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Audio Papers (4)

Editorial (1)

Essays (5)

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Contributors (57)

  • Allanah Stewart
  • Allanah Stewart is an artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. As well as her work in various experimental music projects, she is the presenter of a monthly podcast radio programme called Enquiring Minds, hosted by Noods radio, which explores old and new, lesser known and well known sounds that loosely fit under the banner of experimental music.

  • Jen Callaway
  • Jen Callaway is a Melbourne musician, sound and performance artist, photographer, and community services worker raised in various parts of Tasmania. Current projects include bands Is There a Hotline?, Propolis, Snacks and Hi God People; and upcoming film Here at the End, by Campbell Walker, as actor/co-writer.

  • Isha Ram Das
  • Isha Ram Das is a composer and sound artist primarily concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce performances, installations and recordings. He was the 2019 recipient of the Lionel Gell Award for Composition, and has scored feature-length films and nationally-touring theatre installations. He has performed at institutions such as the Sydney Opera House; Black Dot Gallery, Melbourne; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Metro Arts, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Boxcopy, Brisbane.

  • Dylan Robinson
  • Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer, artist, scholar and curator, He is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of Hungry Listening, Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, published by University of Minnesota Press.

  • Megan Cope
  • Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality and becomes psychogeographies across various material outcomes that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ as well as our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state.

  • Sean Baxter
  • Australian musician Sean Baxter died on 15 March 2020. Part of Melbourne's improv scene, he is described by musician Anthony Pateras as possessing “a unique aesthetic vision and intellectual depth, mixing highbrow philosophical concepts with punk sensibilities in how he lived, spoke and played. He was pure energy.”

    Drumkit and percussionist, Sean was an Australian improviser who forged an international reputation as a bold explorer of percussive possibilities both as a soloist and through his work with the acclaimed avant-garde trio, Pateras/Baxter/Brown. Focusing on the use of extended techniques applied to the conventional drum kit, he utilised an arsenal of metallic junk and other percussive detritus to expand the sonic palette of the percussion tradition. In addition to Pateras/Baxter/Brown, he was involved in many collaborations and was drummer for groups The Throwaways, Bucketrider, Lazy, SxSxSx and Terminal Hz.

  • Thomas Ragnar
  • Thomas Ragnar is an artist based in Singapore. His work is often underpinned by collaborations, affinities and research with experiential methodologies.

  • Alessandro Bosetti
  • Alessandro Bosetti is an Italian composer, performer and sound artist, currently based in Marseille. His work delves into the musicality of spoken language, utilising misunderstandings, translations and interviews as compositional tools. His works for voice and electronics blur the line between electro-acoustic composition, aural writing and performance.

  • Lin Chi-Wei
  • Lin Chi-Wei is a legend of Taiwanese sonic art, whose practice incorporates folklore culture, noise, ritual, and audience participation.

  • Mat Dryhurst
  • Mat Dryhurst is an artist who releases music and artworks solo and in conjunction with Holly Herndon and the record label PAN. Dryhurst developed the decentralised publishing framework Saga, which enables creators to claim ownership of each space in which their work appears online, and a number of audio plays that derive their narrative from the personal information of listeners. He lectures on issues of music, technology, and ideology at NYU, and advises the blockchain-based platform co-operative Resonate.is.

  • Sean Dockray
  • Sean Dockray is an artist, writer, and programmer living in Melbourne whose work explores the politics of technology, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligences and the algorithmic web. He is also the founding director of the Los Angeles non-profit Telic Arts Exchange, and initiator of knowledge-sharing platforms, The Public School and Aaaaarg.

  • Emile Frankel
  • Author of Hearing the Cloud (Zero Books), Emile Frankel is a writer and composer researching the changing conditions of online listening. In his spare time he runs the Sci-Fi and critical fantasy publisher Formling.

  • Bridget Chappell
  • Bridget Chappell is a raver and theory bro currently living on the unceded nations of the Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri people. They make music as Hextape and organise parties in drains, observatories, and other natural amphitheatres. They founded and run Sound School, work with young musicians behind bars, and make experimental sound technologies to challenge police sirens.

  • Holly Herndon
  • Holly Herndon experiments at the outer reaches of dance music and pop. Born in Tennessee, Herndon spent her formative years in Berlin’s techno scene and repatriated to San Francisco, where she completed her PhD at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her albums include Platform (2015) and Proto (2019).

