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Full With Noise: Theory and Japanese Noise Music
by Paul Hegarty.......... "Full with Noise,..." is about noise music, specifically the version that has come to be called Japanese Noise -- itself composed of many different strands. The first half deals with the question of noise. What is it, whose is it, and how can we think about it. Also, how does noise inflect our thinking, rather than being an object; at what point does noise lose its noiseness and become meaning, music, signification? Or -- is there even a point where noise can subsist? Mostly, the text below takes the view that noise is a function of not-noise, itself a function of not being noise. Noise is no more original than music or meaning, and yet its position is to indicate the banished, overcome primordiality, and cannot lose this 'meaning'. Noise, then, is neither the outside of language nor music, nor is it simply categorisable, at some point or other, as belonging exclusively to the world of meaning, understanding, truth and knowledge. Read More ...
Dirty HC Punk explosion - Bristol scene Rise up + Disorder 9 free CDs
From The Cortinas to Lunatic Fringe and Disorder, Bristol had a huge Punk scene that has influenced, affected and stimulated a vast range of artists that operate in the city. Many of these artists produce music that wouldn’t necessarily suggest a Punk heritage but scratch beneath the surface of a lot of the major players in the Bristol milieu and you will find a fondness for the times of `spikey barnets’, limited musical ability, a `F*** You’ attitude and disrespect for the music industry and its poseur hierarchy. Read More ...
Dinosaur Jr.
Beyond + 17 albums free download
A straight shot west out of Boston on I-90 will carry you, in two hours or less, to Western Massachusetts, where the country still looks like it did twenty or even 40 years ago: college towns, I-91 tracing the same lazy ladder from Springfield up through Holyoke and Northampton, Amherst and Deerfield. Out there it's taken for granted that the houses will be drafty, the winters uniformly long, and that, on any given trip to the local supermarket, one might spot Thurston or Lou or Kim or J, on-and-off locals for more than twenty years. {audio}http://www.archive.org/download/DinosaurJrDrawings/07Drawerings_64kb.mp3{/audio} ... Drawerings Read More ...
Leon Theremin /1896-1993/ - the great forefather of Rock N' Roll /big noise master/
In 1919, in the midst of the Russian Civil War, Theremin invented the musical instrument that bears his name. The theremin is an electronic device that resonates sound when its operator waves his hands near its two antennas. It was the first musical instrument designed to be played without being touched. He invented the theremin (also called the thereminvox) in 1919, when his country was in the midst of the Russian Civil War. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which he demonstrated his invention to full audiences, Theremin found his way to the United States. He performed the theremin with the New York Philharmonic in 1928. He patented his invention in 1929 (U.S. Patent 1,661,058 ) and subsequently granted commercial production rights to RCA. In 1938 Theremin was kidnapped in the New York apartment he shared with his American wife (the black ballet dancer, Iavana Williams) by the NKVD (forerunners of the KGB). He was transported back to Russia, and accused of propagating anti-Soviet propaganda by Stalin. Read More ...
Animal Collective
Album: Fall Be Kind + 9 albums free download
By way of decrying a society that left its citizens unbearably restrained, Edith Wharton describes how in New York in the 1870s, women would order dresses from their Paris dressmakers and then leave them in tissue paper at least two years before wearing them in public; the thought of showing them "in advance of the fashion" was unforgivably vulgar. Social life has changed, but cultural life seems just as restricted now – even Animal Collective are held back by trends that seem a couple of years old (and that they helped to invent). When I think back on 2009, I’ll first remember how our impoverished aesthetic generation repeatedly scraped the resin from the cultural trash barrel. Every second person is wearing neon leggings, and the ones who aren’t rock a ‘70s aesthetic, with high-waisted jeans and moccasins. Christmas sweaters are getting impossible to find at the thrift store. Ska revival. Garage rock revival. It never ends. Read More ...
Guapo
Elixirs
For just over 10 years, London's Guapo has been working in the world of avant and progressive rock. The band's past is a bit hard to track with its numerous lineup changes and guest musicians. The most recent change in roster was the resignation of Matthew Thompson, the founding member of Guapo, which occurred just before the release of 2005's Black Oni. The departure of Thompson has left Guapo with percussionist David Smith and multi-instrumentalist Daniel O'Sullivan. Though O'Sullivan is by no means a founding member of the band, but he was essential in honing the sound on Guapo's last two LPs: Five Suns and Black Oni. These two albums have been pivotal in building Guapo's following of fans, so it's hard not to credit O'Sullivan as an asset to the band.... {audio}http://www.neurotrecordings.com/artists/guapo/audio/Guapo-The%20Selenotrope.mp3 {/audio} ... The Selenotrope Read More ...
The Swans - THIS IS NOT A REUNION - Message From Gira + free discography download (20 CDs)
Michael Gira's re-activated Swans will be undertaking their first U.S. performances in 13 years, celebrating the Fall release of the first new Swans album since Soundtracks For The Blind (1997). The album was recorded by Jason LeFarge at Seizure's Palace in Brooklyn and is currently be remixed by Gira with Bryce Goggin (Antony & The Johnsons, Akron/Family) at Trout Recordings. Read More ...
New Zealand Psychedelic Noise scene + 6 free CDs
For a small country New Zealand has long been pumping out some impressive music. Way back in the 1960s it was crazed long-haired punkers messed up on all sorts of stuff - musical (the Pretty Things, Love, the 13th Floor Elevators, the Troggs and who-knows-what-else) and I guess otherwise. Some of the best of these bands (at least, the ones that recorded) can be heard on Wild Things vol 1 and 2, compiled by NZ music historian John Baker, the first of which came out on Flying Nun, the second probably on Baker's own Zero Records, also the home to No. 8 Wire: Psychedelia Without Drugs. Read More ...

