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Author Topic: Death Squad "Intent" video essay  (Read 684 times)
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Aether
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« on: August 02, 2020, 01:07:10 AM »

Hey everyone, I made a video essay discussing Death Squad's infamous 1999 "gun performance" titled "Intent". I'm sure many of you have heard about it but I thought I would give my take and go a bit more in depth researching it. I'd love to start a conversation about it.

https://youtu.be/yaaF3HEpF44

I also made another video essay a while back discussing the aesthetics, themes, and packaging of noise music that would likely be of interest to most people here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otHxoKEkYB8
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JLIAT
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 10:05:19 AM »

I enjoyed the noise video, as an overview of the genre and aesthetics etc. I don't wish to be negative but if I could make a couple of positive points. There is in the origins of noise a link with fine art. The Rita and Merzbow being obvious examples. And of course Throbbing Gristle originated at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), and prior to TG GPO was involved with fluxus. (in turn from Dada, fluxus who Yoko Ono (W. Bennett's cited influence)  & La Monte Young et al. were associated)  As for academic background Vomir, (Romain Perrot ) collaborates with Paul Hegarty – author of Noise / Music* so the rabbit hole does go deep.  The current use of cassette and badly Xeroxed images is also interesting, I think it is a style inherited from a need. Early pre CDR /  MP3 - manufacture and printing was prohibitively expensive.

* a tour de force of academic name dropping. There was in the early 2000s a fairly keen academic interest in Noise...

Anyway good luck with all your endeavours...

P.S. In no way is any 'academic' criteria a necessity of Noise -  "Aesthetics is for the artist as Ornithology is for the birds."—Barnett Newman
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JLIAT
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 01:40:06 PM »

OK you asked for comments re the Death Squad video essay in the video. From memory and I couldn't locate this there was an instance back in the 30s ? of a lecture on Dada in the USA where the lecturer whose name I forget threatened the audience with a loaded gun. But famously or infamously 911 generated this from Karlheinz Stockhausen (http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Karlheinz_Stockhausen_on_9/11)

re 911  Quote  Stockhausen "What happened there, is – now you must all reset your brain – the greatest artwork ever. That spirits accomplish in one act something that in music we could not dream of; that people rehearse like crazy for ten years, totally fanatically for one concert and then die. That is the greatest artwork for the whole cosmos. Imagine what has happened there. People who are so completely focussed on one performance, and then 5000 people are chased into resurrection, in one moment. I would not be able to that. In comparison, we as composers are nothing. Imagine that I could now create an artwork and all of you would not only be amazed, but you would drop down on the spot, you would be dead and reborn, because it is simply too insane. That is what many artists also try to do, to go beyond the limit of what is thinkable and possible, so that we wake up, so that we open ourselves for another world."

He subsequently 'back pedalled' from this extreme statement..

Interestingly, I hadn't noted – the DIAS movement, The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) was a gathering of a diverse group of international artists, poets, and scientists to London, from 9–11 September 1966.  Coincidence? 

And Key member Metzger,-“Guitarist Pete Townshend from The Who studied with Metzger, and during the 1960s, Metzger's work was projected on screens at The Who concerts.|” 

And of course this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helter_Skelter_(scenario)

I also recall “Dreamspace V, designed by Maurice Agis “ which accidentally killed two people and injured 13 others.

As to my opinion on Death Squad and the above being Art, I don't think so. Like William Bennett has said in interview – to go out to shock was his intention. Well terrorists do  precisely this, often at the cost of their own lives, so should be considered also as artists. IMO the fundamental mistake is (maybe was)  that some Avant Garde art was originally found to be shocking, famously The Right of Spring. Bennett – and others reverse this process, to 'if it shocks its avant garde'. Which IMO is (was) not the case. There is an Art of War but war isn't art, here I agree with Adorno that in fact certain acts can deny the possibility of Art. Though it is true that post-modern art has been termed to be now about (mere) sensation this might now be the case that acts of terror are now art.
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theotherjohn
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 03:24:16 PM »

Nice work, Aether. Well presented, edited and recorded, good variety of secondary research and interesting discussion points. Some primary research (i.e. contacting Michael) could have made your Intent video even better, something to potentially consider for future essay videos?

