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C o n t e n t s
Victoria Walters p.7 Richard Ferron p.22
The Nation: Myth or Reality? Keith Cameron p.6 Crash Cultures Jane Arthurs and Iain Grant p.10 The |Death of Rock? Sean Albiez p.24
Rite of Passage Anthony Nanson p.8
Bangers & Smash Sarah Chapman p.18 Streetstyle in |Devon p.28
qu ar te rly
© 2003 Intellect Ltd. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission of the publisher. Intellect accept no responsibility for views expressed by contributors to iQ; or for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations; or for errors in articles or advertisements. Volume 1 Number 2, November 2003 ISSN 1478-7350 Printed at Emtone - 01225 330894
Dear Reader It has been a tremendous oppertunity to publish this issue of iQ! New to magazine publishing, Kate and I have liased with contributors, arts centres and lecturers to make this possible. Issue 1 of iQ was published in February 2003 by Intellect from their base in the Bristol and Bath area of the South West. Following the suggestion of its editor we decided to produce, as part of our Publishing course, an edition from our base in Exeter and Plymouth. As we are based at the University of Plymouth, we wanted to reflect our university’s enthusiasm for experimental design, and so recruited the expertise of Visual Arts students. A big thank you to Mike Endacott for his support. He has listened attentively to our suggestions and turned them into this new exciting magazine! We hope iQ’s fiction, poetry, debate and scene will inspire you to engage in the arts, both theoretically and visually. Using cutting edge photography and digital techniques, we have tried to present information in an original way. We hope you enjoy this first Devon edition, and if you have any comments on how to advance iQ please do get in touch.
Many thanks Emma Catherall
Guest Editors Emma Catherall, PgDip/MA Publishing Kate Macefield, PgDip/MA Publishing Guest Art Director Mike Endacott, Visual Arts Photography Pete Langdon, Visual Arts Sarah Chapman, Lecturer for Visual Arts All are at the University of Plymouth Editor and Publisher Masoud Yazdani Intellect Ltd PO Box 862 Bristol BS99 1DE Tel: 0117 958 9910 Fax: 0117 958 9911 email@example.com www.iqmagazine.co.uk Design Support Gabriel Solomons
The Nation: Myth or Reality?
In a Europe, which over the last decade has seen the demise of totalitarian regimes and subsequently splintered up into new states, the concept of nationhood and what it really signifies has become one of burning relevance. Britons, Bosnians, Ukrainians and Russians have at least one thing in common, their wish to keep their distinct identity and to distance themselves from those of another nation. The British, while wishing for closer ties between the member states of the European Community, are still anxious not to lose their sovereignty. The word nation is bandied about considerably; we talk of the French nation, the Spanish nation, etc. In many continental countries the concept of the ‘patrie’ is part of their cultural heritage. President de Gaulle when addressing the nation would virtually always allude, in the course of his allocution, to ‘Francaises, Francais’, thereby reminding his listeners of their national affiliation. How many countries have allusions to common national origins in their national anthems? e.g. ‘Land of my fathers’, ‘Enfants de la patrie’, ‘Deutschland
uber alles’. Yet what constitutes a nation? Is it an ethnic division? Is it a political one? a geographical one? a linguistic one? a combination of all these? The term is certainly loaded with political force. In times of threat, when a group of individuals feels in danger from another, then it would seem that the spirit of the nation is revived and fomented as a unifying factor of defence. Since time immemorial, ancestors have been invoked as an encouragement to the living. Where no knowledge of ancestors has existed then leaders or would-be leaders have not hesitated to invent them. During the Renaissance in Europe families employed men of letters to invent a genealogy for them and their followers, a legacy from the Emperor Augustus who found a worthy singer of Rome’s past in Virgil. There is a strong correlation between political demands made by minority groups and their economic and political standing within the greater community. Linguistic autonomy or rather movements which have as their avowed aim the maintenance of a minority language are often associated with political ambitions which once they are achieved or palliated can lead to minority languages being left to fend for themselves and, ironically, to perish. In the former Soviet Union, Stalin realised the unifying factor of a single language and tried to impose Russian upon the whole country to the detriment of local languages. This led to the right to speak one’s own language becoming one of the proclaimed aims of the emergent independent states. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the future. Should we be like Dr Johnson and feel ‘sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations’? Is the ‘nation’ therefore myth or reality? Are our own British characteristics a result of our society or part of a pattern which has been imposed on us? The boundaries of a nation, can they be justified? Or are they the result of political activity, which subsequently tries to provide a raison d’être for their existence? We all believe that it exists, but is it just a socially accepted paradox? To read more about this topic go to: www.iqmagazine.co.uk
Template Poem By Victoria Walters
ripe sofage ta s
The last dance of childhood, the sun going down, the drumbeat driving it down, and you boys who would be men dance to the beat, your six heartbeats, your twelve feet stamping on the earth, the whole valley spinning, its black edge spiked with thorn tree silhouettes upon the fading red. And in the east the purple night rises, the terror the night brings of becoming a man in blood and pain, red pain like fire, throbbing in your loins. You stamp and leap, animal skins flapping round you, as the fires' heat strikes your dangling organs and brightens the beads strung by slim-fingered girls, now dancing in the darkness, chanting, taunting your courage to be men. There is no other way, no choice; no place for you in the otherland of the soul stealer, the whiskered one who rides when the sun is high, who speaks strange tales in nasal tones, and his woman and his daughter with their stiff white clothes, so tightly wrapped you wonder how they breathe, and medicine that sometimes saves an infant's life – saved at the cost of its soul should the mother succumb to the
