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Woebot
02-06-2005, 11:47 AM
There's a passage in Mark Fishers truly stunning Sioxsie/Goth piece:

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/005622.html

where he remarks:

"Siouxsie and Jones' embracing of their objectality testifies to the fact that there is a scopic drive that cult studs whining about 'being reduced to an object' has always ignored: the exhibitionist drive to be seen."

Which brought to mind this tableau i saw on holiday and wanted to mention here. I was sitting on the beach (see attached holiday snap) when motoring into the bay came this small but quite well-appointed cruiser (or Gin Palace as my brother and I used to call them, dont know if its a widespread term).

http://www.gotlandcharter.com/esp/motor/Princess-3.jpg

Atop steering the boat were two smart young italian men.

While on the foredeck lay almost like slices of prosciutto these two fantastic-looking bikini clad girls.

Structurally the whole situation was (as ive already described it) a perfect "tableau". It was as though the ostentation/desire/scopic drive was staged with such perfection.

But what really struck me was how intensely complicit the women were in the creation of this visual feast. They weren't aghast about being wheeled semi-clad into this sandy harbour, they were really relishing and co-engineering the fantastic spectacle of excess.

dominic
03-06-2005, 01:54 AM
sorry if i'm suddenly preoccupied w/ mod and clubbing issues . . . .

but isn't that what "clubbing" used to be about -- getting out and being seen as a face or personality

i.e., the club as a democratic space where people could distinguish themselves from the crowd -- i.e., a democratic" space in that right of access was determined not by one's status in the real world but by one's style, taste, ornamentation, dress, way of talking or moving -- and at the same time an "inverted" space insofar as gays and blacks had easier access than straight middle-class types

and so you had the flamboyant and the outrageous and the queer as the real stars of the night

(indeed you could even say that siouxsie and grace jones appropriated much of their hauteur from drag queens)

dominic
03-06-2005, 02:11 AM
though i suppose there are different dynamics at work in the two cases

i.e., w/ women such as siouxsie and grace jones, they "embrace their objectablity" -- i.e., they already hold the male gaze, but rather than shrink from or resent this gaze, they play the part and indeed radicalize the part b/c they have an exhibitionist drive to be seen

whereas w/ drag queens and other stars of the night, it's more like people from the margins -- people invisible in everyday life or widely considered beneath notice -- claiming the stage b/c they too have the drive to be seen -- and so they devise ways to be seen

dominic
03-06-2005, 02:39 AM
like slices of prosciutto

except that w/ siouxsie and grace it's more like poison or forbiddingly acidic fruit

Woebot
03-06-2005, 09:34 AM
but isn't that what "clubbing" used to be about -- getting out and being seen as a face or personality

yeah that's quite right i guess.

its funny though cos the whole "clubbing" phenomenon is now dismissed as the preserve of the urban elite as an intrinsically less interesting experience than the dionysan rave. which is really unfair in the sense that clubbing is in fact a great leveller in its own capacity.

i really like the idea of investing clubbing with meaning. its about time too isnt it. i suppose at last we can breathe a sigh of relief that going to a club isnt a "micro-rave"

zhao
03-06-2005, 06:08 PM
$?žOEBOT]

i really like the idea of investing clubbing with meaning.[/QUOTE]

you mean getting wasted and being sandwiched between loose women on the dancefloor isn't enough? (kidding) seriously though... what ideas do you have toward this end specifically? I've been to clubs with live graffiti, "performance art", etc, and it all fell short of being interesting.

It would be great to sonically and visually design the club experience so that no 2 nights are the same. like if Carsten Nicolai was invited to do the night with multiple projection screens and sculptural sound. but then it becomes about the spectacle of technology, more like a "show" rather than a "clubbing" experience.

maybe you can have an open bar and everyone has to get naked. that would be cool.

owen
06-06-2005, 02:01 AM
i.e., the club as a democratic space where people could distinguish themselves from the crowd


that's it- it's a very complicated dialectic, this....on one level the mod 'face' fades into thatcherism ('work hard at being a something'- associates, 'club country') on the other there's something incredibly seductive and utopian about this 'objectality', especially if distributed among a social group- i.e, there were i imagine in the early 80s loads of mini-siouxsies and mini-graces, much as now in new cross there are hundreds of mini-karen o girls...

its not necessarily an anti-democratic impulse but its constantly in danger of becoming one

Woebot
06-06-2005, 09:12 AM
what ideas do you have toward this end specifically?

I suppose I mean investing it with some intellectual meaning as a practise (groan)

The original Cabaret Voltaire, the ground zero for Tristan Tzara's Dada, where Hugo Ball would recite his meaningless poetry, that was "just a nightclub" wasn't it?

I think dominic has a feel fr what I mean. As an experience Clubbing seems like its been stripped of pretentions. You go clubbing to get drunk, mooch around on the dancefloor and pick up birds. It was refreshing to read Mark's account of the Goth night because (even though its pretty corny) people have taken the effort to dress up, conceive of it as a "tribal gathering" outside of the dominating grasp of "The Standard Life" (Work, Supermarket, TV), hiding under the cover of night, plotting escape routes to nowhere.

Beyond the Goth scene, it seems as though only the trannies have any ambitions for Clubbing. I think I'm right in saying that post-Trade the cultural ambition for most Gay nights is pretty low (ie get reallyfucked up and cruise...)

