Sunday, July 15, 2012
It was Dr. Adolf Steg that recommended to me Simon Reynolds book ‘Retromania’. Reynolds book revolves around the posit that we’ll never see another groundbreaking musical explosion [like punk for instance] because we’re all too busy digging round in the past to care anymore. Reynolds cites Hypnagogia and Hauntology as two musical genres that are reliant on the past for their future. Two musical genres which upon closer inspection have all the benefits of a cup of Ovaltine. If this is the future then its no wonder people prefer the past.
Its the internet thats to blame of course. Thanks to the internet pretty much all of the past is readily available. There was a time when record labels actually used to delete albums, a practice now unthinkable in an age where reissues are the guaranteed moneymakers. They used to delete albums to make way for the new thing but now there is no new thing, just a rehash of the old thing.
For someone who’s experienced the huge cultural effect that a musical movement like punk can have on the psyche it seems inconceivable that we’ll never experience its like ever again but as the years go by thats pretty much what we’re going to have to get used to. Many cultural commentators thought that given recent economic woes and the torching of various London boroughs the time was ripe for another punk but it never materialized - ‘its just like it was in the 70’s’ they said rubbing their hands and waiting for the new millenniums ‘Ghost Town’ to emerge but whilst the feckless youth of this nation were out looting electrical goods and sports footwear those at home did nothing more creative than Twitter and blog and watch the highlights on Youtube.
[This got me thinking as to why cultural commentators working in different areas don’t argue the same thing? Art critics bemoaning the fact that nothing has happened of significance since Pop Art in the 60’s. Literary critics wishing something comparable to the Beat generation would appear.]
Where Dr. Adolf Steg fits in with all of this I’m not too sure. His most recent package contained SPON 18, an Alvin Lucier CDR containing his seminal spoken word piece ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’, the jawbone of an animal [also SPON 18], an unnumbered SPON thats an appraisal of the Czech photographer Miroslav Tichý, SPON 16 which is an interview with comic artist Brian Bolland, SPON 17 whose contents are entirely in Braille and various sheets and covers of previous publications. To the unknowing eye this would appear to be all par for the course in a slightly off-kilter Fylde Coast whacko kind of way but on deeper inspection the whole thing is skewed even further; the cut and pasted Bolland interview segments are juxtaposed in such a way as to make reading it an act worthy of Sherlock Holmes and then the realisation that Miroslav Tichý is an outsider artist par excellence who took surreptitious and badly blurred photographs of women with cameras he made himself out of cardboard and old tin cans. In true SPON style the Lucier CD fought to be played and when it did it crashed.
In my last posting of Steg’s work I stated that I was a little wary of lumping him with an outsider artist tag, something I’m glad of since Steg came back stating that he sees himself more as ‘an outsiders, outsiders existentialist prophet of doom’. A far more accurate a description than I could ever dream up. In amongst all the artwork and fold out comics comes Steg’s missives written in black ink with a spidery hand giving them a feeling of having been sent from a secure unit with high white walls and a barrier gate. Who knows.