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Dancecult 4(1): The Exodus of Psytrance?

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Dancecult 4(1)

Indeed, it is out, issue 4(1) of Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. This issue special edited by Graham St John on the question: The Exodus of Psytrance?

Btw, here’s how to get on Dancecult’s mailing list.

This issue includes a few contributions on my part (besides the PDF layout and overall HTML finalization), namely a few reviews and part two of my conversation with Bernardo Alexander Attias on turntablism and controllerism. It is well worth reading part one if you’re intrigued, otherwise what we have to say doesn’t make much sense off the bat, truncated as it is from what was published previously.


DANCECULT | Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
Volume 4 * Number 1 * 2012

with Guest Editor Graham St John


## Feature Articles ##

Seasoned Exodus: The Exile Mosaic of Psyculture
— Graham St John

Full Penetration: The Integration of Psychedelic Electronic Dance Music and Culture into the Israeli Mainstream
— Joshua I. Schmidt

“What are we doing here?” Nostalgic Desires for a Cosmopolitan Sensory Aesthetic in the Amsterdam-based Psytrance Scene
— Eva-Maria Alexandra van Straaten

Spaces of Play: The Spatial Dimensions of Underground Club Culture and Locating the Subjunctive
— Alice O’Grady

## Conversations ##

Off the Record: Turntablism and Controllerism in the 21st Century, Part 2
— tobias c. van Veen and Bernardo Alexander Attias

## From the Floor ##

Unveiling the Secret: The Roots of Trance
— Dave Mothersole

Random Steps Through Boom Festival 2010
— Lisa Diotalevi

Aurora Festival and the Sacred Rituals of Samothraki: Past, Present… What Future?
— Chiara Baldini


Tribal Revival: West Coast Festival Culture (Kyer Wiltshire and Erik Davis)
— tobias c. van Veen

The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture (Steven T. Jones)
— Susan Luckman

Discombobulated: Dispatches from the Wrong Side (Simon A. Morrison)
— Bina Bhardwa

— Phil Kirby


With Deep Bass Rumblings

Graham St John
Executive Editor

tobias c. van Veen
Managing Editor

DANCECULT 4(1) 2012

blind signifiers in the new age

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
No More Potlucks 17

No More Potlucks 17

The seventeeth issue of the illustrious No More Potlucks, edited by Sophie Le Phat Ho, is dedicated to inducting its readers into magic — magie no. 17 | no more potlucks.

The choice of ‘magic’ as a topic came out of a concern – une préoccupation qui semble être partagée, vu la richesse des contributions présentées dans ce numéro – for what we are up against… En effet, la magie relève de la technique, de la pratique, du procédé, de l’art, de l’action. Elle est donc intimement liée à une analyse de la réalité, de l’environnement, et ne serait être de l’ordre du divertissement, de la fantasmagorie… Bref, this is serious. [Sophie Le Phat Ho, editor]

This issue features a brief piece I writ entitled Blind Signifiers in the New Age, introduced by a recent communication sent to Hakim Bey.

Blind Signifers is a condensed text on magick as the art of the slippage between signifers, the minimum distance of which constitutes consensual reality. Magick in this respect is a force in the sense that it generates effects wrought from symbolic subterfuge. Magick traverses the realms of the illusionary and the imaginary; it is precisely that viscosity that allows us to conceive of that which would puncture reality with its surreality or irreality. In this sense, magick (a) is generative through effects of signifying systems and (b) is not to be trifled with. Its underlying principle is that CHAOS NEVER DIED.

on the plains / Hakim Bey postcard

on the plains / Hakim Bey postcard

The principle point is that magick is very much in use all around us: it connects the surface of things; it is especially engaged to ensure consistency of action/reaction in systems of capitalist desire, notably consumerism. It is not magic at work here, not the mere trickery of an illusion, but magick, the technics of signifier slippage, the art of symbolic subterfuge. These be the darker arts when used to deceive.

Any such concept of magick as a praxis of symbols follows from the work of Hakim Bey, whose creative work with chaos theory (and the Mandelbrot Set), connecting anarcho-politics to the folds of physics and geography as well as the deconstruction of semiotics and philosophy some 25 odd years ago is, I would argue, indispensible to grasping semiocapitalism. Yet like all texts, including this one, it is writ with a cleaved-edge. Beware the folds.

There are many good essays in this collection (do read them) but relevant to my own work is Magic, Strategy and Capitalism: An interview with aladin by Anja Kanngieser and Leila, who pose the question “what happens to magic once it is embedded in the languages of business and industry?”. Indeed; this is the fundamental question that founds the dark art of advertising and second order cybernetics. However this question ought to be reinscribed: how is it that magick is the basis of capital? How is it that magick constitutes the language of capital itself?

To this end, I would suggest a deeper reading into the “tradition” of magick, as well as that of Marx. Perhaps magic has always been about entertainment and tricks, but magick operates at ways far more embedded into the technics of perception, which is to say, the way in which value is inscribed and perceived.

