OPTIMIZED! Expanded Radio Stream on WFMU!

OPTIMIZED! Expanded Radio Stream on WFMU 6-10 June 2016, Noon-3pm (EST)
Playlists & archives: http://wfmu.org/playlists/UP
Documentation: http://peoplelikeus.org/2016/optimized-wfmu/

From 6-10 June 2016 Vicki Bennett and John Kilduff were Artists in Residence at freeform radio station WFMU in Jersey City, NJ, USA.

NEW! Documentation Video:

This residency consisted of “Optimized!” – a week-long online a/v radio station which experimented with ideas of what radio might be in the world of high speed internet broadcasting.

The content included 26 new a/v artist commissions selected and programmed by Vicki Bennett, where people were invited to respond to the word “optimized”, John Kilduff’s live “Let’s Paint TV” daily video show which combines, painting, cooking and exercise, and an evening at the station with an in-house studio audience.

John Kilduff and Vicki Bennett Artist Residency – Expanded Radio at WFMU

optimized-schedule
Noon-2pm: 10 hours of new/exclusive recordings, radio & video by 26 participants. Programmed by Vicki Bennett / People Like Us
2pm-3pm: Daily video shows live from WFMU’s Monty Hall by John Kilduff / Let’s Paint TV – Mr Let’s Paint will take your calls! skype: letspaintwfmu
3pm-5pm: repeat of noon-2pm schedule
9 June 2016: A live expanded radio event at Monty Hall with Let’s Paint TV & People Like Us / DIFM (Do It For Me) with Pseu Braun

Pseu Braun DIFM (Do It For Me) at Monty Hall

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Matmos video by People Like Us

While we were staying with Matmos a couple of months ago we made this video for their new album “Ultimate Care II”. Here it is!

“Ultimate Care II Excerpt Five” is from Matmos album “Ultimate Care II,” out February 19 on Thrill Jockey Records.

CD/LP: http://thrilljockey.com/products/ulti…

Video by Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) and Peter Knight:
http://peoplelikeus.org/2014/biography/
http://peterwknight.net/

Matmos website: http://vague-terrain.com/
Matmos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matmosband/

Thrill Jockey on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thrilljockey
Thrill Jockey on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thrilljockey
Thrill Jockey on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thrilljockey
Thrill Jockey on Tumblr: http://www.thrilljockey.tumblr.com

GESTURE PIECE – a film with a score by 7 artists

A film by Vicki Bennett [2013]
Soundtracks by :
Andrew Sharpley [00:06] | Matmos [01:02] | Wobbly [05:08] | Gwilly Edmondez [07:48] | Dave Soldier [09:38] | Jason Willett [11:02] | Ergo Phizmiz [13:23]

Gwilly Edmondez, Matmos, Ergo Phizmiz, Andrew Sharpley, Dave Soldier, Jason Willett and Wobbly each composed a score for a chapter of GESTURE PIECE, without any knowledge of who else was collaborating on the project or what the rest of the film would look or sound like.

The completed film stitches back together the seven chapters with their individual soundtracks, creating new connections between apparently unrelated film sequences. The result is a fascinating and witty reinterpretation of familiar film footage, with scenes arranged in surprising and often very funny combinations.

The title of “Gesture Piece” is partly self-explanatory – within human communication it is part of our hard circuitry that for instance we use hand gestures to articulate our speech, which is essentially graphically describing/enforcing audio or spoken discourse. Even when spoken language is not present, a whole series of hand and facial gestures are available to us to communicate expressions. By making a film that both contains human gestures (hands, facial, movement) as well as gestures made by natural and mechanical occurrences we are setting up the conditions for a dialogue between the graphical elements on the films and the improvisers, both with the film as well as with each other.

Background info
Gesture Piece @Tyneside Cinema
Review in This Is Tomorrow Magazine
Interview with a-n Magazine
Interview with SyncTank
Interview with Dominic Smith

Screenings
October 2014 – Other Cinema, San Francisco
October 2013 – Gesture Piece at High Zero Festival, Baltimore

Click on thumbnails to download stills:
GESTURE PIECE-2GESTURE PIECE-5GESTURE PIECE-3

Diagram of subjects - created in the development of the film by Vicki Bennett

Diagram of subjects – created in the development of the film by Vicki Bennett

Still from Gesture Piece by Vicki Bennett

Still from Gesture Piece by Vicki Bennett

Gesture Piece has a sister project, Notations – a film created for live performance by selected improvising musicians and artists.  When these two projects began, they shared the same umbrella name of Gesture Piece (the live performance was tested at Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik and Tel Aviv), but as the work developed it felt natural to separate them out into different names as they became two unique and separate entities.

