A film by Vicki Bennett 
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.
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.
People Like Us have revamped the DO or DIY radio stream, and as of Noon EDT on 3rd April 2013 it is now streaming Radio Boredcast!
Radio Boredcast is a 744-hour online radio project that celebrates all things SLOW. And fast too, actually. Crank it up to wind down and enjoy this selection of specially made radio shows by 100 different artists and some WFMU DJs too!
Click and listen to the 24/7 Radio Boredcast stream here.
(Download the little file linked to above – the stream works through iTunes so let your computer launch this application if prompted. If it doesn’t launch then find the small file that you downloaded and double-click on it)
Those of you who already have the DO or DIY stream bookmarked, it will automatically switch over to the new stream for you.
Tuesday 19 March 2013
XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, Old Street, EC2A 4AW
£10 | 8pm
Buy tickets now: http://xoyo.co.uk/2013/02/19/upset-the-rhythm-matmos-people-like-us/
“Consequences”, has two definitions; it is the result of some previous action, and a game (called Exquisite Corpse by the Surrealists) in which a larger picture/narrative is created by assembling subject matter “blindly” in relation to a small amount of information made visible before it as a continuation point. As a result, content surprisingly and sometimes magically changes over a short period of time or space, with every part still connected to that which goes before or after it.
This new audiovisual performance by People Like Us places similar but emerging subject matter side by side to construct the narrative, where a story emerges as a sum of the parts that came before it yet digresses on a tangent. All actions have consequences, and here we see them played out, to wondrous and catastrophic effect!
“The subject of authenticity, the “original” in relation to the “copy” (coming from the word “copia”, meaning multitude and abundance) interest me as an artist working in the field of collage and appropriation. “Original” has limited connection with “quality” or “engaging”, and (at least in the past 300 years) nothing created as an object or product can be traced 100% to an origin – everything is relative, literally – it has a mother and father. Much like speed, dimensions, size, the terms are reliant upon the conditions of the person experiencing it, where they are and when, there is NO absolute. This is reflected when very similar creative works and inventions occur at the same period by people who have no knowledge of each other’s works existence. In Consequences we reflect that no man is an island, but the island has lots of mirror mazes… in fact some mirrors can be walked through.” — Vicki Bennett
Trailer and Excerpt:
Transmediale, Berlin – 31 January 2013
La Casa Encendida, Madrid – 15 March 2013
XOYO, London – 19 March 2013
Tectonics, Reykjavik – 20 April 2013
Colchester Arts Centre – 4 May 2013
Nuits Sonores, Lyon – 8 May 2013
Only Connect Festival, Oslo – 8 June 2013
Lab Festival, Augsburg – 25 & 26 October 2013
Newcastle Star & Shadow – 31 October 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
Sound of Stockholm Festival – 8 November 2013
Manchester Kraak – 14 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
Leeds Hyde Park Picture House as part of Leeds International Film Festival – 16 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
London Cafe Oto – 29 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
Bristol Arnolfini – 30 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
L’Embobineuse, Marseille, France – 15 March 2014
Hamburg Hörbar – 9 May 2014
Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre Here To Go Symposium – 31 May 2014
Now retired but available as film screenings:
Recombinant Festival 2017, Grey Area San Francisco – October 2017
Other Cinema, San Francisco – 7 April 2018
Just What Is It That Makes People Like Us So Different, So Appealing?
Just What Is It That Makes People Like Us So Different, So Appealing?
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.
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:
The hour long performance on this disc was captured live on October 5th 2002 when Wobbly, People Like Us and Matmos circled their wagons in the lecture hall of the San Francisco Art Institute. Having mutually agreed upon a country and western theme, Vicki Bennett (PLU), Jon Leidecker (Wobbly), and Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt (Matmos) pored over their archives of honky tonk classics, chopping and dicing Nashville’s finest almost beyond recognition, and collectively restitching the mangled shreds in a kind of crazed digital quilting bee. Several tense rehearsals and strong pots of tea later, the foursome shuffled on stage and delivered the goods: from panoramic twangfests to offkilter waltzes to barn burning stompers. Flickering and tranquil one moment, and wildly slapstick the next, Wide Open Spaces hits the sweet spot between song forms and improvisation, and showcases the qualities that all three collaborating artists share: absurdist humor, baroque sample manipulation, and stuttering rhythmic frameworks that lurch and sway. While the presence of five samplers, four laptops, three CD players and a pedal steel guitar on one stage could have led to a tediously ego-driven “jam” or simply cacophany, the results feel lushly detailed but not cluttered, and swing naturally between structure and freedom. It’s an international media magpie summit where country’s chick-a-boom meets tech house’s boom-tschak, and tearjerking sentiment and patriotic hokum are subjected to a dense shower of coughs, sputters and rude noises. Listening back to the recorded results, all three musical units agreed that this concert was mighty fine, and worth sharing.
02. Dolly Pardon
03. Clawing Your Eyes Out Down To Your Throat
06. Tremble Valley Peady
07. Chicken Legs
08. Cattle Call
10. Arkansas Explorer
12. I Must Die
13. Wide Open Spaces
Download at UbuWeb
CD on Caciocavallo – CAD10 – 2000
“People Like Us is simply too good. Why it presents us again and again CD, like a circus. One must win something distance from this music, thus her one not flatly with the endless heavily meaning basic sounds and memories. Here to the world between American white diapers, Pferdchen those the world mean, Kleinkinderklukluxklansofties and other one like Country, donkeys, sakeless Schubidus and cold kriegern in a leckeren soup. People Like US is like cinema, like which old humans at MTV finds so exciting always, these many cuts, only the cuts are not cuts, but, deeply inside into this world from sound the world of the television offers precise interventions to surgical quality, without it would refer to expressly drauf that that really like that it is but supplies actually only for People Like Us material, which so unconsciously passed through quasi by us that one can cannibalize it ever further and further. Carefully naturally and with a Manie CUT copy paste of the Artworkings, which one, once belonged never again loose will. ” A Fistful Of Knuckles” is the terminator point of a long long search to the praised country, which ran from the east coast in long Treks to the west coast, made a stopover with John Wayne over in People Like Us to end.” – translation from de-bug magazine
01. Hi There
02. She’ll Be
03. Morning, Pedro
04. Lullablip With Handjob
05. My Son Jim
06. Ursula Fährt Horse Riding
07. Doo Dah Tango
08. Just A Minute
09. Music Alone
10. Oh No
11. Arkinsaw Explorer
12. Grandma Song
14. A Place Like This
15. Oompah Pumpah
16. Oh! Susannah
17. Clippa Cloppa
18. Old Cow Whoopee
19. Weiner Schnitzels
20. Thank You
21. Bitter Dregs
Caciocavallo through Soleilmoon website
in NME and Bizarre Magazine 2001
We still have a few CDs left in our shop. All prices include postage and packaging.