In this sense—which needs qualifying—the language of magic has been, as the article suggests, “put into use for capital,” but only as a secondary effect or diversion from the magick of capital itself.  Reading Marx, magick is that operation which derives exchange value from use value. Capital operates by way of magick. It is that which makes the “commodity stand on its head” in Das Kapital. Marx often discusses capital as “phenomena” and “illusion,” as a “phantom,” but none of these are terms meant in the tradition of cheap tricks: a social relation is masked behind the relations of capital. Violent, dark magick, in other words, the magick of turning quality into quantity, humanity into slavery, world into resource, is at the heart of capital. Capital is no cheap trick; its cost is Faustian.

As Marx writes, capital’s effects are phantomic; it is precisely this haunting effect, this “specter” of capital which, according to Marx, needs to be exorcised. Over a century later, in 1994, Derrida argued in Specters of Marx that the phantom in general—hauntology—cannot be exorcised. In short, the revolutionary magick proposed by Marx (which was famously unthought) against the magick of capital cannot eradicate the fundamental principles (of magick) upon which capital is based. Why? For the principles of capital—magick—are also those of its antithesis. Any possible antithesis. One cannot eradicate the simulacra; for at base, there is only a doubling of simulacra. Or to put it another way: to attempt to exorcize capital would obliterate the very principle of revolutionary communism, the imaginative magick of a collective ideal. To attempt to practice absolute exorcisim only unleashes the violence at the core of all magicks claiming to unveil or obliterate the true origin or the true illusion (the two being equivalent in force). One cannot exorcise ghosts nor dark magick in toto or ex nihilio. The principle of magick is always thus always doubled: (1) magick never comes from nothing; it always draws from another power and (2) thus it always produces unintended effects and consequences that remain in excess to its intentions. As Derrida thoughtfully explored—in a way few have—one has to learn to live with ghosts. To speak with them. Speak to it, Horatio. Learn to speak the language of magick. One does not exorcise magick; one seeks to practice it as the art of samizdat and containment. Infiltration. And other creative arts that destabilize the easy yet dangerous magick of commodification.

Likewise, when Marx wrote that “All that is solid melts into air” as effect of capitalism, he had in mind the magick of substantial transmutation, not as trick or hoax but as the slippage of signs in which an object of use value (the table) is stood on its head, begins to walk, and becomes the commodity of exchange value—out of which evolves further signs:

But, so soon as it [the wooden table] steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than ‘table-turning’ ever was. (Marx, “The Fetishism of Commodities” in Capital Vol 1)

Magick breeds magick; we are deep now in the realm of these wooden, grotesque ideas of semiocapitalism. In the 21st century, magick has revealed itself as operative mechanism of capital in-itself; this is the meaning of the 2008 financial crisis. This is a crisis of the system of signifiers which determines valuation, a crisis of completely speculative levels of capital which are completely estranged from what Marx called “use value.” It is the beautifully complex world where negative effects (debt) are valued as positive on a completely speculative basis of future returns—returns which, as the various complex operations of debt transfer and futures demonstrate, are expended infinitely until “all that is solid melts into air,” completely suspended, and crashes. And the effects of this crash are disastrous.

Herein lies the “trickle down” effect of capitalism: all the debt culled from below and profited from above returns with a vengeance, as it does not trickle but torrents down and pools in the trenches. At the bottom, those impoverished drown in debt. This is what smiling Reagan meant when he sold trickle-down capitalism to the masses. Shit runs downhill. While all shall inherit the debts of the financial crash, those at the bottom, unable to dodge the wreckage, will reap its total effects, as all of semiocapitalism, as all that dark magick and uncollected emptiness, trickles down into a whirlpool of poverty. This is the lesson of trickle down capitalism: those above, unless clinging to the burning hulk as it splits apart, never even have to open an umbrella. The metaphors are pushed here, but you get the point.

A keyword missing from this discussion with aladin would be afrofuturism, where the dark arts of magick take on another dimension, that of the transmutation of concepts such as race. Perhaps more on this soon.

double p/androgyne: s/he is (still) her/e

double p/androgyne: s/he is (still) her/e

I would also highly recommend the evocative Sex Magic in One Act: Exploring the Properties of Extensional Sex by Lolix. The reversal of inside to outside using sex magick’s gendered body from female to male is here rendered explicit in creative sex work. Pan/drogyne, in short. Lolix explores a shift that takes us beyond -x to +x, presence of the phallus/absence of the vaginal interiority, and into the  z/y axes to a third-eye dimensional sense of the chiasmus. This text and its images work on many layers. It brings to mind the latest incarnation of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, as s/he becomes neither male nor female, yet both, as the physical incarnation of Genesis’ now deceased partner. The signifying magick be: S/HE IS (STILL) HER/E, the permutations of which continue to unfold in the flesh.


afrofuturism on ice

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Frostbitten fingers not included—Paul Miller's The Book of Ice

In my hands now is Paul D. Miller’s latest project, the Book of Ice, a collage-work of manifestos, stories, photographs and texts on the southernmost point of this planet, that ice-bound and all-but uninhabited pole, Antarctica. This is something of an artist’s book, a kind of anti-book that collects exappropriated objects from elsewhere. In this context, by exappropriated I mean an act that samples without stealing, that takes part without taking away from the whole. So, like all of DJ Spooky’s work, images of Amundsen and Scott’s voyages are sampled much the same way that Spooky remixed D.W. Griffith’s founding racist myth of US history in Rebirth of a Nation. Though details of Antarctica’s history, discovery and exploration are provided, this beautifully designed and illustrated hardcover from Mark Batty Publishers is much more a meditation on ice through the sampling of Antarctica’s recorded history alongside Spooky’s exploration of design imagery in the melting/consumption of Antarctica.

