Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Ennui Happy Holiday Message

"Anyways, these ideas or feelings or ramblings had their satisfactions. They turned the pain of others into memories of one's own. They turned pain, which is natural, enduring and eternally triumphant, into personal memory, which is human, brief and eternally elusive. They turned a brutal story of injustice and abuse, an incoherent howl with no beginning or end, into a neatly structured story in which suicide was always held out as a possibility. They turned flight into freedom, even if freedom meant no more than the perpetuation of flight. They turned chaos into order, even if it was at the cost of what is commonly known as sanity."

- Roberto Bolano, 2666

Friday, November 12, 2010

Now You Know

Cleaning up the spam in revealed this little gem: 

I love coming here and reading about all the intresting things on this site everyday. There is nothing better than learning how to make money online and coming here really helps.

Anything I can  do to help!

send + receive v. 12

For the 12th edition of send + receive, we are tying together threads of approaches with a loose string and wire theme…

Where wires are a constant at send + receive, simply by the nature of electronics and electricity, this year’s focus is unique in its extension from wires to strings and their uses in sonic exploration. We will see stringed instruments played in unorthodox ways by eminent and singular prepared guitarist Keith Rowe (UK), multi-faceted experimental violinist Spencer Yeh (US), earth-shaking drone violinist Anju Singh (VAN), and riveting tonal guitarist Oren Ambarchi (AU).

We will see piano wire used as a conducting instrument in a play on the historic minimalist work ‘music on a long thin wire’ by Alvin Lucier, in our Friday daytime installation Alvin Lucifer by Ontario artists living abroad,Brian Joseph Davis and Steven Kado.

Wires and electric currents are quintessential to the above mentioned artists as well as to performers like Erin Sexton (MTL), with her hand built oscillators, Montreal group Artificiel with their sonic and visual illustration of electricity through their hand-built Tesla coil, and to the distorted resonances of Michel Germain’s (WPG) cymbal tones.

For more information, click here! I'll be there every night, and so should you.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Put the Book Back on the Shelf 3: The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell

[These are really brief notes on an enormous book that was sparked by Douglas Murphy's post.]

For a book that deals with some of the worst moments in human history, the most surprising thing to me about The Kindly Ones was how difficult it was to put down. Douglas Murphy supplies a few reasons – the mythological underpinnings, the Forrest Gumpery. The latter is particularly effective, for although Maximillian Au is no ingénue, there is something of the Good Soldier Schwejk (with admittedly less beer drinking and farting and more Mozart and gay cruising) about him. He is the very idea of the bureaucrat (although Murphy notes the family tragedy which lifts him from the banality of evil stereotype, more on which later) whose insistence of his lack of personal responsibility seems almost genuine; while he is in the middle of (in)famous historic events, they don’t particularly effect him as much as stress him out.

Or so it seems. By making Au the main vessel of consciousness, Littell compels us to at least provisionally identify with him, at least if you want to get further than 50 pages into the book. Which is especially odd given what a neither/nor character Au actually is. On the one hand, we have a character right out of Visconti’s The Damned – a cruisy queer Nazi with incestuous feelings with his sister and homicidal feelings towards his mother. (Is there not something slightly clichéd about this? It seems as though Littell avoided the Eichmann-bureaucrat stereotype but fell right into another. Perhaps we should declare a moratorium on Queer Nazis; there weren’t that many to begin with, and by the 1940s there were a lot fewer.) On the other, there is the sentimental murderer, feeling sorrow over the possibility that he might never hear Bach again, or talk to someone about Tertullan.

What Au signally lacks is mediation between the private fact of his psychopathology and the larger pathologies of History. The mediators haven’t vanished in a Weberian sense; they have been withdrawn. Try as one might, its hard to avoid the Zizek point about “the totalitarian personality”, for want of a better term): the inner detachment and cynically distance from power, the “I personally have nothing against the Jews, but the if that’s the Law, then that’s the Law” syndrome that manifests itself in his revulsion by the more virulent anti-Semites in the SS, the tactical withdrawal into the rhythms of personal gemuchlikeit (tea, decent food, musical scores, privacy).

This purposed withdrawal of any affect mediating between personal and social might be linked to Au’s mental disintegration, as Murphy points out. (Confession: I thought that the sexual fantasies that take up part of the last third of the book were real.) What, for example, to make of the murder of his mother and step-father. Like the two detectives, we the readers are certain that Au probably did kill them, but there is nevertheless absolutely no textual evidence to support this, and Au retains not even a traumatic gap in his memory regarding what must have been a very bloody moment.