By Anthony Nanson
whiskered one's madness and away she and her little one go, over the ridge and never return; no longer will they chant to the moon or swing their hips in the dance, they are lost and no longer belong. You must do what is done: the dance of boys, and then the cutting, and then the dance of men, down the valley's length, stamp with your spear and kill the wild beasts. Dance till the whole world is spinning, up and down and round and round, till there is stillness at its centre, your heart, your soul, your manhood to be, spinning so fast you know not where you are, you are one with the valley, and rough hands are guiding you away from the women, the girls, and little boys; gone now your last childhood day. Come to the forest you who would be men, six hearts pumping in fear, twelve feet treading the broken leaves, as frogs scream like crazed demons in the night and stars flash through the tangled trees; but then the frogs go silent and there is only the rushing of the stream from the mountain, and the trees dark, the sky dark, the water flowing dark, the men's masked faces dark. They are more than men now, they are lords of destiny and bear the secret of new life. Sixteen long rains past, women gave you birth; now is the men's turn. Rip off your animal hides, your beads, let your flesh feel the night air, your cold baptism in the mountain-born stream, then kneel dripping upon the earth and, as the wind slices through the trees, wait for the knife to slice away your child flesh, a sacrifice to the wild beasts you will hunt. Let the knife cut, let the blood spurt on the earth; but do not scream, do not flinch, for you who would be a man must not act like a child – unless you would be a child always, never to nourish a woman with your seed as now you must nourish the earth with your blood. Here comes the knife, it cuts, it cuts, you hear the sharp intake of breath, the barely inheld scream. Three times the knife cuts. Three men and three boys. Then the fourth. You feel your whole being in this drooping flesh. Is there no other way? The fifth, you hear his almost gasp, you see his blood streaming, your head is spinning, the dark spiky forest of the earth is spinning and insect shrieking, you want to dance but you are on your knees, waiting for the knife, the pain — Suddenly you stand and men like gods are
houting, you topple back, grab a branch, and dive running into thorn bushes, arms thrashing ahead for the avenues of deepest black. You must not flee, not now, at this moment of moments, but you are fleeing, you encompass the world with your bounding feet, your flesh presses through the forest mesh, thorns score your skin, but your legs are pumping, dancing, uphill you run – till you have left behind the mayhem of shouting and you can slow down, alone now, find a more careful way through the thorns, but flinching in fear from every squeak and grunt and patter, for there are wild beasts here and no men to fight them. You climb the valley wall, but there is nowhere to go beyond the world's thorn-crested rim; you are too drained of strength to keep walking and at last you flop down in long grass, a soft bed for sleep or death, too tired to care any more whether wild beasts come, for there can be no belonging now, no being, only dying. Sunrays on your bare skin wake you, the sun rising on the wrong side of the world. Is it sunset already, have you
slept the whole day, have you woken in some land of the dead where the sun rises where it should set? You push yourself upright and your heart floods earthward with the memory of what is lost and cannot be redeemed. Shiver in the ridge-grazing wind, then freeze; a figure plods up the grassy slope, running her fingers through the flowerheads, her face pink and tear streaked: the soul stealer's daughter, she looks up with glinting alien eyes the colour of the sky. An instant of comprehension: the sun is rising after all and this valley before you is the soul stealer's land, see the pink sunglint on his metal roofs. Two valleys back to back, like worlds reflected in water. The girl is alone, no other soul in sight but two circling larks, and she keeps walking towards you, nervous like you, greets you in a nasal tone, and she is trying to smile, but so sad, tears trembling in her eyes. She tries to talk with you, looks at your wounds, but she has no medicine, she cannot steal your soul, offers only a thin white cloth to clean your cuts, all the time talking and you can hardly understand what she is saying, only that she is fleeing like you are fleeing, she is running from the whiskered one who will not let her spirit breathe. Her eyes like the sky seem to see your soul and to see beyond the two valleys to a third, other world. Come this way, let me show you. Along the ridge to the mountain's spur, to crags and caves where wild cats lair. This one, she says, I've never gone inside, but sometimes I've felt a breath of air blowing through. It is true, a breeze comes from the cave's maw, its odour organic but not the stench of decay. She pauses at the threshold, so it is you who must step ahead into the darkness, then hold out your hand to lead her between the dank rocky walls; but she cannot follow with her long skirt dragging in the mud and trammelling her legs, she cannot climb or crawl or dance, so unwrap the binding fabric, let her body breathe like yours, let her reach with her arms, thrust her legs, clamber over boulders and squeeze through gaps; together through the darkness, the slimy wetness on skin, and ease a way through, with hands clasping, whispered encouragement, heartbeats thumping inside the mountain,
hardness of rock, softness of flesh, the crawling dance, pushing forward, ever forward, squeeze upward and on, breath shorter and harder like your hearts' pulse, thrusting, pushing, rhythm rocking to the beat, please trust me, have no fear, just stretch and pull and twist up and in and through, like pain tense and tingling, let the tears come for what is gone, let go now, let go and be free, see the light ahead glowing, through this moment for ever . . . Face the dazzling daylight, stumble out blinking, clutching the other, to the green grass of morning, the sun high, and gaze at the slopes descending, the streams converging into sinuous loops across a great plain, and beyond the plain, its scattered hills and woods and vales, beyond an immeasurable distance a deep infinite blue that merges with the sky. You lie down in the grass, no dancing now, and stare in terrified wonder.
