'Imagine: an endless plaza filled with towering pillars of light. A vast, gridded expanse of escalators criss-cross the atmosphere, ascending ever upward into a vaporous haze of glowing advertisements and shimmering glass. An infinity sponsored by multi-billion-dollar corporations and dripping with the stimulating lubricant of commerce, this monument to capitalism as artificially engineered heaven is the eerie endpoint at which our world becomes comprehensively commercialized.
That's our best guess for the future, a utopian dystopia that wants for nothing, and where the human spirit goes to die. This is where a genre called vaporwave draws its inspiration, and in North Texas Michael Cole Young is perhaps its lone practitioner.
Vaporwave acts as a critique of the aforementioned capitalist nightmare. Sampling, repurposing and then looping the banal sounds of bygone commercial stock music (elevators, infomercials -- all iterations of listen-while-you-wait ambient fodder), vaporwave tracks consist almost entirely of these slowed-down, or otherwise heavily warped, fragments ...
... From dance patterns and hauntological textures to pristine, future-seeking art-pop and ethereal beat instrumentals (even metal and acoustic singer-songwriter under his own name), Young's music speaks to an artful command of mood and concept. Whether it's for satire or genuine expression, it affords him the capacity to comment sharply on contemporary issues without needing to utter a word. His aspirations and motivations have always been, and remain, simple and admirable: "To connect with people and to change the way they think.' - Jonathan Patrick
'Asked to sum up the Ghost Box label’s output, co-founder Jim Jupp explains, “The music is largely, although not entirely, electronic, and mainly instrumental (though increasingly less so). Its artists share influences in library music, TV soundtracks, vintage electronics, folk music, weird fiction and forgotten films and TV shows. We think of it as a kind of world where pop culture from the mid sixties up to the early eighties is happening all at once, in a kind of parallel world. Not historically accurate, but naggingly familiar.”
Those musical moments from horror movies that ensure you jump in the right place. The background music to old public information films. Children’s TV themes and old radio sound effects. Back in 2004, when Jupp – who records as Belbury Poly – and partner Julian House (aka the Focus Group) launched the label, this was largely untapped territory; the likes of Current 93 and Broadcast were moving in that direction, and probably remain the grandparents of it all. But “Hauntology,” as the labelers labeled the emergent sound, had still a long way to go before even tapping its full potential, and Ghost Box has remained at the forefront, both in the UK (where its primary sources and influences certainly lie) and elsewhere.' - Dave Thompson
'For those of us interested in ideas like hauntology, it’s not simply an exercise in identifying an aesthetic movement, but a way into the historical moment we’re living through. Very loosely speaking, it posits that as a result of living in a post-industrial, post-ideological society, people will turn increasingly to the past for authentic experience and that this disjuncture between now and then, coupled with the spooky moans of the unquiet spectres of inequality and exploitation, things we’ve never truly been able to put to rest, will result in the idea of revolution re-emerging again. Hauntology, however, isn’t an explicitly Marxist ideology, with its united worker’s front and overthrowing of the capitalist hegemony as inevitable byproducts of the historical process, in fact strictly speaking hauntology isn’t an ideology at all, but instead describes a world disrupted by incursions from beyond, by things both there and not there simultaneously. The crowded out Marxist readings of consensus reality, for instance, clanking the chains of the proletariat in the margins. Much has been said about hauntology in other media, but little has been said about hauntology in comics, including the one comic that directly concerns itself with the spirit of revolution. For shame.' - Amy Poodle
'"moDernisT" was created by salvaging the sounds and images lost to compression via the MP3 and MP4 codecs. The audio is comprised of lost mp3 compression material from the song "Tom's Diner" famously used as one of the main controls in the listening tests to develop the MP3 encoding algorithm. Here we find the form of the song intact, but the details are just remnants of the original. The video is the MP4 ghost of a corresponding video created in collaboration with Takahiro Suzuki. Thus, both audio and video are the "ghosts" of their respective compression codecs' - Ryan Maguire
'The 78 Project is a documentary and recording journey inspired by Alan Lomax and his quest to capture music where it lived throughout the early 20th century. Our project brings the spirit of his work into the present as we pair breakthrough musicians with the songs and the fascinating recording technology of the past. With just one microphone, one authentic 1930′s Presto direct-to-acetate disk recorder, and one blank lacquer disc, musicians are given one take to cut a record anywhere they choose. What we have found is that the film, music and feelings that result defy space and time, living music inspired by ghosts.'