  • Candice Hopkins
  • Candice Hopkins is a curator, writer and researcher interested in history, art and indigeneity, and their intersections. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She was senior curator for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, and worked on the curatorial teams for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, and documenta 14.

  • Raven Chacon
  • Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise, to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts, Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and Indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist.

  • Lisa Lerkenfeldt
  • Lisa Lerkenfeldt is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sound, gesture and performance. Central to her practice is languages of improvisation and intimacy with technology. Traces of a personal discipline and form of graphic notation are introduced in the online exhibition 14 Gestures. The associated recorded work Collagen (Shelter Press, 2020) disrupts the role of the common hair comb through gesture and sound.

  • Haroon Mirza
  • Haroon Mirza is an artist who intertwines his practice with the role of composer. Mirza considers electricity his main medium and creates atmospheric environments through the linking together of light, sound, music, videos and elements of architecture. Regularly showing internationally in group and solo exhibitions, Mirza’s work has also been included in the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, China (2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011), where he was awarded the Silver Lion.

  • 33EMYBW
  • Shanghai native 33EMYBW (Wu Shanmin) has been an active member in the Chinese music scene for over a decade. She has also performed at CTM and Sinotronics in Germany, China Drifting Festival in Switzerland, and SXSW. Her 2018 album Golem, released on SVBKVLT, was met with critical acclaim and voted one of the best electronic albums of 2018 by Bandcamp. In 2019 she released DONG2 EP under Merrie Records Beijing, and will premiere her sophomore album Arthropods (SVBKVLT) at Unsound 2019.

  • Alexander Garsden
  • Alexander Garsden is a Melbourne-based composer, guitarist and electroacoustic musician, working across multiple exploratory musical disciplines. Recent work includes commissions from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Speak Percussion, Michael Kieran Harvey and Eugene Ughetti; alongside performances with artists including Tetuzi Akiyama (Japan), Oren Ambarchi, Radu Malfatti (Austria), Julia Reidy, David Stackenäs (Sweden), and with Erkki Veltheim and Rohan Drape. From 2014 to 2019 Garsden was Co-Director of the INLAND Concert Series. He has taught through RMIT University and the University of Melbourne.

  • Annika Kristensen
  • Annika Kristensen is Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

  • Arben Dzika
  • Arben Dzika is an artist whose practice involves working with various media including, but not limited to: sound, image, word, and performance. His work primarily seeks to reflect on, interrogate, and play with technologies, systems, and human senses. Within his practice, he works as a producer and DJ under the moniker, Dilae.

  • Audrey Schmidt
  • Audrey Schmidt is a writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a regular contributor to Memo Review, co-editor the third issue of Dissect Journal, and has written for various publications including Art Monthly, Art + Australia and un Magazine. She co-founded Minority Report with Adam Hammad in 2018 and released one online issue that was available until the domain expired in 2019. Audrey sits on the FYTA (GR) Board of Advisors.

  • Autumn Royal
  • Autumn Royal is a poet, researcher, and teacher based in Narrm/Melbourne. Autumn’s current research examines elegiac expression in contemporary poetry. Autumn is the interviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review, and author of the poetry collections She Woke & Rose (Cordite Books, 2016) and Liquidation (Incendium Radical Library, 2019). Her third collection of poetry is forthcoming with Giramondo Publishing in 2021.

  • Bianca Winataputri
  • Bianca Winataputri is a Melbourne-based independent curator and writer researching contemporary practice in Southeast Asia, and relationships between individuals and collectives in relation to history, globalisation, identity and community building. Currently working at Regional Arts Victoria, Bianca was previously Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGA. She holds a BA (University of Melbourne), and BA Honours from the ANU where she received the Janet Wilkie Prize for Art. In 2018 Bianca was selected for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Curators’ Intensive.

  • Brian Hioe
  • Brian Hioe was one of the founding editors of New Bloom, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. Hioe is a freelance writer on social movements and politics, as well as an occasional translator.

  • Chi Tran
  • Chi Tran is a writer, editor, and an artist who makes poems that may be text, video, object, sound, or drawing. Chi is primarily interested in working with language as a means of coming-to-terms. Their work has been published by Incendium Radical Library Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry and Liminal Magazine and exhibited at galleries including Firstdraft, Sydney; Punk Café, Melbourne; and ACCA, Melbourne. In 2019, as a recipient of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Chi spent three months in New York developing their practice with renowned poets including Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Fred Moten, and Jackie Wang.

