Doom and gloom around every corner is forever marvelous. In last Saturday’s Guardian newspaper there was a short article about the Internet and it’s imminent downfall through such unscrupulous organisations as Bittorrent, the p2p file sharing community, and copyright mocking video hoarders like dailymotion.com. In numbers the article proposed that the world’s appetite for free cinematic and television content constituted over 50% of gross worldwide bandwidth. Which was interesting, I thought; before my attention span was again diluted back to my laptop screen to see if that little red bar thingy had gathered up enough bits for me to begin watching Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men. (And if you’ve seen this film I wholly recommend the wonderful commentary by cultural philosopher Slavoj Zizek on the official site).
The Internet fills me up with this morose entertainment; for instance, after finishing a long running bout of Curb Your Enthusiasm via the link site alluc.org I was overrunning with vague sociopathic hangups, and a longing to convert to a Judaism so I might perhaps experience more of this Larry David perspective on the world. But of course, this tends to blend somewhat with the shabby, muttering and more disgruntled Bernard Black that seems to have encroached into my psyche; along with these horrible rational thoughts that try to persuade me that, unlike the fictional cast of Black Books, I cannot afford to become an alcoholic on medium priced red wine.
After reclaiming some of my televisual heritage this winter, I came across an idiosyncratic vision that I was particular fond of at the time of its showing – sometimes to the disdain of my peers –Chris Morris’s Nathan Barley. The show features the Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barret as Dan Ashcroft; really a negligible figure, apart for his hatred of the idiots, that is, the trend baited kitsch-junkies that he caters for and co-exists with by writing for his income in the magazine Suga RApe. I like the way Post-Modernism made it on the bottom of the current Whats Not of the Hashmark, because that could probably be a trope for what drives this programme; the unflinching irony concerning, well, all this blog claptrap for start – podcasts, posts, feeds, uploads; inworld, outworld, your facebook, my myspace… and all of the long term retinal scarring that goes with it. Ashcroft’s Idiots are thankfully constrained within the Shoreditch aping world; that knows no fiscal or cultural boundaries but what can’t even be a reality for some London media shutterbug (a wonderfully aimless stereotype), but in the world of the user generated web the same Barley process can be directly observed – the creation of content without content. Of course, this concept already existed in the rest of the world – a perfect example is the birth of new rave, a still unqualified genre that may or may not have begun as a single expression in an interview with some indie-dance band like the Klaxons or New Young Pony Club. And then, via the ‘hype machine’, it became content without content; just before corporate interests took hold and drew out the day-glo fashion collections and 8-bit SNES mash-ups. The latter part of the process is purely self-serving consumerism, like Jonotan Yeah? (the question mark put in by deed poll) as the editor of Suga RApe. Maybe this post has no real content – no formal sources, no references, just a cultural connectivity guiding bringing it all together (or so I hope).
The design culture that grips Nathan Barley is what feeds the internet – design is a series of aesthetic choices which, on the web are concentrated into pixels on your screen, and as it integrates with our contemporary lives, so lifestyles are represented in this single medium and as such that terrible phrase ‘Its all gone a bit Nathan Barley’ is becoming ever slightly more applicable. One problem is homogeneity; which is displayed by sites like yourminis.com, popurls.com or the effortless time wasting tool – stumbleupon. The former two sites simply overwhelm you with information and content, from weather to emails to youtube to diggs in just interface. The latter is a wonder of community sharing but which slightly confuses things by bringing together most other examples of this element of the internet in one button. Of course, it depends on what interests you or what boxes you tick, but through my button comes, along with the interesting sites, a myriad of photos, videos, cartoons and flash programs. The internet blurs and like a Seurat painting, what was lots of points collect together together as a slightly more pointless whole. For example, via my stumbling, President George W has become a blur of graffiti style animation, and leftist cutout website illustrations, just like the ones that feature on the fictional trashbat.co.ck. It turns wide themes into a sort of Warholian (can I coin that word?) Pop statements which become self-sufficient through a collective whole. We can’t escape this, and perhaps we shouldn’t want to. Its the reason why I find such joy in sites like asofterworld.com, or a random selection of fan stories collected under the theme of Roy Orbison wrapped up in clingfilm, or the channel four podcast thisisaknife. It may be pop or it may be trash and it is quite idiotic. Perhaps thats where the gloom comes in, or at least the post modern irony. It needs that filter, a critical prism, to defeat any possible entropia of idiocy. The Hashmark, (while it can’t rule out following Shuga RApe’s idea of a VICE issue), must stake claim as a publication to the cause of separation and distinction, while in the process of content generation; but never to discard.
this was jr2015 for the Hashmark. Peace and… well I’ll leave that to your understanding.
This week jr listened to: Deerhunter and Deerhoof (listen to Spring Hall Convert), via a critical whirlpool that I was sucked into one day while casually browsing Pitchfork.