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.
The audio from our new DVD “The Keystone Cut Ups” is now available in audio form as an album, in digital audio form! You can download at our label Illegal Art’s site, and good news is they have a “pay what you want” policy – from 0$ to XXXXXX$$$$$$!
Download now: http://illegal-art.net/shop#release131
Simply add to basket, scroll to the mp3 option and then select the amount you’d like to pay. There is also the option of getting the higher quality FLAC file.
BUY MOON MAGIC 7 INCH SINGLE NOW
“Moon Magic 7 inch single” by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz
Release date: 13 November 2012 (presales 13 October)
Illegal Art IA702 http://www.illegalart.net
“Moon” and “Magic” is a AA side 7 inch single, also on the Illegal Art label. Both tracks are taken from The Keystone Cut Ups DVD.
If you live in the US/Canada, unless you are buying other merchandise from us at the same time it will work out cheaper to buy the 7″ direct from the Illegal Art Shop due to the fact that we post from Europe and have to charge for that.
PEOPLE LIKE US & ERGO PHIZMIZ BRING YOU…
THE KEYSTONE CUT UPS DVD / MOON MAGIC 7″ / THE KEYSTONE CUT UPS DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
DVD and Digital Download Release Date: 31 October 2012
7 inch Release Date: 13 November 2012
Label: Illegal Art IA131 illegalart.net
We’re very pleased to announce the release on Illegal Art of a DVD, 7″ single and digital audio album!
When People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz premiered The Keystone Cut Ups at the Berwick Film and Media Art Festival in 2010, it was met with praise and wonder. Invoking a dreamlike atmosphere from the pairing of surrealist avant-garde cinema and silent-era comedy films with the quirky, yet emotionally resonating soundtrack carved out a unique sector of musical entertainment. This project stands tall as a statement against an industry that often flounders in its own creative bankruptcy.
Until now, this experience has only been available to those fortunate enough to see it performed live. But this October, people all over the world can see what all the hype is about for themselves when Illegal Art releases The Keystone Cut Ups on DVD, as well as just the musical portion as a digital download and as a 7′ single.
The festival commissioned the project in July of 2010 as an attempt to achieve something that would excite audiences in ways they were never expecting. People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz composed forty-five minutes of music that is simultaneously whimsical and poignant. Once the soundtrack was in place, visuals were assembled around the audio in order to create a stimulating assault on the mind that evokes a sense of the surreal and fantastical.
1. Orchestra 2. Hats 3. Statues 4. Thelma Todd 5. Machines
6. Aquopalypse 7. Chess 8. Magic 9. Spinning 10. Moon
The Keystone Cut Ups will play all regions, worldwide.
MOON MAGIC 7″ SINGLE by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz
Available to purchase from 25 October 2012
Actual release date: 13 November 2012
Illegal Art IA702 http://www.illegalart.net
“Moon” and “Magic” is a AA side 7 inch single, also on the Illegal Art label. Both tracks are taken from The Keystone Cut Ups DVD.
With this release, Illegal Art continues to embrace a pay-what-you-want business model for high-quality downloads. All label releases over the last five years have been issued (or reissued) under a the flexible payment system. People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz also have a history of offering free downloads of entire projects, both new and old.
REVIEWS so far
People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz will be releasing a 7″ single and DVD on Illegal Art in October, and a preview has been posted on WIRED’s website:
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.
Sunday 27th March 2011
People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz will perform The Keystone Cut Ups at Flatpack Festival, at The Electric Cinema, Birmingham UK.
THE KEYSTONE CUT UPS by PEOPLE LIKE US & ERGO PHIZMIZ (2010)
The Keystone Cut Ups was commissioned by Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival in July 2010, created in 9 weeks, and premiered at The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, UK, at the festival Opening Gala. For background on the Berwick commission please read here.
The Keystone Cut Ups is a live performance that combines video-collage with an original musical score, created using sampling and live instrumentation, to explore the aesthetic, contextual and stylistic relationships between early silent-comedy and early avant-garde cinema.