The Book of Ice includes ”Osmotic Strategy Machine—The (Flawed) Unfolding of Afrofuturism,” an interview I conducted with Paul for my forthcoming edited volume on Afrofuturism (Wayne State UP). The version presented here is somewhat staccato, but to the point through its brevity (the volume will include a remixed exchange and sampladelic text). This interview presents insightful reading, as it is one of the few times in which Paul has openly reflected upon his involvement with the 1990s email list and website, as well as situating his interpretation of Afrofuturism within historical, political and aesthetic contexts. I believe Paul includes this interview as part of the ethos explored elsewhere in the Book of Ice, where he talks about “thawing-out” the cold muthafucka’ aspects of black ice, as well as warming up the ice-cold brittleness of stark whiteness. Paul continues to forge a global aesthetic of remix culture that melts the divisions of colour, and in this respect, Paul remains an exemplary Afrofuturist—whatever he might say otherwise. Paul Miller is remarkable for creating bridges between disparate cultures, and in The Book of Ice Paul puts into perspective the greater forces at work in the melting of Antarctic ice, reminding us that the collapse of our polar regions also calls for the thawing of cold hearts and cultural antagonisms. We are like penguins caught in the flow of the impending great melt, and to move outwards, upward to the stars, we need to begin with swimming together through the thaw….

Osmotic Interview Strategies

Osmotic Interview Strategies

In 2008, Paul Miller spent four weeks in Antarctica, conducting sound recordings for his compositional work Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica. It is unfortunate that this book does not include a DVD of the multimedia work (understandably, it was probably not cost feasible for a book already colour printed on quality stock). Miller’s first book for MIT Press, Rhythm Science, included a CD mix which reflected his ideas through his DJ mix—I wrote a lengthy treatise on that book over on EBR. In any case, as Terra Nova is a full-fledged multimedia work that interrelates many of the cold concepts explored in The Book of Ice, here’s an insight:

What I like about The Book of Ice is how it rethinks what this cold space could be otherwise—a place, perhaps, of unclaimed exodus. What then, when it melts? When its resources will undoubtedly become exploited by competing interests, corporate and nation-state? Miller explores the dream of a “People’s Republic of Antarctica” through a series of campaign posters that alternate between early 20th century revolutionary modernism and monochromatic symbolism awash in blue penguins. The print posters call for a manifesto of Antarctica in different languages and national iconographies, from the Arabic half moon to the Chinese Communist red star.

Manifestos of a people's icepublic

The compositional method of Terra Nova is also explored here with a visualization of the score. Miller turns the elements of traditional sheet music into bubbles of chaos complexity, with the notation juxtaposed and carved into circular objects, as if spattered with the geometric shapes of water droplets from Antarctica’s melting ice caps.

Sheet music for snow & ice

Sheet music for snow & ice

Questions of climate change arise throughout the text, as Miller explores the economic, emotional and data landscapes of Antarctica through cartographic mappings of ice flows to dataflows. Aspects of this territorial mapping are reminiscent of Situationist détournement. Along this line, the visual icons of sell-by capitalism are explored in the juxtaposition of consumer-packaging barcodes and the increasingly ubiquitous QR squares with various linguistic scripts. Implicit among these image mixes is Miller’s interrogation of “hyperconsumerism:” is Antarctica for sale? If it can be mapped, can it be scanned and sold?

Antarctica 4 Sale

Antarctica 4 Sale

Ice maps and Antarctic cartographies

Ice maps and Antarctic cartographies

The closing section of the book is filled with full-bleed, full-colour images from expeditions mapping the great unknown ice, with double-page spreads of mountains and icebergs, explorers in ice-encrusted parkas and numerous penguins. Black-and-white imagery is contrasted with the subtle blues and grays of monochromatic colour. Night photography of modern research stations revels in the similitude between the neon-lit lighting of science and the southern aurora borealis.

Ice routes abound...

Ice routes abound...

Yet why this obsession with Antarctica? As Miller writes, ever playing the trickster, ice resonates with black culture. As Paul puts it,

Black culture loves ice. We name ourselves after it: Ice-berg Slim, Ice-T, Ice Cube. . . . So, yeah, there’s a long history in black culture of being a “cold muthafucka.” It’s about being a “frigid” person: the ice grill, bling bling, bounce off the light of diamonds in your teeth. Yeah, that’s ice (Book of Ice 10).