Odd

Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet
The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence. McConnell’s not dangerous because he knows anything about SQL injection hacks, but because he knows about social engineering. He’s the nice-seeming guy who’s willing and able to use fear-mongering to manipulate the federal bureaucracy for his own ends, while coming off like a straight shooter to those who are not in the know. When he was head of the country’s national intelligence, he scared President Bush with visions of e-doom, prompting the president to sign a comprehensive secret order that unleashed tens of billions of dollars into the military’s black budget so they could start making firewalls and building malware into military equipment. Read More ...
The Peyote Way Church of God - believe that the Holy Sacrament Peyote can lead an individual toward a more spiritual life
The Peyote Way Church of God is a non-sectarian, multicultural, experiential, Peyotist organization located in southeastern Arizona, in the remote Aravaipa wilderness. It is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Native American Church, or any other religious organizations, though we do accept people from all faiths. Church membership is open to all races. We encourage individuals to create their own rituals as they become acquainted with the great mystery. We believe that the Holy Sacrament Peyote, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle (see Word of Wisdom), can lead an individual toward a more spiritual life. Peyote is currently listed as a controlled substance and its religious use is protected by Federal law only for Native American members of the Native American Church. Read More ...
All world secret underground bases build for space travelers
The following material comes from people who know the Dulce (underground) base exists. They are people who worked in the labs; abductees taken to the base; people who assisted in the construction; intelligence personal (NSA,CIA,FBI ... ect.) and UFO / inner-earth researchers. This information is meant for those who are seriously interested in the dulce base. for your own protection be advised to “use caution” while investigating this complex.Does a strange world exist beneath our feet? Strange legends have persisted for centuries about the mysterious cavern world and the equally strange beings who inhabit it.  More UFOlogists have considered the possibility that UFOs may be emanating from subterranean bases, that UFO aliens have constructed these bases to carry out various missions involving Earth or humans. Read More ...
Dreamachine - stroboscopic flicker device enter you to a hypnagogic state - try it right here in your browser
The dreamachine (or dream machine) is a stroboscopic  flicker device that produces visual stimuli. Artist Brion Gysin and William Burroughs's "systems adviser" Ian Sommerville created the dreamachine after reading William Grey Walter's book, The Living Brain. In its original form, a dreamachine is made from a cylinder with slits cut in the sides. The cylinder is placed on a record turntable and rotated at 78 or 45 revolutions per minute. A light bulb is suspended in the center of the cylinder and the rotation speed allows the light to come out from the holes at a constant frequency of between 8 and 13 pulses per second. This frequency range corresponds to alpha waves, electrical oscillations  normally present in the human brain while relaxing. Read More ...
Japan’s Annual Penis Festival – Celebrates Fertility
KOMAKI, Japan — It's springtime in Japan and that means one thing. Actually, two things. Penis festivals and vagina festivals. It may sound like a sophomoric gag. But these are folk rites going back at least 1,500 years, into Japan's agricultural past. They're held to ensure a good harvest and promote baby-making. Maybe they should hold more such festivals. Japan has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.37 children per woman), which experts blame on stagnant incomes and changing gender relations. Read More ...
Rarest Fishes in the World
Aquatic Lifeforms You Never Caught While Fishing:
Black-lip Rattail ............ These sorts of rattails feed in the muddy seafloor by gliding along head down and tail up, powered by gentle undulations of a long fin under the tail. The triangular head has sensory cells underneath that help detect animals buried in the mud or sand. The common name comes from the black edges around the mouth. Read More ...
Island of Ghosts: Hashima Island - Japan’s rotting metropolis
Hashima, an island located in Nagasaki Bay, is better known as Warship Island (Gunkanshima). The island was inhabited until the end of the 19th century, when it was discovered that the ground below it held tons of coal. The island soon became a center of a major mining complex owned by Mitsubishi Corporation. As the complex expanded, rock brought out of the shafts was used to artificially expand the island. Seawalls created in this expansion turned Hashima into the monstrous looking Gunkanshima; its artificial appearance makes it looks more like a battleship than an island. Read More ...
Japan Monster mummies - the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu, raijū, and human monks
These fairly freaky historical remains can be found lurking in dark corners of Buddhist temples and museums across Japan. Known as monster mummies, they are, in fact, the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu and raijū. Or should I say things that people thought were demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu and raijū. They are not pretty, but they are really fascinating. Read More ...