Your earlier noise aesthetics video was more limited in scope and I can agree with some of JLIAT's earlier points about fine art influences (although avant-garde art history is definitely not the be-all-and-end-all for influencing noise/industrial) but it's a good start - why not make it a longer series and focus on one aesthetic/style/label for each video? Just don't get too bogged down in the theory side of things, it'll suck the joy out of it for both yourself and your viewers. Be imaginative.

I'm seeing a number of content creators releasing YouTube videos about noise/industrial (be it essays or reviews) and it's good to know that younger people like yourself are indulging your interests in an accessible way on these platforms for both newcomers and long time listeners. Keep it up! Maybe get in touch with ThisMachineKillsMusic and Alpha - 27 too if you haven't already? Or even get in touch with older record collectors on YouTube like dereckvon, or even Noisextra? I'm sure if you ask around on forums like this one, Instagram and Facebook, you'll be able to gather further contact information, photos/videos/correct info of specific releases and more knowledge that's what just available from a Google search or Discogs trawl too.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 03:30:43 PM by theotherjohn » Logged
Aether
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2020, 03:44:36 PM »

Thanks for the feedback, JLIAT and theotherjohn! That Stockhausen quote is really interesting, and I appreciate your take on the art of terrorism and such. I'm still trying to form my own opinion on all of that. And yes I'm big fans of ThisMachineKillsMusic and Alpha-27, and it's definitely a good idea to try and reach out to people like that for collaborations. If anyone has any specific ideas on future video essay topics I would appreciate suggestions!
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Rubby
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2020, 06:57:43 PM »

Thank you for making this video! A unique way to contribute to the culture surrounding noise.
You asked for opinions, mine is that I can think of no more clear or articulate way for mk9 to express the ideas behind the piece. As far as my personal and entirely subjective taste, I think it's manbaby edgelord shit and I would've left too. But I can't possibly argue that his performance was a failure.
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Bloated Slutbag
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2020, 11:50:02 AM »

First let me start with the due thanks for the OP. Good stuff, well presented. I never got to witness Intent in its full glory, but I did get to see the man in action twice before that, the latter presentation of which managed to disturb a different woman in the audience- who later confessed her unease with performances of the self-harming persuasion. (I comment on this a bit more below.)

BUT! The first thing that struck me was a latter part of the pictured text from "the woman on Yahoo". It's not quoted in the video essay, but reads-

Quote
His next performance is happening in San Francisco where he is supposedly going to do some type of "hostage situation". There is no telling what he will do.

This reads to me strangely like rather effective PR. See-

https://youtu.be/yaaF3HEpF44?t=411


I'd also like to take some exception, as I'm apt, to the suggestions of some that this is "just" aimed at shocking the audience. I'd at least be interested in the said suggester's take on Artaud and the Theater Of Cruelty- which I believe to have been a key inspiration for Death Squad (but don't quote me on that). With Artaud there was the aim to shock, but with what I would describe as keenly artistic ends.

I'm repeating myself now from previous topics along these lines, but. Regardless of how one feels about a given performance, and perhaps equally to disregard the intentions of the performer, from my way of seeing it-

When the performance leaves me blanking on how to appropriately respond- eg, do I laugh, cry, stroke the chin?- at that precise moment, at the moment that my internalized script on how I am supposed deal with it shuts down, the performance most emphatically succeeds- as art.


But perhaps, per Ligotti, a certain style is to be desired-
Quote
Real life misery is a mess or a bore or simply too heartbreaking to tolerate. And there’s no coherence to it — no vision. As Mark Twain said, “Life is just one damn thing after another.” I don’t want to be a spectator to this any more than I must be. I want to attend to the words of someone who will stand up and say, “Life is just one damn thing after another,” not some grinning idiot who presents this fact as a kind of pornography because corporate knows they can use this kind of stuff to sell advertising minutes. Everyone knows that this is the case. Everyone knows that this is an abomination. Everyone is, more or less, a scumbag. As for Mark Twain, forget Huckleberry Finn and read Letters from the Earth.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2020, 11:14:46 AM by Bloated Slutbag » Logged

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JLIAT
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2020, 01:39:14 PM »


I'd also like to take some exception, as I'm apt, to the suggestions of some that this is "just" aimed at shocking the audience. I'd at least be interested in the said suggester's take on Artaud and the Theater Of Cruelty- which I believe to have been a key inspiration for Death Squad (but don't quote me on that). With Artaud there was the aim to shock, but with what I would describe as keenly artistic ends.
I think Artaud's intentions in part was to engage in a new type of theatre, a break from a 'tradition' – and as such a critique of the establishment.  Something in common with Dada. But that was over 90 years ago, and I think such theatre can be no longer shocking in that way, and has been assimilated by the establishment, unless it succeed and we now have something different. So i'd say to be inspired by a movement in theatre from 90 years ago is not the same as the theatre of 90 years ago.