Iain Grant: There are two ways of dealing with a crash. One, the cars are obliterated, the road is resurfaced, stratums to be discovered by future archaeologists. This is what happened in May 1997 on a section of the M42 in dense fog when the biggest road traffic accident in UK history took place. One-hundred-andsixty cars were involved in this pile up, they burst into flames, and the heat was so intense the cars melted into the tarmac. By six o’clock the next morning the road had been cleared and the road resurfaced. Two, it’s emphasised, it’s made obvious, it becomes a race to acquire a death. It becomes a race to die in some spectacular fashion. Three days after Diana’s death in 1997 Daihatsu began an advertising campaign in the UK. It pictured their car, their latest model. Underneath it had this slogan, ‘there are three steps to heaven’, which took me by surprise, but maybe they had grasped, getting into a car and hurtling down the motorway was the risk of death. Perhaps this is what driving is all about, perhaps getting into a car was never innocent, perhaps
held on 25 This is the transcript of a debate d, Bristol November 2002 at the Watershe es edited by inspired by the book Crash Cultur Jane Arthurs and Iain Grant.
For an audio recording of this debate go to: www.iqmagazine.co.uk
racing down the motorway knowing that could happen around the next bend, maybe that’s part of it. Maybe in other words, the heaven that Daihatsu said there were three steps to was not the heaven you enter by way of death, but by hurtling at uncontrollable speeds down a concrete ribbon to a more or less certain death. Maybe the heaven was here on earth. You’ll notice that neither of these ways belong to the way in which our culture pays attention to crashes at all. It’s bizarre. In an industrial civilisation, in a technological civilisation, the only address we have to the phenomenon of a crash, which happens every day on every section of road on every highway on every surface of the globe, the only way we have of paying attention to this is through the scandal of the accident investigation. You know what happens when there’s a crash. You get a flurry of people. It’s like a magnet. Everyone races towards the crash scene, grieving relatives, emergency services, insurance people working for the corporate people who must be responsible somewhere down the line. Everyone rushes to the crash. Once they get there their sole voiced concern is let’s learn all the lessons we can, let’s find out why this happens and lets make sure it never happens again. And there’s a bizarreness in this. Of course this is every day that we recognise, this must never happen again. What, however, is behind it is the idea that an accident, the crash, is not an accident at all. It happened for a reason! Jane Arthurs: What would happen if you started from an event rather than from a set of theories of how we deal with crashes? What about the crash as an event as witnessed in Crash films by Cronenberg and Ballard?
Iain: The Crash is a fertilizing event for all kinds of reasons, there’s the obvious connection between death and sexuality which is played out in it. There’s the idea of truly bizarre transspecies copulation which sends me into a frenzy and turns my legs to jelly, quite apart from that it is something that has a certain life span, it’s a collision, it’s chance. Ben Highmore: Ballard chooses to couch his Crash in an archaic religious language. And I was wondering, what does a culture, a secular culture, look for that is out of control with its surroundings having to rely on belief that has no religious form to it? The culture we have, look to the television and the ‘dumbest car chase ever part three’, it’s kind of a staple diet. Something like the dumbest car crash ever, is normally couched in road safety rhetoric, but nobody watches it for that, do they? We watch it because we know we are living on the edge of a fragile world held together by belief. Iain: It’s fascinatingly put, but the whole idea of an anthropology of a culture, that there’s nothing but belief. Our belief really has nothing to do with it. In a sense the increase in powerfulness of the technologies around us is quite simply the recognition that this is truly a secular age, that the belief systems by which we sought to justify our hold on the world have shattered and left nothing in their place. In their stead, however, comes a power wholly invested in the machines themselves, which is physical. There is for the first time, if you like since extremely primitive times, a world which is controlled by fates, by necessary laws, by unalterable things, where our beliefs don’t matter. The only thing that makes a difference is that now we are more powerless than the primitives were, because we no longer believe in magic.
