AGF - Westernization Completed (Orthlong Musork)
By Anil Bawa
Going out to an audience withdrawn into their mother boards, nestled in their silicon bosoms, meeting nightly with oedipus online - this hits a spot not too distant to Bjork's hermetic 'Vespertine'.
Me, I'm lost in a haze of MAX patches & retro MUD's. Tapping out messages. Playing with the dead. Asking questions of the QWERTY board.
"Everybody needs a place to fail" - AGF
Surfing bleary-eyed nights where the blink of the cursor is my metronome, the only meter between me and an online sunrise.
Someone has argued that the common-place windows-based interface is a metaphor for contemporary identity. Each window a persona. Schizonline. Decades ago someone else argued all technology, as extension of man, will display symptoms of man's psyche.
I'm not even arguing. These days I'm too busy keeping up with the technology treadmill to hold a position.
Antye-Greie-Fuchs is playing. She's born & bred in East Germany, which means a lot of things, and a fascination on my part.
Trying to recover the art of the song. The art of sorcery, lost amongst the bytes.
A blogosphere away, I wrote:
The digital interface is a space where action / reaction are instantaneous, such that the creative act of composition can become easily reduced and objectified into a series of user / interface interactions [which, at its base, is exactly what it is]. The song can break that loop. Emitted from within, it can override the process-frenzied facile plug-in space of much digital music.
"You are my most amazing new patch....with the special features!....beautiful...." - AGF, Westernization Completed
But the song resists objectification in a way most digital 'composition' can't. There is a yearning for the song in AGF's max-patch-meets-epoetry collages.
These eighties MUD's. there's something about returning to a DOS prompt: the lowest common denominator. A peek under the bonnet. Like a MAX patch. sculpting raw code.
It breaks with the common usage of digital machines:
For the interface to be a shell, coating a space of unfathomable depth.
For all processes to be masked. A complete distinction of the internal / external: a certain protestant ethic of vision:
To program art objects is to scrape at the shiny surface. To play with the world of appearances. To discern code from interface. A breakdown of the freudian ego enacted on a screen. Approaching psychosis.
Solaris. There's a Hollywood re-make for you. From mind-crushing Russian epic to Clooney love-story. And there was I thinking Sodehberk was the one. On the DVD no mention of Tarkovsky: 'Written for the screen by Steven Sodehberk',
East Germans are freak-unique. But in a good way. Like Duracell bunnies. I love both.
Antye Greie comes from a fashion-school angle, the kind that eagerly tables a self-awareness & conceptual gloss, as if to excuse its aesthetic pre-occupations. It's a little excruciating, but the narration holds the thing together:
"I grew up cheap, without caring about consume....where I come from....no information....no choices....but on the other hand, no homeless....flats, they are so cheap."
This tussle: trying to preserve a cogent identity in the midst of a digital culture so distributed & faceless as to appear omnipotent.
A scrap with a shadow. Attempting to wrestle a gust of information to the ground.
AGF is a brave lady with a top-flight booty.
Before I know it, my Winamp playlist has skipped onto Ryuichi Sakamoto's 'Night', followed closely by 'Day'.
"How must we live?...Online." - AGF, Westernization Completed
What the hell. Back to real-time, offline, dayrise, sunline, screenshine...
...or what's left of it.