Vicki will guest on The Wire’s Adventures in Sound and Music on 1st October 2020 at 9pm (UK) on Resonance FM hosted by Shane Woolman – the show playlist and archive will be available shortly afterwards at The Wire website.
Author and Wire contributor Ken Hollings has produced a show for BBC Radio 4 on William Burroughs’s cut ups. The show traces the history of the cut up, from its roots in the Dadaist movement through Burroughs and Brion Gysin, to tape splicing and digital editing, looking at the cut up as a satirical device.
The show “Cutting Up The Cut Up” includes interviews with Armando Iannucci, Cassetteboy, Kevin Foakes (aka DJ Food), Vicki Bennett and others. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 25 June at 11:30am.
‘Cutcast Up-pod’ – featuring additional material from Chris Morris and Negativland – is available here.
Vicki Bennett, Chris Cutler, Scanner, Blackest Ever Black label head Kiran Sande and The Wire‘s Tony Herrington discuss the impact of digital technology on music making and consumption.
The Wire and Sound And Music‘s Off The Page festival took place 24–26 February at The Playhouse Theatre in Whitstable.
Vicki Bennett Those Who Do Not
Each month, The Wire magazine invites and artist to design a limited edition T-shirt.
Printed in a light blue and white on an electric blue T-shirt with The Wire logo and Vicki Bennett Those Who Do Not printed in light blue on the back of the neck. Limited edition of 100 shirts.
Price (including postage and packing): £20 for UK, £22 elsewhere.
Subscriber discount: £2 off per shirt.
(Please note the shirts will be printed and ready for dispatch approx. 10 November 2014)
Our paperback/pdf book The Fundamental Questions (Gregor Weichbrodt/Vicki Bennett) was read by a number of poets at the event Xing The Line on 19 August 2014 at The Apple Tree, Clerkenwell, London. We filmed the mass reading – here it is:
“The Fundamental Questions” is now also available in full for free as a pdf.
THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS
new book by Gregor Weichbrodt, Vicki Bennett
Paperback & pdf, 569 Pages
Buy the paperback book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/gregor-weichbrodt-and-vicki-bennett/the-fundamental-questions/paperback/product-21696219.html
You can now also purchase the book from The Wire magazine bookshop
Free downloadable pdf here or here
Update 2020: there is now a second edition to be available exclusively on site only at Hallwalls to coincide with Vicki’s solo exhibition First Person, Fourth Wall.
You may be familiar with the music, film, radio and stills work of People Like Us but this is the first step into this medium. Although we’ve written essays, we’ve not written a book before. And we still haven’t! This content is sourced from online, developed online over the course of a 10-day conversation with Gregor Weichbrodt after we observed that searching for answers on a particular internet website possibly reflected and paralleled deeper questions within life…
Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my purpose in Life and what happens when I die? For centuries people have tried to come up with answers regarding the fundamental questions of life. Then the internet was invented and these questions have finally been answered – by users.
The Fundamental Questions captures them in an inspiring record of epic proportions where every individual verse becomes a mantra of a mind-expanding collective thought. It reminds us, that one single answer is never the answer.
Thousands of user profiles from the web were parsed, matched according to four questions and sorted in an alphabetical order.
“I am the gambling of the fraudulent; I am the splendour of the splendid; I am victory; I am determination; I am the goodness of the good. I am a huge animal lover and love to spend time with my chinchilla and 2 pet rats.” – from the excellent piece of mashed-up uncreative writing called “The Fundamental Questions.” From Vicki Bennett and Gregor Weichbrodt. Further confirmation that the best use of appropriation in art is with a healthy dose of humor and joy. [And it comes in a paperback, almost the same size as your pink, half-read copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.] — Kevin Hamilton
Related item: I am that I am – A Twitterbot that combines verses from the Bhagavad Gita with user profile texts from the web. I am that I am @newmantras
We’re very pleased to have received a favourable review in The Wire Magazine (October 2012) of our forthcoming DVD (and digital download) ((oh, and a 7 inch single!!)) THE KEYSTONE CUT UPS.
We’ll be announcing more about this on 30th September.
Vicki Bennett has written the Collateral Damage page for the March edition of The Wire magazine.
It is also available to read in The Wire’s online archive:
Vicki will also speak at Off The Page in Whitstable on 25th February 2012 as part of a panel based around the same column.
In the early 2000s, increased bandwidth allowed recombinant artists to enter the gift economy. It’s a freedom we should defend at all costs, argues Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us
In 1999 I bought my first fast computer – and although it was dying to do speedy things, I was on dial-up, reduced to a crawl when it came to information retrieval. Logged into file sharing communities, I’d sit in the chat and watch people posting files that would take me a day to download, so I’d just read about them. Then I’d go to the WFMU website and try to stream the station and just get blurts and gaping silences. Then I’d visit archive.org and look at all the wonderful synopses for Rick Prelinger’s films, which were too large to access. It wasn’t long, however, before affordable broadband reached my area of London. Then everything changed. Forever.
The biggest improvement that broadband has brought me is access to previously inaccessible content, which I can then work with as raw material. In 2000, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle asked Prelinger to share his films online, for free. Although Prelinger was initially wary of this suggestion, he did so. By making these films available in good quality and continuing to sell the same footage in high quality, not only did he advertise his commercial archive, but also this generous act had a revolutionary effect on artists like myself who utilise already existing footage to make new works. Before this, I’d approached regional and national archives and either found a total lack of interest in collaboration, or a bigger interest but lack of manpower to liaise in realising the project. The advent of broadband made it possible to share on a massive scale. It changed my life.