'I had thought Scarfolk a personal interpretation of the 1970s filtered through my own (numerous) childhood neuroticisms, fears and memory fragments; Scarfolk certainly does not reflect what for many is the decade of flares, discos and lava lamps. Influenced by Monty Python, George Orwell, The League of Gentlemen, Chris Morris, and cartoonists such as Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman, I was aware that Scarfolk also fits into a movement of sorts called ‘Hauntology’, which is concerned with what some might consider darker aspects of the 1970s: Brutalist architecture, disquieting TV theme music, a resurgent interest in paganism, new (now old) technologies and other everyday ephemera. Hauntology also heavily plays on and warps the half-memories of those who were brought up between the late 60s and early 80s. It’s not nostalgia as such; there are no rose-tinted spectacles, nor is there a desire for those days to return.' - Richard Littler
From 2011: 'Although the tendency to fall for trite, romanticist pastiche is always only a step away in Germany, I've felt that hauntology as an artistic concept has never really gained a foothold in the local experimental underground (as opposed to fine art, a point convincingly made by Adam Harper in reference to Neo Rauch). Considering this, I was both very surprised and quite intrigued to come across the latest offering by Frankfurt-based cassette imprint SicSic Tapes, a C-40 split between Johannes Schebler aka Baldruin and Christian Schoppik, who records under the moniker Brannten Schnüre. In fact it was the latter's side of the tape that really grabbed my attention. Brannten Schnüre's six tracks (that can all be streamed over here) deliver a disturbing if not outright frightening séance made up of looped, slowly meandering instrumental sound collages that feature a good deal of crackling and tape hiss (most likely because the snippets were directly taken from an audio or video cassette). However, what struck me most was Schoppik's choice of source material. As it turns out (according to the description given by the label), he derived a lot of (most?) samples from "obscure Czechoslovakian films", a method that in my view deserves a closer look in regard to the condition of possibility of a "genuine" hauntology in the domestic music scene.' - Henning Lahmann
'If the opening sequence of a film is a microscopic 'event' that achieves far more than setting the tone and whetting the appetite for what we are about to see, then Todd Haynes' I'm Not There is exemplary. This paper works its way through the conceptually dense and intricately woven textual layers of the film's opening to stage a three-way dialogue between Haynes, Bob Dylan and Jacques Derrida: three mavericks who defy simple categorisation, by transgressing the boundaries of their respective fields (song writing, cinema and philosophy). By introducing Derrida's deconstructive logic of hauntology as a strategy for reading Haynes' biopic on Dylan, the figure of the ghost is called upon to situate the quest for an identity's authenticity as a perennial, irresolvable problem in song, cinema and philosophy. Belonging to a time that is neither past nor present, a place that is neither here nor there, the ghost offers the perfect medium to join Haynes, Dylan and Derrida in (re)thinking identity in terms that respond to a call (in the name of art, justice and truth, among other things) that is not based on an unyielding conception of authenticity.' - Carolyn D'Cruz and Glen D'Cruz
'In Hauntologies Akomfrah is referencing a pluralised consideration of the critical notion of "hauntology". It is the nature of the ghost and the situation of being haunted that frames and forms this term. Hauntology is itself a notion with many permutations, from the phantasmagoria, the uncanny and Jacques Derrida to more recent writing on sonic theories and music. Articles and blog posts online overflow with complaints about the vagueness of, or lack of definition associated with this term. As a term hauntology dissects language relating to ghosts, the situation of being haunted, and the implications these have upon our understanding of the past in the present.' - Claire M. Holdsworth
'We are haunted during the holidays by things done and left undone, but especially by the Ghost of Christmas Past. You can hear that melancholy and nostalgia in many of our best-known Christmas songs, from Sam Smith's old-fashioned new version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to "I'll be Home for Christmas" to "Merry Christmas Darling." Why, in this season of joy, are we so often brought to the point of tears? Well partly it's because the past, as Mr. Faulkner said, isn't past. It's always present, swirling around us, reminding us of who we were, are, and ought to be (and maybe where we ought to be, and with whom).
Those ghosts may sadden us or frighten us, but critics who work within a literary field called Hauntology argue that in stories from The Iliad to Hamlet to The Sixth Sense, these ghosts of longing may haunt us from our past, but they simultaneously beckon us forward toward our future. A good haunting may, in fact, be just the thing we require to achieve our best destiny, to become the people we are called to become. And what better time than the holidays to face those ghosts head-on and amend our lives?' - Greg Garrett
'Writers and artists have long been fascinated by the idea of an English eerie - ‘the skull beneath the skin of the countryside’. But for a new generation this has nothing to do with hokey supernaturalism – it’s a cultural and political response to contemporary crises and fears'
'This eerie counter-culture – this occulture – is drawing in experimental film-makers, folk singers, folklorists, academics, avant-garde antiquaries, landscape historians, utopians, collectives, mainstreamers and Arch-Droods alike, in a magnificent mash-up of hauntology, geological sentience and political activism. The hedgerows, fields, ruins, hills and saltings of England have been set seething.' - Robert Macfarlane
'Whereas past generations longed to know if there is an afterlife, today we face a living hauntology in the form of our data presences. We live on not only past death, as the recent Facebook end-of-year debacles have poignantly demonstrated, but we live beyond ourselves in and through black-boxed algorithms and their architectures of capture and deployment.' - Karen Gregory
"There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountain to find the lurking fear. Some said the thunder called the lurking fear out of its habitation, while others said the thunder was its voice." - Joseph Curwen
'The next two singles in our Other Voices series both feature very special guests.
