|nettime on Mon, 21 Jun 1999 21:23:40 +0200 (CEST)|
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|firstname.lastname@example.org: WAR!: A LIVE INTERACTIVE RADIO PERFORMANCE|
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - <email@example.com> is the temporary home of the nettime-l list while desk.nl rebuilds its list-serving machine. please continue to send messages to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and your commands to <email@example.com>. nettime-l-temp should be active for approximately 2 weeks (11-28 Jun 99). - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 00:32:13 -0400 To: nettime@Desk.nl From: Drazen Pantic <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: WAR!: A LIVE INTERACTIVE RADIO PERFORMANCE WAR!: A LIVE INTERACTIVE RADIO PERFORMANCE conceived by Brian Conley 'WAR!' is a radio performance that occurs in two radio stations linked together via the Internet for on-air interplay. In this performance, a group of 10 audio artists will be situated in each station armed only with cartoon sound effects. Restricting themselves to these sound effects, the groups will interact as organized opponents, rather than coordinated sympathetic allies as in most musical collaboration. The artists will participate in an imagined theatre of conflict / struggle for domination. 'WAR!' is intended to be a public radio event that reflects upon 'civilized' man's capacity for organized aggression and violence. The performance is a satirical imitation of a horrific and totally repugnant, but entirely common, state of human affairs. The structure of this project arose from asking the question: How can one respond, within the domain of art, to organized cruelty? Documentary film - to show it as it is - is, of course, one mode, but in the videodrome cruelty can become not only neutralized but fetishized. As a reaction to these possibilities, Conley decided to retract from direct representation. Instead, he thought it would be effective to draw a group of artists together and present a symbolic situation in which the insanity could be made manifest. In this project, two groups of highly creative and skilled artists utilize only cartoon sound effects to generate a symbolic struggle for domination. The two groups employ everything at their disposal - intelligence, strategy, organization, creativity, technology - to oppose and dominate the other. Participants prepare a group of soundtracks to be used according to the unpredictable nature of the live interplay between the two groups. Each group structures itself in whatever way it sees fit, though Conley suggests they employ strategies described by various theorists of war such as Sun Tzu, Von Clausswitz, or, more recently, Van Creveld. In the 2,000 year old text The Art Of War, Sun Tzu gives prescriptions for handling conflict and the waging of war, the primary aim of which is to not do battle. But if battle is unavoidable, he gives philosophical and strategic guidelines for conducting it, such as planning a siege, assuming a seductive or unassuming presence, or using surveillance agents. For example, Sun Tzu says 'Maintain Discipline and adapt to the enemy in order to determine the outcome of the war. Thus, at first you are like a maiden, so the enemy opens his door; then you are like a rabbit on the loose, so the enemy cannot keep you out.' The two opposing groups use such strategic theory to conduct this battle, whose terrain is the domain of the audio and whose aim is victory. Although "victory in the domain of the audio" is rather hard to grasp, it is nevertheless central to the project and its atmosphere of the ridiculous. It can be said, however, that with victory as the goal, the aim is, in general terms, to control the character of the audio event. This, of course. cannot be accomplished in the broadcast by attempting to make the most or loudest noise. That would result in nothing more than mutual self-destruction, i.e. white noise. Strategies for victory must be subtle, imaginative, cunning and, ultimately, commanding. With respect to the restriction to cartoon sound effects: Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek says that for the Modernist it is the loss of God that creates the 'central absence' for man. Contemporary ennui though, he continues, results from the recognition that the central absence is within mankind itself. And within that 'incarnate absence' lurks Kafka's 'Supreme Being of Evil'. One of the clearest delineations of this 'incarnate absence' and the desire to act from it can be found in even the earliest animated cartoons, whose characters are rapt in endless choreographies of beating, bludgeoning and domination that is done in 'good humor' and with a sense of startling ordinariness. Cartoons (from Koko the Clown to Bugs Bunny for example) are no doubt humorous, but beneath their surface and especially in their repertoire of sounds, there is a remarkable level of brutality. Because of this and because cartoons are agents of socialization used to wean children from their parents, these sound effects are, Conley believes, an appropriate vehicle for manifesting the perverse and socially reinforced communal death-affirming propensity in man. This project was conceived of with the war in Yugoslavia in mind, while the organizer was there several years ago. The broadcast is a reflection upon 'civilized' man's capacity for collective acts of violence and aggression. The project is in the form of a radio event so that active participants create a symbolic spectacle, live and in public, which arrives in the listener's livingroom relatively unnanounced. Within this framework the participants adopt convincingly belligerent roles: they have to perform acts of group directed, group sanctioned, aggression. In response to this project an acquaintance said 'I do not see the creation of music, however experimental and irreverent, as a struggle for domination. Musicians playing together are not opposing factions.' And in an attempt to produce an event without precedent, that is precisely why this performance is organized around opposing factions. The structure of this project is not meant to create new compositional modalities, advance musical culture, or to claim untraveled artistic terrain. This project has nothing to do with music or hip-tip entertainment. Instead, this event is set up so that the sonic output is on the one hand structured, highly motivated and intentionalized like music, but on the other hand, entirely unpredictable and dependent on the contingencies and vicissitudes of the collision of 'ruthless intelligences'. Whether the broadcast manifests cruelty or humor or both, where the psychological balance eventually rests, remains to be seen. And this is part of the interest.