David Roden: I want to move to models of agency, the relation of the subject with the technology. I suppose the major ethical question is, if in a sense technology enlists us in some kind of desire in action, which we can’t articulate, are our actions are built into the relationship? Iain: One reason that crashes are the significant things that they are, i.e. one of the reasons why people bother to resurface roads so quickly, is that they do take place in a conjunction of two powerful symbols of modernity. Ballard goes on about the car, but the car is more than symbolic of modernity; car is symbolic of freedom, car is symbolic of reasoning determining our actions. The car makes us the cause of our own effects as it were. A vehicle like any technology makes it possible for humans to have massive effects on the world. Place is no longer subject to whim or accident, but absolutely subject to determination and direction, and therefore grounds agency. When a crash occurs, it’s a collision between a sense of agency, between the possibility of an idea of freedom and a kind of animism attaching to objects. Did I crash because I wasn’t fully in control or did I crash because this car took on a life of its own? I suppose my position on this is fundamentally opposed to that conception of agency. Our essential passivity in the face of events has vanished from discourse surrounding our politics and our ethics, precisely because it’s an embarrassment to their very possibility. How can we found a politics based on passivity? Since when is doing nothing an acceptable response to anything? The very criteria of legal responsibility presuppose the efficacy of our individual responsibility. So in part the crash is
not only a collision between the culture of abject passivity on the one hand and impossibility of the concept of agency through the grounding of freedom. So instead of looking to explain the crash, in terms of these things, we go for the passive view that you have suggested. Karin Littau: One thing one could do is to look at different moments when technologies are invented and see what kinds of effects they have had, rather than seeing those technologies as a great human achievement but seeing how they changed the ways in which we see, the ways in which we think, in which we write. If you look at the effect of print technology on the individualisation of us and how this is in turn linked with Lutheranism and equally then with the internet, the effects of those technologies, how they changed the way we are, the way we feel, how in effect they change our bodies. Michelle Henning: I’m not connecting this in any clear way but the relationship about gender in that sense, in terms of sensory responses to the film image or to the experience of crashing has been left out. Also what about the Ballard film? When he talked about those car designs, they were predominantly designed by men, and based on certain images of both male and female bodies. But the whole thing of the camera tracking the car and the eroticisation of the car, what you could read from that was actually a lot about himself... A member of audience: What I’ve heard today is this idea of technology interacting with us, as a society. We seem somehow to be at its mercy. I completely disagree with this. I just turn it off! I’m in control of it, it is not in control of me! Iain: I have never heard of a clearer
statement of that position. There are several things that I think are so keenly important about what you suggest. Yes we can turn things off but the scope of our arms is restricted, i.e. the whole thing can’t be turned off unless, as it were, we blow up the lot, in which case do we fulfil our own will or the catastrophic will of the machine? It does become circular at a point. Either we blind ourselves to what’s going on immediately beyond arms reach or we allow the technology to take us places that technophobes tell us it inevitably will or where it’s inevitably going as a matter of physics. Tom Gunnig: This brings up a number of things, that are key. One is that there’s not just one technological environment but that it’s multiple and that one of the ways that I think we deal with one technology is by mediating it through another. It struck me that one of the most interesting things in the Ballard film is that he looks at the car and he goes ‘and so we realise that we eternally think the future has fins’. There’s this realm of historical change and actual fashion change where always the future is what wasn’t last week, it is always going to be reacting against itself. I think you’re absolutely right, we can never turn the system off, but the idea that it’s a totalising system, which interacts and changes within itself, is something that is really important to keep in mind. Michael: My friend who’s a psychoanalyst said that if he had somebody who came to him for therapy and thought that they were really having a conversation with a computer, he’d say he couldn’t help him. He would need somebody who knows about madness! So in the analogy with cars, ‘did I crash that car or did it crash me’, at what point actually does our unarticulated relationship to technology pass
over into something, which is a kind of collective madness? It’s very easy in one’s individual life to believe that you can turn it off, but in our collective life it’s not so easy. Iain: Is it broaching madness to suggest that we really have no control whatsoever, the car crashed me so on and so forth, whether the extension of that concept constitutes mass psychosis, or is it simply a question of realism? And I think these two questions are connected in the following way: One reason why belief is effective is because there is no doubt when there’s belief, so that for example, the explanations that anthropologists give of primitive religions in so far as they are animistic, in so far as they are magical, is not the belief as Freud said in the omnipotence of thought, it’s the belief that thought is a component of the world around us, thought is a naturalistic event to be naturalistically explained. And this is fascinating in so far as it both mirrors and is distinct from our own view of the accident. The primitive explanation of the accident is that it is no accident at all but a highly bizarre and improbable collision of two necessary tracks of objects. How else could a crash have occurred unless something had caused these two entities to come together in this very space at that very moment, to think otherwise is to think the absolutely improbable. So the primitive view of the crash is that ‘something’ caused this buffalo, in this place, running at that speed, towards this man, moving at that speed, at this time. What ‘that something’ is we don’t know. In so far as ‘that something’ is an element of the natural world, in so far as it is necessary and deterministic, then you know the only way that you can
