Advertising and the Invention of Postmodernity



When we examine television advertising we once again find art and technology being used to create simulations that tell stories in an effort to evoke desired reactions from audiences. But in advertising we see a strange new cultural creation: the 20-second “cinematic” production full of dancing, singing and joke-telling characters playing physicians, housewives, and used car salesmen, with ultra-abbreviated plots and quick resolutions of conflict in which the characters overcome obstacles and fulfill their desires in record time with the help of the product. Continue reading


The suicide of Guy Debord on 30 November has led to the former Situationist being caught up in a number of discourses that he may, at one time, have viewed as distasteful. In the ‘Guardian Weekend 1994: Review of the Year’ (Guardian 31/12/94), Debord was name checked in the ‘Those We Have Lost’ column alongside two other suicides, rock singer Kurt Cobain and Great Train Robber Buster Edwards (other deaths noted included those of Derek Jarman, Richard Nixon, John Smith, Jackie Onassis, Dennis Potter, Kim Il Sung, Peter Cushing, Karl Popper and Keith Joseph). Clearly, Debord’s timing was good because if he’d killed himself at the beginning of the year, the mainstream media may well have forgotten his suicide by its end.

Messages placed on the internet about the suicide included one from Edward A. Shanken who wrote: ‘Guy Debord did not kill himself. He was murdered by the thoughtlessness and selfishness of so-called scholars (primarily trendy lit-criters) who colonized his brilliant ideas and transformed his radical politics into an academic status symbol not worth the pulp it’s printed on…’ This generated a few angry responses, the import of which was that Debord was not another Jim Morrison, Ian Curtis or Kurt Cobain who ‘died for our sins.’ Shanken didn’t address the fact that Debord was utterly obsessed with the notion of ‘recuperation,’ and that as a consequence, he was to some degree responsible for all the uses made of his work. Debord’s version of the Situationist International deposited a good deal of material with archives and museums precisely because it did not want to be forgotten by academia.

John Young used the Net as a soapbox from which to claim that Debord had worked for Mossad: ‘this dazzling and humbling association with real world power beyond the soft-minded literary and philosophical worlds totally mesmerized Debord… The elixitrate mix of sacred and profane literally made Guy drunk with intellectual stimulation and shared worldly risk… the intrigue and daring bond of high mind and base reality was an alchemic transformation of mental to physical like no head-wrought book could come near.’ Unfortunately, the intertextual origins of this thesis were plainly evident in Young’s claim that he’d learnt of Debord’s spook activities from Philip Roth. Young even went as far as asserting that Debord had provided the model for the central character in Philip Roth’s novel Operation Shylock: A Confession.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Imrie’s obituary in the Guardian of 5 December 1994 absurdly claimed that ‘with consummate irony, he (Debord) allowed his work to be republished by Gallimard, entering the pantheon of French literature, just as the pantheon was collapsing.’ In the world the Situationists wished to create, such a panegyric would be viewed as supremely ironic. Suicide was an occupational hazard for the Dadaists and Surrealists, perhaps Debord hoped to realise and suppress this tradition by using death as a method of reintegrating himself into the avant-garde. In the meantime, death remains the ultimate commodity, a handy gimmick to help sell works of ‘revolutionary theory’ in an already over saturated market.

Dynamic, Projection-Mapped Topographies.

Reasons to be thankful: it seems we’re at the beginning of an explosion of projected digital imagery as medium, with the best yet to come. And some of the most compelling work right now deals with the most elemental qualities of this medium, how light and space interact.

Take the work of hc gilje. He shares some of his most recent projects, which include the elegant-looking theatrical projections at top:

I was invited by Trøndelag Teater to do a combined physical set design with video projections. It was an adaptation of the Norwegian literary classic “Fuglane” (“The Birds”) by Tarjei Vesaas, with Harry Guttormsen as director. I created an organic physical form, which combined with the videoprojection became a very dynamic landscape.

Cool as tech like Microsoft’s Kinect are, I find myself drawn to work that focuses on the sparest elements, visual etudes in form and composition. I’m particularly interested in this having been following the writing of John Maeda, whose thinking helped inspire Processing (and, by extension, OpenFrameworks and lots of other stuff).

The other work hc gilje shares to me fits some of that work. How much can you do, in rhythm and space, using only a single line?

snitt (hc gilje 2010) from hc gilje on Vimeo.

An installation for Galleri 21 in Malmö.

A straight line moves slowly through the three rooms of the gallery space, cutting the space into different sections (snitt). The movement of the line, “attacking” the space from different angles, focus the attention of the viewer on the physical qualities of the space.

The physical properties of the galllery space (the walls, ceiling,floor, door openings, light fixtures etc) modulates/breaks up the straight line into a continuously evolving pattern of line fragments, depending on the position of the viewer and the angle of the line in relation to the architecture.

The solo show explores the concept of “line-space” — a fascinating proposition, that the one-dimensional line can define a three-dimensional volume. More in his blog post:

Conversations with spaces: snitt

If you do happen to live in a town like Malmö, Sweden, or Oslo, I imagine you’ll have quite a lot of time this season for quiet reflection, and cause to do some projecting of light – the sun spending very little of the day getting in your way. Let us know what thoughts you have, and what light you project.