 Secondly its been pointed out that theatre is different from life, and works as 'art' contrary to 'real life'. Such that one might feel fear, and yet know it was not 'real', but actors acting. We can be shocked by a brutal murder on stage, but do not rush out for help or dial  911. Its how amusement rides are supposed to work, they are supposed to be safe, but still thrill. Pointing a loaded gun at someone is not the same, no skill is required in creating the strong emotions. Which is why a performance, even a movie can create  strong emotions when well crafted, and a poor one not. Its why a good actor can say convince you of real evil... when you might not believe in such.

 So shocking audiences is hardly new, and doing so by using live ammunition is generally not considered as art. Unless you consider bombing people a valid art practice? (The Picasso  reply to the German officer in WW2.)

And that relates to your notion of art, and your definition of 'performance'. In art the term normally relates to 'acting'.  And for many not all art generates a confusion, though maybe for some?

But in that case it seems once the confusion is resolved the 'art' disappears, and for me a least that's not the case. I can enjoy, respond to etc the same artwork over and over.

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Bloated Slutbag
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2020, 03:11:47 PM »

I think Artaud's intentions in part was to engage in a new type of theatre, a break from a 'tradition' – and as such a critique of the establishment.  Something in common with Dada. But that was over 90 years ago, and I think such theatre can be no longer shocking in that way

Oh, I completely agree. The next time some random dude holds a loaded gun to my head whilst screaming unintelligably in the middle of their noise set, the first thing going through my mind will be, Yawn, been there done that.
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2020, 03:27:31 PM »

I think Artaud's intentions in part was to engage in a new type of theatre, a break from a 'tradition' – and as such a critique of the establishment.  Something in common with Dada. But that was over 90 years ago, and I think such theatre can be no longer shocking in that way, and has been assimilated by the establishment, unless it succeed and we now have something different. So i'd say to be inspired by a movement in theatre from 90 years ago is not the same as the theatre of 90 years ago.

I'd agree. But I'd also say that regardless of the number of intervening years, the jury is still out. It was out then and it's out now. If someone is of the view that they've figured it all out, good for them. For me, it is as unresolved now as it was then.
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2020, 04:01:54 PM »

I liked that video and am thrilled to have watched it, as I never bothered Youtubing it, didn't know it was there. I came to MK9 and Death Squad very late and reading about him made me get a ton of stuff off him and just watching this has made me want to catch up on collecting. I know he heard he toured with Con-Dom once and see this level of performance as a step up from what Con-Dom did, or at least a very strong on parr parallel. I think direct confrontation with audiences, makes it more than a noise/visuals performance and takes it somewhere else. In a recent zine score I got a manefesto booklet of MK9, which I want to read up on and do believe it is art, as performance art makes people think and it has extra context through events such as Columbine that happened near the time. His work also had huge background content to reinforce it. I have missed out on seeing MK9 twice (1. Cancelled show as people were upset that ACL was supporting. 2. Car broke down.) so his work retains its mystery. I am going to swot up on MK9 with all the stuff I haveas it has been a while. Thanks for posting that.
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JLIAT
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2020, 04:52:36 PM »

I think Artaud's intentions in part was to engage in a new type of theatre, a break from a 'tradition' – and as such a critique of the establishment.  Something in common with Dada. But that was over 90 years ago, and I think such theatre can be no longer shocking in that way

Oh, I completely agree. The next time some random dude holds a loaded gun to my head whilst screaming unintelligably in the middle of their noise set, the first thing going through my mind will be, Yawn, been there done that.

Well at least by your definition it wont be art.   

If only artists learnt from the past and changed, how many times must a dictator attempt to invade Russia...and fail.
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