Sitting at a piano, decked out in Ray Bans and a black suit, Nicolas Cage sings his heart out about “Pachinko”. A sort of cross between a slot machine and pinball, Pachinko is, like your favorite late seventies rock band, big in Japan, indeed it is part of the fabric of modern Japanese capitalism. Gambling is illegal in Japan, yet Pachinko is tolerated. Instead of winning money at Pachinko parlours, players are awarded golden tickets which are thus exchangeable for cash at other locations affiliated with the parlours themselves. The industry, targeting poor and working-class people not unlike video terminal gambling in North America, is primarily staffed by ex-police.Read More
Artists, radicals and radical artists have always looked at the future, the horizon, and seen a telos of emancipation. From modern-day left-accelerationism to 90s anarcho-cybernetic to prog-rock’s discovery of the synthesizer, the future has been an emancipatory muse. Owen Hatherley’s Chaplin Machine engages what could be termed an early example of left-accelerationism: the Soviet avant-garde’s absolute fascination with America. Indeed, going with Hatherley’s beautifully written and sometimes cheeky account with this fascination that, to be frank, sometimes borders on mystification, one can even reverse the aphorism of Earl Browder, the old social-patriotic leader of the American Communist Party, “Communism is 20th century Americanism.” This is to say that to those in the early Soviet avant-garde, and indeed cultural producers in general, Americanism was 20th century communism.Read More
There are different methods of celebrating an anniversary. There is that which looks back with pure nostalgia; a soft, uncritical reification that half expects time to repeat itself. It is safe to say that the vast majority of anniversaries are celebrated in such a way.
Then there is the method of commemoration that looks forward, that intrinsically understands history as a constant process, unfolding in this way or that depending on who pushes, who is pushed, and whether they are willing to push back. Not events as blueprints, but as ruptures and openings though which we can see a different future.Read More
It has been a century since the Russian Revolution. The occasion has naturally provoked all manner of commemorations. The establishment calls it an unfortunate sequence of events never to be repeated, the right spits its vicious bile at the memory of a workers’ world, and the Left, to one degree or another, celebrates and analyzes and tries to ask how to make the history come alive again. How to make the dream of total liberation, of workers power and radical democracy, into a reality.Read More
It’s about time. Not the obvious reaction when one of your heroes dies. But Holger Czukay was all about time. Not just in the sense, as Can’s bass player, of playing in time, though few could better that Czukay (just listen to “One More Night”), but in the sense of sequencing time: ordering and shaping it, as an editor. Between the two approaches, his two roles, Czukay created a sense of time speeding up, time slowing down, time as an elastic, malleable essence. Working against the regulation, the containment of capitalist time. But Holger Czukay is all about time in another sense. Due to both forming a band late – in his thirties – and dying relatively late in musician terms, Czukay’s life spanned a huge stretch of history and culture.Read More
Consumer Grade Film is a U.S. Midwestern collective of filmmakers focusing on low-budget, socially-conscious projects. Our current works in progress include the short, Ubercreep, the feature length film, In Circles, and the YouTube channel, VHS Girl. We are open to collaboration with other filmmakers focusing on similar content.Read More
The strong images of the dominant culture offer no way out for the proletarian subject. Likewise the weak images of much of the academic avant-garde offer very little. The solution, for the class-conscious artist, is to connect weakened art and a weakened working-class to universal and totalizing aspirations. In my opinion the strong-weak image is the mode of the popular avant-garde. And historically it has come from outside the art world as often as within it – and sometimes both, in the work of the Wild-Style graffiti innovators of the 1970s and the punk rock DIY posters and zines of the 1970s and 1980s. Raymond Pettibon, highly influenced by William Blake and Goya, was central to the early punk visual aesthetic, producing art for his brother’s band, Black Flag. The tension between “weak” and “strong” inherent to his work was summarized by Pettibon himself when he argued, “I am really asking is for you to look at Gumby with the same kind of respect that you would if it was some historical figure or Greek statue.”Read More
Red Wedge was founded in the wake of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. Despite any number of heroic struggles, most notably (in the U.S.) Black Lives Matter (BLM), things are far grimmer today. The weakness of the workers’ movement the radical left is mirrored in the weakness of the artistic and cultural avant-garde. This two-sided problem, of course, has a major impact on Red Wedge, rooted in our belief both in the independence of art and the possibility of a revolutionary socialist project.
A defeated and marginalized left bears little fruit. A false dichotomy between theory and activism pervades the left. There are the academics who look down on concrete activism. Then there are the oddly anti-intellectual activists who have internalized diminished horizons. The latter are those who might say the “workers don’t want to read/think/look” at that...
If the grand conversation around race were to be neatly divided into “before” and “after” Ferguson, then Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly would have to be regarded as something of an artistic landmark, a stunning musical distillation of the post-Ferguson mood. I am inclined to agree with Rolling Stone’s Greg Tate when he writes: “Thanks to D'Angelo's Black Messiah and Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, 2015 will be remembered as the year radical Black politics and for-real Black music resurged in tandem to converge on the nation's pop mainstream.”
Lamar’s album has far exceeded all expectations. In its first day of release, To Pimp a Butterfly became the mostheavily-streamed album in Spotify’s history, racking up a reported 9.6 million listens on that day alone. It’s the first hip-hop or R&B album since Beyoncé to spend multiple weeks on top of the Billboard charts, and has already been certified Gold.Read More