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Essay by Drew Daniel

Just What Is It That Makes People Like Us So Different, So Appealing?
Drew Daniel

Just What Is It That Makes People Like Us So Different, So Appealing?
Drew Daniel

From “Beware the Whim Reaper” (1995) to “Abridged Too Far” (2004), Vicki Bennett has a way with execrable puns. Confronted with the task of theorizing about what informs and unites the bewildering multiplicity of her life’s work creating painstaking, hilarious and disturbing assemblages out of sound, language and moving image as People Like Us, the title of hers that catches me by the throat is an oldie but a goodie: “Pompous Circumstance”. Wit’s last minute detour off the golden road to cliché, puns take a piece of shared culture and suddenly tweek it into a personal shape, creating something new by revealing what was already there. Inverting Alexander Pope’s formula for poetry (“what oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed”), puns reveal a latent possibility within the given: what oft was expressed but never, until now, brought to thought. Puns are a kind of “black art” that throws received values into reverse: if good puns are bad, then the worst are the best. Ideally, you should be groaning and laughing at the same time. Fair is foul and foul is fair.

Risking a descent into pompous circumstances indeed, the occasion of this retrospective exhibition reverses Vicki’s direction of flow and prompts us to take her sound and video work seriously, and asks us to try to place her work in the context of an ongoing sea-change in how creativity is understood. Pompously put, the artistic re-use of found material confronts us anew with the enigma of creation. Up-ended by indirection, we can only half-see the artist at work in the capricious decision to smash and grab. Looking at the results when the glue has dried and the files have been rendered, can we do any more than catch the shadow of a hand in mid-flight as it grasps and folds a found form, clicks “Crop”, hits “Save”? Trying to catch up, we might ask some simple questions: why isolate and preserve these fragments? Why this piece, placed exactly here? Why this element and not others? Is this a work of love and preservation for what is disappearing, or an act of mockery at the expense of the found? Are we meant to recall the vanished whole, or to see this isolated quanta of material as newly self supporting?

Faced with mounting evidence of collage’s omnipresence and the increasing banalization of cutting and pasting as components of every form of content-management software, it may hurt more now than ever before to return to the old, awkward question: is this creative?

Yodeling in the valley, the fragment oscillates between emotional pitches. When T. S. Eliot wrote “These fragments I have shored against my ruin,” he figured modernist fragmentation as a melancholic funeral rite, a minor key lament at cultural collapse sung against the headwind of history. The irony is that his flimsy barricade of found fragments of popular songs and overheard conversations and quotations proved surprisingly durable; far from a last gasp, it was a breathtakingly successful demonstration of the energies of a new, combinatorial poetics. Jump-cut from Eliot to Dada. Like the public torture of the corpses of suicides in medieval Europe (designed to purge the village of an evil selfishness through a gratuitously “meaningless” display of cruelty), Dada snippetry started as a hostile surgical intervention into a moribund and self-canceling society. The marginal chancers at the Cabaret Voltaire may have thought that their cut-ups of official rhetoric were the final harrowing of necrotic ideological tissue, but Dada collage inadvertently accomplished a revivifying transfusion into the post-war artistic bloodstream. Avant-garde art practices of mangling and attacking and distorting the detritus of mass culture birthed a portable technique of collage that proved all too adaptable to the posterboard and the advertisement and the radio jingle and the TV spot and the viral web campaign. Such are the ironies of what John Ashbery termed “acceptance culture”; the smothering bosom of official sanction muffles the howl of critique with a pillow of puff pieces. For further evidence, consult the PLU track title: “Cushions can Kill”.

