Panel Performances One
Performative Viral Flows – Masks and Earworms
Maria Madero (The London Interdisciplinary School):
Archive delirium is a collection of 120+ multidisciplinary works related to topics of the mask. It is growing, being in constant revision and construction. It encompasses the diversity of times, spaces, disciplines and dimensions that the mask has. It wants to be a repository of connections and an incomplete collection of moments. It also intends to make visible and more intelligible the Global South’s—unrepresented—artists and thinkers. It is written by Maria Angelica Madero as a storytelling and reading of the images that are part of it. The archive started upon realising that we are becoming a masked society. Protestor’s masks for anonymity, facial recognition technologies, respiratory masks in hospitals, medical masks for viral protection, the mask as a military device, ethnographic masks, and others. Upon this, there is the necessity to unveil the complexity of the mask and its implications with a more rigorous study of the mask’s dimensions.
Colin Black (Composer, Sound Artist and Radio Artist): Gloves, Masks & Confinement. Performance streamed live during the lockdown (18 April 2020) while the artist was in Ljubljana.
Elena Pilipets (University of Klagenfurt, Austria): Fuzzy, Nonsensical, Mundane: The Gesture of Sharing #dontdrinkbleach and the TikTok Lockdown Aesthetic
This short contribution draws attention to the gesture of sharing on TikTok. By discussing how TikTok’s infrastructural and creative affordances affected the spread of #dontdrinkbleach videos in the wake of Donald Trump’s now infamous comments on treating Coronavirus, it pursues two main objectives: The first is to address the lockdown aesthetic of TikTok through recent theories about the circulation of natively digital visual material. The second is oriented towards methodological experimentation with the capacity of this material to mediate fuzzy experiences of sharing nonsensical content. By combining Vilém Flusser’s notion of technical images with theories of digital aesthetic and viral contagion, I approach #dontdrinkbleach as a gesture of ironic distancing, arguing that the less an image informs, the better it communicates. Brought out by users’ interactive contributions during the pandemic, #dontdrinkbleach comes to increasingly trouble the distinction between shock and boredom, opening the realm of TikTok lockdown aesthetic to a larger ensemble of meaning and (non)sense making social media.
Maria Puskas (Artist): Shopping Drift (Guided Meditation on Panic Buying)
We have always been limited by the structures and paradigms we lived by. However, the current restrictions regarding physical activity and behavior – which does not differ from structural change – generated some great tension both on a universal and personal level. We have a strong sense of lacking freedom, despite the fact, that for example – as urbanists have realized decades ago – it is barely possible to freely pick our path in cities. It rarely comes to our mind that we are already physically limited by the layout of the built environment. The current restrictions are just a small adjustment made on our otherwise comfortable or at least known structure. There are many doubts regarding the sense of these new rules applied. The overloading yet blurry information about covid just enhances the tension. I would like to offer a meditation, a guided visualization of slow, maskless, pre-covid grocery shopping – an invitation to practice some virtual grocery store derive. A 20-minute video focused on the audio recording with a tasteful background image, uploaded to youtube to fit today’s most popular guided meditations. This work sheds light on the desire to (only) live in structures that are comfortable for us. Keywords: abundance, visualization, relaxation, mental window shopping, real virtuality, viral, solfeggio frequencies, derive
Glenda Torrado Rodríguez (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México) and Gustavo Gómez-Mejía (Université de Tours – Prim): Corona Sound Machine: Singing the Virus with Vernacular WhatsApp Latin Aesthetics
Please link to complete Corona Sound Machine http://coronasoundmachine.glitch.me/
Within the Latin-American digital landscape, WhatsApp groups are essential spaces for sharing so-called “viral” contents. During the Coronavirus pandemic, those groups have been used as channels for different types of spreadable media: health tips, official information but also ‘fake news’ and rumours are widely circulated via WhatsApp among families, colleagues, friends and diasporas. From a cultural point of view, Corona-related music is perhaps an original aspect of the Latin-american ‘infodemic’. Cumbia, reggaetón and other regional music genres have been repeatedly used to sing the virus before and during the lockdown. As the virus inspires a wide range of spreadable media, sharing diverse musical expressions (as clips, videos or snippets) has been part of a vernacular experience in recent months. “Corona Sound Machine” is a digital collection of Latin music about the virus. In order to turn spreadable media (often considered as ephemeral junk) into a contemporary cultural archive, 15 Corona-related songs have been collected via Latin-American WhatsApp groups. How to sing a global virus with Latino aesthetics? Beyond Miami-centric cultural stereotypes, the pandemic blends with diverse traditional and modern genres inspiring multiple creative directions. Our online collection of embedded video players will provide analytical comments about these vernacular phenomena. From vocal folk performances to synthetic post-Internet mashups, such contents spread complex emotions (e.g. paradoxically trying to laugh during the tragedy or exorcizing fears about what may happen during the lockdown). They also express “viral” ideologies about collective preventive action, gendered normativities, celebrity cultures and social injustice.