Recent

The Marijuana Conspiracy - The Real Reason Hemp is Illegal
MARIJUANA is DANGEROUS. Pot is NOT harmful to the human body or mind. Marijuana does NOT pose a threat to the general public. Marijuana is very much a danger to the oil companies, alcohol, tobacco industries and a large number of chemical corporations. Various big businesses, with plenty of dollars and influence, have suppressed the truth from the people. The truth is if marijuana was utilized for its vast array of commercial products, it would create an industrial atomic bomb! Entrepreneurs have not been educated on the product potential of pot. The super rich have conspired to spread misinformation about an extremely versatile plant that, if used properly, would ruin their companies. Read More ...
Freegan - strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism
Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed. After years of trying to boycott products from unethical corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse, many of us found that no matter what we bought we ended up supporting something deplorable. We came to realize that the problem isn’t just a few bad corporations but the entire system itself. Read More ...
The woman power era is coming - The End of Men!?
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences Read More ...
Libya Truth Tour
Cynthia McKinney ..... Thanks to all who have come out and participated in the Truth Tour.  I have almost come to its end.  Last night in Detroit, several of the women were moved to tears as I explained the situation in Libya right now as I know it to be. Every venue has had every seat occupied or was filled to capacity with standing room only.  Detroit's young singer and band, Sister Ziyah and Black Rain were phenomenal and their music set the tone for the event:  first song, Kickstart the Revolution; second song, Good Morning, America; third song, Today, I'm a Better Me. Read More ...
Victorian England popular&legal drugs (hashish, opium, absinthe and Chloral)
Victorian England, spanning roughly the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is characterized in popular understanding as a time of personal and family values. The codification of the notion of values developed into specific and detailed ideas about social and cultural propriety and restraint. The very term "Victorian" has come to be used in our own time by cultural conservatives who look to the reign of Victoria as a touchstone for their own desires about social order. Prudishness, excessive formality, and repression, it is popularly assumed, characterized Victorian culture. Read More ...
Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent
Not so long ago experts predicted the imminent collapse of religion in modern western culture. Religion – often synonymous in these discussions with superstition, magic, and delusion – would at last give way to the autonomy of human reason and the power of the experimental method of natural investigation. But something happened on the way to religion’s funeral. People kept on believing. Recent neuroscientific and evolutionary research has suggested that either many of the hallmarks of religion are, or are byproducts of, adaptations that helped our earliest ancestors survive. Read More ...
Punk explosion against cenzorship in Indonesia + film -punk in love indonesia
It's after midnight in Jakarta and, below a highway overpass, a party is just getting started. Students and the unemployed are listening to well-worn cassette tapes, swigging from bottles filled with a cocktail of beer and local wine and loitering in front of Movement Records — a punk-music shop that has become a nexus for local youths. It is also home to Onie, one of Jakarta's self-proclaimed original street punks, who both works and sleeps on the premises. "It is very quiet at night," Onie says. "The shops are closed, so society is O.K. with us being here. My friends can come at night and argue, laugh and fight for as long as they want." Read More ...
Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple
A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution. They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. To the north are forested mountains. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, the region that gave rise to human civilization. And under our feet, according to archeologist Klaus Schmidt, are the stones that mark the spot—the exact spot—where humans began that ascent. Read More ...

Science

The World's First Commercial Brain-Computer Interface + history of BCI
A brain–computer interface (BCI), sometimes called a direct neural interface or a brain–machine interface, is a direct communication pathway between a brain and an external device. BCIs are often aimed at assisting, augmenting or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions. Research on BCIs began in the 1970s at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under a grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The papers published after this research also mark the first appearance of the expression brain–computer interface in scientific literature. Read More ...
Meet ALICE - new CERNs giant detector
The giant ALICE detector is already underway at CERN, and researchers are scrambling to add an electromagnetic calorimeter to capture jet-quenching, the newest way to look inside the quark-gluon plasma — the hot, dense state of matter that filled the earliest universe, which the Large Hadron Collider will soon recreate by slamming lead nuclei into one another.  CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is known mainly as the accelerator that will soon begin searching for the Higgs particle, and other new physics, in proton collisions at unprecedented energies — up to 14 TeV (14 trillion electron volts) at the center of mass — and with unprecedented beam intensities. But the same machine will also collide massive nuclei, specifically lead ions, to energies never achieved before in the laboratory. Read More ...
Vadim Chernobrov & Russian secrets experiments with time machines
A disturbing story in the March, 2005. 1 issue of Pravda suggests that the U. S. Government is working on the discovery of a mysterious point over the South Pole that may be a passageway backward in time. According to the article, some American and British scientists working in Antarctica on January 27, 1995, noticed a spinning gray fog in the sky over the pole. U. S. physicist Mariann McLein said at first they believed it to be some kind of sandstorm. But after a while they noticed that the fog did not change its form and did not move so they decided to investigate. Read More ...
The Secrets of Coral Castle and pyramids EXPLAINED by Leedskalnin's Magnetic Current theory
Coral Castle doesn't look much like a castle, but that hasn't discouraged generations of tourists from wanting to see it. That's because it was built by one man, Ed Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant who single-handedly and mysteriously excavated, carved, and erected over 2.2 million pounds of coral rock to build this place, even though he stood only five feet tall and weighed a mere 100 pounds. Ed was as secretive as he was misguided. He never told anyone how he carved and set into place the walls, gates, monoliths, and moon crescents that make up much of his Castle. Some of these blocks weigh as much as 30 tons. Ed often worked at night, by lantern light, so that no one could see him. He used only tools that he fashioned himself from wrecks in an auto junkyard. Read More ...
Microbial communities in fluid inclusions and long-term survival in halite + The 11th Hour - documentary
Fluid inclusions in modern and ancient buried halite from Death Valley and Saline Valley, California, USA, contain an ecosystem of “salt-loving” (halophilic) prokaryotes and eukaryotes, some of which are alive. Prokaryotes may survive inside fluid inclusions for tens of thousands of years using carbon and other metabolites supplied by the trapped microbial community, most notably the single-celled alga Dunaliella, an important primary producer in hypersaline systems. Deeper understanding of the long-term survival of prokaryotes in fluid inclusions will complement studies that further explore microbial life on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system, where materials that potentially harbor microorganisms are millions and even billions of years old. Read More ...
How Norbert Wiener Invents Cybernetics + his book " God and Golem, Inc.........."
Norbert Wiener invented the field of cybernetics, inspiring a generation of scientists to think of computer technology as a means to extend human capabilities. Norbert Wiener was born on November 26, 1894, and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 18 for a thesis on mathematical logic ( see below "The Logic of Boolean Algebra").  After working as a journalist, university teacher, engineer, and writer, Wiener he was hired by MIT in 1919, coincidentally the same year as Vannevar Bush. In 1933, Wiener won the Bôcher Prize for his brilliant work on Tauberian theorems and generalized harmonic analysis. Read More ...
The T2K Experiment - From Tokai To Kamioka - Where is the anti-matter?
From the beginning of 2010, the T2K experiment will fire a beam of muon-neutrinos from Tokai on Japan's east coast, 300km accross the country to a detector at Kamioka. It hopes to investigate the phenomenon of "neutrino oscillations" by looking for "muon neutrinos" oscillating into "electron neutrinos".  A million pound detector has been built at the University of Warwick as part of a vital experiment to investigate fundamental particles - neutrinos. Read More ...
Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military leadership
The internal workings of the US military had little significance to the overall state of the nation, except during wars – until the post-WWII era.   With the military dominating our foreign policy and being one of the most trusted institution, the character of our senior generals may become a major factor shaping our future.  Hence the importance of this chapter by GI Wilson from The Pentagon Labyrinth: Ten Short Essays to Help You Through It, edited by Winslow T. Wheeler and published by the Center for Defense Information and the World Security Institute.  You can see a summary and download a free copy of this important book at the Project for Government Oversight (POGO). Read More ...