If urban black culture tends toward ice, then DJ Spooky aims to thaw it out with sinfonic soundwaves capable of collapsing cultural ice into global flows. If climate change is melting Antarctica, then the melting of ice presents an intersection between the geosphere and the sonosphere, between the axes of black and white ice, cityscape and icescape. Two compositional tools guided Spooky’s process in creating the Terra Nova sinfonia: repetition, on the one channel, and R. Murray Schaefer’s soundscape, on the other.

My concern here is how do we make music out of it, how do we thaw the process, thaw people out, and see the paradox of hyperconsumerism that this kind of stuff celebrates, while at the same time tying the conceptual issues of sound and contemporary art. It’s a Sisphyean task, but considering there’s not much more going on this planet than the ecosystem, I thought it was a worthwhile one. Hip-hop is always considered the soundtrack of the city’s geometric landscape. The grid of most American cities carries what I like to call an “orthogonal” logic. I wanted to take the “urban” concept of repetition and apply it to a different landscape, and see what would pop out of the collision. After all, music is patterns. And so is landscape. The common denominator here is pattern recognition.

And that’s what brings me to Antarctica (Book of Ice 10).

Explorers on ice/

Explorers on ice/

in hiding (from language)

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

05 july 2011

To return to Los Angeles [following the Rodney King beatings in 1991], some people have demanded that henceforth all police activity be monitored by video, that everything be filmed, in order to submit police surveillance itself to surveillance. There would thus be “black boxes” recording the police, their movements, their actions and gestures, a constant recording and an immediate archiving of police activity, which itself consists in attempting a panoptikon of civic space—of the political, and of political space itself. If all this in turn is under surveillance by satellite, we would then see the determination of an optimal optification of what could be called the ontopolitological: the totality of what binds the political to the topological and politics to space in the present (on, ontos) would be gathered together in the present, devoid of any shadow, beneath the gaze, exposed to an all-powerful photographic apparatus: no more secret, no more private life, instantaneous totalization: the totalitarian itself, etc. —Jacques Derrida (Copy, Archive, Signature 47)

Had I know of this quote, excerpted from a short interview conducted in 1991, I would’ve included it, and a discussion of its terms, in “No More Pirate Islands! Media Ecology and Autonomy” (Interculture 6:1, 2009). At the time, I viewed the earth-orbiting eye as the ascendance of an ecotechnics, an entire surveillance apparatus, and mark the dates of Sputnik (4th October 1957) as well as Google Earth (February 8th, 2005—Derrida did not live to see the watched watch the watchers, into infinite regress, filtered and selected, ad infinitum).

Even with the possibility of totalization of the eye, from above, I retain the following possibility of the gap or glitch between map and territory, the delay or deferral between the point of the image and its taking-place, also the inherent possibilities of subterfuge, camouflage, encryption, withdrawal, exodus, hiding, etc.,  as I would, I think, Derrida—that “the TAZ [Temporary Autonomous Zone] is an event born among technics that undermines if not counters the eschatology of collapse for it demonstrates the possibilility of heterotopic autonomy within a technical worlding” (62).

Whomsoever suggests that Derrida was only concerned with “language” in the narrow sense (I’m looking at you, Harman, and your strange avoidance in tackling the hard problematic of arkhe-writing in Tool-Being) has evidently never (a) read carefully his thetic assertions concerning the autonomy, alterity, and “expansion” of writing-in-general nor (b) taken seriously the thetic possibilities put forward by the undertaking of deconstruction as applicable everywhere, as an analysis of the technics of différance, which is to say, its effects and force(s).

We can no longer oppose perception and technics; there is no perception before the possibility of prosthetic iterability; and this mere possibility marks, in advance, both perception and phenomenology of perception. In perception there are already operations of selection, of exposure time, of filtering, of development; the psychic apparatus functions also like, or as, an apparatus of inscription and of the photographic archive. —Derrida (Copy, Archive, Signature 15)

—Which is Derrida reiterating much of his work on Freud’s Wunderblock, the “mystic writing pad.” But this is not only about human perception, and the alter-logic of arkhe-writing, the trace of différance, extends beyond the human per se. In fact, as Derrida writes in Of Grammatology, consciousness is but an effect of différance (166). Indeed, language is alien. The consequences of this alterity to language in relation to Harman’s narrow insistence that language is irrevocably human will have to be dealt with improperly, insofar as it complicates Harman’s negation of all differences marked in Heidegger, and the reduction of difference itself, to the opposition between Vorhandenheit and Zuhandenheit. Insofar as the trace does not exist (OG 167), it suggests something other than the totality of Being that Harman adheres to, wherein Zuhanden/Vorhanden is taken as a difference between two modes of being.