This apparent absence of trauma is one of the things that is interesting about Au’s character. But at the same time, he is not the typically sociopath that one would expect him to be; if anything, he often resembles his erstwhile opposite number: Leopold Bloom, in his desire to make his way in the world with as little fuss as possible. In what sense, then, is Au’s psyche broken-down? Or more specifically, what is the cause of this breakdown? The fact that he finds himself present at most of the major atrocities of WWII doesn’t seem quite enough. My sense is that it is his toggling back and forth between creaturely comfort and survival and the weight of History (e.g. when Hess makes his speech to the SS, making everyone complicit in the Holocaust) without a mediating affect that makes the link between an already pathological consciousness and the density of the Final Solution is the source of his mental collapse; the transitions between parallax are too traumatic as such.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frued after Derrida Conference at University of Manitoba

Engaging Freud’s work as it continues to inform and provoke research and discussion across the disciplines (e.g., architecture, film, history, literature, philosophy, religion, science), and particularly, as it opens through and “after Derrida.” Topics to be considered include: psychoanalysis and the literary text, temporality, space, technics, responsibility, animality, embodiment, memory, dream, writing, the uncanny, life, death, desire, repetition, law, sovereignty, sexuality, silence, mourning, testimony, the unconscious, repression, identity, family.

Further information here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's up Vienna! What's Up Montreal! What's Up Winnipeg!


A two-part, two-city encounter of sound, film and video
Curated by Michaela Grill, Christof Kurzmann and Steve Bates

FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2010

CKUW 95.9 fm, the West End Cultural Centre and send + receive present :





Film and video work by Ernst Schmidt Jr., Albert Sackl, Jan Machacek, VALIE EXPORT, Kurt Kren, Didi Bruckmayr and Michael Strohmann

West End Cultural Centre
586 Ellice Avenue
Doors 7:15 pm Film/video: 7:30 pm, music to follow
Tickets $12 in advance/ $15 at the door available at Ticketmaster, Music Trader and the West End.


CKUW 95.9 fm, and send + receive present :




Film and video work by Tina Frank, Martin Arnold, Peter Tscherkassky, Billy Roisz, Michaela Grill and Martin Siewert, [n:ja], Peter Kubelka, Gustav Deutsch
Urban Shaman
203-290 McDermot Avenue
Doors: 7:30 pm Film/video: 8:00 pm, music to follow
Tickets $10 at the door

What’s Up Vienna! What’s Up Montréal!

A two-part, two-city encounter of sound, film and video
Curated by Michaela Grill, Christof Kurzmann and Steve Bates

What’s Up Vienna! What’s Up Montréal! is both a celebratory championing of exciting work emerging from the two cities as well as a challenge to keep innovating. It is a coming together of the experimental music, video, and film communities active in each city played in and off the other. It is a look and listen to the work that exists just under the radar, perhaps happily so, but destined to make reverberations later in the larger culture they come from.

The artists involved in What’s Up Vienna! What’s Up Montréal! come together for two intense periods, once in Montréal (and Winnipeg) and again in Vienna. They will perform their own works and instigate new collaborations through this encounter.

Winnipeg is also included in this first edition as the initial connections between

the curators came about when Steve Bates, (then living in Winnipeg) presented the work of the Viennese quartet, My Kingdom for a Lullaby, at Send + Receive: A Festival of Sound in 2003, of which Michaela Grill and Christof Kurtzmann, co-curators for What’s Up Vienna! What’s Up Montréal! are members.

For the Winnipeg edition of the exhibition, Tim Hecker will be on hand from Montréal while two local artists, long associated with experimental sonic forms, Michel Germain, long –time technical director of Send + Receive, and crys cole, the current Artistic Director of the festival, are included in the line up.

Artists selected for the program cover a wide breadth of technique but all possess a singular approach to their artistic practice.

