Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fursaxa - Live at Psychotropic Zone, Stella Star Club, Helsinki, 25.9.2004

Part 1

Part 2

"I still get nervous whenever I perform solo, so I think I am trying to get myself into a meditative state whenever I am on stage. And if it also has the same effect on the audience, than all the better. I think my live performances are much different than my recordings. That’s why I’ve released so many live CDRs over the years. It is difficult for me to be 4 people in 1, so I try and play 1 or 2 of the same instruments that I use in the recorded song, but not everything. Quite often when I practice I will try to play a recorded song and it sort of turns into something else. I guess what I am trying to say is that I start with a basic structure and make it more freeform, almost improvised." Tara Burke (Fursaxa) Entire interview here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rave New World (1994)

EQUINOX examines the rave experience from the technological point of view; the music, the lighting, the new video technology and the neuroscience of ecstasy, the drug that is an integral part of the rave scene. A technological view of the rave scene. Looks at American research on the longterm effects of ecstasy (MDMA) on the brain neurotransmitter serotonin. Dr Charles Grob of UCLA studies its use in therapy. Alexander Shulgin, the `father of ecstasy' creates psychoactive drugs in his garden-shed lab. Charts the evolution of rave and its technology. Moves from 3000 teenagers in an aircraft hangar in Kent, via an Orbital show in Amsterdam to 1000 techno-hippies in the Nevada desert. Examines the science and technology of the rave experience, considering the effects of the music, the lighting, new video technology and the neuroscience of the drug ecstasy. Features Dr. Charles Grob of UCLA, Alexander Shulgin, a pharmacologist, and ambient techno musicians the Future Sound of London.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Beat Generation

The “Beat Generation” is viewed as an influential cultural revolution or a literary movement that emerged in the late 1940’s in the aftermath of World War II. The Beat movement was made up of a broad geographical range, from New York City to San Francisco. At first the majority of the “beats” lived in Greenwich Village, New York. They usually hung out together in coffeehouses, jazz bars, and in Washington Square Park, sharing ideas, creating works of art -especially poetry, listening to music and having wild parties. The poetry and novels they wrote were always about their own life experiences and hence biographical. The autobiographical fiction novels of Jack Kerouac and his fellow Beat writers show that without a specific philosophy, the Beat Generation sought to redefine the American Dream and reject middle class values through the pursuit of kicks and escape from convention.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Banksy's Antics Roadshow

An hour-long special made by Banksy charting the history of behaving badly in public, from anarchists and activists to attention seeking eccentrics.
Contributors include Michael Fagan talking about breaking into the Queen's bedroom: 'I looked into her eyes, they were dark'; and Noel Godin, who pioneered attacking celebrities with custard pies: 'Instead of a bullet I give them a cake'.
Explaining his reasoning behind the show, Banksy said: 'Basically I just thought it was a good name for a TV programme and I've been working back from there'.
Narrated by Kathy Burke and produced by Jamie D'cruz, The Antics Roadshow examines the stories behind some of the most audacious stunts of recent times and what motivates the perpetrators, from mindless boredom to heartfelt political beliefs.
It includes a world exclusive first interview with the man responsible for putting the turf Mohican on Winston Churchill's head.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Brion Gysin - FlicKeR (2007)

Based on John Geiger's book Chapel of Extreme Experience, Nik Sheehan's FLicKeR is a fascinating voyage into the life of artist and mystic Brion Gysin and his legendary invention the dream machine, a device that projects stroboscopic light, provoking a "drugless high" and cinematic hallucinations. In this Hot Docs world premiere Sheehan captures the dynamic, supernatural world of Gysin, the queer cultural terrorist who fused science, magic and art to expand human consciousness and transcend material reality.