  • Chun Yin Rainbow Chan
  • Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a Hong Kong–Australian artist, living in Sydney. Working across music, performance and installation, Rainbow is interested in the copy and how the ways in which it can disrupt Western notions of ownership. Central to Rainbow's work is the circulation of knock-off objects, sounds and images in global media. Her work positions the counterfeit as a complex sign that shapes new myths, values and contemporary commodity production.

  • Dale Gorfinkel
  • Dale Gorfinkel is a musician-artist whose stylefree improvisational approach informs his performances, instrument-building, and kinetic sound installations. Aiming to reflect an awareness of the dynamic nature of culture and the value of listening as a mode of knowing people and places, Dale is interested in bringing creative communities together and shifting perceived boundaries. Current projects include Prophets, Sounds Like Movement, and Music Yared as well as facilitating Art Day South, an inclusive arts studio with Arts Access Victoria.

  • Danni Zuvela
  • Danni Zuvela is a curator and writer based in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Her research is informed by interests in feminism, activism, ecology, language and performance. With Joel Stern, Danni has led Liquid Architecture as Artistic Director, and continues to develop curatorial projects for the organisation.

  • Eric Avery
  • Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. As part of his practice Eric plays the violin, dances and composes music. Working with his family’s custodial songs he seeks to revive and continue on an age old legacy – continuing the tradition of singing in his tribe – utilising his talents to combine and create an experience of his peoples culture.

  • Fjorn Butler
  • Fjorn Butler is an artist, researcher, and event organiser. As an artist, she works primarily in sound and performance under the name Papaphilia. As a researcher, she interrogates how biological discourses are used in neoliberal/colonial governance structures to shape the political. Fjorn's research informs her writing on sound-poetics and the challenges this framework poses to anglophone notions of property. She is also co-director of Future Tense and co-curator of Writing and Concepts.

  • Freya Schack-Arnott
  • Freya Schack-Arnott is an Australian/Danish cellist who enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist and ensemble performer of classical and contemporary repertoire, curator and improviser within experimental music, electronics, popular and cross-disciplinary art forms. Schack-Arnott regularly performs with Australia's leading new music ensembles, including ELISION Ensemble (as core member) and Ensemble Offspring. Her curatorial roles include co-curator/founder of the regular 'Opus Now' music series and previous curator of the NOW Now festival and Rosenberg Museum.

  • Gooooose
  • Gooooose (Han Han) is an electronic music producer, visual artist and software developer based in Shanghai, China. His current releases include They (D Force, 2017), Dong 1 (D Force, 2018), Pro Rata (ANTE-RASA, 2019). Gooooose's 2019 SVBKVLT–released RUSTED SILICON received positive reviews from media including boomkat, Resident Advisor, Dusted Magazine, and The Wire. Gooooose has performed live at CTM (Berlin, 2018), Nyege Nyege (Kampala, 2019), Soft Centre (Sydney, 2019), Unsound (Kraków, 2019) and Recombinant (San Francisco, 2019).

  • Harmony Holiday
  • Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of four collections of poetry, Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues, Hollywood Forever, and A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

  • James Rushford
  • James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer who holds a doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts, and was a 2018 fellow at Academy Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. His work is drawn from a familiarity with specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. Currently, his work deals with the aesthetic concept of musical shadow. James has been commissioned as a composer by ensembles including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and regularly performs in Australia and internationally.

  • Jessica Aszodi
  • Jessica Aszodi is an Australian-born, London-based vocalist who has premiered many new pieces, performed work that has lain dormant for centuries, and sung roles ranging from standard operatic repertoire to artistic collaborations. She has been a soloist with ensembles including ICE; the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras; and San Diego and Chicago Symphony Orchestras’ chamber series. Aszodi can be heard on numerous recordings and has sung in festivals around the world. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium, an MFA from the University of California, and is co-director of the Resonant Bodies Festival (Australia), and artistic associate of BIFEM.

  • KT Spit
  • Kt Spit (Katie Collins) is an artist and musician based in Narrm (Melbourne). Lyrically and visually her work explores subcultural narratives and challenges dominant representations of loss, grief, and true love. In 2015 Kt independently released her debut album, Combluotion, and in 2019 will release a visual album entitled Kill the King.