Space

UFO's of Nazi Germany
Viktor Schauberger & UFO's of Nazi Germany
It was nearly the end of WWII. At that same time, scientist Viktor Schauberger worked on a secret project. Johannes Kepler, whose ideas Schauberger followed, had knowledge of the secret teachings of Pythagoras that had been adopted and kept secret. It was the knowledge of Implosion (in this case the utilization of the potential of the inner worlds in the outer world). Hitler knew - as did the Thule and Vril people - that the divine principle was always constructive. A technology however that is based on explosion and therefore is destructive runs against the divine principle. Thus they wanted to create a technology based on Implosion. Read More ...
It Takes a Giant Cosmos to Create Life and Mind + new Supernova Discovered to be the 'Creation-Machines' of the Cosmos
Excerpt from 'The Intelligent Universe', James Gardner ................... There is a time machine clearly visible right outside your front door. It’s easy to see—in fact, it’s impossible to overlook—although its awesome powers are generally ignored by all but a discerning few.  The unearthly beauty, the ineffable grandeur, and the ingenuity of construction of this time machine are humbling to every human being who makes an effort to probe into the enigma of its origin and the mystery of its ultimate destiny. The time machine of which I speak is emphatically not of human origin. Indeed, a few venturesome scientists are beginning to entertain a truly incredible possibility: that this device is an artifact bequeathed to us by a supremely evolved intelligence that existed long, long ago and far, far away. All knowledgeable observers agree that the scope of its stupendous powers and the sheer delicacy of its miniscule moving parts seem nothing short of miraculous. Read More ...
The Size Of Our World or How Insignificant the Earth Really Is in the Universe
Compared to you and me, the Earth is really big. But compared to Jupiter and the Sun, the Earth is pretty tiny. There are many ways we can measure the size of the Earth. Let's look at how big the Earth is, and then compare it to other objects in the Solar System. The diameter of the Earth is 12,742 km. In other words, if you dug a hole down into the Earth, passed through the center of the Earth, and came out the other side, you would have dug a hole 12,742 km deep (on average). That's about 4 times longer than the diameter of the Moon. Read More ...
Strange Images from Space - Photos&videos of the Bizarre in Our Universe
Some weird and unusual objects are floating around in the cosmos. Space is always serving up something new, unusual, and unexpected. Here are images and explanations of obejcts that have amazed and delighted astronomers. Read More ...
Project Icarus: Gas Mining on Uranus
Project Icarus is a 21st century theoretical study of a mission to another star. Icarus aims to build on the work of the celebrated Daedalus project. Between the period 1973-1978 members of the BIS undertook a theoretical study of a flyby mission to Barnard's star 5.9 light years away. This was Project Daedalus and remains one of the most complete studies of an interstellar probe to date. The 54,000 ton two-stage vehicle was powered by inertial confinement fusion using electron beams to compress the D/He3 fusion capsules to ignition. It would obtain an eventual cruise velocity of 36,000km/s or 12% of light speed from over 700kN of thrust, burning at a specific impulse of 1 million seconds, reaching its destination in approximately 50 years. Read More ...
Astronomers had found evidence of something that occurred before the (conventional) Big Bang
Our cosmos was "bruised" in collisions with other universes. Now astronomers have found the first evidence of these impacts in the cosmic microwave background. There's something exciting afoot in the world of cosmology. Last month, Roger Penrose at the University of Oxford and Vahe Gurzadyan at Yerevan State University in Armenia announced that they had found patterns of concentric circles in the cosmic microwave background, the echo of the Big Bang. Read More ...
Mysterious Radio Waves from Unknown Object in M82 Galaxy
There is something strange is lurking in the galactic neighborhood. An unknown object in galaxy M82 12 million light-years away has started sending out radio waves, and the emission does not look like anything seen anywhere in the universe before except perhaps by Ford Prefect. M82 is starburst galaxy five times as bright as the Milky Way and one hundred times as bright as our galaxy's center. "We don't know what it is," says co-discoverer Tom Muxlow of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics near Macclesfield, UK. But its apparent sideways velocity is four times the speed of light. This "superluminal" motion occurs usually in high-speed jets of material bursting out by black holes. Read More ...
Nibiru - great arrival of Planet X  + Timeline of 2012. cataclysm
“A secret document prepared for Prime Minister Putin by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is claiming that President Medvedev confirmed in his extended meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in February 2011 that the new planet named Tyche (pronounced ty-kee) by NASA will be appearing in the Earth’s night sky by 2012. Though the existence of this planet had long been known to the ancients, it has only been in the past year that Western scientists have begun informing their citizens about this unprecedented event soon to occur, but who are, also, still failing to tell how catastrophic its appearance will be. Tyche was the name coined for this ancient celestial body by the two astrophysicists proposing it for “planet” status, Daniel Whitmire and John Matese from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Read More ...

