who it was, I was very excited to find this. I had just started working at Tower Records in Philly and was the 12″ vinyl buyer. The first record I ordered was this one - I sold at least 100 of these and more CDs!

To this day, I play this once a week.
King Britt 

When it happens, just happens. And nothing happens at random,this for both normal and special things.But only the special things happen by pure magic, or some strange astral combination, the dance in zero gravity between immanent and transcendent,any disengagement of some here and some drawings up there. The ability to express the totality of himself is a cumbersome venture, not automatic, often unattainable, often isn't enough a life. The ex-leader of Ashra(-Ra Temple), the kraut-deutsch guru Manuel Göttsching did it a quarter century ago,when he was thirty and came from important discs and experiences. An evening like many others, December 12/1981, a saturday, he was in concert mood (just returned from a tour with Klaus Schulze), enters his home studio armed with synth and guitar. And an hour of music was born. Something that scares at beginning and rhymes with perfection. After much reflections, doubts and afterthoughts, and only after the counsel of usual Schulze and especially three years laters, he decides to publish the session. "E2-E4", cover a chessboard on cold beige and brown, sees the light and its light changes the course of history(at least the music one). But what's E2-E4? For a human, the easiest opening move in chess. For a REAL human, the dream of life. A persistent of creamy syntethic geometries who proceeds to Nirvana escorted by a spastic latin beat and in its peak by a guitar that now we can define "balearic". THE loop by definition. And the thing that will change forever the DNA of house(Larry Levan says thank you!), will leave breathless the Motor City and its early visionaries (Derrick May and Carl Craig say thank you!). Nevertheless it's not a dance piece. But it will fall in love all the freaks, from ambient heads to ibicencans, and it will be sampled till'death (Sueno Latino, D2-D2, etc...etc...). But it's impossible to speak of "E2-E4" in terms of human technology, if you've that heart and that head, it will never leaves your lives. My all-time favourite record, my soul, my end. Rated 10/5.  DrexciyenStarChamber

CC Presents the KEN/DA KEN Zine Launch 22.05.14 @ Contour Cafe, Aberdeen

CC Presents the KEN/DA KEN Zine Launch.


Contour Cafe // 6.30 - 9.30 PM

Drinks, zines, art and nibbles available all evening.


Tunnels Aberdeen // 10.30pm - Late

£3 Entry to After party.


Monday, 19 May 2014

Rineke Dijkstra - The Buzz Club

The Buzz Club, Liverpool, England/Mysteryworld, Zaandam, Netherlands, 1996-1997

Rineke Dijkstra (born 2 June 1959 in Sittard) is a Dutch photographer. She lives and works in Amsterdam.

In 1997 Dijkstra made a series of one-minute videos taken in two night clubs. After selecting her models from the clubbers, Dijkstra let them perform as they wanted in front of the camera, as in The Buzz Club, Liverpool, England, March 1, 1997. Dijkstra's portraits differ from those shot by other documentary photographers such as Wolfgang Tillmanns during the 1990s, both in her use of obviously posed compositions and in the distance that she creates between herself and her models in their often startled, confrontational expressions. Presenting a variety of models ranging from matadors to shop assistants, Dijkstra draws not only on the history of documentary portrait photography represented by August Sander and others, but also on the history of portrait painting as well as on each model's desire to present his or her own imagined image.
Catherine M. Grant

Is that desire to photograph teenagers also what kicked you off on your clubber portraits and videos, like the Buzz Club installation?

First of all, there was the club itself. I was a clubber myself when I was much younger. So I went to clubs when I was 14, and I always liked that. I was in Liverpool and I was photographing school children and my assistant was also a clubber, so after shooting we went to the club. We ended up in the Buzz Club, which we really liked, and I thought, wow, I should make pictures here.

How did you move from still photography into the video format?

I liked the club pictures, but they were missing something — the atmosphere of the club and the people moving and dancing and talking. So that brought me to video. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of the club, and that was missing in the photos.