  • Immy Chuah and The Convoy
  • The Convoy conjure illustrious soundscapes from the abyss of chaos, revealing hidden worlds of the imagination as the performance takes form and infuses with subjective experience. Using instruments of sound, light and smell, The Convoy enchant space with themes of tension, evolution, entropy and regeneration. Sensorial immersion transports audiences through highly dynamic environments that shift and blend into one single, breathing moment. As entity, rather than singular, Immy Chuah is a guest within The Convoy on unceded land.

  • Sam Peterson
  • Sarah McCauley
  • Sarah McCauley is a Melbourne-based music producer, editor and writer.

  • Neil Morris
  • Neil Morris is a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung man. He is well known in Narrm/Birraranga for his musical project DRMNGNOW, a project built on subject matter tackling the colonial nature of the Australian construct and how that affects contemporary society upon this land. The work is unapologetic, clear, and deeply poetic. It hints toward Morris's extensive experience as a spoken word artist in Narrm since 2015. Morris's work is triumphant in the face of severe adversity often imbued in a quite fortified melancholy, a powerful marker of the survival of First Nations peoples in the now.

  • Natasha Tontey
  • Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. She is interested in exploring the concept of fiction as a method of speculative thinking. Through her artistic practice she investigates the idea of how fear, horror, and terror could be manifested in order to control the public and how fictional accounts of the history and myth surrounding ‘manufactured fear’ might operate as a method of speculative fiction that determines expectations for the future.

  • Mat Spisbah
  • Mat Spisbah is a New Media curator with a unique portfolio of programming that seeks to integrate non-traditional artistic methods and emerging technologies. Having lived in Hong Kong for 14 years, he is connected to the region’s art and culture, and has created professional networks with artists, curators, galleries, promoters and industry professionals across Australasia. Portfolio highlights include the debut Australian performances of north Asian artists including: Howie Lee, Rui Ho, Meuko Meuko, Pan Daijing, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Tzusing, and Gabber Modus Operandi.

  • Mandy Nicholson
  • Mandy Nicholson is a Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds. Mandy also has connections to the Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illam wurrung language groups of the Central/Eastern Kulin Nation. Mandy gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Aboriginal Archaeology in 2011, worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages for six years and is now a PhD candidate studying how Aboriginal people connect to Country, Off Country.

  • Lucreccia Quintanilla
  • Lucreccia Quintanilla is an artist, writer, DJ and PhD candidate researcher at Monash University. Her writing and art have been published and exhibited both within Australia and internationally. Quintanilla’s practice is a collaborative one that manifests into outcomes within galleries and also as events and performances outside of that context. She regularly speaks at panels and symposiums on themes within her research, has received grants for her projects and residencies, and has taught at university level.

  • Amanda Stewart
  • Amanda Stewart is a poet, author, and vocal artist. She has created a diverse range of publications, performances, film and radio productions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the USA, working in literature, new music, broadcasting, theatre, dance, and new media environments. Amanda collaborated with Chris Mann for many years in the Australian ensemble, Machine For Making Sense (with Jim Denley, Rik Rue, and Stevie Wishart), as well as in other contexts. Her poem ‘ta’ was written in honour of Chris Mann’s extraordinary vision and work.

  • Holly Childs
  • Holly Childs is an artist and writer. Her research involves filtering stories of computation through frames of ecology, earth, memory, poetry, and light. She is the author of two books: No Limit (Hologram, Melbourne) and Danklands (Arcadia Missa, London), and she collaborates with Gediminas Žygus on ‘Hydrangea’. She is currently writing her third book, What Causes Flowers Not to Bloom?.

  • Ivy Alvarez
  • Ivy Alvarez’s poetry collections include The Everyday English Dictionary, Disturbance, and Mortal. Her latest is Diaspora: Volume L (Paloma Press, 2019). A Fellow of MacDowell Colony (US), and Hawthornden (UK), her work is widely published and anthologised (twice in Best Australian Poems), with poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for almost a decade, before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.

  • Nick Ashwood
  • Nick Ashwood is a guitarist, composer, improviser and performer from Nipaluna/Tasmania now residing in Sydney. His focuses have been exploring deep listening, harmonic space and the possibilities of the steel-string acoustic guitar by means of preparations, just intonation, objects and bowing.