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Russian anarchist guerrilla artists from the Voina art collective

Nick Sturdee ............... Russian guerrilla artists from the Voina art collective are facing criminal prosecution for their controversial brand of political street art. Nick Sturdee reports on the widespread frustration that has fostered the movement... Scandal goes down well in the art world, and the organisers of this April’s prestigious state Innovation art award in Moscow clearly decided to make the most of their moment. The queues outside the cavernous Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture — Konstantin Melnikov’s 1927 constructivist bus depot refurbished as a gallery for Dasha Zhukova, Roman Abramovich’s wife, and graced by Amy Winehouse at its opening in 2008 — were to be expected; so of course were the chic crowd and the TV cameras. But the on-stage video installation of revolution in Cairo, Japanese tsunami, and London student riots — accompanied by epic dissonant swells and jabbing chords, lyrics shouted by a male voice choir and an albino’s falsetto solo — was an unmis­takable statement. We live in momentous times, Russia is no exception (or hopes not to be) and Russian art is ready for the challenge.



The Innovation jury had resisted attempts by officials and bureaucrats to block the nomination of “Cock held captive by the FSB”, an explosive 2010 action by the street art group Voina (“War”). Two of its perform­ers had only recently been released from jail. Five artists had painted a 60-metre tall phallus on Liteinyi Bridge in St Petersburg just before it was raised to stand erect above the city’s security headquarters — the KGB/FSB building central to Vladimir Putin’s life story — to allow for ships to pass all night long. It was a veritable two fingers up to the security apparatus so pre-eminent and seemingly ubiquitous in Putin’s Russia.

As the Innovation jury head Andrei Erofeev pronounced Voina winner of the visual art category, there was no concealing the triumph on his face. A long-time combatant of art censorship in Russia, his exhibition of banned art had itself been closed and he had been fined. Erofeev had championed Voina. He asked the audience if they dared name the piece by its real name (in the programme the expletive “cock” had been replaced by “member”), and the correct version was duly shouted back in unison by a delighted crowd. The Moscow art world was enjoying a moment of strange carnivalesque liberation, for old-time dissidents and young artists alike. And yet in the fashionable bar afterwards, a group of businessmen denied all knowledge of the group when I asked them to comment on camera and a young gallery owner declined to explain why people might take pleasure in the FSB being insulted. “I have a career to think of,” she said. “Big brother is everywhere.” Evidently what I had witnessed was a battle won, not a war.
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Meeting by a historic St. Petersburg castle where cops like to hang out at night (or as Voina explicates, "have their nightly orgies"), Voina ran into a problem. Their toddler kicked a ball under a cop car. And there's only one way to free a trapped ball, isn't there? "Help the child -- Help your country!"




 

WAR ON THE STREET

Voina’s action had been brilliantly planned and executed, it was refresh­ingly low-tech and delightfully accessible. Over two weeks of clandestine observation, the group calculated they had an average of just 30 seconds between traffic being stopped and Liteinyi Bridge being raised for the night. Over the same two weeks they practised daily with water in a parking lot, dividing the phallus into five “cuts” with one artist responsible for each, and perfecting the assembly of the five cuts into a well-formed and recognisable whole, completed within the 30 seconds. Fifty-five litres of white water-based emulsion paint mixed with water were divided into five-litre canisters, two together for the penis head and testicles in order to achieve the required thickness. Further activists distracted the bridge security in their roles of drunken football fan, nervy woman driver and cyclists. On the night, the group stormed the bridge and completed the phallus in 23 seconds; the only blemish a slightly ill-formed left testicle due to one of the artists being taken out by a security guard. An incredulous crowd wondered and photographed as the bridge towered insolently above the FSB headquarters.
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Soon the Voina group followed up their action with another performance, overturning seven empty police cars one September night in St Petersburg. Again, all was meticulously planned and executed with aplomb: five activists overturned each car –– taking an average of nine seconds –– while, when required, others distracted local police by pretending to be foreign tourists needing help. On completion, the group posted a film on YouTube called “Palace Coup” (“coup” in Russian is the same word as “overturn” and “palace” from the same root as “yard”, where the cars were overturned). The video began with a small boy (Kasper, the son of two members of Voina, Oleg Vorotnikov and Natalia Sokol, aka Koza) playing football in a St Petersburg park. The boy kicks the ball out of shot, and in the next shot the ball rolls under a police car parked at night outside a police station. Five figures cross the road and overturn the car, and at the end of the video one of the figures (Leonid Nikolaev) returns the ball to Koza as she holds Kasper in her arms. In case anyone had missed the point, Nikolaev – the third key member of the group – released a statement: “I helped the child – and I will help the country!”

The Palace Coup was the culmination of some four years of relentless political art and actions by Voina designed to challenge the viewer and mock the Russian authorities and law. Oleg Vorotnikov says the aims are still wider: to demonstrate to people that they should not be scared of the authorities. Some performances are political and lifestyle statements that enact plays on words, thus apparently drawing from Russian conceptualist art. “Fuck for the heir the Little Bear!” was an orgy displayed by the group at the Moscow Biological Museum at the end of February 2008, on the eve of Dmitry Medvedev’s election as president, where the election was portrayed as a ritual of copulation in order to greet Putin’s anointed successor, whose name derives from “medved”, Russian for “bear”.

“How to steal a chicken”, in July 2010, showed a Voina activist in a shop doing just that, by concealing it up her vagina (a verb from the Russian slang for vagina means “to steal”). The action demonstrated Voina’s lifestyle principle of not paying for food, thus not recognising, and “fucking”, the “thieving Russian economy and authori­ties that are destroying the Russian people”.