Using the influence of slapstick comedy on the Surrealists as a starting point, the piece takes us on a madcap journey, combining the techniques and popular imagery of the two genres.
The Surrealists took to cinema easily, using it as a device to show their disdain for established artistic tradition. In their quest to liberate the imagination, they believed that the process of juxtaposing unrelated elements would create images of great emotional and poetic power. Thomas Pynchon wrote, “one could combine inside the same frame, elements not normally found together to produce illogical and startling effects”.
In early silent films the actors often came from the Vaudeville tradition. They used flamboyant body language and facial expressions, a style suited to melodramatic comedy, which was popular at the time for its escape value. The earliest films were influenced by the presentation methods of theatre and the stage sets and inclusion of orchestras and dancers were motifs of entertainment that stuck throughout cinema’s evolution.
The Keystone Cut Ups employs a surrealist approach, presenting images side by side on the screen at the same time. It includes the everyday objects, such as top hats or umbrellas that were utilized as props by both slapstick comedians and the Surrealists, as well as reflecting the concerns of the day like mass industrial automation, and the stories made popular through film at the time, which included clunky monsters and the fantasy of trips to the moon.
The work reflects simultaneously on the histories of these two distinct schools of cinema and how they influence one another, whilst producing a work whose structure and format is informed by both silent comedy and early experimental and avant garde cinema. – Iain Pate
This work is now available for touring (cinemas and theatres only), please contact us for further details.
DOWNLOAD AT UBUWEB
Download a section here
Like my favourite pieces of Art, it fuelled my imagination as I got lost in both the images and often fantastical music on stage. When it ended, I felt like I had been rudely awakened from one of those cool, euphoric dreams we sometimes have: disappointed to be woken up so soon. – Observealot
The duo couldn’t have hoped for a better reception as they took their bows and to quote one man sitting behind in the audience, “it was absolutely fantastic.” – Berwick Advertiser
Interview and feature about The Keystone Cut Ups (People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz) in Kyeo TV (September 2010)
Review of The Keystone Cut Ups (People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz) in Observealot (September 2010)
“Perpetuum Mobile” and “Ghosts Before Breakfast” – album download and a new soundtrack to Hans Richter’s film
“Rhapsody in Glue” – album download
“Screen Play” – live soundtrack to Christian Marclay’s film
PEOPLE LIKE US & ERGO PHIZMIZ BIOG
Over the past five years the collaboration of People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz has produced two full length albums, a podcast series, a live soundtrack to Christian Marclay’s “Screenplay”, a 7” single on Touch, and a 10” EP. Their work has been disseminated internationally to widespread critical acclaim, straddling the absurd with the accessible, filtering experimental and avant-garde techniques through the looking-glass of humorous pop music. They have come to resemble something akin to the Morecambe & Wise of the avant-garde…
Individually both artists have produced a vast body of work that collectively spans hundreds of hours, across film, theatre, albums, radio and live performance. Most recently People Like Us released the album “Music For The Fire” in collaboration with Wobbly on the Illegal Art label (with a new solo record due later in the year). Ergo’s most recent productions are the new album “Things to Do and Make” on Care in the Community Recordings, and the contemporary opera about radio, magic and death “The Mourning Show”.
People Like Us website – http://www.peoplelikeus.org
Ergo Phizmiz website – http://www.ergophizmiz.net
“… a freeform, unfolding imaginary landscape that is liberally peppered with slapstick.” – Phil England, The Wire
“Bennett has taken Eisenstein’s montage collisions and refashioned them as bumper cars at a seaside carnival.” – Jim Supanick, Film Society of Lincoln Center
“Genuinely astonishing” – Boomkat
“Hilarious, but also fascinating…audacious, kaleidoscopic pop assemblages” – Brainwashed
“Beautiful, compelling, funny, crazy stuff” – Matt Groening