Gysin's biography is difficult to condense, but he grew up in Edmonton before reinventing himself as a bohemian globetrotter who went on to become the unacknowledged genius behind some of the most interesting developments in the 20th-century avant-garde. He died in 1986. Sheehan casts him as a radical artist intent on harnessing "the visionary potential of light" (as Geiger puts it) to revolutionary ends. Gysin was not a man but, like the machine, a way of perceiving the world Ñ pure energy. He even tried to make himself invisible.

"It's incredible that nobody's made this film before," says Sheehan, whose previous credits include God's Fool about writer Scott Symons and the groundbreaking AIDS documentary No Sad Songs. Queer heat

"I was surprised how anxious people were to open up and talk about Gysin because people have so many different views of him." What is so compelling about FLicKeR is that Gysin remains mysterious and ephemeral throughout, no amount of talking could ever explain him.

Sheehan's film is populated with a who's who of pundits, countercultural figures and Gysin confidantes, reminding you that rock 'n' roll has always gone hand in hand with the most out-there shit: Marianne Faithfull, Iggy Pop, Kenneth Anger and Genesis P-Orridge all wax poetic on Gysin, magic and their most memorable trips, as do younger devotees like Lee Ranaldo and DJ Spooky. How did Sheehan land all these stellar interviewees? "That's the magical question," quips Sheehan. "It's a very interesting group; they go back a long time. And because they're cult figures they've obviously built up all these defences. So it was a very complicated and long and dedicated effort to bring everybody online." QUEER TRUTH. Nik Sheehan's amazing doc FLicKeR on Canadian artist Brion Gyson argues that the Beats' struggle against conformity and authority must continue.

The film is also chock full of brilliant archival footage, particularly of Gysin, his art and his intensely fruitful and influential collaborations with William S Burroughs. We visit the "Beat Hotel" in Paris where these seditious kooks built a poor-man's lab to transform the world through all manner of strange experiments in perception. "That's one of the things about Gysin and Burroughs and these guys, it's this combination of the silly and the sublime," Sheehan says. "We have to remember how incredibly brave they were. They did not accept what society was offering Ñ it was all lies. And they were very moral, good people in their way. With Nazi Germany they saw what could happen to a government [if] we get a little too trusting.

"That element of rebellion has something really serious."

Sheehan feels Gysin's gayness was fundamental. "A shaman to me is always a pansexual being," says the gay Canadian filmmaker. "These guys all came out of that period where queer was really hardcore, it was part of their radical art Ñ and of course it was illegal."

Sheehan says his film "wasn't so much a biography of Gysin or a story of the dream machine as a story of the dream machine as a biography of Gysin Ñ the way the two fuse together. I think [the producers] were expecting it was just going to be this cute story about this spinning little machine, not these crazy queer mystics.

"The dream machine is [Gysin's] ultimate work, this end-of-art thing that went beyond something you made to something you created individually in your own head."

One challenge that Sheehan encountered was how to represent this internal, neurological phenomenon on screen, so there are many shots of people pressed up close to the device, eyes closed, narrating their experiences in ecstatic tones. It calls to mind Eric Emerson in Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls who just "groove[s] on myself" as coloured lights play over his body, a transcendence through narcissism. The dream machine isn't much to look at Ñ sort of like a twirling lampshade Ñ so you have to take people's word for it. But whether you can imagine what they are seeing or not, the ideas behind the machine are what matter.

"One of the things I really wanted to do is put things in the present tense, to give it some relevance," says Sheehan. "The idea of trying to build a machine to change your world, we're doing that all the time, aren't we?

"The Beats came to fruition in the late '50s in the Eisenhower years where the world was petrified by the bomb and conformity was everything. Well, where are we now? We live in this time when we have this rightwing American government, which has turned into a torture state. There are weird parallels. It was the old message: Don't trust the man, he doesn't always have your best interests at heart. And the dream machine is the perfect metaphor for this: Get rid of television, get rid of cinema, make your own inner movie, be your own person."