Other Voices 03 introduces an exciting new ensemble,The Pattern Forms. Made up of Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) with Ed Gibson and Ed MacFarlane (both of Friendly Fires). Expertly crafted, dreamy, electronic pop with light, airborne vocals and just a hint of dark magick.
The next in the series is by Steve Moore, well known for his retro futuristic work both as a solo artist and as bass and keyboard player with Zombi. This single for Other Voices, captures an elegant and minimalistic performance from Moore on analogue synth, Hammond organ and vintage string machine. Two perfectly balanced and paired down science fiction landscape miniatures.' - Belbury Parish Magazine
'Our relationship with the city is intrinsically tied up with our knowledge and memory of it. If a particular city is somewhere we know – from today or from our past – we are unable to separate our psychological responses to it from the materiality of the place itself.
This, in fact, is psychogeography and is what makes us all psychogeographers to a degree. A sense of place connects us to a geographic region in a specific way that becomes apparent when we start to explore the emotions attached to particular urban pockets that spark something in us. It might be a memory from our adolescence, such as an independent record shop in our hometown where we purchased our first piece of vinyl, or a more recent memory we have of the experience of moving to a new town or city and the differing aesthetics of that place compared to our last home.
These memories are not separate from our self, they inform and form us. The experience of the everyday that is played out in space – walking to the train station, going to the supermarket, taking the dog for a walk – make up a significant part of our day. These practices are imprinted on our psyches over time, forming our relationship with space and at the same time are laid down in our memory of that place, creating our attachment to it.' - Tina Richardson
'What the left must reconnect to is its roots in the Enlightenment, in a rationalist and universal vision of collective human self-construction. This would be to lay claim to a positive vision of the future, capable of supplanting our current economic and political systems with ones which enable, rather than suppress, a generalised human flourishing. Against those across the political spectrum who indulge in the fantasy of local, small-scaled solutions to our many crises, this requires us to re-engineer our complex, abstract, and multi-scalar world without seeking to simplify it according to some pre-conceived schema. In place of folk political solutions, we should be pushing for full automation of work, reduction of the working week, and a universal basic income for everyone. It is these proposals which can lead us away from the conservative stance of anti-austerity, and rejuvenate the future-oriented and progressive politics of the left. For it is only once the left takes command of the future, and modernisation once again becomes synonymous with radical left politics, rather than neoliberalisation, that we can collectively come to grasp our world such that we might change it.' - Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams and Armen Avanessian
'The overriding sensation as you walk through the gallery is one of a near-swoon, and this is apt: Akomfrah has been exploring the genre of costume drama, how it stages history and makes us nostalgic for a time we may never have known.' - Laura Allsop
'This article proposes an exploration of the phenomenon of media addiction as the expression of a haunting: the sporadic re-emergence of nostalgia for presence, materiality, and the body. After a brief description of the contemporary phenomenon of media addiction, I will in turn bring forward some of the earliest key conflicts involving materiality and immateriality surrounding networked media. These incursions into the history of problematic human-media relationships set the scene for their current incarnations - media addictions - where the incongruity between materiality and immateriality, presence and unpresence, are embodied by figures such as the Internet addict. The clash of materiality and immateriality within media feeds into ideas of spectrality and danger, which are unavoidably problematised as threats to the health and wellbeing of populations in postindustrial contexts. The last section of this paper explores the place of media addiction as an unavoidable human-technology bond that politics of life cannot escape.' - Eva Zekany
'I think that the main comment I get about my pictures is they have anatemporal feeling to them. They look like New York in the '70s or the '80s. When you look at my work, you don't know when those pictures were taken. I'm trying to capture the New York I have in my head. Being a foreigner, I grew up with images of the city and pop culture references from back in the '90s. I guess at the beginning I was just trying to capture the things that I've seen. The New York of today is boring. I guess New York is not the same anymore. It's completely different, even Brooklyn. So I was never interested in taking pictures in SoHo and all that stuff. I wanted to find the real vibe, the real New York. I wanted to recreate the authenticity I have seen in movies. Al Pacino, Carlito's Way, Bryan de Palma, Spike Lee. That's the New York I wanted to capture. That's the inspiration.' -Stéphane Missier,
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