Other performances have been more straightforward and more directly aimed at the police and other groups charged with upholding law and morality in Russia. In July 2008, Vorotnikov dressed up as an Orthodox priest with a policeman’s hat, entered a supermarket, filled a trolley full of food and left without paying. In November the same year, Voina commemo­rated the October Revolution by staging “The Storming of the White House”: a huge anarchist skull and crossbones were projected on the national gov­ernment building, the White House, and scenes from Sergei Eisenstein’s film October were re-enacted by scaling the complex’s towering gates. (In October, it was the Winter Palace that was stormed.) In May 2010, Nikolaev mounted a car belonging to a Kremlin security official with a blue traffic cone on his head to protest at the impunity with which officials are per­ceived to behave in Russia. (This was during a wider protest movement at bureaucrats’ abuse of privileges by using emergency lanes while the rest of the population had to stand in traffic. The bureaucrats’ cars have blue flashing lights on top.)


While there has been some debate in art circles as to whether their actions constitute art or not, the group see themselves as artists with a social duty. Sitting in a St Petersburg burger joint at midnight while deciding where he, Koza and Kasper would spend the night, Vorotnikov told me that it was his duty as an artist to express openly what other people fear to express, to offend the police and thus protect the people “like Robin Hood”.  The words –– expressed with a slight flash of irony in Oleg’s eyes –– replay a time-honoured tradition of Russian intellectuals and artists. He then resumed his social-network planning for the next day on his laptop: Voina is certainly a remixed version of the St Petersburg narra­tive – and one that has won its place on the international map of street art, or “art terrorists”, as the group’s admirer Banksy put it. And it’s not the only tradition into which Voina inscribe themselves. Sitting in another cafe (the group lead an itinerant lifestyle and keep no mobile phones in order to evade police surveillance), Oleg discussed his time in prison with the veteran political activist and prisoner Maxim Gromov from the National Bolshevik Party. It was almost quaint, a repeat of conversations that must have been held a hundred years ago in similar cafes in the same city, by revolutionaries of a bygone age. It smacked of the Soviet prison legacy: over 80 people in one cell, sharing beds and sleeping in rotation, one hole in the floor for everyone’s needs. Only the details were more modern. Imagine having the bunk next to that, I thought.
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The whole Voina lifestyle and narrative are something of a performance; it is about public self-representation, certainly. This is part of what makes them artists, say their supporters. But naturally the police are not to be distracted by such arguments, and when the group overturned the seven police cars, it was decided that it was clearly time for the security forces to play their part. In November 2010, Vorotnikov and Nikolaev were duly arrested in a raid by the Extremism Police – a special police unit active on most towns in Russia – on the flat where they were staying in Moscow. Handcuffed and laid on the floor of a minibus for the ten-hour drive to St Petersburg, Vorotnikov and Nikolaev were then charged with “aggravated hooliganism” and “incitement of hatred of a social group” (the police) and held in a pre-trial detention prison. The pair were freed on bail after three months, following a campaign both in Russia and elsewhere – Banksy raised some £80,000 (US$127,738) to pay for lawyers, bail and to support the group’s further activity. Days later, the Innovation award nominations were announced.
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Action "Dick captured by KGB". 14 June 2010. This acton had been made to assert the power of unconquerable Russian phallus.




POLITICAL ART ON THE MAP

When Voina made the shortlist for the visual art category of Innovation, it was evidently a major embarrassment for the authorities. After the nomination there followed a treadmill of rumour and behind-the-scenes pressure. First of all it was claimed that the group had not consented to the nomination. Then the entry was excluded on the grounds that documentation was lacking or late. Finally, the Ministry of Culture attempted to bypass the award’s jury and leave the decision to the far more conservative “organisational committee”. When the jury com­plained, nominated artists threatened to drop out and publicity became too great, the Voina nomination remained. Then pressure on the jury began in order at least to prevent the bridge from winning: it would be fine for the action to win for purely aesthetic reasons, argued officials, but it would be improper for a piece of art to win that appealed to people’s political views.

When Voina duly won at Innovation, Russia’s Public Chamber –– a “civil society” body created by the Putin machine –– demanded the award be retracted. The body decried the use of public funds on an award that was a “slap in the face of common sense” and those who saw the “image on the bridge” as “banal hooliganism”. But the horse had clearly bolted – and even the Culture Ministry, itself rebuked by the Chamber for not prevent­ing the result, stated that it would respect the jury’s decision.
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The Innovation episode –– trivial though it may seem –– was a crucial battle in the freedom of artistic expression in Russia that most in the art community felt needed to be won. Not everyone liked the Voina action: some artists and critics compared it unfavourably with similar but more ironic performances in the 90s, some saw it as a “symptom” of the mood in Russia rather than something more meaningful, a more accomplished, more “mature” work. Others were uncomfortable with art whose effect derived from political emotion as much as aesthetic response.

Yet in the face of the state’s attempt to interfere with the prize, jury members put aside their aesthetic reservations and awarded Voina the prize. As the critic Ekaterina Degot put it, “It would have been improper not to.” Political expression had thus irreversibly entered the artistic establishment and political art had been defended as a legitimate form of expression. This recognition was also welcomed by those who felt that the flourishing art scene in Russia was beginning to police itself too closely. Some considered that since the 90s big money and strong galleries were threatening to stifle the scope of artistic expression by “academising” what was art and exclud­ing what was not. Political art was needed and was capable of generating immense resonance in a country where contempt for bureaucrats and corrupt officials in all walks of life – not least security – seems to be becoming universal. Commenting on her support for Voina, Degot described how Voina expressed a feeling in society of historic proportion: “The hatred for United Russia [Putin’s party] and for the authorities in general has reached a level comparable only with the hatred for the communists in 1988. That hatred is at boiling point, eating up people inside and – unlike 1988 — it has no constitutional expression. That hatred is Voina, it is a powerful symptom that is impossible to ignore. When they see the bridge, for them it is like looking at an icon … Humiliated, intimidated, and stripped of their rights, citizens look at Voina’s phallus in the internet like a protective icon … Voina is art, and not something else. Voina does not exist in the political sphere — but instead of politics.”
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COP HUMILIATION IN HIS OWN DOMAIN .. Video in 2 parts. .. May 6, 2008 .... 1st police station, City of Mytishy; Yubileyny area police station, City of Korolev... The action is set on the eve of the inauguration of president Dmitry Medvedev -- "the Puppy Bear".... In it's latest action the Voina group decorates police stations around the Moscow area with the image of the Puppy Bear the day before the presidential inauguration on May 7. Voina organizes a team of high school students to present the image of the newly elected leader and question the professional ethics of Russian police.




