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Punk/Noise Panel 3B

Interrogating Contexts
The Boiler House
[all the presentations in this panel consist of performance to a certain extent]

Daniel Blumberg (Mute Records) & Elvin Brandhi (Akademie der bildende Künste, Vienna)

Peter J Woods (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
‘Fluxus Event For Academic Conferences’

  1. Submit this event score in lieu of a proposal or paper to an academic conference. The performance has begun.
  2. The performance ends if the proposal is rejected.
  3. If accepted, the performance continues. Submit this score in lieu of an abstract. If the score is too long, submit as much of the score as possible.
  4. During the allotted time for the presentation, start by introducing yourself, stating your name, every school you have ever attended, and the name of the presentation.
  5. Next, read through a randomly arranged assortment of pages from the following sources:
    1. Another paper submitted to the same conference
    2. Yourlatestpublication(ifoneexists)
    3. A book you wish you had written
    4. Your CV
    5. The acceptance letter to the conference
  6. Display a power point consisting of a title page with your name and the title of the presentation along with all of the blank slides included in that particular power point template. Change slides throughout the presentation.
  7. You may include other digital media tools (audio, video, etc.) in the presentation that reproduce text from the pages listed above (or readings thereof).
  8. Near the end of the allotted presentation time, abruptly stop reading and introduce yourself to every audience member individually.
  9. Give each audience member a business card.
  10. The performance ends after you have introduced yourself to every audience member.

Yol (Independent scholar, Hull)

For this conference I am proposing a performance which will hopefully illustrate sonically my journey from structured punk music to free(er) noise improvisation. I was in a punk band for six years and for this piece I will take one of our songs, play about ten or fifteen seconds of it and then take specific sounds and words out of it to make a new sound work exploring and reworking elements of the original using the experimental vocal and sonic techniques I use in my practice now.

Part of my intention with this action is to illustrate and question how my relationship with words, vocal sounds and musical (or non musical) sounds and meaning, and the transmission of meaning, has changed over time – for example is a chorus, repeated again and again over six years, any more, or less, meaningful as a scream or other non verbal vocal sounds, made once in an improvised performance, for either performer or audience?

Depending on when this performance is presented, after a short time for recovery, it would be interesting to discuss with the audience their reaction to it in relation to the concept/framework of punk (whatever that is).

Phame* (Si Paton & ykxa s)
‘Throwing Shade (No, Fuck you)’

Composer-researchers Si Paton and yxka s. operate under the vehicle Phame, an improvised no wave punk collective exploring dismantling imperialistic structures whilst existing both inside and outside of institutional environments. This is achieved by developing a compositional practice that is built off the improvisational techniques applied by the likes of John Zorn, Jennifer Walshe and Matana Roberts with an aim of developing a shared musical language between different idioms.  The research has primarily been completed through the means of a performance practice.  This paper will be a performance piece which will an explore an updated version of their co-devised piece Throwing Shade (No Fuck You), a piece that exists in a state of flux as an uncompleted organism with an indeterminate structure, instrumentation or performers. Originally performed at Birmingham Conservatoire in June 2019 for eight players, this performance will explore the work in a duo setting and addresses overarching structures such as Western hegemonic compositional practices and the university institution as a whole.  The piece is written around musical gestures, performers faithfulness to the instructions in the score and both physical and instructional filters that affect how musicians can approach the act of performance.

* Simon Paton (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University) & Jessica A Schwartz (UCLA)


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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