In its enthusiasm for this long-gone cultural moment and its most beguiling catalyst, FLicKeR has great poignancy. At one point P-Orridge suggests that the control that Gysin and his comrades were fighting against is now diffuse and all-pervasive, and that rather than deserving to be liberated by the ultimate mind trip, the inert public now "deserve to have their bottoms smacked."

(Jon Davies,

Saturday, October 01, 2011

George Steiner

Part One
Part Two

An interview with the literary critic and writer George Steiner on his life and work, made in 2007. For a higher quality (downloadable) version, and many video interviews of others, please see

Professor George Steiner was born in Paris on 23 April 1929. His family moved to the United States in 1940 and he was educated at the Universities of Paris, Chicago, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge. He was a member of the editorial staff at The Economist in London during the 1950s before beginning an academic career as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in 1956. He was appointed Gauss Lecturer at Princeton in 1959. He has been a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, since 1961 and was Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva between 1974 and 1994.

Professor Steiner has held visiting professorships at Yale, New York University, the University of Geneva and Oxford University. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary fellow of Balliol College Oxford, and has been awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French Government and the King Albert Medal by the Royal Belgian Academy. He received the Truman Capote Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 1998 and in the same year was elected Fellow of the British Academy. 

WikiLeaks Hasn't Gone Far Enough

Poor quaity cam recording of Julian Assange at the Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas Sep. 30 2011 giving the opening talk entitled "Wikileaks hasn't gone far enough" via live video feed from London. This transmission packed the largest space in the Sydney Opera House. 

Wikileaks is a leaking boat, filled with torpedo holes, that is struggling to stay afloat, founder Julian Assange says.

But the organisation has only just begun its work, the under-siege Australian has promised.
Assange, 40, who is currently on bail in Britain facing extradition to Sweden, appeared via videolink at the Sydney Opera House's annual Festival of Dangerous Ideas on Friday night.

"At the moment, WikiLeaks is a rather big boat with a lot of torpedo holes in it that has taken water in and is drifting along and we're doing our best to keep it afloat," Mr Assange said.

But despite this, the organisation had not yet gone nearly far enough, he said. "We have only just begun. We have put into that historic record less than one-thousandth of the series of information that is concealed that needs to be there," he said.

Assange reflected on how 310 days ago he was in Wandsworth Prison in London and the Australian government was doing "everything in their power to see me...shipped off to the United States".
"And that swift reaction from the Australian government was only stopped by the Australian population and our friends in Australia," he said.
"It was an expression of democratic discipline."

Assange is awaiting a decision by Britain's High Court of Appeal as to whether he will be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault and rape against two women.
Wikileaks came under criticism earlier this month after it posted its entire archive of US State Department cables on its website, making potentially sensitive diplomatic sources available to anyone.

Mr Assange has blamed the Guardian newspaper for the leak, saying the newspaper's negligence in publishing an encryption key to uncensored files forced his organisation's hand in publishing the secret US diplomatic memos.
"Who is the biggest critic of all of this, who has been creating three articles a day for the past four weeks on this? The Guardian, the very newspaper that disclosed the password, that is trying to save its a**e from criticism," he said.

Assange's other former media partner, The New York Times, was also trying to distance itself from WikiLeaks to "save its own a**es", he said.
The leak of 251,287 cables was "the greatest intellectual political treasury that has ever been put into the historic records of modern times", Assange said.
"It can't be called a dump -- dump is what you do to garbage," he said.
"This is a treasure."

Wikileaks is also under severe pressure from a credit card ban on donations to the site undertaken by Visa, Mastercard and Paypal, among others.
"That has wiped out 95 per cent of our revenue. Over $US20 million ($A20.53 million) has been destroyed as a result of that completely political blockade," Mr Assange said.
"In your wallet is an instrument of unstated US foreign policy and it's affecting your actions right now," he said.

Assange said he has accepted Wikileaks may not survive as an organisation.
"(But) even if WikiLeaks is destroyed, other people have been inspired by our work and they will continue to carry the flame."