affect it is by encouraging or discouraging it. When it works it’s called magic, when it fails it’s also called magic! What persists in both instances is belief. In so far as we occupy a secular world we tend to think that politics is the very contrary of theology, what is theological can have no effects on politics, as it belongs to theories of another world and other classes of entity. It’s absolutely not true to any political theologian. The conjunction of politics and belief, the conjunction of politics and religion provides a way of tackling the world which is infinitely more imaginative but not at all imaginary. This is the contrary side of belief. This is belief that overrides reason. This is belief that says the world is reshapeable and what’s more we’re going to do it. There is no hesitation there. This is a question of belief we are not prepared to tolerate. So in so far as we live in a culture that is not prepared to tolerate that conjunction of irrationality coupled with politics and theology, then we are never going to grasp how it is that belief can have any effect whatsoever. Jean: There are plenty of forms of belief that can coexist with doubt, so I don’t think you are at all right. I’m worried about technology with a capital T, I simply don’t know what it means. What is or what is not a Technology and they’re so different, and sometimes contradictory in their implications, and the idea that there’s some kind of grinding logic that we are just irresistibly carried along this tide by it, is one that doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. How do we talk about car crashes and build good wells in villages in Africa and say the same thing about all of them? I think you have to be really careful here. But it’s also agency. I decide not to drink and drive but if we just completely give up on the idea of any kind of intermediate level of agency which is neither not drinking and driving, nor some global active resistance which supposes that you can just switch it off, then I think one thing that goes completely out of the window is politics. I think unless we find some space which raises all the philosophical differences about agency, I think we are just in danger of losing any possibility of any rationale for any politics, call it political theology if you like, but we need something in there and for me that was one of the things that cultural studies used to think it was about. I wouldn’t want it to disappear. Iain: Just a question in response, it’s rhetorical but is addressed to everyone. Do we think if we really stop believing in agency it will disappear if it’s a real thing? Jane: Anybody want to take up the challenge?
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Art & Design Art & Design New Media Cultural Studies
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Cultures and Settlements: Advances in Art and Urban Futures Volume 3
Edited by Malcolm Miles and Nicola Kirkham
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New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovations and New Technology
Edited by Eduardo Kac
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The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness Beyond the Brain (3rd Edition)
By Robert Pepperell
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Publishers of contemporary high-street magazines invest more and more money in developing innovative design for an increasingly designliterate reader. Innovation, however, must always be grounded in the underlying conventions of legibility to ensure loyal readership and economic success. Digital Magazine Design provides detailed descriptions of all the necessary rules of design, and uses these rules to cast a critical eye over a selection of contemporary high-street magazines. Contents include: • Stepping up to the Interface • Underlying Principles • Setting up the Page • Manipulating the Page • Understanding Type • Potential Problems • Case Studies
The two parts of this book examine how iconic communication developed historically and is continuing to do so in this age of digital information. The first part gives a comprehensive overview of the uses that evolved throughout the centuries, from the earliest known symbols and icons. The second part looks to the future and the effects of the computer on icons and symbol systems. The role of the designers is discussed, stressing the need for them to collaborate with practitioners and consider multi-cultural aspects, in an ever-changing situation. Contents include: • Culture and Policy • Place Identity •l Cultural Practices
The twentieth century has given rise to a number of creative innovations, one of the most recent and influential of these being the phenomenon known as ‘New Media Poetry’. Although defined within the larger body of experimental poetics, ‘New Media Poetry’ is radically different from its avant-garde and print-based counterparts.This volume is the first truly international anthology of its kind. It records a very new kind of poetry, in which language is catapulted beyond the confines of the printed page and into cyberspace. Contents include: • Introduction • Digital Poetry • Multimedia Poetics • Historical and Critical • Perspectives
Synthetic creativity, organic computers, genetic modification, intelligent machines – such ideas are deeply challenging to many of our traditional assumptions about human uniqueness and superiority. But, ironically, it is our very capacity for technological invention that has secured us so dominant a position in the world which may lead ultimately to (as some have put it) ‘The End of Man’. The Posthuman Condition argues that such issues are difficult to tackle given the concepts of human existence that we have inherited from humanism, many of which can no longer be sustained.