The hard argument from Derrida is, in part, this: that language, taken as arkhe-writing, as the technics of the trace, is precisely that which articulates cucumbers, dust, and blades of grass, in which all Things speak. The nature of this articulation is that of “prosthetic iterability,” or “supplementarity as structure” (OG 167). Harman’s  desire to elevate the primacy of one difference above all others—objects and tools as first philosophy—needs to be critiqued for the dogmatic return it is to precisely the logic of a transcendental signified (“we cannot know Zuhandenheit; thus it is First, to which everything else is Second”) he elsewhere wishes to subject to an intriguing, refreshing and stimulating speculative realism. In short, Harman’s conception of the radical difference of Zuhandenheit is impoverished, and it is strange indeed that he draws so much from Levinas—who requires God to hold steady—and not Derrida, who delves much farther into the “infinite regress” to which Harman admits to (in his passage on Rorty in TB), yet with much more interesting result, namely, the thesis of supplementarity at the origin and the origin as the effect of prosthetic iterability. (Yet perhaps not so strange that Harman prefers Levinas, insofar as, in Tool-Being, Harman retains the pyramid of power in which some binary needs to occupy the top spot.)

So the second thetic effect of Derrida’s hard argument is this: language-objects-tools-etc. constitute a string of substitutions, not a hierarchy of precedence in which all differences ought to be submitted to the authoritarian pair of Tool Beings. Will Harman be able to contend with the hard arguments from Derrida, and not just the soft “linguistic turn” he posits, in the narrow sense of a consideration of language only as equivalent to human speech? Can Harman handle the trace and how its inexistence nonetheless generates “real effects,” which is to say, the objects Harman loves to offer in nice, contrasting lists, but so far in Tool-Being, has nothing to say of? (I will grant him this chance in his later work.)

If the thought of différance can be introduced into speculative realism, it offers a fascinating bridge between the media ecology of technics, and media studies in general, and that of object-oriented philosophy. Why? Because différance, as in my essay above and Derrida’s work on photography, has offered an interesting way to take apart and rethink all kinds of fields, from photography to art, physics to architecture, politics and the political to gender; it has proven incredibly fruitful, not to introduce “language” in some narrow sense but to focus on the technical specificity of substituting difference—which is where Kittler and media theory comes in, as well as Latour, for that matter (I have yet to pick up Harman’s earlier essay and newish book on Latour).

A philosophically robust concept of timing-spacing-difference—différance—also offers a bridge between physics and other sciences of time, space, the universe, and so on. But if Harman rejects différance as “language”, then he also tosses out the very interesting correlative work between this thinking of spacing-timing and that of Einstein’s general relativity and Bohr’s quantum physics (as writ explicitly by Arkady Plotnitsky in Complementarity). I need also mention the immense work done by Deleuze and the entire field of studies surrounding Deleuze and Guattari to think science and philosophy here. But perhaps Harman’s speculative realism has no interest in correlative work between science and object-oriented philosophy whatsoever? Is such science—the thinking of numerical logic and probabilities, constants of light and relatives of timing-spacing, for example—”merely” all Vorhandenheit? Indeed, how convenient that would be, being able to leave reality behind entirely, so that philosophy can once again ensure its complete seclusion from the world. A true philosophy of the Zuhanden! I would hope this is not the real effect of speculative realism.


Dancecult 3.1: Special Issue on the DJ

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Dancecult 3.1: hands in the air!

Nearly three months after our last marathon issue — which saw a complete overhaul of the design and organisation of the Journal — the team has pulled off our next edition, a Special Issue on the DJ guest edited by Anna Gavanas and Bernardo Alexander Attias.

Deep bows are in order to the Production, Editorial and Copyediting teams for seeing this issue through so soon after the last one, and at that with an impeccable quality of production. There were very few errors behind-the-scenes. In part this is because of the hard work done by the editorial and production teams in creating working manuals and guides for all aspects of the Journal’s production for the last issue. Though we discovered more areas to improve this time around — yep, we’re going to write (yet another) guide! — it means that we are creating a legacy of knowledge for Open Access, OJS-based Journal production that will not only keep Dancecult afloat but will be transferable to other publishing projects.

Our only remaining issue is figuring out a way to upgrade the open source publishing platform, OJS. OJS is a beast and is built like early CMS systems from the late ’90s — the design theme and operational core are not separate elements, the backend interface is clunky, and there are numerous bugs. This means that as we’ve modified the theme, as well as applied bug patches, we remain unable to upgrade the core architecture without completely reinstalling OJS from the ground-up and rebuilding the entire design and modded functionality of the Journal. This is bad news both for security and for updating the system to use newer protocols, design elements, and social media integration. In short, Dancecult needs funding; we cannot continue to do this as a volunteer project as the costs of simply hosting and managing a complex CMS such as this are quickly outpacing our volunteer resources.

