Punk/Noise Panel 1B

Scenes, Settings, Systems
Room G.15, Armstrong Building

Ellen Bernhard (Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia)
‘Crowdfunding a Scene: GoFundMe, Norms of Reciprocity and Social (Media) Capital in Contemporary Punk Rock Communities’

In the age of social media, DIY practice transgresses physical spaces into digital realms—bands can share news of shows, new merchandise, music, and tour updates through a variety of social media platforms to fans across the world, using their own creative efforts and connections within the community to disseminate this information. While contemporary punk continues to engage in DIY practice through the creation of this content, a recent practice has prevailed, allowing bands to generate money from their fans and the community at large in times of need. GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website which lets users donate money to causes of their choosing, has frequently prevailed as an avenue by which bands can reach out for donations from fans when things go awry. Within recent years, the practice has been used by bands to fund a variety of efforts, which include acquiring funds for a new tour van or stolen gear, paying off a band member’s medical bills or hospitalization costs, or funding a community-focused effort such as organizing a festival or saving a well-loved music venue.

Through an investigation of recent examples of GoFundMe use and the corresponding social media activity within the contemporary punk community, this paper will investigate the norms of reciprocity and social capital that enable and normalize this common practice in punk communities today. Furthermore, this paper will argue that GoFundMe use is an extension of DIY practice, which is facilitated by the pervasiveness of frequent social media use within the scene as a whole.

Theo Gowans (Leeds University)
‘How Disruption Within Noise Performances Creates a Unique Capacity for Nonhierarchal Socialising’

This paper is a study into the capacity for unique socialising within DIY noise practice, and whether it can act as a subversive critique of neoliberal norms of individualism and self-branding. Free improvisation/noise performances, uniquely as an aesthetic practice, are both unpredictable both as an aesthetic and in execution, as it’s produced in real time. The immateriality of the music and the scale and context of the practice allows for error, intervention and sabotage without Mistakes or bad music .

I hope to explore the ways in which we can sabotage music as both audience members and performers (constriction, audience use of objects, antagonising) and how this allows for a unique space for socialising within nonhierarchal context. The audience and performer boundry is removed where all and equally inept and an equal part of the occurance. I will argue that noise can and should be an exciting area for play between those within the space and a critique of capital and the individualism position within the arts. I will argue that a continuation of this anti-captialist approach and the values of the Fluxus movements, while not the only way to achieve political critique within noise, is a worthwhile one to aim for.

Adam Denton (Newcastle University)
‘Locating the Scene(s): Where Shall We Put It?’

In considering noise as a pluralised culture, consisting numerous complex histories and intersections, this paper seeks to address questions surrounding the where of noise in the context of urban centres.

The aim is to identify nexus points where rave energies, rough musics and noise cultures have converged or could converge, in the pursuit of antagonising contemporary neoliberal property speculation and the late-capitalist enclosure of the city.

This presentation will highlight the multi-locality of a noise scene, one I consider myself part of and one that is networked through its international collaborating actors and shared/conflicting ethoses.

In a time where freedom of movement and assembly is increasingly threatened (for some more than others) I will examine how or if a global psychical environment of socially diverse participation and exchange is, or could be, nurtured and hosted, towards what Patricia Reed has identified as a ‘mobilising of the alienated’.

What kinds of spaces can be made available for the uniting of intersecting micro-scenes? And what still needs to be done to get things done?

Examining power dynamics in built and soon to be built environments, where cultures of disappearance or fleeting visibilities may or may not converge, I will ask; are the places where noise happens important? Should they be preserved? If so, how; and who’s going to do the preserving?

This presentation will be delivered as a PowerPoint Electronics set.

