For as long as there have been media, people have also believed that these media maintain a special connection to the beyond. Writing, photography, the sound recording, the filmic image — each one of them is the placeholder for an absent presence, a past-elsewhere whose aftereffects linger in the here and now. Under the current conditions of open and electronically available archives, these symptoms are growing more radical: there is virtually no media artefact in existence today that is not haunted by, or even explicitly invokes, a “spectre” or “ghost” from the past.
HAUNTINGS an interdisciplinary project - exhibition, series of concerts and an evening of film - examines secret and uncanny presences in media, art and pop. Curated by Thomas Edlinger and Christian Höller
HAUNTINGS – GHOST BOX MEDIA Secret and uncanny presence in media, art and pop EXHIBITION / 25.09-17.12.2011 / Kunstverein Medienturm
The open, electronic archives of our time radicalise this suspicion even further, as there is hardly a media artefact left that isn’t haunted by a ghost of the past. What are the characteristics of this secret presence or uncanny absence in contemporary art? How is the facticity of the simulacrum, the “presence of a ghost” (Jacques Derrida) manifested? What undead beings haunt an art whose main characteristic is its claim to contemporaneity? What “sinister resonances” (David Toop) are currently at work here? Based on a small cross-section of a wide range of media, visitors can experience all the things that continue to pursue and haunt us in today’s art forms. Long version
with Yto Barrada, BIT Bureau of Inverse Technology, Minerva Cuevas, Leif Elggren, Michael Esposito/Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Harappian Night Recordings, Julian House, Mike Kelley/Scanner, Jakob Kolding, Claudia Larcher, Moon Wiring Club, Baron Mordant, The Otolith Group, Walid Raad, Dr. Konstantin Raudive, Markus Schinwald, Zineb Sedira, Alejandro Vidal, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Hans Weigand
For around five years now, the expansive field of music between Sampledelica and Dub Noir has been operating under the name of “Hauntology”. What these artists in this heterogeneous scene have in common is their work with ghostly echoes and vintage sounds from the past, sometimes interpreted as the projection of a lost future. Characteristically, they have a penchant for paranormal (media) phenomena, invoking their uncanny closeness in many different ways. In addition, they often play with effects of intimacy and distance and tap into pools of references from obscure film and television soundtracks. An exploration of music aesthetics, that has long since cast off its retro label.
6. 10. Harappian Night Recordings, Demdike Stare
A sample-swallower as Gamelan punk: Harappian Night Recordings is the solo project by Sheffield musician Syed Kamran Ali. Carressingly entering the third ear as crazy shamanist loops and drones are field recordings, frequently with a far-eastern touch, accompanied by the hypnotising patina of recent decades, perhaps reminiscent of Ali’s Indian-Pakistani roots. Conjured next is the echo chamber. The English duo, named after a “witch”, Demdike Stare represents an occult variant of Dub Noir, amalgamating the enraptured pumping of the “Basic Channel” school, with shy-and-alien-sounding synthesiser sonances, and the sinister echo of horror-film-like soundtrack effects.
Going by the name of The Caretaker (named after the main character of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining), the Berlin-based Brit assembles piano motifs to ethereal soundscapes while priming them with vinyl needles whose clicking and scratching express a promise of intimacy. And as Leyland Kirby he revels in the conviction that “sadly, the future is no longer what it was” and illustrates his unhinged melancholy with plaintive sound paintings: “Live for the future, long for the past.” The American/German electronic act Dopplereffekt, which rarely performs in public, references the predecessors of Detroit techno like Kraftwerk with more than just its technophilic name. The musicians’ German pseudonyms, like that of Dopplereffekt founder and ex-member of the techno-mystics Drexciya, Gerald Donald aka Heinrich Mueller aka Rudolf Klorzeiger, likewise evince a strong connection to retro-futurist tradition.
Scott Walker in the disco: the British baritone singer and instrumentalist Vindicatrix confronts through his pieces the aura of the classical art song, with the stirring aesthetic of the dance floor under the influence of present-day microhouse and bass cultures. Thus black-romantic, fluttering tracks of lament are engendered, which have a reason for also being called “die alten bösen Lieder” (the old evil songs). The concluding “Sonic Spectres” performance is offered by British dubstep pioneer Shackleton, who has, in recent times, notably expanded the spectrum of his paranoically propelling skull-disco beats, while also displaying a penchant for diaphragm-disintegrating subwoofers: taking centre stage in his newer tracks, such as “Deadman” or “Man on a String”, are percussive-tribalist elements and Oriental-African-sounding spectral mantras taken from distorted samples of sound and language.