With more people producing and distributing for themselves, the dynamic has changed and the focus shifted away from the middleman towards the producer. Since 2000, albums I’ve made with Ergo Phizmiz and Wobbly were created remotely, as a result of being in different parts of the world, through ftping multitracks. Many are surprised to hear that such methods could be successful, but working alone on site, and in collaboration online, can be a winning combination. Once completed, it can be shared online. If you work with the right people you’ll reach thousands of listeners. In turn, some of those listeners will be working in areas where they can offer concerts, commissions, or play you on their radio show. This is called the Gift Economy.
Audio content both for People Like Us and my radio show has mainly been sourced online. This heightened access increased my musical knowledge massively, feeding into my creative process, the palette increasing in size and colour. Access to and hosting by curated servers like UbuWeb has given a wider context to my work, where I’ve found aesthetic similarities to genres that in turn inform my practice. As well as curated music servers, there are now thousands of dedicated, knowledgeable music blogs. A web search for an obscure artist heard on the radio will take you to a blog telling you all about them, sharing out-of-print material, with tags linking to related areas. An adjacent column will have links to 25 other websites and radio stations with similar interests. There then follows a wonderful odyssey into hidden and often forgotten sonic worlds. This is very different from looking in an Oxfam record bin.
As well as being able to access specialist audio and moving images, broadband also made it possible to hear radio on a worldwide scale. Although analogue radio has long served the world over certain wavelengths for larger radio networks, it was an amazing experience to hear smaller radio stations like WFMU, where, as a result, I have been a DJ since 2003. WFMU archives its past shows forever, making them available for free listening. When Googling a little-known artist, the chances are the results will include a WFMU playlist. This helped make the local New Jersey radio station a global concern – and now, more people listen online than through radio receivers.
With this enhanced access in the past decade, one is far more likely to hear more less often than less more often. This shifts the way one listens, as the process becomes more like a ‘one-off’ experience of something that is ‘live’ or ‘unrepeatable’, almost like it was before the age of recording. Cassette sharing has been replaced with links and playlists. The physical experience of holding something as a treasured possession is lost, or it would be if you’d put your laptop or iPhone down. The loss of the artefact in favour of info.txt and jpegs is unfortunate; however, I recall many hours spent in record stores only looking at the covers.
In Klaus Maeck’s 1983 film Decoder, Genesis P-Orridge states, “Information is like a bank. Our job is to rob that bank.” These were prophetic words. Freedom of the internet is under threat – over access to and ownership of information. Although I don’t see sharing and creatively transforming information and content as plundering, I do believe the ‘banks’ have the potential to lock up a lot that should rightfully be ours. When Megaupload was recently shut down for facilitating copyright infringement and money laundering, approximately 150 million users instantly lost access to their files. Carpathia and Cogent, Megaupload’s hosting companies, have been told by the US authorities that they are free to delete the content, but unlike the US government’s approach of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, Carpathia has put together a website (megaretrieval.com) with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) so that affected users can assess the scope of the issue and try to retrieve their data. My focus here is not on the legal aspect of this case, but on how further damage occurs when a heavy-handed approach is taken in dealing with such a situation – millions of users were innocently implicated in this case and the collateral damage is immense.
We may be at the stage where many people don’t even wish to download, and are just happy to listen to Spotify or Last.fm, and much future content will only be on servers, with smaller domestic hard drives. While advocating the sharing ethic, I’m wary of ‘the cloud’ – servers looking after everything for you. Megaupload was a ‘cloud’ – it remains to be seen what happens to users and their data when things go wrong. Intellectual property is a complicated issue with many grey areas, which need to be assessed on an individual basis. If there is the opportunity to throw out the grey with the black, this is often done. My main concern over the cloud is that this ‘automatic and effortless’ experience of access may be improved upon by eventually narrowing down results to only mainstream or sponsored content; in the worst cases, people may find themselves simply shut out.
I can’t over-emphasise how much broadband has improved my life, and although I worry about the control of this ‘free’ space, I remain optimistic of seeing blue sky between the clouds. At present, I am curating and programming Radio Boredcast, a month long online radio station for the AV Festival. All content and submissions reached me by way of that modem sitting next to the telephone socket, which then flew across the living room into my computer. I don’t know how that happens, but I’m glad it does.
Date: Friday 24 – Sunday 26 February 2012
Venue: The Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable
Produced by: Sound and Music and The Wire
Off The Page is the UK’s only literary festival devoted to music criticism and audio culture. Taking place in the seaside town of Whitstable in Kent, this unique weekend-long event looks to expand the discourse surrounding contemporary sound and music by bringing together leading critics, authors, musicians and artists in a programme of talks, presentations and panel discussions.
Collateral Damage: Music in a Digital Economy
In recent years, the internet and a raft of new technologies have transformed the ways in which we produce, perceive and consume music. And as the reality of music’s new digital economy starts to bite, musicians and labels are having to rethink both philosophy and practice, addressing the issue of how they create and disseminate work – while some decry the free movement of music across file sharing networks and the collapse of traditional record industry models, others look to exploit the new possibilities offered by crowd sourcing and social networking. For this panel discussion chaired by The Wire’s Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Tony Herrington, Vicki Bennett (People Like Us), Chris Cutler (ReR Records) and Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) discuss possible responses to the challenges posed by music’s changing eco-system
People Like Us appear in “Invisible Jukebox” – a four-page feature in the July 2011 edition of The Wire magazine. Visit The Wire’s website here.