  • Johnny Chang
  • Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/listening and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition and performance. Johnny is part of the Wandelweiser composers collective and currently collaborates with: Catherine Lamb (Viola Torros project), Mike Majkowski (illogical harmonies), Phill Niblock, Samuel Dunscombe, Derek Shirley and others.

  • Megan Alice Clune
  • Megan Alice Clune shifts between musician, composer and artist. Primarily, her work explores both the concept and aesthetics of ambient music through sound installation, collaboration and performance. Megan is the founding member of the Alaska Orchestra, and has presented work and undertaken residencies across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MA), Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts Festival, Performa 15 (NYC) and VividLIVE at the Sydney Opera House.

  • Andrew Fedorovitch
  • Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis.
 Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.

  • Shota
  • Shota is an artist working in Australia. He makes sound-based works for varying contexts. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with a multitude of artists from varying disciplines. Shota is currently an honours student who is associated with the Plant ecophysiology and Ecosystem processes lab at the University of Sydney.

  • Sonya Holowell
  • Sonya Holowell is a Dharawal woman, vocalist, composer and writer working across new and experimental genres. The contexts for her work, and the forms they take, are diverse and deeply questioning. Her practice comprises interdisciplinary collaboration, improvisation, multi-form writing and conceptual composition. She is also a workshop facilitator; a curator of the Now Now Festival; lecturer in experimental vocal practice; and a co-founder/editor of online arts publication ADSR Zine.

  • Alexandra Spence
  • Alexandra Spence is an artist and musician living on Gadigal country in Sydney, Australia. She makes installations, compositions and performances based on (everyday) sound and listening. Through her practice she attempts to reimagine the intricate relationships between the listener, the object, and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. She has a current, near-spiritual, obsession with the animation of material and object through sound. Alex has performed and presented work on radio, in concerts, festivals, symposiums and galleries worldwide, and has two releases: Waking, She Heard The Fluttering, with Room40, and Immaterial, with Longform Editions.

  • MP Hopkins
  • MP Hopkins is an artist based in Sydney, Australia, that is concerned with how to record voices that are not really there, and ways to make voices that are there not sound like voices. He makes audio recordings, performances, and texts.

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The Spectacle-Rave
Bridget Chappell

‘Nothing is more alien to a strike than its end’1

  1. François Martin, Gilles Dauvé, Eclipse and Re-Emergence of the Communist Movement, 1973. Retrieved 15/08/19 from theanarchistlibrary.org/library/francois-martin-and-jean-barrot-aka-gilles-dauve-eclipse-and-re-emergence-of-the-communist-move 

Saturday 3 August 2019 on occupied Wurundjeri country: a group of friends put on a rave in Brunswick, Narrm/Melbourne. In a succinct flexing of state muscle for property and capital, cops enter the secured building at 1am. They use a key provided to them by the buildings’ owner. At that time over one thousand people were present.

<p>The Society Cult. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. Photo: Emil Prakertia Raji.</p>

The Society Cult. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. Photo: Emil Prakertia Raji.

A DIY rave is a ‘Situation’ — a departure from everyday order in the sense conceived of by the Situationist International, the French social revolutionary movement of Marxists and artists active in the 1960s and 70s. What characterises a Situation is its immediate and specific relation to a narrow window of time and space. A Situation — for example a protest, rave, or an unsanctioned gathering — disrupts what theorist Guy Debord terms the ‘Spectacle’: a power structure whereby experiences and objects are commodified then collapsed into a stream of faintly reflective and familiar mirage-like images designed to uphold the movement and recognition of capital. The Spectacle commands the desire and labour of workers and necessitates their transformation into passive consumers. In 1967 Debord wrote:

The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender ‘lonely crowds’.

Situations by nature are fleeting; the Spectacle is a heaving ubiquity. Raves, like sunsets, don’t wait for you to turn up late. And while, yes, you can watch one through Instagram stories, you do so through the Spectacle’s gaze, with the absence of risk factors inherent in corporal participation, and so are you absent, too. Put another way: you were there or you weren’t.

<p>Teether of Too Birds. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. Photo: Emil Prakertia Raji.</p>

Teether of Too Birds. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. Photo: Emil Prakertia Raji.