Jump-cut to Richard Hamilton. Post-war fragmentation accelerated the centrifugal separation of the positive and negative powers unleashed by cutting up and reassembling culture into both an atomic optimism and an atomic pessimism. If anything could be harvested, shattered into fragments and then recreated for the sake of new art, then the entire archive (sound, image, word) was a standing reserve waiting to be taken by force. Unfortunately, thanks to the accelerating technology of nuclear warfare, this was also true of our own bodies: we were all going to be split apart and reconfigured against our will, and soon. William S. Burroughs’ nostrum “Cut into the present and the future leaks out” figures both the Pandora’s box of potentiality for recombination initiated by a self-consciously mature cut-up aesthetic and the radioactive fallout of anxiety and fear unleashed by a society which had cut into matter itself at its most basic level. We are still living with the results, as lurid narrative scenarios of the endlessly imminent total war choke present reality with a toxic cloud of futurity. Bennett revisits these fantasized bomb-sites and loops them, literally, in the “fort/da” game she plays with animated renderings of atomic explosions that wallpaper the backgrounds of the tank-faced, bighaired women in her video piece “We Edit Life”. Caught in the headlights of these macabre and hilarious people, with each improbable spit curl and passing facial tic replayed and looped into a digital tableaux vivant, we are embarrassed for them and yet find ourselves withering slightly under their artificially steady maternal gaze. In Bennett’s work, the past isn’t suddenly modernized by digital tools, but seems instead rendered even more saturated with the creepy alterity of its very pastness: the syrupy orchestral swells, campfire sing alongs, and outmoded fashions and forced smiles that she assembles and recombines aren’t so much preserved from the ravages of time as they are powerfully fermented in them.

The ability to cut up and transform found material would seem to constitute the ultimate post-modern runaround from older models of artistic expression as a self-revelation. Trading character and depth for a jigsaw surface, collage can seem like a cheap shot detour from being answerable for the self within the work. And yet there is something weirdly self-exposing about the cumulative results of Bennett’s excursions into the mass media archives; the obsessive return to certain images and sounds across decades of work grants them a weirdly personal quality, the fetishistic investment of a cargo cult of one that recognizes the deity of Rod McKuen and Dolly Parton. If it’s so funny, why does it make us feel so awkward? Bennett’s work registers a hot flush of manic exhilaration in the sheer powertrip of her sure technological command over her source material, but it pills the sugar with a certain lingering aftertaste of despair at the failure of the aspirations within the material she collects. If the surreal humor of her work at its lightest suggests the comic English anarchism of Monty Python or Richard Hamilton, the quotidian grimness of her work at its darkest suggests the mordant English miserabilism of Philip Larkin or Mike Leigh. Far from proposing a utopian or psychedelic “other world” of festivity in which to escape from the drabness of the everyday, after prolonged exposure to the alchemical work of Vicki Bennett, we see and hear our own everyday world as one big joke which is already cut to pieces. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

Works Cited
William S. Burroughs & Brion Gysin The Third Mind New York: Viking Press, 1978.
T. S. Eliot “What the Thunder Said” The Waste Land and Other Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 1972.
Alexander Pope “An Essay on Criticism” Collected Poems. London: Tuttle Publishing, 1991.
This essay was commissioned by alt.gallery to coincide with “People Like Us: We Edit Life” – a Retrospective of the work of People Like Us, which ran in the gallery from 16 May-12 July 2008. Documentation can be found on the gallery site and here:
http://www.peoplelikeus.org/2008/documentation_of_the_people_like_us_retrospecitve_at_altgallery.html

Documentation of the People Like Us Retrospective at alt.gallery

Documentation of the People Like Us Retrospective at alt.gallery
alt.gallery (entry via alt.vinyl) 61/62 Thornton Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4AW.
http://www.altgallery.org/
16 May-12 July 2008

alt.gallery is pleased to announce the first retrospective exhibition of work by People Like Us (aka Vicki Bennett).
ARTIST INFO
For the past seventeen years British artist Vicki Bennett has been an influential figure in the field of audio visual collage, through her innovative sampling, appropriating and cutting up of found footage and archives. Using collage as her main form of expression, she creates audio recordings, films and radio shows that communicate a humorous, dark and often surreal view on life. The exhibition will focus on the concept of collage, showing an edited selection of her work, including twenty album releases, numerous singles and remixes, live sets, seven films and over a hundred and fifty radio shows. These collages mix, manipulate and rework original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film, television and radio.   People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use, and have made work using footage from the Prelinger Archives, The Internet Archive, and A/V Geeks. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at Tate Modern, Sydney Opera House, Pompidou Center and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. The ongoing sound art radio show ‘Do or DIY’ on WFMU has had over a million “listen again” hits since 2003. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb.
MEMORY STICKS