This program, consisting of live music, film and video art, features Radian, an electroacoustic band that combines microscopic sonic detail into its rock dynamic. Emotional and cerebral in the same song, the group expands the rock palette to new extremes. Didi Bruckmayr has a doctoral degree in economics, is a performance artist, a musician and extreme vocalist. Christof Kurzmann is interested in improvised music and electropop songs. He is an internationally respected improvisor of electroacoustic music, conscientious objector, and concert organizer/label owner. Michaela Grill is a video artist who frequently collaborates with improvising musicians. She was recently the recipient of a major award in Austrian film and video making. dieb 13 renders cassette players, vinyl, cd's and harddisks into instruments. He has composed music for theatre, opera, video productions, and installations. He directs the internet platform Billy Roisz specializes in feedback video and video/sound interaction using monitors, cameras, video mixing desks, a selfbuilt videosynth, computer and turntables for video and sound generating. NTSC is the duo of dieb 13 and Billy Roisz. NTSC is a continously developing project about interactions between sound and video off the well beaten paths of computer analysis and synthesis in a live context. The New York Times has described Tim Hecker’s work as “foreboding, abstract pieces in which static and sub-bass rumbles open up around slow moving notes and chords, like fissures in the earth waiting to swallow them whole”. His Harmony in Ultraviolet received critical acclaim, including being recognized by Pitchfork as a top recording of 2006. Radio Amor was also recognized as a key recording of 2003 by Wire magazine. His latest full-length, An Imaginary Country, was released by Chicago-based kranky records. crys cole has worked and performed extensively as a solo artist and in free improvisation settings across Canada, and has toured Germany, France, Italy and Belgium. She works predominantly with contact microphones, minimal signal processing and no-input mixing board. Mike Germain is a musician, audio artist, and technician whose work explores frequencies in all their forms. His work ranges from using improvised techniques in electronics to sound design for film as well as installation projects. Germain has exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, whereby he developed custom-built software to sonify brain-wave data. He is the former Technical Coordinator for the send + receive festival of sound and currently a Video Pool Media Arts Centre technician based in Winnipeg.

For more information, see the send+receive website or the What's Up Vienna! What's Up Montreal site.

Of course, all of you overwhelmed by ennui new or old will find this evening full of exquisite delights and even more exquisite sorrows to satisfy even the most jaded of Des Esseintes among you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Deeper Into Movies 7

Pickpocket - Robert Bresson

My first Bresson film, which is frankly a little embarrassing.

First remark - this isn’t a completely anti-psychological film. At the very beginning, Michel does seem to be getting some sort of sexual release when he opens the woman’s purse and removes her money. Similarly, the remarks he makes to Jeanne about his alcoholic father and disinterested mother get uncomfortably close to a banal sociology of the “anti-social personality” that Bresson goes out of his way, in the opening statement, to avoid. But, as with the sexually compulsiveness suggested at the beginning, this is some pretty attenuated characterization. Michel, Jacques, Jeanne and the police chief/Grand Inquisitor all speculate as to his motives, but it is as thought we the audience were only getting a mere fraction of the conversation. For example, Michel’s self-imposed isolation from the world on which both Jacques and Jeanne remark is never really explained. It is treated as a donnée, just something Michel does to the perplexity of his friends. In fact, there is a decided famine of motivation in general - a couple of pseudo-causes as to Michel’s kleptomania, if that’s what it is - but nothing to explain the relentlessness of his decision to take on the role of criminal.

Second remark - obviously, Michel is a Raskolnikov in palimpsest, but the difference between the luridness of Dostoevsky’s novel and Bresson’s film is worth noting. The pleasure of Dostoevsky in general is this luridness, of too-muchedness: pedophiles and prostitutes and bone-crunching poverty collaged with lengthy disquisitions on God, morality and politics. While he may be a little too worthy, its hard not to see Doestoevsky as a kind of pulp-modernist in the way that Lovecraft and P.K. Dick are.

Bresson, on the other hand, seems to operate in a more unstable terrain. Michel does not finally confess in order for resurrection to occur. The love affair, if that’s what it is, between Michel and Jeanne seems to be little more than a narrative device with little to do other than provide a means by which the film can continue. In this sense, it is little different from the vaudeville routines that Vladimir and Estragon use to pass the time in Waiting for Godot. The action is not where the action is in this case. Which leads us to…

Third remark - purely at the level of sheer visual pleasure, the ballet of hands, arms, wallets, pockets, newspapers and overcoats was astonishing. This is where the interest lies, and why it is easy to appreciate the enthusiasm that a Godard or a Truffaut would have had for Bresson. Pure cinema, without extraneous content. Its concepts visible in movement and time.

I have a feeling I have a new hobby-horse.