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Architectures of Illusion: From Motion Pictures to Navigable Interactive Environments
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Learning for Innovation in the Global Knowledge Economy: A European and Southeast Asian Perspective (6th Edition)
By Dimitrios Konstadakopulos
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ICT for Curriculum Enhancement
Edited by Moira Monteith
£19.95 | Paper, 210 pp 1-84150-061-5
Contents include: • Remodelling Education • ICT Capability and Initial Teacher Training
The Cambridge University Moving Image Studio’s (CUMIS) concern with ensuring that traditional excellence informs the development of new modalities of research and expression in the field of digital media is focused on three main areas – research, education and production. This book, incorporates all these aspects, and is suitable for educationalists, practitioners, students and general readers, in creative media and architectural study and practice.
This book is a major step forward in understanding the learning behaviour of clustered technologyintensive small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs). Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative research methods and sampling techniques, it identifies how learning for innovation is stimulated or inhibited. An informative, challenging and comprehensive empirical study and analysis, this book will be useful to scholars and students of regional development, European and Asian relations, development economics, and management studies.
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This book considers the cognitive nature of courses connected with ICT or using ICT as an integral part of the course, including some views on the associated learning and teaching styles. Which factors lead to learning outcomes and are these intended or fortuitous? Factors may include ones specific to particular subject areas and their relationship with ICT, motivation associated with ICT usage, the interest which teachers, pupils and students who enjoy using ICT bring to the learning context.
In the middle of a rural landscape stockcar enthusiasts have carved out a tarmac heaven where old write-offs are given a colourful new lease of life. These petroleum fuelled occasions are full of fraternity and robust competition in equal measure.
Sarah Chapman, photographer and artist, teaches part time on the Visual Arts programme at the University of Plymouth. The work illustrated here is drawn from a recent photographic documentary which explores the culture of stockcar racing and aims to capture the frenetic atmosphere and sheer visual impact of this vivid and entertaining sport. Recent exhibitions include ‘Essential Maintainance’ at the Exeter Phoenix gallery (April 28th - May 24th) and a summer 2003 show at the Blink gallery in Soho, London.
The Death of Rock?
s rock dead? Not according to the NME. In November 2002 the paper included a free CD, ‘The New Rock Revolution’, which heralded a new dawn for ‘rock’. NME editor Conor McNicholas wrote ‘Once in a generation something so revolutionary happens in music that afterwards nothing is ever the same again. Right now, that’s exactly what’s happening’. Is it? Anybody noticed? The bands featured on the compilation included some half-decent US and UK bands (The Von Bondies, Radio 4, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Coral, The Music) as well as New Zealanders The Datsuns. The music was neither new (being variously ‘sourced’ from PiL, The Jesus and Mary Chain, NY post-punk ‘nowave’ and ‘mutant disco’) nor revolutionary. Despite the NMEs attempts to sell this idea (literally, through t-shirts) the ‘rock’ public remained unmoved. Everything was still the same, the marketing hype failed, and NME sales fell inexorably while Kerrang!’s rose. But what constitutes a ‘rock revolution’? The history of rock music since the 1950s has been lit-
tered with revolutionary rhetoric around key historical moments. Whenever rock (and roll) seemed to be limping to an early and deserved grave, upstart musicians forged a new sound that reinvigorated rock music. When revolutionary Elvis joined up and turned out to be an all-American-God-fearing-boy after all (the first ‘death of rock’!), a bunch of scouse lads took black rhythm and blues and the cool of Gene Vincent to Hamburg, and returned with a sound that was to shake up the USA and inspired the 60s British invasion. This ‘Britishification’ of US culture by a mutant AngloAmerican music seemed revolutionary in itself, but the greatest rock revolution is said (by rock journalists and academics then and since) to be when the AngloAmerican axis transformed rock and roll into ‘Rock’. This transformation occurred when the cultural weight placed on the shoulders of showbiz rock and roll became too great and required an intellectual antimainstream ordination. By the late 1960s, rock music, through The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan et al was said to have caused a ‘revolution in the head’. That is, youth culture had the false consciousness of consumer society, parent culture and mainstream politics lifted from it - by opening the doors of perception a new society could not only be imagined, but also built. Rock, it has been argued, was central to this revelatory cultural moment, but others suggest that it merely soundtracked social transitions and changes that were happening anyway. Whatever, Psychedelia and protest music became associated with revolutionary counterculture. With the increasing amplification of rock, the growth of festivals, increasing numbers of music magazines and papers, and the introduction of rock radio, rock became increasingly audible and visible throughout the 1960s. It did so on the back of frenzied commercial exploitation that did not sit easily with rock artists (who had greatly benefited from it!). The antimusic industry and anti-mainstream rhetoric of rock (borrowed from the 1960s political folk movement) has been a feature of rock ever since, but one that each generation feels it has discovered for itself. Pop and rock music has also been viewed by cultural critics as a mere product of a mind-numbing corporate music industry. Despite some suggesting 1960s rock
marked a revolution of perception, others argued the music industry had figured out how to sell revolution to consumers who had grown out of the rock and roll of their youth, and who were hungry for more weighty music that they could call their own. So the revolution of 60s rock was also marked by a revolution in the music industry. The 7” single was no longer the primary format - album orientated rock became the vehicle for music that maybe took itself far too seriously. Early rock and roll had a certain ‘authenticity by association’ for the rock audience - it had a heritage in black rhythm and blues and country, and this heritage was reaffirmed in the late 1960s when The Band, Neil Young, The Beatles, The Byrds and others turned away from Psychedelia to a simpler blues and country based rock. In some respects, ‘gutter pure’ rock was felt to have been sullied by the LSD fuelled manic drive towards innovation and the celebration of individual genius. Rock was supposed to be about ‘the street’ - or at least about music created from ‘three chords and the truth’.