Published by Gustav Thomas

Claws & Tongues was started in order to provide a visible yet fluid platform with which to try out ideas for writings by Gustav Thomas that may or may not lead elsewhere, as in articles, chapters, essays, papers zines or books. Gustav Thomas is my real name in so far as it comprises the two middle names included on my birth certificate, which, as a bona fide part of my ‘real’ name makes it only a half-alias. I’m not ashamed, especially, of what one would normally consider my ‘real name,’ but I don’t intend to use it on this blog or announce it here, in this ‘about’ text, or anywhere else on this blog. That’s not because I wish to keep it somehow hidden or secret – to find out what my framing monikers are would be very easy since I’ve never sought to keep them separate from Gustav Thomas. Rather it’s because that ‘real’ name is the one that teachers, headmasters, employers, medical receptionists, the Inland Revenue, medical staff, authorities of any kind, and so on, and on, has been so thoroughly used by, and thus inextricably tied to, such institutional protocols, that it leaves me, as an individual who, like any individual has the capacity to access their own agency, very little space or scope for developing the potential power and effectiveness of that agency. Gustav Thomas happens to also be my facebook name and as a musician I also chose it (actually the first time I used it) as the pseudonym I use whenever I produced 8-bit Techno on a Gameboy (I haven’t ruled out extending that use to any beat-based project should I pursue any in the future, in preference to either Virginia Pipe or Copydex, the latter being, for obvious reasons, a strictly plunderphonic collage vehicle, anyway). Gustav Thomas also conveniently encapsulates my two ethnic provenances as half Slovene and half Welsh; they are also the first names of both my grandfathers, one a fairly well known (in his time) Slovene writer, novelist and educationalist, the other a WW2 colonel among officers who led the Normandy landings, for whatever significance that, or any other part of their own rich histories, can have, here, or in anything else that I do. Above all, I have started this blog because in my professional life, which is academic, I have made the decision, officially, to have my research assessed (by the various state bodies that do that, through the RAE, REF etc.) as much through my thinking and writing as through my art practice, which it has been exclusively so far. The kind of writing I intend to do is the kind of writing I’ve always done, over the past 15 years mostly on internal departmental blogs meant as teaching support, and will almost completely draw on things I’ve been thinking and saying within an academic context during that time. My first extended pieces, then (those that are 10,000 words or more), are being extracted from my brain as a matter of almost pathological necessity, freeing up space before I can move on and at least learn new ideas, if not make them and articulate them formally. Given the context, and my stage in life (a 50-year-old whose two kids have left home), I fully intend not to start teaching myself to write in a recognizably formal-academic style; nor do I intend for my writing to be considered as such, albeit there are inevitable traces of academia in what I’m writing due to my having earned my living as an academic for – already - too long. Instead my intention is to improve, develop and extend the style I already have which will have probably begun somewhere in early childhood when I first scrawled some short stories with the vague idea that I wanted to be a ‘writer’ and, above all which has evolved through at least three decades of learning, loving to know about, talking about, and teaching about music, art and the ideas, impulses and inherent discourses that inhabit and surround them. I am aware that I have a propensity to criticize certain other artists and commentators harshly, often with extreme formulations, in a manner easily identifiable as arrogance or some such self-interested tendency. I’m not sure exactly where that emerged from; it could be the years of being fully committed (because I knew it was right) to a mode of expressive practice that operates very consciously, and critically, beyond the reductive ring-fencing of ordained culture, what most people think of as Music and Art - Culture; it may well be, though, that I learned such an approach from certain writers I’ve read over the years – it’s in Dostoyevsky, Bukowski and DeLillo in ways I can see in my own mannerisms, but also in someone like Ben Watson/Out To Lunch, whose writing on music and ideas not only had a big impact on me but certainly also encouraged me to be bold and direct about what I knew needed saying, not least because – and this is central to everything – the way in which music, popular music, popular arts and cultures are dealt with on the day-to-day ordinary level, as in what people consume, accept and ingest, how/why they do it, manages to circumscribe completely the immeasurable seriousness regarding how politically and ideologically penetrating all art is (and was always meant to be), but especially (and this is embarrassingly tautological in a way that’s generally ignored) that which is thrust upon a people at great expense by its state and the (almost entirely) corporate (read: oligarchal) interests the State serves. I’ve been accused by colleagues of being too polemical and by Ben Watson as not being a polemicist at all, in both cases meant as identifying a weakness; I would say that to consider anything I write as polemical would be to negate any capacity it may have to say something useful – too much is being said and done by modern humanity that is unfathomably (self-)destructive. My drive in all this comes from a need not necessarily to oppose and take up the position on any opposite pole; rather I just feel that someone (as many someones as possible, starting anywhere at all, including just ‘me’) needs to be engaging in a tendency to question, starting with the very simple interruption, ‘Hang on a second… that can’t be right.’ There are tens of thousands of writers and artists already doing that very well, of course. This blog is merely a workshop from which to start making my own contribution more discernible and, just possibly, useful.

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