Perhaps the most fascinating (if not disturbing) presentation in this retrospective is the twenty six minute two-channel video projection The Buzz Club. This video was shot over a span of two years, but seems as if it all takes place in one or two nights. A voyeuristic trip through beat clubs in Liverpool, UK and Zaandam, Netherlands, the film is rhythmic and hypnotic, alternating channels in sometimes subtle minimalism, and at other times oddly off sync. The club kids dance as well as smoke, chew gum, and drink beers (often simultaneously). Whereas the adolescents on the beach appear vulnerable and awkward, the kids in The Buzz Club exude confidence and power. Dijkstra has entered their world and they are in control. Dijkstra captures this world in her familiar usage of extended timing and anticipation. The video is excruciatingly slow at times, revealing much more of a photographic nature than the fast pace typical of video. Patience is required for viewing all of Dijkstra's videos.
Christopher H. Paquette

I can’t remember a show where the audience stood for so long in front of a series of images of ordinary people. The same can be said of Dijkstra’s video in which she isolated teenagers against a white background in two night-clubs (The Buzz Club in Liverpool, England and Mystery World in Zaandam, Netherlands) and videoed them dancing, mainly alone, to the camera. Each of them, of course, responded differently to the absence of those clubbing staples, dim lights and crowds - they danced self-consciously and smoked defiantly. Some flirted with the camera, others looked almost annoyed. Most of them, despite trying very hard not to be, looked very young, rather forlorn, sweet even. The audience watched, riveted. The film was long and repetitive, but mysteriously and compulsively viewable. At moments it was hilarious, but never in a cruel or ironic way. It was touching and hilarious because people, especially in clubs, where their posturing and vanity and shyness and lack of confidence are exaggerated, often look silly. A lot of people laughed.

Dijkstra works hard to make photographs and videos that look effortless. At first it seems she has a real talent for finding interesting people, but then, given this much attention, anyone could look fascinating. Her concentration, however, is never sentimental, effusive or patronising, and it’s this quality that makes her such a deeply compassionate artist. She validates and exalts people’s natural curiosity about each other, stripping away layers of artifice until all that is left is the artifice of photography itself.
Jennifer Higgie

Sunday, 18 May 2014

They Had Four Years @ Generator Projects 17.05.14 - pictures

To the Generator last night for the opening of They Had Four Years, an annual exhibition of recent graduates. The work was "united by the tension between the conflicting desires of escapism or flight from the normalised expectations of day-to-day life against an appreciation of the guidance and security many supporting structures, narratives or associations provide." I took a few photos and here they are:

TH4Y is an acronym of They Had Four Years

Flo Gordon takes inspiration from the concept of “instinctive humor’, the notion that amusement can be found in colour combination, irregular shapes, challenged symmetry or even the banal and utterly bland. She presents paintings made from plasticine, giant fried eggs sculpted from laundry sheets, and an indoor miniature rainbow created over a Mr. Blobby mountain. 

Flo Gordon

Flo Gordon

Flo Gordon

Flo Gordon

Ailsa MacKenzie combines her interests in belief systems and mathematics to create an installation inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Covered in two-dimensional art works
and involving a sound piece, the installation becomes a self-reflexive labyrinth that viewers become immersed in. 

One of the exhibition highlights is a functional censer which burns homemade incense created by Fleming-Wyfold Bursary winners, The Brownlee Brothers. Inspired by Fraser Brownlee’s time in Florence while on the RSA, John Kinross scholarship, the censer uses found objects from flea markets and skips in and around Florence.

MaryBeth Quigley’s HEART is the first of a series of works inspired by the Blue Whale, the largest known animal to have ever existed. Her sculptural replica of a Blue Whale heart is roughly the size of a car and visitors are invited to walk through and interact with the piece.

A video work shows the heartbeat recorded and played around various different locations in a two mile radius, the distance at which a Blue Whale’s heart beat can be heard, of GENERATOR.

Jonny Lyons drew from his experiences during his John Kinross scholarship in Florence’s Oltrarno Quarter, well known for its artisans working in sculpture, carpentry and metal work. He presents hand-crafted relics and a video work documenting a lone journey through the cairngorms national park pulling a handcart.

Text from the gallery press release.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Jon Savage - England's Dreaming

Jon Savage (born 1953), is the pen name of Jonathon Sage, a Cambridge-educated writer, broadcaster and music journalist, best known for his award winning history of the Sex Pistols and punk music, England's Dreaming, published in 1991.

England's Dreaming, published by Faber and Faber in 1991, was lauded as the definitive history of punk music, and remains the single most comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon. It was used as the basis for a television programme, Punk and the Pistols, shown on BBC2 in 1995, and an updated edition in 2001 featured a new introduction which made mention of the Pistols' 1996 reunion and the release of the 2000 Pistols documentary film, The Filth and The Fury. A companion piece, The England's Dreaming Tapes, was published in 2009.