On the other hand Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer and other rock bands of the 1970s felt that rock should be about conceptualism, complexity and have an art aesthetic - it should aspire to be a new revolutionary ‘classical’ music that replaced the old. Progressive rock therefore had competing and contradictory drives - both to ‘smash the system’ of old cultural values while employing the tools and attitudes of elitist culture (such as the symphony orchestra). Progressive rock intended to have a revolutionary project, and some bands more than others (Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson) did make music that assaulted the audience and mainstream culture. However, it was felt by rock critic Lester Bangs that progressive rock betrayed everything that rock was supposed to be about. In the film ‘Almost Famous’, ‘Bangs’ suggests that the early 1970s marked the death of rock. John Rockwell in the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll elaborates on this suggesting ‘There is a morphology to artistic movements. They begin with a rude and innocent vigour, pass into a healthy adulthood and finally decline into an overwrought, feeble old age. Something of this process can be observed in the passage of Rock & Roll from the 3-chord primitivism of the 50s through the burgeoning vitality and experimentation of the 60s to the hollow emptiness of much of the so called progressive or ‘art’ rock of the 70s’. However, progressive rock itself contained the seeds of the next revolution that for some resulted in the undisputed death of rock music, and for others marked its rebirth. Punk Rock, it has been suggested, looked at the walking corpse of rock music as represented in progressive rock, and decided to emphasise the Dionysian rather than cerebral pleasures of rock. And yet, some areas of progressive rock contained such desires. Van Der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill released the solo album ‘Nadir’s Big Chance’ in 1975. It was a call to arms that not only questioned the excesses of progressive rock, but also did so with a proto-punk noise that seems now astoundingly prescient. King Crimson, through Robert Fripp, influenced many artists (including
much later Kurt Cobain) who produced awkward and incendiary music that was as far removed from Yes as can be imagined, and yet is still called ‘prog’. Arguably punk didn’t aim to destroy ‘prog’ as such, but wanted to destroy the complacency of the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ school of rock (Nils Lofgren, Peter Frampton) and the pomposity of stadium rock - with Led Zeppelin (non-Prog) as guilty as ELP (uberprog). Punk reinvigorated rock music by simplifying it and speaking to the audience in a prosaic and direct way. The poetic romanticism of prog was implicitly ridiculed by punk, and the music bore little relation to symphonic rock. However, it was far from a workingclass rebellion against the middle-class occupation of rock by proggers. The Sex Pistols may have been working class Londoners, but the organising forces behind punk and its spread were middle-class Art school and higher educated entrepreneurs (whether Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne
Westwood or, outside the capital Tony Wilson and the Buzzcocks). Their predecessors were equally a mixed bunch of college kids slumming in the rock dives of New York - whether Patti Smith, Television or the Talking Heads. And Johnny Rotten/Lydon was a prog rock (Peter Hammill), dub reggae and Neil Young fan whose musical tastes were not dictated by his working class background. Punk, through the Pistols, momentarily shocked some of the UK public in 1977, and later the USA - but by 1978 punk had been fully co-opted by the music industry with novelty punk hits such as Jilted John’s ‘Gordon is a Moron’ (a precursor of Linkin Park) outselling punk bands who were ‘keeping it real’. And sadly for those who believe that punk changed the world, it has to be noted that despite Morat’s claims in the 2000 Kerrang Punk special that ‘way back when dinosaurs (Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis et al) ruled the earth, it was the Pistols who drove them to extinction’, the only thing dead in 1978 was punk. Far from the whole world going punk in 1976-77, punk was a minority taste. Punk could not commercially compete with Pink Floyd, Genesis or Yes, pop/rock artists ELO, Abba and David Soul, and disco in the late 70s and early 80s - The Pistols were extinct well before Pink Floyd. The progressive dinosaurs remained, on the whole, undefeated and arguably reinvigorated by punk. Yes, Genesis and Phil Collins (regrettably or otherwise) in one way or another found their greatest commercial success in the 1980s. Therefore, the longterm impact of punk in Britain is arguably over-amplified and ironically, in the post-punk era, Johnny Rotten/Lydon and his new band PiL pursued a distinctly ‘progressive’ path in an attempt to bury punk. So in what sense was punk a revolution? Like the 1960s counter-culture, maybe punk propagated for some a new ‘revolution in the head’ which only played itself out in the 1980s through the growth of indie and alternative rock - and many bands inspired by punk (The Smiths, New Order and the Cocteau Twins) did not actually play punk rock. By the 1980s, any claim that rock was the primary experience and vehicle for youth cultural expression became unsustainable. As suggested previously, disco,