THE BIGGER PICTURE

While Voina has been the most successful — and most controversial — exponent of art “instead of politics”, the group is not alone. Novosibirsk artist Artem Loskutov has for two years organised absurdist street demonstrations called “Monstrations” , where hundreds of participants march with apparently meaningless signs (such as “Yyt”, “Chunga-Changa”, “Why are you so nervous?” and “Tanya, don’t cry!”). The effect is a carnivalesque subversion of politics and plays on the lack of dialogue in the political scene in Russia. Ilya Falkovskii, Aleksei Katalkin and Boris Spiridonov and their music and animation group PG Dreli post playfully menacing videos on the internet — such as young men firing a bazooka at Vladimir Putin’s motorcade —  and photographs such as “Somalia is Here” (with armed militants firing on government buildings in Moscow). Grigory Yushchenko exhibited a series of traditional “lubok” pictures of drunken policemen in a Siberian art gallery, while the group “Sinie Nosy” (“Blue Noses”) produces satirical prints, the most famous of which — “The Era of Mercy” — depicts two Russian policeman kissing tenderly in a snow-covered birch forest.

Then there are activists and bloggers whose activity is categorised as politics but whose style and self-representation are not far from those of many of the artists listed — and certainly not far from Innovation laureates Voina. Underground political activity and the internet are saturated with such content. The “revolutionary socialist” DSPA (Petr Alekseev Resistance Movement) — are friends of Voina and have a history of unfurling banners satirising and mocking the St Petersburg and national leadership, often with deliberately childlike word play. The National Bolshevik Party, a kind of post­modern revolutionary party created and led by the writer Eduard Limonov, has aligned and realigned itself with various strands of nationalist and anarchist thought, and is adept at being at the forefront of street protest. The musician Savva Terentyev, who wrote in his much-quoted phrase in his Live Journal blog that one or preferably two policemen should be burned in the central square every day, has become a well-known counter-culture figure. Flash mobs abound, and periodically mass protest groups emerge and form around a single issue — such as hundreds of car owners and YouTube users in the “blue-bucket” campaigns against bureaucrats abusing privilege to use emergency lanes on Moscow’s congested streets.

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On the night of August 24th to the 25th 2007 the Voina group staged the action PIR in the Moscow subway. The action was dedicated to the memory of the poet Dmitry Alexandrovich Prigov. At Krasnopresnenskaya station a dozen of the groups activists entered the train car at midnight with tables and special bags of snacks to proceed in the clockwise direction on the Circular line. A festive table was instantly set up and guests who entered at the next station were met with dishes, drinks and food. Those commemorating the great postmodernist poet made a complete round on the Circular line with toasts and the chanting of Prigovs poetry. Back at Krasnopresnenskaya station everyone left the train car, and the festive table continued its way into obscurity. The world-famous Moscow subway has always been presented by authorities as a specially guarded object and a target for terrorists. Yet the traditional 40-day commemorative feast for the late poet found no resistance from underground police.




Not only can it be difficult for observers and journalists to define a difference between art and political activism. In recent years artists and activists in the growing political underground in Russia have increasingly been targeted with the same legislation. A raft of laws have been used: most notoriously, two articles in the Russian Criminal Code, 282 and 213, both ostensibly designed to protect society and religious and social groups from “incitement of hatred” and “hooliganism”, have been deployed increasingly often against artists and political activists. This has been facilitated by the importance the Russian executive and legislative authorities have afforded anti-extremist legislation — to which Article 282 is related – that has been developed and bolstered since 2002. Critics complain that the wording of legislation is vague, thus allowing the police and security services to wield the same legislation against Islamist terrorists, neo-Nazi gangs, anarchist groups, bloggers and artists. Other laws, such as “insulting a representative of the authorities” (Article 319), and breaking the “official use of state symbols” (Article 17.10 in the Administrative Code) — in other words, misusing the Russian flag — have also been cited.

An important case occurred in spring 2008, when curators Andrei Erofeev and Yury Samorudov were charged under Article 282 with the incite­ment of religious enmity for their 2006 exhibitionForbidden Art, which had shown pieces of art that had been recently banned —  mostly for their questioning of or mocking stance on religion. Prosecutors sought a three-year prison sentence, but the two men were just fined. Erofeev then lost his job as contemporary art curator at the Tretyakov Gallery. At about the same time, observers began to notice a tendency for the phrase “social group” — which Articles 282 and 213 both list as potential victims of a crime — to be applied to various arms of the state and its security apparatus. The musician and blogger Savva Terentyev was arrested and subsequently given a suspended sentence for “inciting hatred” of the police as a social group in his blog, also under Article 282. In 2009, Artem Loskutov was called in for questioning by the local Extremism Police just before holding the May “Monstrasia”. He was cautioned against conducting the action and, after ignoring the warnings and another invitation to chat, was later stopped by police who he claims planted marijuana on him. At the trial it emerged that the Extremism Police had been wiretapping his phone. In December 2010, he was once again detained, and as a result has now been charged under another law, Article 319 — insulting a representative of the authorities. Allegedly he made offen­sive remarks to a police officer on duty — on the occasion that he claims the drugs were planted. He was also accused of being offensive in his online account of a night spent in a police cell, in which he caricatured a policeman. The trial started in June.
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31 March 2011 anarchists and art-group "Voina" blocked Nevskiy avenue and poured cops with urine.