So, without further ado, here’s the Table of Contents:

DANCECULT | Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
Volume 3 * Number 1 * 2011

with Guest Editors Bernardo Alexander Attias and Anna Gavanas


## Feature Articles ##

The Forging of a White Gay Aesthetic at the Saint, 1980–84
— Tim Lawrence

The DIY Careers of Techno and Drum ‘n’ Bass DJs in Vienna
— Rosa Reitsamer

Rumble in the Jungle: City, Place and Uncanny Bass
— Chris Christodoulou

Headphone–Headset–Jetset: DJ Culture, Mobility and Science Fictions of Listening
— Sean Nye

DJ Goa Gil: Kalifornian Exile, Dark Yogi and Dreaded Anomaly
— Graham St John

## Conversations ##

Off the Record: Turntablism and Controllerism in the 21st Century, Part 1
— tobias c. van Veen and Bernardo Alexander Attias

##From the Floor##

Nomads In Sound vol 2
— Anna Gavanas

Meditations on the Death of Vinyl
— Bernardo Alexander Attias

Turntables of Doom
— Kath O’Donnell

We call it Swedish Techno
— Anna Ostrom

“War on the Dancefloor”: The Reproduction of Power and Pleasure at the Amphi Festival in Cologne
— Johanna Paulsson


Man Vibes: Masculinities in the Jamaican Dancehall (Donna P. Hope)
— Marvin Dale Sterling

Hold on to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–92 (Tim Lawrence)
— Charlie de Ledesma


With deep bass rumblings,

Graham St John
Executive Editor

tobias c. van Veen
Managing Editor

Git on down'



from the ashes: counter-file the DMCA

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Recently, I had a draft copy of a published article removed from Scribd. The article, Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemet’s CaleNdarON, had been published in excerpted form in Leonardo Music Journal (13, 2003) and in full form in the February 2004 edition of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. However for many years it had been offline, with its original URL long dead. For these reasons I had personally archived not the final published copy but my Word document on Scribd—that is until a DMCA letter from the invisible lawyers over at MIT Press forced Scribd to remove the document. Needless to say I was flabbergasted that an academic press would be removing an author’s archives from the web when, as a Press, it had failed to provide legacy access to its published archives. You can read the details here.

Two weeks ago I emailed off a counter-file DMCA notice to Scribd and to MIT Press’ legal team. Just yesterday I received the following from Scribd:

What this probably means is that the two week window for a legal response has passed, and by default I’ve won this round. We’ll see what happens next.

The article is now back online at Scribd: “Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemet’s CaleNdarON“.

Two awesome things have come out of this intriguing episode:

(1) Counter-file DMCA notices (sometimes) work.

(2) I entered into a very enlightening and revealing conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Lanfranco Aceti. We discussed various options for republishing, including his team’s efforts to convert the LEA archives to Kindle, and the ups/downs of Amazon’s closed, proprietary format (for the record, I’m in favour of OpenLib and/or PDF, at least). We also talked about micropayment systems and the difficulty of managing hundreds of authors in such a system while acknowledging something of the necessity of doing so. From this conversation, something of an edited exchange will be published over on the LEA blog. I’ll keep you posted.

.. // ../ ..

21C book burning: Scribd & the DMCA

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

\ I’m not sure what to say about this, considering that the essay existed in PDF form not from Leonardo but from my own Word document. Leonardo never even gave me a PDF, nor a Galley proof, for that matter. Is it Leonardo / MIT Press that is blanket-searching Scribd for phrases that may correspond to their own published material?

If so, I never signed over copyright to them [see below]—I wasn’t paid for this piece, nor was it printed on paper. It was relegated to an abstract at the back of the printed Journal, with the piece distributed over email and online. It lacked proper formatting and remained generally unread because of its poor presentation. From what I remember of discussions with other authors, those of us who were “bumped” in this manner were not impressed. This is precisely why I am behind cracking open the locked vaults of academic knowledge. Enough overpaid subscriptions to ivory towers. Viva Open Access Publishing!

As far as I am concerned, this is censorship—not of the malicious, targeted-kind,  as if I am spreading some kind of samizdat here, but of the dumb, computers-are-fucking-us-over-kind, aided & abetted by some lawyer somewhere who is currently earning more than all the authors he is screwing-blind combined. Thus I proudly present the paper in its pirate lair, where it has been drinking merrily for years:

Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemets’ CaleNdarON

Leonardo Music Journal 13; Leonardo Electronic Almanac: Groove Pit and Wave. MIT P: 2003/2004.

The more these commercial distribution services like Youtube, Soundcloud, etc, pander to blanket-DMCA requests generated by some robot somewhere, the more it forces a redistribution into decentralized nodes of underground information. Just imagine—in the future, you won’t even be able to use citation on a blog as the Internet Robot will immediately recognise the use of someone’s words without permission. (Remember, Hallmark owns the copyright to “Happy Birthday”…).

Think it won’t happen? Think again. Because when machines do the reading, they don’t think—they just execute a binary decision based upon a percentile of a parameter matched. Think about that. The technocracy is indeed a troubling concern.


23 March 2011: An update–see my counter-file DMCA notice. I did sign over copyright to ISAST, but I retain specific rights which, as I interpret it, include publishing the article in my own “anthology” on Scribd. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’d sign such a broad agreement today for an unpaid piece that does not guarantee (a) a publication format; (b) reversion of rights to author should the Press fail to keep the work in print;  (c) renumeration rights for paid electronic distribution services (i.e. Kindle); and (d) the right to electronically distribute for educational and academic purposes (not just “photocopy” for teaching—note  the imbalance of rights, where the publisher retains all future-forward electronic rights of distribution while the author can only photocopy as a means of distributing their own article for teaching purposes!). From the Publication Agreement:

Agreement:  We are pleased to have the privilege of publishing your Article in a forthcoming issue of  Leonardo Music Journal. By your signature below, you hereby grant all your right, title, and interest including copyright for the text, layout, and image placement of the Article, to The International Society for the Arts Sciences and Technology (ISAST).