as well as ska, reggae, Motown, northern soul and funk, had been central to club and dance culture that was all but ignored by rock critics (unless, that is, a rock artist (Bowie and Young Americans) showed an interest in these forms). From the 1950s onwards pop and dance music had been sidelined as inauthentic music industry ephemera, and yet was the experience of the majority of the record buying public. Rock, by placing itself at the pinnacle of popular music, had reduced large swathes of music culture to footnotes in the histories of rock. When NY Electro, Detroit Techno and Chicago House hit the clubs and streets of Britain in the 1980s, British youth was continuing its long term obsession with music from these contexts (New York Disco, Chicago electric blues, Detroit Motown and soul) - this was not a ‘dance revolution’. What was revolutionary was that there were magazines such as The Face and ID who were documenting the fleeting club scenes, and bringing them to a national audience. In the 1970s, sociological studies suggested that dance
musics, since the 1960s, had appealed to British working class youth, whereas rock was the primary experience of middle-class youth and students. By the 1980s, this social stratification of tastes was unclear (if it was ever really true). Bands such as New Order enacted the shift from guitar based rock into music that could encompass aspects of Hi NRG and Electro. It could be argued that Manchester club the Hacienda educated its audience into an acceptance that rock and dance boundaries were meaningless, resulting in the cross-over music of the Happy Monday’s ‘Madchester’. Dance culture, through house, techno, acid and rave became a mass movement by the early 1990s (that is, mass because of the scale of its organisation - 10,000 people dancing in a field), and it seemed apparent that youth culture had diversified into a range of lifestyle choices. Rock no longer could claim to be the central experience of youth - as Lawrence Grossberg suggests ‘people no longer danced to the music the liked, they liked the music they danced to’. In the 1990s rock seemed to gain a new lease of life in the US and UK through Nirvana and ‘grunge’ but it became difficult for these artists to come to terms with the fact that the challenging music they were making was given the corporate tag ‘alternative rock’, and by 1992 was the mainstream rock format of the US music industry and MTV. The British response to grunge was the guitar orientated Britpop ‘movement’ which was deeply nostalgic, retrogressively nationalistic and a throwback to 1960s British rock. In the USA, after the breakthrough success of Korn and the Deftones a new form of hard rock that embraced elements of Hip Hop culture became the primary format of American rock as Nu-Metal. Through carefully honed marketing and presentation, these bands seemed to represent a new anger, an alternative to mainstream thought and lifestyles, but in the final analysis are corporate rock for the noughties. Nu-Metal is sanctioned rebellion - in the case of bands such as System of a Down, anti-capitalist anger marketed through a capitalist corporation - capitalism will sell anything as long as it can be packaged with a free sticker and fold-out poster for the teen-angster.
Kerrang may now be the biggest selling weekly magazine, guitars may be flying out of music shops (and DJ decks and groove boxes left languishing on the shelves) but this does not necessarily mean this recent revival of ‘rock’ is a vital authentic expression of an oppositional culture, as opposed to dance or any other culture. It is a lifestyle choice. Rock may have kidded itself that it was once the voice of a generation, but in the present it is the inarticulate voice of a generation without a script. Punk (at least punk not represented by Blink 182 and Sum 41) may remain as an oppositional space with its own independent network, and there may well be evidence that in the field of electronic music there are ‘dance’ artists creating independently minded work (Alec Empire) that ask difficult political questions. But we first need to work out what it means for rock to be alive before we can suggest it is dead. Maybe rock was never about politics anyway, but was always really about the pleasures of noise, dance and youthful insolence. In this sense, it still fulfils the same pleasures enjoyed by the kids who trashed cinemas in the 1950s while watching ‘Rock Around the Clock’, and isn’t quite yet on its way to the emergency resuscitation unit.
SEAN ALBIEZ is subject leader of BA Popular Culture, University of Plymouth. Forthcoming publications include: 'Know History: Lydon, Cultural Capital and the Prog/Punk Dialectic' in the journal Popular Music (Summer 2003); 'The Day the Music Died Laughing: Madonna & Country' in Madonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations (UK, Ashgate 2004); 'Sounds of Future Past: from Neu! to Numan' in Pop Sounds (Germany, Transcript Verlag, Autumn, 2003). Main research interest is the history of electronic popular music in the UK, US, France & Germany from progressive rock to techno.
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