PG Dreli, a politically active group, fell victims to a security forces clear-up in streets near the Kremlin, where they had managed to find a studio. Ironically, it seems that these anti-fascist activists lost their prime location partly as a result of nationalist and racist riots near the Kremlin in December. According to other artists who also lost their studios, the Kremlin security outfit was carrying out a full reconnaissance of the area in the wake of the violence.  When they entered PG Dreli’s studio, they were shocked to discover artwork such as a series of photographs of guerrillas taking pot-shots with bazookas at key buildings in Moscow (including the FSB headquarters, the Lubyanka).The security personnel are also reported to have seen “Vampire”, a video the group made depicting a man plotting to attack Putin’s motorcade as he stood, bazooka in hand, next to the very window from which the studio looked onto the Kremlin. One imagines the Kremlin security outfit found it hard to appreciate the art they were beholding. The property developer owning the building was instructed to remove PG Dreli from the studio (he also evicted the other artists from their studios for good measure). Security guards met one of the suspected artists, Ilya Falkovsky, as he arrived to clear his stuff out. During the course of a long nocturnal discussion, agents allegedly threatened Falkovsky with violence and to plant drugs or weapons on him in order to ensure a lengthy jail sentence; they also asked whether he would like to act as an informer on “extremists” he knew. Falkovsky left the country for – of all places – China (where his wife is from).

This bizarre story illustrates the deeply problematic gulf between artists and Russia’s security services. Naturally, where anti-extremism police may fear real action, Russia’s political artists’ work is symbolic. For critics like Ekaterina Degot, this is proof that the artists are actors of the aesthetic rather than political sphere. And yet, in an atmosphere of increasing radicalisation and alienation among young people in Russia, the concerns and action of the authorities may even make their fears closer to reality. As I sat with Voina in a St Petersburg burger bar, they were discussing their lives since their release. The prison experience, continued attention from the Extremism Police (who seem to survey the group), and the threat of real prison sentences following criminal charges, leave decreasing time for art performance. They are spending considerable time, and the money they have received from Banksy and from the Innovation award, on their legal struggle and on supporting others they see as facing persecution from the authorities. As Oleg Vorotnikov says, “Banksy is bankrolling the next Russian revolution – and I think he’d be pleased.”
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The group see themselves as artists –– but Oleg says that for him the ethical is ultimately more important than the aesthetic. We watch a video of a recent political demonstration in which they participated, and it is striking that their activity appears to be moving closer to pure direct action. The video shows the members preparing bottles of urine before the demonstration –– in case of a confrontation with the police. When they are prevented from blocking a road, and Leonid Nikolaev is targeted and dragged away by the police, they spray the police with the urine they have prepared. Oleg’s explanation of the event concentrates on the symbolic: the urine is physically harmless, but according to the prison subculture in which the police and much of Russian society are steeped, the police have been deeply and profoundly humiliated. I’m not sure this is so specific to Russia and to its criminal lore, but there is no doubt that the event is far stronger, and indeed more interesting and more capable of generating meaning, as symbolic art –– rather than as a potentially fringe and slightly pitiful political act.

The incident only added to Voina’s problems. In July, a court ordered Vorotnikov’s arrest for failing to obey bail terms. In addition to the original charge under Article 213 (hooliganism and incitement of hatred against a social group), he also faces charges under Articles 318 (using violence against a representative of the authorities) and 319 (insulting a representative of the authorities). Now officially a wanted man, he is currently in hiding. The group also say they are concerned by threats that have been made by members of the Extremism Police over the right to custody of their child, Kasper.
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Performance "Contemporary art is fuckin' pus and bloody vomit" by Alex Plutser-Sarno, a VOINA group activist. It was held on the 28th of January 2010 in the Skuc Gallery, Ljubljana.




Voina are now apparently staying in a basement with no running water and say that the demonstration was not one of their performances. Indeed, it seems they have not been able to enact one since their release from jail. But now they appear to be preparing for something new. “We have been preparing a very powerful and daring plan for two months now”, they write. “It will be a wonder-action. We have little strength, we are cornered by the police on all sides, but our ambitions are beast-like. The result will be something very joyful and very frightening! But very harmonious.” It will be interesting to see what this extraordinary group comes up with. Russian political street art is certainly on the move, and the parliamentary and presidential elections over the next six months might well provide a good stage.

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28 November 2007
Central House of Artist, Moscow
Action video footage, clip, 3 min. 48 sec.
On November 28 2007 at the opening of the “Non-fiction” book fair the Voina group presented the “Plan of Putin”. During preparations for the 9th annual intellectual book fair the organizers stepped forward with an idea of a monument to the late poet Prigov in the Central House of Artist [CHA] in Moscow. Voina was assigned to complete the task. As the project was in its final stage the administration of the CHA demanded that the group be ideological and rough in its work. The board of directors and members of the Voina group decided all together that it would not be possible to fill art with the necessary Putinist content without a radical modification of artistic form. Sheep were first covertly sneaked in the CHA. During the opening ceremony sheep-hugging female activists rode down banners from the balcony to the main floor to give the Voina definition of the Plan of Putin. The Plan of Putin was widely publicized at the book fair in time for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Three days after the opening, on December 2, the “United Russia” party won an overwhelming majority to allow Putin to proceed with his assault on the Russian people and their freedoms.





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