Rights Reserved by Author: You hereby retain and reserve for yourself a non-exclusive license: 1.) to photocopy the Article for use in your own teaching activities as long as the article is not offered for sale, and 2.) to publish the Article, or permit it to be published, as a part of any book you may write, or in any anthology of which you are an editor, in which the Article is included or which expands or elaborates on the Article, unless the anthology is drawn primarily from Leonardo Music Journal.  As a condition of reserving this right, you agree that MIT Press and Leonardo Music Journal will be given first publication credit, and proper copyright notice will be displayed on the work (both on the work as a whole and, where applicable, on the Article as well) whenever such publication occurs.

It’s worth reiterating that I gave MIT Press free content. Their DMCA shennanigans strikes at the very core of why academics publish: to see the work distributed and archived. To this end, MIT Press is not meeting its obligations, as the content is no longer available online. This is the link provided for the article; it no longer exists:

So after failing to distribute and archive the article, MIT Press then strikes it off the Net with a DMCA. Why? I believe the answer is here:

With the re-launch of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) we inherited a rich historical collection of writings and thematic issues that spans twenty years.

Historical collections, particularly historical collections of digital media hosted over the Internet, have had a tendency to disappear with the closure of a server or to be left abandoned on a database hosted on the hard drive of a dusty computer in the department of a university. The editorial choice for LEA was not simply that of re-presenting the same material, but to propose to the academic, artistic and scientific communities to re-engage with issues and themes 20 years later. The idea is to develop new discourses, re-attempt to put to rest old diatribes and to engage with the developments in the field of the interactions between art, science and technology.

The editorial choice I made was to collect the old material and make it available on Kindle, remediating the old format and rekindling old arguments and passions by finalizing arguments that appear to no longer have relevance and by breathing new life in to historical subject areas that are still relevant today, picking up from the threads left by the pioneers and commentators of the recent past.  [Lanfranco Aceti, Editor-in-Chief, LEA]

What does this mean? It means that Leonardo/MIT Press/ISAST failed to keep up their end of the publishing contract, which is to maintain the electronic source online. Since they’ve now repackaged the lot and published it with Kindle, they’ve got the lawyers hopping across the internets striking down the content that authors have since self-published or otherwise distributed due to the complete failure of LEA to maintain a proper digital archive.

And that, my friends, is why closed academic publishing in a digital, online environment is a complete mistake. Don’t sign such agreements. Renegotiate. Nobody wants their work locked up on some “dusty computer in the department of a university”, which is precisely what the LEA has done. Republishing on Kindle is not sufficient, in my opinion, to uphold the original contract, which called for online publication in the Journal. So where are the LEA’s archives? Why is content dating back to the early ’90s being sold when the content was never paid for to begin with? Why isn’t the LEA making such content free and open to the public?



Dancecult 2 (1): we’re back

Monday, March 21st, 2011

For many moons now I have been toiling away on Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture as the incoming Managing Editor. Lo, this is volunteer labour, and a hearty dose it has been, from taking over the reins of our Open Access publishing platform, OJS—which is a cranky beast indeed—to completely upending the Dancecult StyleGuide (DSG) so that it conforms—well, almost conforms—to the Chicago Manual of Style 16th ed.. The kind of labour I perform is exemplary of the overeducated precariat: technical server administration; web production; design and layout production and direction; editing and copyediting; technical manual writing and production; human resources; workflow management; all-around tinkering & troubleshooting.

Here’s a slice into a typical Dancecult session—begin with double-espresso and/or late-night wine. Chat with Operations Assistant Neal Thomas as I edit PHP, tinker with TPL, use root SSH to get all CHMOD, manage a CPanel reinstall and transfer, setup MySQL databases and fix CSS, and do all manner of technical support for the Journal as we try to figure out how to upgrade this stubborn beast. At the same time, I am engaged in an email storm with Executive Editor Graham St John and the Copyeditors as we overhaul the DSG, where I act as a a senior copyeditor and the last pair of eyes for every single piece of text you see published. As my mind approaches meltdown, I run next door and meet with Art Director Cato Pulleyblank. We are transferring over the existing workflow to Adobe InDesign, redesigning the entire publication layout, from fonts to margins, styles to protocols, in the process. Cato redesigns Dancecult’s logo with Graham and I’s input, drawing up visual conventions for web promotions and style protocols, throwing down hours of pro bono in the process. And that is still not all. To get this beast underway, I check in with the Production Team, which has been assembled from a call for precarious labour. I check in on Director Gary Botts Powell to see how our new Production Assistants (Luis-Manuel Garcia, Ed Montano and Botond Vitos) are doing with the HTML conversions. From their feedback I improve the HTML production guide which I have writ to explain the rather complex process involved in converting Word’s garble to appropriate XHTML (Transitional, of course). Meanwhile I carry out all of the Journal’s InDesign layout for PDF production, and draw up a Guide for that too—though I doubt anyone else will be touching it for awhile, due to the complexity and attention to detail involved. As the midnight hour flips over into morning, I edit and fix all HTML returned from the newly-minted production crew. Eventually, after a few weeks of such routines, I publish it all on OJS and fix all the broken things. Graham and I celebrate over Skype. It is early afternoon for him, and a late night for me. We virtually clink the beers.