Returning to Brunswick, on occupied Wurundjeri land: why was it so straightforward for 30 or 40 cops to clear out a thousand people using only flashlights? So easy for the police to move along a crowd, there for a good time, the vast majority of whom we can assume hate the police? Experiences have, significantly, been absorbed into the pantheon of commodity in the dynamism of late capitalism — including raving and its associated cultures. The Situationists named this process recuperation — the capitalist Spectacle’s power to absorb, appropriate, reflect and neutralise any cultural or political threat. Every transgressive element of a movement is extracted, manufactured, reproduced, and sold back as ‘authentic’ in the form of aesthetic commodity, often to the very same community that produced what was once original and unauthorised. This recuperation must, crucially, be understood as non-linear.

Anemoia, the phenomenon of experiencing nostalgia for a time you have never known, is a misleading friend. We know that the story of rave isn’t as simple as the four pillars of P.L.U.R. (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect), now weighted in the bottom-line of corporate festivals and gallery oceans. In truth, the contemporary rave functions simultaneously as a manifestation of oppositional culture, just as it did in 1999, and its co-option into commercial club culture.

Underground clubs have historically served as crucial refuges for people whose experience of dominant culture is one of violence, alienation and marginalisation. In so-called Melbourne, key spaces of queer and dissident celebration have been evicted in recent years — Hotshots (Footscray) and Hugs & Kisses (CBD) for example — small beacons of unauthorised communing whose non-conforming energies have been recuperated into mainstream venues. Venues that now boast ‘gender neutral’ bathrooms (usually identified by a piece of paper sticky-taped up for the night), ‘queer-friendly’ bouncers, and safer spaces policies. What does it mean when legally grey, unsanitised sites of care, mutual aid, and radical inclusivity get shut down to be replaced by sanitised, well-lit, security-staffed and ‘queer friendly’ commercial clubs? Does it sound at all like assimilation to you? Where are the clubs offering refuge from a capitalist economy?

Of course raves have their limitations: any rave organiser promising 100% safety and 100% accessibility in spaces of trespass, with hundreds of people, is lying. Even in commercial clubs that have sought to monopolise and commoditise accessibility and safety, the majority are not wheelchair accessible, use strobes and other seizure-triggering lighting, and asthma-provoking smoke machines, all while pricing out low income people through high entry fees and class fetishising aesthetics. Liberation isn’t linear either. Commercial clubs have implemented some shifts in the right direction, but that shouldn’t have to signal the insurrectionary end of that Overton window.1 But what negative space do we confine ourselves to in our quest for safer space?

The commercialisation of underground clubs is synced to the rise of celebrity DJ and ‘influencer’ culture. The DJ on an altar marks a shift from ‘the logic of communion to commodity spectacle’.2 In capitalist production — the prism through which we evaluate materials not by their purpose or use, but their value in the market — headline DJs advertise and are appraised on their social media stats, sponsorships, and vague political representations, before we know how good their sets are. The past decade in dance music has seen an erosion in ‘middle tier’ touring DJs, as (social and fiscal) capital-hungry headliners invoice fees four or five times that of local acts, re-routing cash away from the communities that generate it through running nights, collaborating, and cultivating community on dance floors. In so-called Australia, bankrolling headliners from Northern colonial heartlands is increasingly unviable, unsustainable, and illogical.

  1. The range of ideas politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time. 

  2. Brian Ott and Bill Herman, ‘Mixed messages: Resistance and reappropriation in rave culture’ in Western Journal of Communication 67(3):249-270, September 2003. 

<p>Scomophobia #1. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. </p>

Scomophobia #1. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019.

Raves are a destabilising force against both club culture’s fetishisation of well-known, ‘cool’ DJs, and commercial dance music — rarely can we hear ‘deconstructed club music’ on site. At raves, hours-long gabber sets by DJs no-one has ever heard of can sustain 300 people through the night, in a good spot with a good sound system. Clubs covet this underground authenticity, that potent currency. But turning a profit fosters a lowest-common-4/4-127BPM-denominator and limits what risks artists and organisers will take.

Rave culture dissolves the veil between organiser and punter that is enforced by the bureaucratic impulses of capitalism. Forget who owns or manages a club, pretty much anyone with an urge to do so can help put on a rave — just turn up and ask what needs doing. A rave begins a long time before the generator is turned on and the first DJ plays. It begins with the Situationist derive — an experimental ‘drifting’ or rapid passage through the various ambiences of urban environments: rave collectives’ unplanned journeys through the debris of cities to scout locations for the next party, and ravers’ subsequent voyages into semi-unknown locales that follow.