The most remarkable aspect of the Punk movement is that it was largely engineered by a shallow, politically disinterested, art school failure (multiple times) who turned clothier to young Brits in the late 60s and early 70s. Malcolm McLaren flirted with the works of such disparate entities as the Situationists, the French Anarchists and even the Fluxus crowd, but he was a largely directionless man who went with the capitalist tide and sold anything to anyone, regardless of political stripe. He was more fascinated, it seems, with the violence inherent in class struggle (and the polarity found within the underclass) than he ever hewed to any ideology of his own. The first 100 pages sets up this scenario with great historical detail, then the book takes off with blazing speed to detail the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols.

Nihilism, Feminism and Racism are all intersecting themes during one of the most fascinating points in modern history--one which also helped consolidate the conservative movement that led to Thatcherism in the face of unfounded fears of the individualism in Punk (followed soon by Reaganism here).

Legs McNeil offered a fine document of the American scene, but Savage's book is an intellectual triumph. He weaves the painful personal stories with history, economics and class struggle in a very compelling manner that makes this essential reading for people who want to understand current affairs and social movements that have nothing at all to do with Punk.

Old habits don’t just shrivel up and choke in Britain. They retreat to the back of our psyches and haunt us like grim spectres in black cloaks, armed with the glimmering threat of our own bad conscience. As an island nation, we’re hard-wired into it.

Take, for example, our time-honoured tradition of exalting figures simply because they demand to be exalted. Look at the monarchy or reality TV stars — what a stinking bunch of meritless rotters they are. But who keeps them ticking along? We’re all complicit in this game.

Books however, like Jon Savage’s history of the original punk movement, England’s Dreaming, pour light on what happens when we do attempt to deal with these issues. At the time, the Pistols weren’t just taking aim at Queen Liz, but — by manipulating the media through outrageous TV appearances, scandalous live performances and artful political sloganeering — the value of what it meant to be a public figure too. Savage, a Cambridge-educated Baby Boomer, remembers it well.

“It was more emotional when it started,” Savage recalls. “It only became politicised once people started writing about it and when The Clash started singing about tower blocks. The Sex Pistols were never so specific. They were stage-managed, but that doesn't mean they weren't real. There's a lot bad class faith in popular culture and music, and a lot people try and drop down their class by a notch, which is a bit pathetic. You are who you are — get on with it. When Savage published England’s Dreaming in 1991, it wasn’t just another stale reappraisal of punk’s legacy; it was the first, and is still perhaps the best, book of its kind. With an even focus on key players and minor figures alike, told by a man who witnessed the entire shebang while writing for NME rival Sounds, it provided a window into an era that is still much fought over.
Huw Nesbitt

This eclectic collection, purchased from music journalist and cultural historian Jon Savage in 2002, documents the history of the Sex Pistols and the whole of the punk era.  The collection consists mainly of the source materials for England's Dreaming: the Sex Pistols and Punk Rock, Jon Savage's definitive account of punk in British society in the 1970s.  Punk was not just about music or clothes: it reflected a core of dissatisfaction and resentment built up at the end of a decade that saw the introduction of the 3-day week in Britain, strikes, increasing unemployment and collapsing public services.  The England's Dreaming collection provides an opportunity to examine more closely a period now recognised as a crucial point in British twentieth-century social history.

The contents include fanzines, posters, fliers, graphic designs, original letters and documents, photographs, notebooks and much more.  The collection has recently been catalogued and the England 's Dreaming Catalogue shows what is available for research.  If you are interested in viewing any of the items from this collection please consult the Special Collections and Archives home page for access arrangements and contact the LJMU Archivist to arrange an appointment. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Bought a few items:

Juliet Escoria - Black Cloud (Civil Coping Mechanisms), £7.77

Marc Weidenbaum - Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II (Bloomsbury Academic), £4.27

Dennis Cooper - Gone: Scrapbook 1980-1982 (Infinity Land Press), £35.00

Grace Jones ‎– Nightclubbing (Deluxe Edition) (Island) 2LP + MP3, £20.99

Saturday, 10 May 2014

ART101 appendix 1 - images

As progress with ART101 continues, what follows is an assortment of stock images to be used in combination with the film footage: