What it is to be “grounded” or “elevated”, and how is it that they relate directly to each other? When is not flying defining us more than flying? How much is being on the ground and/or the normal waking bodily situation constituting what it is to be “us”? If we were in space or another planet with different or no gravitational pull how would it change our self definition which is so dependant upon our relationship to objects and people around us of the “normal/home” conscious experience? When is something not reality and when it is not ours (our body, our planet/surface) – how much does this relate to our needing to be on the planet’s surface or grounded in our own mind/body? How often do you think about the fact that we are flying on a planet through space? Why are we all dreaming the same thing?!!!
These are some of the questions being asked around the subject of flying by Vicki Bennett and answered by over 50 participants in this intricate and tangentially edited new radio collage work commissioned by Open Sounds on WDR.
Featuring the voices and recordings of: Akāshamitra, Atau Tanaka, Ariadne, Austin Rich, Beth Arzy, Cameron Hamilton, Casper Carey, Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, Dan Bodah, David Cox, Drew Daniel, Eric Kilkenny, Falco Carey, Gaylord Fields, Hearty White, Henry Löwengard, Iain Chambers, Jeff Carey, Jem Finer, Katja Seltmann, Kevin Hamilton, Kim Farrier, Kira O’Reilly, Leanne Bryan, Leech Ernowetz, Leon Clowes, Mark Gergis, Mark Heath, Mark Leahy, Melissa Healing, Michael Newman, Molly Hankwitz, Nicola Battista, Peter Jaeger, Peter Knight, Rahne Alexander, Richard Lindsay, Robert Worby, Runa Kirby Torbo, Seth Horvitz, Sharon Gal, Simon Faulkner, Simon Hamilton, Steven Ball, Tim Maloney, Tom Comitta, Vicki Bennett, Will Edmondes and Yvonne Szymczak
Thanks to all of the above for their generous input, which totally led the way in how the piece was put together.
Under the name “People Like Us,” artist Vicki Bennett has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, concert appearances, gallery exhibits, 360 immersive installations and online streaming and distribution since 1992. She sees collage as folk art sourced from the palette of contemporary media and technology, with all of the sharing and cross-referencing incumbent to a populist form. Embedded in her work is the premise that all is interconnected and that claiming ownership of an “original” or isolated concept is both preposterous and redundant. Using collage as a compositional tool, Vicki Bennett opens up endless opportunities to experience results that are more than the sum of the parts. Most of the People Like Us back catalogue has been available for free online since 2002. For many artists, profit and publicity is more likely through free distribution (the gift economy) than independent publishers and distributors, which often struggle with limited resources. Online self-distribution allows an artist to keep their work available, resolving a tension between label production costs and the desire of an artist for work to be available. UbuWeb generously hosts the discography and filmography of People Like Us.
As a solo artist or collaborator Vicki has published more than 40 video projects and 50 audio recordings, with works released by labels including Illegal Art, Rough Trade, Soleilmoon Recordings, Discrepant, Sonic Arts Network and Touch. Vicki’s DO or DIY show on the fiercely independent New York City-market radio station WFMU has run since 2003. Her video work has been screened at Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, BFI, Purcell Room, Barbican, ICA, V&A. Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Sonar (Barcelona), MAXXI/National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico City), among other institutions. Video works have been aired on Channel 4 and radio sessions created for John Peel and Mixing It.
People Like Us has been commissioned by Arts Council England, Barbican, Attenborough Centre (ACCA), The BBC, WDR, Deutschlandradio, PRSF, a-n, Great North Run, Sound and Music, Channel 4/Animate Projects, AV Festival, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Recombinant Media Labs (RML), Sonic Arts Network, Forma, LUX and Lovebytes.
To date, Vicki has had 7 solo exhibitions and participated in at least 20 group shows at MAXXI (Rome), Venice Biennale, HMKV (Dortmund), Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico), Hatton Gallery (Newcastle), Vitrine (London), alt.gallery (Newcastle), Greene County Council for the Arts Gallery (NY), Peacock Visual Arts (Aberdeen), Pallant House (Chichester), Engramme (Quebec), La Scatola Gallery (London), Changing Room (Stirling), Franklin Street Works (Connecticut), Usurp Gallery (London), University of Greenwich Galleries, Matthew Gallery (Dundee), Edinburgh Printmakers, Millennium Gallery (Sheffield) Leeds College of Art, Sunbeam Studios (London) and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (NY).