The actual Rave as an event attracted alot of post-conceptualisation, much of a bit gauchely over-ambitious, for instance the way Hakim Bey's "TAZ" (Temporal Autonymous Zone) was wheeled out at the slightest opportunity, I dunno, I always thought it was a bit groansome. On the other hand no-one really makes much of a claim for clubs.

Its a bit of a shame because a vibrant club scene is one of those ground-level generators of creativity.

Omaar
06-06-2005, 10:33 PM
Returning back to the original post on this thread rather than moving with the clubbing tangent, there are some ideas that I find interesting about this reversal of the idea of the gaze, inverting the usual subjext object relationship.

There are 2 other contexts that spring to mind where this idea might prove useful/interesting - pornography and tourism.

I don't think theorizing about a gaze and a returned gaze in these contexts should substitute for an analysis of the political context in which these phenomena exist, but it might provide an interesting analysis of the psychology of these situations.

In both situations I think it would be useful to try and understand both the gaze of the object, and how this gaze is experienced by the subject.

Is the subject in these kind of circumstances defined by only their possession of power in the relationship between subject and object? I suppose its all a mattter of perspective.

I imagine people have written about this alot already - anyone know who, where?

zhao
11-06-2005, 01:47 AM
hakim bey and tristan tzara... oh boy. any social institution, goth nighclub or whatever, that operates within capitalism has no choice but abide by its codes and trade with its currency (not just money, but its ideas of beauty, charm, wit, etc). and goth becomes the mirror image of hollywood: an inverted glamour that is much more like the standards it tries to subvert than its opposite.

unless it is a secret organization (in the TAZ sense), but even in that case everyone brings to it the same set of prejudices and assumptions as dictated by the world at large.

I too romanticise early 20th century and the dangerous transgressive acts commited by poets and artists... but... nevermind, have to go. (I'm at work)

k-punk
11-06-2005, 03:06 PM
Baudrillard remains the best writer on many of these matters - and Seduction is his best statement of his most provocative theses.

Baudrillard claims that the 'struggle for subjectivity' is a concession to the power of the masculine, which has always been under the delusion that the subject is more important than the object. Why make this assumption? Pop desire is much more about a desire to be an object than to be a subject. What are people fantasising about when they sing in front of mirror? Not so much being the pop star, in the sense of phenonenologically experiencing the world as that person, but rather they want to occupy the position of 'she who is watched' (paradoxically, that is why being caught in one of these fantasies is so painfully embarrassing). In pop, it is not that icons are 'objectified', on the contrary, the icon-object subjectifies the audience, by providing the possibility of a new subjectivity.

Baudrillard talks about porn in Seduction, but rightly positions porn at the other end of the scale to the seductive. Pornography is not about the production of 'sublime objects' but, very much to the contrary, about a 'realist' desire to see things for what they are - a quasi anatomical drive to get as close to possible to brute biology.

As for goth and TAZ - it is the logic of TAZ which is that of capitalism. What capitalism allows is, precisely, TEMPORARY autonomy - what is the difference between lots of people in a field and people at home watching television? It is all leisure and convalescence unless it is about PERMANENT alternative economic structures.

Obviously 'any social institution, goth nighclub or whatever, that operates within capitalism' operates within capitalism, by definition. But that begs the question about what operating within capitalism means, and whether any event that happens in a culture governed by capitalist economics is 'operating within capitalism'. The idea that there are specific and determinate capitalist notions of 'beauty, charm, wit' etc is ridiculous. A cursory glance at fashion demonstrate that these notions have changed from year to year, decade to decade; it is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of capitalism to think that it necessarily imposes specific cultural forms. Capitalism is innately flexible; that is what it gives it a massive strategic advantage over other social systems which are based on determinate codes.

Of course goth is inverted Hollywood (cf 'Kiss them for me' which Simon talks about in Rip It Up, and also 'A Kiss in the Dreamhouse' where the 'dreamhouse' was a brothel in which people could act out fantasies based on films etc) - but that is precisely why it would say it was subversive. It's not as if inversion is nothing.

zhao
11-06-2005, 10:11 PM
"the icon-object subjectifies the audience, by providing the possibility of a new subjectivity."

good point. I guess Baudrillard does have his uses from time to time.

"what is the difference between lots of people in a field and people at home watching television? It is all leisure and convalescence unless it is about PERMANENT alternative economic structures. "

I disagree. people at home cooking a meal together, mixing records and having conversations is active and creative leisure, whereas watching the telly is passive consumption. huge difference in my book.

"The idea that there are specific and determinate capitalist notions of 'beauty, charm, wit' etc is ridiculous. A cursory glance at fashion demonstrate that these notions have changed from year to year, decade to decade; it is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of capitalism to think that it necessarily imposes specific cultural forms. Capitalism is innately flexible; that is what it gives it a massive strategic advantage over other social systems which are based on determinate codes."

I don't know about England or anywhere else, but the view from Los Angeles is that fashion and what car you drive and the notion of beauty and status are all pretty much dictated by the entertainment industry. on the Sunset strip any night of the week you can see hundreds of girls all dressed like Jessica Simpson, and guys who try to look like Brad Pit. but deeper than that, Captialism HAS given rise to a specific culture of short attention span spoon fed entertainment, which DOES seep into daily life and the way we interact with eachother.

I think the view of capitalism as a neutral system is naive. It has invested interests in certain way of life and a certain definition of happiness which it promotes at the exclusion of all other ways of life.