Every week during the exhibition a different collection of special downloads from the People Like Us archive will be available from the gallery, bring your memory stick along for a free take away!
ESSAY BY DR DREW DANIEL
A specially commissioned essay by Dr. Drew Daniel of Matmos accompanies the exhibition. Download pdf here. Drew’s essay can also be linked to here

Download a larger version of this flyer here
Download the poster (featured top right) here
The exhibition also included a framed essay by Rick Prelinger on The Virtues of Preexisting Material. Here is an excerpt:
On the Virtues of Preexisting Material
© Rick Prelinger 2007
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License
1 Why add to the population of orphaned works?
2 Don’t presume that new work improves on old
3 Honor our ancestors by recycling their wisdom
4 The ideology of originality is arrogant and wasteful
5 Dregs are the sweetest drink
6 And leftovers were spared for a reason
7 Actors don’t get a fair shake the first time around, let’s give them another
8 The pleasure of recognition warms us on cold nights and cools us in hot summers
9 We approach the future by typically roundabout means
10 We hope the future is listening, and the past hopes we are too
11 What’s gone is irretrievable, but might also predict the future
12 Access to what’s already happened is cheaper than access to what’s happening now
13 Archives are justified by use
14 Make a quilt not an advertisement

Download a pdf of the full text here, or link to the essay here.


The exhibition will also launch a new CD curated by Vicki Bennett for Sonic Arts Network called ‘Smiling Through My Teeth’, a compilation of humorous music and sound art.

SPECIAL EVENTS
People Like Us Special on WFMU
Thursday 15 May, 11pm-midnight (UK time) www.wfmu.org/playlists/ER – To celebrate the exhibition opening Ergo Phizmiz hosts a People Like Us Special on his show ‘Phuj Phactory’ on WFMU, both on terrestrial radio and live internet stream.
People Like Us Talk and Screening
Friday 16 May, 7:30pm
Star and Shadow Cinema, Stepney Bank, Newcastle
Vicki Bennett presents a selection of films by People Like Us.
The Late Shows: Smiling Through My Teeth CD Launch
Saturday 17 May, 7pm-11pm
alt.gallery
www.altgallery.org

The Late Shows form part of NewcastleGateshead’s world-class festivals and events programme. www.thelateshows.org.uk

Many thanks to Rebecca Shatwell for inviting us to do this retrospective, it was great fun to work together. Rebecca is now director of AV Festival.

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Perpetuum Mobile CD

Released 23 April 2007 on Soleilmoon Recordings
SOL156 CD

“Perpetuum Mobile” is the result of a uniquely schizophrenic “open source” compositional process: the UK’s finest collage composers Ergo Phizmiz and People Like Us (aka Vicki Bennett) uploaded files to a shared server, downloaded and processed each other’s work, and flung the resulting fragments back at each other. The result is an interpenetrating audio-collage so intricate that neither party can recall who did what to whom. So far, so avant-garde; but what makes this record different is that Ergo and Vicki then wrote and sang their own vocals on top of their Frankenstein creation. Here you will find slyly absurdist lyrics replete with monkeys, carousels, trousers, apple trees, tinkling bells, dogs, sausages, whiskey, and cannibalism. No matter how fraught with trauma, these ballads and ditties are sung with a straight face and mixed front and left, and the results feel like 1930s British music hall standards from an alternate universe: half Ivor Cutler, half George Formby. The astonishing thing is that for all this jiggery-pokery, “Perpetuum Mobile” makes for an exhilarating, remarkably fresh pop album. It works. On “Ghosts Before Breakfast” Ergo and Vicki proudly declare that they’ve got “quite a selection of pastry”, and if the profusion of cuckoo clocks, gunshots, horn farts, string vamps, and digital malfeasance which go hurtling through this opening track is any indication, that’s no idle boast. For sheer cornucopia of sonic raw materials, this track’s avalanche of information sets the tone for the overflowing, manic record that follows. There’s far too much to fully parse, but among the highlights: “Beyond Perpetuum” pushes off from the Comedian Harmonists’ take on the 19th century compositional craze for “moto perpetuo” runs of continuous notes at a rapid tempo, and folds found piano, voice and strings into an interlocking array of M.C. Escher harmonic stairways. “Air Hostess” is detourned lounge pop that stitches together Nelson Riddle’s “Ya Ya” theme to “Lolita”, “Walk Right In”, light operettas, organ, bachelor pad cha cha and mambo, and nervously twitching shards of Louis Armstrong. “Pierrot’s Persecution Mania” bravely explores the possibilities of a Montparnasse-via-Dixieland hybrid of can-can and bluegrass, with ridiculous canned strings colliding with jew’s harp boings, while “Soggy Style” rides banjo twangs, a digital bossa nova breakdown, and the “whooo-ooes” nicked from Terry Stafford’s “Suspicion”. Living up to the perpetual motion of its title and cock-a-hoop cover art, this is a frantically energetic music whose layered repetitions become cumulatively more disorienting and preposterous as they loop back. “Perpetuum Mobile” goes beyond the stealth-oldies nostalgia of the mashup scene and the “culture-jamming” rhetoric of plunderphonics, and shows Mr. Ergo and Ms. Vicki to be a potent, if Surrealist, songwriting team, and together they braid oddly affecting vocals and their trademark stolen audio into twenty-first century pop. Like the perpetual motion machines for which it is named, this collaboration will run and run and run and run and run and run and run . . . – Drew Daniel