Raves don’t allow for Spectators. They construct an imaginary where agency, participation and solidarity is necessary and inevitable, rendering the Spectacle if not obsolete then marginal. Ergo, the important thing is collectively coming together to do something illegal. Perhaps some of the power of a rave is that, unlike a street demonstration, many ravers don’t take the act as overtly political. The invitation to depart from sanctioned nights out in legal venues is also a covert invitation away from chaste demonstration culture and its narrow range of acceptable direct actions, police liaisons, and awkward chants.

There are many valuable political lessons you can’t help but learn at a rave. Foremost, we live in a police state. Rave participants can develop literacy of how to be around cops and how to respond when they arrive, what communities lose and gain from going against them, and how to negotiate the contestation and policing of private property. These are fundamental lessons whose importance can’t be overstated.

<p>Teether of Too Birds. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. Photo: Emil Prakertia Raji.</p>

Teether of Too Birds. Brunswick West, Narrm/Melbourne, 2019. Photo: Emil Prakertia Raji.

It’s in our communities’ interests that we are brave in our interactions with the police — the best way to get brave is that the privileged amongst us get used to dealing with them. Our instincts have to be to protect one another, not just ourselves, when they arrive. The commoditisation and recuperation of dance music has produced a situation (note the small s) where people are unfamiliar with concepts of holding space when cops turn up, instead bailing en masse. Capitalist club culture has dazzled us with a sense of entitlement: we don’t have to fight for our right to party anymore. What else have we been hoodwinked into thinking we don’t need to fight for?

Returning to Brunswick, August 2019, we find hundreds of atomised people leaving a space that minutes earlier they had held collectively. Nothing is more alien to a rave than its end! A few dozen people hang around to make sure equipment is looked after and moved out. Meanwhile, those already outside are calling Ubers and Instagramming the scene. Debord would recognise the shift from having to appearing. Are they documenting police heavy-handedness on their phones, or just capturing footage to show their friends they were at a real illegal rave? Their Instagram posts will carry the question mark of so many other photographs of bad things — what is participation and what is spectatorship in these critical moments? Could you have done something besides take a photo?

The retreat from collaborator to spectator, from the communal to the individual, in the face of the police evokes the dogma of self care. Its existence as a commodity mantra reflects a fragmented society where solidarity is under threat. Self care, like self-regard: another job under capitalism that ultimately sustains our positions within it.

Community care, alternatively, invites us to leverage individual privilege together in order to address collective hardship, and assume collective responsibility. Rarely are raves pulled off without these practices; fleeting communities are created at these events that exist outside a paradigm where we’re told to outsource emergencies to police.1 Capitalism, like religion, is often spoken about as an entity discrete from ourselves — yet millions of times a day, however unconsciously, we reproduce it. The alienation inherent to this reproduction defines so much of what makes up our lives. But we could stop reproducing it at any time and, like a strike or a riot, a rave has the potential to grow beyond its immediate conditions and illuminate (however temporarily) both the total banality of life under capitalism, and what remains of the potential for an emancipated creative life. In other words, the possibility of leaving this paradigm.

Empty warehouses are going to be turned into apartments we can’t afford; clubs are going to be shut down and turned into apartments we can’t afford. Raving means taking a walk, running an extension lead out of the house and into a drain, putting a generator in an empty building, calling our friends. The club has the power to suspend reality, but why stop there? What other potential secret dance floors appear the morning after?

  1. Community care is defined by Valerio as ‘people committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another in various ways’. See: Heather Dockray, Self-care isn’t enough, we need community care to thrive, 25 May, 2019, mashable.com/article/community-care-versus-self-care 


Bridget Chappell is a raver and theory bro currently living on the unceded nations of the Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri people. They make music as Hextape and organise parties in drains, observatories, and other natural amphitheatres. They founded and run Sound School, work with young musicians behind bars, and make experimental sound technologies to challenge police sirens.


This essay was co-commissioned by Liquid Architecture and BLINDSIDE for the exhibition Bridget Chappell: No Comment, as part of our ongoing Sound Series.


    Disclaimer is a journal for new thinking and writing on listening and sound. Published by Liquid Architecture • Disclaimer is a journal for new thinking and writing on listening and sound. Published by Liquid Architecture