Paul Good and Kirsty Wood (Artists): Relics
We are an artist duo. We work with sculpture and sound. We are influenced by the environments we inhabit or encounter collectively, trapping various aspects of the past and present. While being on lock down one positive has been to have time off, being collaborate artists having time off together is always more productive. We have used the time to work on new material. This new work is forming into what will be a second album, Relics is one of the pieces we have been working on. We are interested in the context of sounds representation physically i.e. the same way as a score. Sounds we make include sampling, directly sourced from surroundings, with guitar, drums and some vocal elements to create a description of form. Music is movement, for this reason it is always in flux, it has the ability to transcend and work on many different platforms. Sound is pushing our practise further creating something that is becoming a micro-environment. Musically we create each piece as we would a sketch, starting with a basic structure, slowly building and editing until something forms that feels complete. The compositions are about balance, how one part sits next to another. We want the listener to feel immersed in a sonic landscape.
Ruth Adams (King’s College London): ‘Coronavirus is a Paigon’ – UK Rap Music as a Public Service and Public Good in the Time of Covid-19.
Stuck at home during lockdown, Grime, Drill and Garage artists were quick to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, producing tracks and accompanying videos that functioned not just as a creative release, but as public service announcements. ‘Spitting bars’ that encouraged others to “keep your salivas” (Lady Leshurr), some echoed more mainstream media messages in promoting good hygiene habits and social distancing. Could these tunes lead to a reassessment of UK ‘urban’ music’s reputation? No longer a culture held responsible for anti-social behaviour, but one that encourages social responsibility, where covering your face suggests not gang warfare but germ warfare? In part, the songs and their messages can be seen as a response to the disproportionate impact of the virus on the communities from which these genres emerged – BAME, working class, urban – and a desire by artists to reach them with public health information often more straightforward and unambiguous than government campaigns. These Covid-19 tracks can be seen as part of ongoing criticism by these music scenes of the governments’ perceived inability or unwillingness to tackle inequality and its effects. They are of a part with Stormzy’s calling out of Theresa May’s handling of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and its aftermath at the Brit awards in 2018. Grime and allied genres continue to function as a vital voice for fractions of society often denied access to the conventional institutions of power and public debate.
Mikey B Georgeson (Artist): Music to my Ears – entangling with lag
At the beginning of lockdown, I recorded and filmed a song Music to my Ears. I’m a deaf man and this handicap has given me access to felt modes of embodied knowing. The point, at first, was to share my passion for music as a means of transmitting a sense of material vitality. Music, perhaps more than visual art, is something that emerges before our reasoned sense of separation from the land and each other. Music is not an added extra it is the basis for thought-in-becoming and a sense of the cosmos as one dynamic substance. In a musical methodology of working via aesthetic and keeping post-rationalisation at a useful distance, I see a strong connection to Libet’s research into the lag between an intended action being registered in neural activity and conscious awareness of this activity. Massumi suggests that this half-second lag records the “overfull space of the prepersonal, an emergent casual order, from which the will or consciousness subtracts”. According to Massumi this half second lag is an affective event which “happens too quickly to have happened actually” and is therefore “virtual”. When making music collaboratively online, you are immediately confronted with a lag of, as luck would have it, about half a second. The common sense (spatially fixed thinking) approach to the problem is to seek out an application but my intuition told me that there would be something beyond the scope of algorithmic order in the sparkling textures of stuttering drusiness when attempting to sing with virtual friends. This film combines the first emergent recording with the consequent virtual lag entanglement jam. The actual jam went on for about twenty minutes as we dared ourselves to push past the limits of common sense and outside of the “Empire of Like” until deafference was allowed to emerge.