The work of People Like Us has been featured in many publications, including Sounds Like Silence – 4’33’’ Silence Today (Spectre Books 2012), The Journal of Writing In Creative Practice (Vol 7 Issue 1 2015), The Fundamentals of Sonic Art and Design by Tony Gibbs (Ava Publishing 2007), Cutting Across Media by Kembrew McLeod (Duke University Press 2011), Here To Go – Art, Counter-Culture and the Esoteric (Forum Nidrosiae 2014), Incredible Machines by Danny Snelson (avant 2014), Sensations of History (University of Minnesota Press 2019) and she has written for The Wire’s Collateral Damage (February 2012). Vicki has a whole chapter dedicated to her work in Duchamp Is My Lawyer The Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb by Kenneth Goldsmith on Columbia University Press (2020) and a chapter in Different People – Conversations on Art, Life and the Creative Process by Carl Abrahamsson on Trapart (2021).
People Like Us has been reviewed in The Wire, BBC website, Bizarre Magazine, Rolling Stone, Frieze, The Independent, Record Collector, Time Out, Film Comment, The Guardian, The Scotsman, XLR8R, Baltimore City Paper, Sight and Sound, NME, Metro and San Francisco Bay Guardian, and interviewed for Found Footage Magazine (2016), The Observer (2006), Filmmaker Magazine (2015), The Wire (2014, 2011, 2008, 1999), Sight and Sound (2013), a-n Magazine (2012), Wired (2012), RadioWeb MACBA (2010), Sound and Music (2011), Sound Projector (2012, 2000), Bizarre Magazine (1999), NME (1995, 1996). On radio I’ve been interviewed on Late Junction (2016), Soundproof (ABC Radio National 2016), WDR 3 Open Sounds (WDR 2016), Cutting Up The Cut Up (BBC Radio 4 2015), North by Southwest (British Council 2012) PM (BBC Radio 3 2010), Twenty Minutes (BBC Radio 3 2009) and Mixing It (BBC Radio 3 2004). The May 2021 edition of The Wire features People Like Us – both a 30 year retrospective interview and also the cover photo.
Vicki has also curated publications and events: First Person, Fourth Wall (2020), Optimized! Expanded Radio Stream, WFMU (2016), Concert of Collage, Encounters Festival, Bristol (2015), Radio Boredcast, 744 hour radio station, AV Festival (2012), Nothing is New, Everything is Permitted event, AV Festival (2010), Sonic Arts Network CD Smiling Through My Teeth (2008) and a Humour in Music event, Purcell Room for Ether Festival (2002).
Notations, a film for live improvisers toured the UK with TUSK/Sound & Music in Autumn 2013; two films for Animate Projects/Channel 4 television, UK, broadcast as part of their Random Acts series. In 2015, Vicki created A/V performance Citation City, using techniques of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project in relation to London-based feature films. Nothing Can Turn Into A Void – a documentary film about People Like Us has screened in cinemas and festivals since Autumn 2015, and No One Is An Island, a radio work created for WDR, broadcast in April 2016. The Expanded Radio online/virtual commission/artist residency Optimized! broadcast on WFMU in June 2016. Since 2018, Vicki has been touring her solo a/v performance The Mirror, released an album under the same name, which reached No.8 in The Wire‘s albums of the year. Vicki produced the video for the spring 2018 The The Comeback Tour, and was participant in Sound and Music’s New Voices programme, and a-n Artist Bursaries 2019 recipient. The 45 minute radio art commission I Can Fly aired on WDR in Spring 2020.
In 2021 People Like Us facilitated and toured Gone, Gone Beyond, an hour-long seamless multiscreen and multi-speakered immersive cinema installation to nyMusikk Oslo, SPILL Festival Ipswich, Attenborough Centre (ACCA) Brighton and London Barbican. Vicki also resumed her radio show DO or DIY with People Like Us on the WFMU Summer Schedule. Vicki also was the cover photo of the May 2021 edition of The Wire magazine.
In-progress: live AV performance collaboration with Ergo Phizmiz and Gwilly Edmondez, Cafe OTO / Arts Council England  In-progress: solo live AV performance “The Library of Babel“, IndieGoGo crowdfunded  CuratorSpace Artist Bursary  “Changing Your Mind” radio commission for Deutschlandradio [2022/2023] 108 radio commission for Radio Art Zone  Mind Maps: The Art of Vicki Bennett Sheehan Gallery, Walla Walla, USA |  Global Eyes video for THE THE  PRSF Open Fund For Music Creators recipient  Gone, Gone BeyondCommissioned by SPILL Festival of Performance, presented in partnership with Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) and Barbican. Supported by Recombinant Media Labs (RML),DanceEast, nyMusikk, Gulbenkian, TouchDesigner, PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund and Arts Council England. Developed as part of Sound and Music’s New Voices Programme.  a-n Artist Bursaries 2019 recipient  I Can Fly new radio work for WDR3  Hallwalls Artist in ResidenceProject (HARP) artist [2019-2020] Sound and Music New Voices award recipient [2018-2020] New live AV performance “The Mirror” ACE Grants for the Arts [2018-2019] 8 speaker / 10 screen audiovisual installation “Gone, Gone Beyond” with Recombinant Media Labs and Cinechamber [2016++] Video editing/production for The The Comeback Special [Spring 2018] Can’t Stop What’s Coming video for THE THE  Curation of radio station and artist residency (with John Kilduff) Optimized! on WFMU funded by National Endowment for the Arts [June 2016] No One Is An Island radio commission for WDR to be broadcast 9 April 2016 on WDR 3 [Summer 2015-Winter 2015] Curation of films for Concert of Collage, Watershed, Bristol [September 2015] Nothing Can Turn Into A Void, editing a feature length doc film by Carl Abrahamsson about Vicki Bennett/People Like Us [Spring 2015] Arts Council England award creating a new live AV performanceCitation Cityand new short films with artist soundtracks pdf [Spring 2014-Spring 2015] Book collaboration with Gregor Weichbrodt The Fundamental Questions[Summer 2014] Those Who Do NotT Shirt Commission [Summer 2014] 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. Solo gallery show Shutter at Leeds College of Art pdf [Winter-Spring 2014] Touring award from Sound and Music for Notations[Autumn/Winter 2013] Two short animation films for Animate Projects/Channel 4 television, UK as part of their Random Acts Series [March 2013-July 2013] broadcast on national television in Autumn 2013 pdf Creation of online film with 7 artist soundtracksGesture Piece, commissioned by Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinemapdf [Spring/Summer 2013] Creating a new live AV performance Consequences (One Things Leads To Another, commissioned by Arts Council England [August 2012-January 2013], supported by transmediale [January 2013] Music for live performance piece Lost and Found by Anne Juren [Summer 2012] Archiving Radio Boredcast on WFMU, commissioned by AV Festivalwfmu.org/playlists/ZZ [May-June 2012] Curating an online-radio station Radio Boredcast for AV Festival 12pdf [Sept 2011-March 2012] Sound and Music commission to make AVlive performance Horror Collage for The Sound Of Fear (later changed to The Magical Misery Tour Southbank Centre, London [September 2011] The Doors of Perspection at Vitrine Gallery London [July/August 2011] Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival commission to create a new live AV performance The Keystone Cut Ups with Ergo Phizmiz  Curation of Nothing is New, Everything Is Permitted. as part of AV Festival 10 at the Star and Shadow, Newcastle  Edinburgh Printmakers commission to create audio and artwork for a picture disc LP “This Is Light Music”, as part of their group exhibition “Prints of Darkness” to be shown at Edinburgh Printmakers in Summer 2010 then touring venues  Grants For The Arts commission to create new AV performance Genre Collage [2008-2009] Great North Run Moving Image Commission 2009 – The Great North Run Cultural Programme – to create a film using the archives of the Great North Run, Paradepdf [July 2008-October 2009] Grants For The Arts commissionto release Rhapsody In Glue with Ergo Phizmiz on bleep.com – an album created with audio collage sourced from the podcast Codpaste (May 2008) Retrospective solo exhibition of People Like Us AV work, entitled We Edit Life at alt.gallery Newcastle curated by Rebecca Shatwellpdf [May 2008] Curation of CD Smiling Through My Teeth – Sonic Arts Network [May 2008] Forma/AV Festival commission Breaking Waves to make Bluetooth audio compositions for mobile phone [January 2008] Lecturing Music and Other Media at Goldsmiths [2006-2008] Wandsworth Film Awards commission to make short digital film Skew Gardens, exploring the boundaries of urban land use – [September 2007] Lovebytes commission in association with Millennium Galleries, Sheffield to make three screen AV film Work, Rest & Play [June 2007] Grants For The Arts commission to make podcast series Codpaste on WFMU, where People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz explore the working process of creating music from scratch [September 2007] Radio session for BBC Radio 3’s Mixing It [February 2007] Artist Residency at BBC Creative Archive with “access all areas” to work with their archive – Arts Council England (Interdisciplinary Arts) with BBC, White City – [March 2006] Grants For The Arts commission to create 10″ record to be given away for free in selected international record stores Honeysuckle Boulevard [August 2006] PRS Foundation award to create a new live performance (with artist Ergo Phizmiz) using dansette players and self-pressed vinyl compositions Boots! [June 2006] Sonic Arts Network / Goldsmiths Electronic Music Studio (EMS) commission working with Daphne Oram’s sound archive [Summer 2005] Grants for the Arts commission to create new live AV performance – [April 2005] LUX commission to make digital short film sourcing the LUX archive collection Resemblage [October 2004] Residency at FACT to make radio play Molaradio in collaboration with artist Felix Kubin and Croxteth school children [January 2004] Sonic Arts Network commission to make short film and subsequent DVD release – Story Without End [June 2004] Live performance with Wobbly for radio broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Mixing It, London Spitz [May 2004] BBC Radio 1 session for John Peel [January 2003] Future Physical commission to make digital short film The Remote Controller [June 2002] Baby Zizanie (JG Thirlwell and Jim Coleman) live video for BZ performed at David Bowie’s Meltdown at QEH, London (June 2002) Lovebytes commission to make short film We Edit Life[December 2002] Curated line up for Humour in Music event, Ether Festival at Purcell Room, London [May 2002] Year of the Artist Residency, Lighthouse, Brighton with Brighton & Hove Music Library, teaching sound collage [June 2001] Year of the Artist Residency, Hull Time Based Arts, making AV collage – [January-April 2001] Live session and BBC Radio 3 broadcast for Mixing It, Dingwalls [March 2001] Work & Leisure International commission to make new AV live performance – [September 1999] Ars Electronica – The Sound of Music live collaboration with Negativland and Barbed [Summer 1998] Various radio commissions for De Avonden on VPRO, The Netherlands [early 1990s]
WDR 3 Open Sounds presents : No One Is An Island by Vicki Bennett Vicki Bennett was commissioned by WDR (German Radio) to make a 28-minute radio work called No One Is An Island. This will premiere, alongside 3 other separate commissions (Iain Chambers, Ergo Phizmiz and Lucinda Guy) on Saturday, April 9, 2016, 22:05 to 00:00 (Mainland Europe – that’s 21:05 UK time). Background info http://www1.wdr.de/radio/wdr3/programm/sendungen/wdr3-open-sounds/from-britain-104.html
Thanks to the following for taking their time to give me their thoughts about ideas: Ergo Phizmiz, Ava, Savanna, Rowen, Mathilde, Lila, Andrew Sharpley, Cameron, Katja Seltmann, Rick Prelinger, Iain Chambers, Jeff Carey and Falco, Graham Duff, Kenneth Goldsmith, Charlie Lewis, Henry Lowengard, Tim Maloney, Kevin Hamilton, Akāshamitra, Dorian Jones and Lenny, Marcus Boon and Jesse, Saraka, Suddhaka and Sunayaka.
No One Is An Island Where do ideas come from? Are they our own or are we channeling some spark from a larger flame? In this programme we examine the relationship between artists, writers, scientists and philosophers and the receiving, possession and transmission of ideas. Culture is a complex process of sharing and signification. Meanings are exchanged, adopted, and adapted through acts of communication. The tools we use – the photocopier, camera, computer, encourage, in fact insist upon the act of cutting, copying and pasting – it is second nature. Through mimicry and repetition we learn.