Scans of reviews here:
Perpetuum Mobile Music For Maniacs (October 2007)
Perpetuum Mobile – Geiger (September 2007)
Perpetuum Mobile – Bad Alchemy (August 2007)

Perpetuum Mobile – Brainwashed (June 2007)
Perpetuum Mobile – RifRaf (June 2007)
Perpetuum Mobile – Rolling Stone (Mexico!!) June 2007
Perpetuum Mobile – Review in Norman Records June 2007

Perpetuum Mobile – Review in Jumbo June 2007

Perpetuum Mobile – Review in Loop June 2007
Perpetuum Mobile – Review in Boomkat June 2007
Perpetuum Mobile – Review in Cologne Choices June 2007

Recyclopaedia Britannica – Selected Works 1992-2002

10 Years of People Like Us (CD on Mess Media – MESS1) – 2002
SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE

recyclo

The work of People Like Us rests gingerly between two dangerous positions: on the one hand, the risk of fashioning merely stylish pastiche out of borrowed finery for the sake of self-conscious kitschiness; on the other hand, the risk of making simplistic, heavy handedly “topical” audio-jokes at the expense of one’s raw material to a smug effect. If the lounge creeps uncritically snack on their sonic ingredients and coast on being “groovy”, the cads of pseudo-critique take cheap shots at straw men and call it subversion. Happily, Vicki Bennett has yet to fall down either precipice, but yodels down contentedly from her own Alpine audio-cottage. There, with loving care, she snips and tucks at the lycra jumpsuit until the fit is snug, places every plastic shrub on the Happy Valley Ranch just so, and throws another dance record on the bonfire. Undercutting her own utopian mirages with formal breakdowns and sneaky semantic pranks, Vicki Bennett is One Funny Lady, with a deadly sense of comic timing that puts her in my personal pantheon of edit intensive music makers: -Steinski and Mass Media, Hank Shocklee, Tod Dockstader, Teo Macero, the Hanatarash, John Oswald, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock. Serving her birthday cake with a turd, her gags are always lined with a virulent creep factor. You get the feeling that the vacancy and pointlessness of empty speech is being lampooned and mourned in equal measure. In sticking to this balance of celebration and critique, People Like Us genuinely hates and loves People Like You. The least you can do is head up to the Happy Valley Ranch for a spell and have a listen.
Drew Daniel

01. Another Kind Of Humor intro
02. OB & Cha Cha
03. Guide To Broadcasting excerpt
04. Smash & Grab
05. The Sacred Erm
06. Sing With Melodious Inarticulate Sound…
07. A Crossed Line excerpt
08. Clippety Cart Horse
09. In The Panto
10. Ursula Fährt Ski
11. T424PLU excerpt
12. More Plunderblunders excerpt
13. Ski Heil excerpt
14. We Believe
15. T424PLU excerpt
16. Sound Escape excerpt
17. Sound Escape excerpt
18. Handjob
19. If Someone Touches You (with The Jet Black Hair People and Wobbly)
20. Music Of Your Own
21. Millenium Dome
22. My Son Jim
23. More Plunderblunders excerpt
24. Oompah Pumpah
25. I’m 89
26. Take A Walk
27. Morning Pedro
28. We Believe excerpt
29. Bran Mash & Crushed Beans
30. We’re Gonna Be Around
Mess Media through Soleilmoon website

recyclo

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