Now that would sound like a lot of self-aggrandizing hype if it wasn’t for the fact that all of us involved do all this unpaid and yet—damn straight—produce an extraordinarily professional Journal. Meanwhile, I watch other academic funding agencies throw down bloatware cash to pay the poorly-trained to pump out some pitiful excuse for a research platform. I’m not sure what my point is here, though I am looking forward to seeing some capitalist renumeration for such a plethora of skillz. Bring on the meritocracy, I say.

* * *

DANCECULT | Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
Volume 2 • Number 1 • 2011

Dancecult returns with two themes: the dystopian and remix aesthetics of Detroit and a special section on the Love Parade.

While you read, take a look around. Dancecult has taken a new step forward in the visualization of the Journal, with a complete redesign of our PDF publications and logo. It is also our first edition featuring the volunteer efforts of our Production and Copyediting Teams. Congratulations to all for their efforts.

Graham St John
Executive Editor

tobias c. van Veen
Managing Editor


## Feature Articles ##

Disco’s Revenge: House Music’s Nomadic Memory
– Hillegonda C. Rietveld

Hooked on an Affect: Detroit Techno and Dystopian Digital Culture
– Richard Pope

Maintaining “Synk” in Detroit: Two Case Studies in the Remix Aesthetic
– Carleton S. Gholz

Festival Fever and International DJs: The Changing Shape of DJ Culture in Sydney’s Commercial Electronic Dance Music Scene
– Ed Montano

## From the Floor ##

Nomads in Sound vol. 1
– Anna Gavanas

# Special Section on the Love Parade #

Where is Duisburg? An LP Postscript HTML
– Sean Nye, Ronald Hitzler

Party, Love and Profit: The Rhythms of the Love Parade (Interview with Wolfgang Sterneck)
– Graham St John

Pathological Crowds: Affect and Danger in Responses to the Love Parade Disaster at Duisburg
– Luis-Manuel Garcia

## Reviews ##

Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification (Anthony Kwame Harrison) PDF
– Rebecca Bodenheimer

The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance (Graham St John)
– Rupert Till

Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound (Tara Rodgers)
– Anna Gavanas

Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures (Graham St John)
– Philip Ronald Kirby

Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Steve Goodman)
– tobias c. van Veen

Music World: Donk (Dir. Andy Capper)
– Philip Ronald Kirby

Speaking in Code (Dir. Amy Grill)
– tobias c. van Veen



Monday, August 2nd, 2010

the gonzo academics of soniculture return

Without too much further ado I would like to point you toward issue 1.2 of Dancecult, which features – among other gonzo academic explorations of soniculture and the rave underground – “Technics, Precarity and Exodus in Rave Culture.” This piece of mine, under works in various forms for approximately a decade, explores rave culture from the perspective of political theory of autonomia, the political economy of contemporary labour, and philosophy of technology, proposing that rave culture – which I consider deceased as of 2000 – be considered one of the 20th century’s greater movements of exodus from the constraints of consumer capitalist monoculture, by way of precarity of labour and the technics of its soniculture. Undoubtedly this thesis requires all the more exegesis. La lutte continue.

edition 1.2



Making a Noise – Making a Difference:
Techno-Punk and Terra-ism

*Graham St John

Technics, Precarity and Exodus in Rave Culture
*tobias c. van Veen

The Aesthetics of Protest in UK Rave
*Ramzy Alwakeel

Memory and Nostalgia in Youth Music Cultures:
Finding the Vibe in the San Francisco Bay Area Rave Scene, 2002-2004

*Eileen M Wu


Cities of Rhythm & Revolution

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Voilà.! Some 5 years in the making, Circulation & the City.

With appropriate fanfare & deep bows, Will Straw & Alexandra Boutro’s edited volume entitled Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture (McGill Queen’s UP, 2010) now graces the shelves. This book has been quite a few years in the works. The earliest drafts I have of work for the volume date back to 2005, and by the time we went to press, the final chapter I submitted on Henri Lefebre, rhythm, and revolution in the city had been transformed entirely from the words originally writ on rave culture and rhythm (funny thing: the new article I am finishing for Dancecult picks up on these earlier themes  – sometimes work must encounter different sets of theoretical concepts, and years of reflection, for the excavation of the intellect to yield its bounty). The book forms the third in a trilogy of publications from the Culture of Cities Project, a multi-university research endeavour that sought to unearth “the mix of universal and local influences in the everyday life of cities,” with research concentrated in Toronto, Berlin, Dublin and Montréal, and with researchers across Canada and the Continent. So, with the intent of lurking y’all into picking this up (or perhaps unwittingly scaring you off), I offer the introduction to my chapter “Cities of Rhythm & Revolution.”