Archigram Archival Project

The Archigram Archival Project makes the work of the seminal architectural group Archigram available free online for public viewing and academic study. The project was run by EXP, an architectural research group at the University of Westminster. Archigram Began Life as a Magazine produced at home by the members of the group, showing experimental work to a growing, global audience. Nine (and a half) seminal, individually designed, hugely influential, and now very rare magazines were produced between 1961 and 1974. The last ‘half’ was an update on the group’s office work rather than a ‘full’ Archigram magazine. The Six Members of Archigram are Peter Cook, David Greene, Mike Webb, Ron Herron, Warren Chalk and Dennis Crompton. Cook, Greene and Webb met in 1961, collaborated on the first Archigram magazine, later inviting Herron, Chalk and Crompton to join them, and the magazine name stuck to them as a group.

More Than 200 Projects are included in the Archigram Archival Project. The AAP uses the group’s mainly chronological numbering system and includes everything given an Archigram project number. This comprises projects done by members before they met, the Archigram magazines (grouped together at no. 100), the projects done by Archigram as a group between 1961 and 1974, and some later projects.

Simian Mobile Disco – Synthesise

Simian Mobile Disco – Synthesise. Live Visual Performance. Directed by Kate Moross & Alex Sushon. !WARNING THIS VIDEO CONTAINS FLASHING IMAGES! Familiar Concept guys!


Goodbye Baby
For every beginning there has to be an end.

The End has announced that the club will be closing those legendary metal doors for good in January 2009. The End & AKA will be closing in style, giving the venues the send off they deserve, and the chance for the different DJs and nights to say goodbye. We will be open as normal through autumn, with September, October and November’s parties rocking as usual. The farewell begins with The End’s 13th birthday on December 6th, with long-time favourite Sven Vath headlining. There will follow a series of closing parties featuring The End’s closest DJs and promoters, and then a grand closing weekend on January 23rd and 24th. We talk to The End’s directors, Layo and Zoe Paskin, to tell us about the end of The End.

You’ve announced that The End & AKA are to close, after 13 years of parties. Can you explain a bit about the decision?

Layo – It’s partially a circumstantial decision, and partially a decision of choice. I started working on The End nearly two years before it opened – we’re approaching our 13th birthday, so nearly fifteen years. And one of the great things about The End & AKA is that the same team has remained in essence – Liam has been the manager of the club since The End opened, likewise Ty who now manages AKA. There are other members of staff who have been here for ten or eleven years, and we’ve got to the point where some of the key people are ready to move on. The End won’t feel the same if we aren’t doing it together. This has never been solely a business, it’s a labour of love, and a great part of the charm is the team, and running it with that team.

Zoe – We stopped and thought what The End meant to us around the 10th birthday – we did a lot to celebrate, including putting together a biography of the club. And after that, we started thinking about how we wanted to move on from there.

An opportunity arose that made us think even more deeply about what we wanted for The End in the future. Not just for today and tomorrow, but for several years moving forward. We discussed with the people that make the club what it is behind the scenes whether we wanted to carry the club on, and whether we could all continue to be as engaged as we had been. It was inevitable that people would eventually want to move on, and the chance to do this was in front of us.

Layo – Sometimes you just have to choose the moment.

So it feels like the right time in terms of what the club has achieved?

Layo – We wanted to do something very unique – and we’ve done that. Even though the past few years have arguably been our most successful as a club and as a business, I don’t particularly believe that there’s anything more that we can achieve.

The End & AKA have fundamentally been nothing but a success, and we’ve enjoyed the residencies, and working with the very best in clubland. The End isn’t a club where we over-market ourselves – we attract talent, fantastic DJs and promoters, and we work with that talent to promote certain styles of music and parties. And that’s why after all these years it’s kept such a cool core crowd, because it isn’t over exposed. The music varies through the month, different nights appeal to different people. We’ve had to compete 365 days a year, and we have to run it unbelievably well to compete – I think our standards here are fantastic, but equally, it does take a lot out of you. Plus the option to be able to close on a high appeals to our romantic nature.

Zoe – The End has always been about West Central Street, not loads of different things exploiting the brand. That’s always what we wanted to do, what we were good at, what we were interested in. We feel that we’ve done that, and that part of the success is about the attention to detail, the love that goes into the place, and the team. When we looked at it closely, we felt that our time had come. And so we started to think about ending on a high, giving the club the departure that it deserves.

Did you think about handing over the club to other people to run it for you?

Layo – I’d never believed that other people could run it in the same way. There’s a lot involved, you have to give more of yourself than just doing it as a job, anyone who’s going to run it has to commit for a fair amount of time. You can’t mess around, because it’s built on relationships, it’s built on understanding the scene. I never felt that someone else could – I may have been wrong, but that never felt a natural thing.

Zoe – It’s the first thing that friends ask when I’ve mentioned moving on – “What would happen? Who would do your job?” All of us in our different ways contribute to what The End is, but I can’t really picture The End without the core people that manage it. They really define the place, the environment, the ethos, the mood of working here, which then infiltrates into the whole culture and the creativity of what we do. I just couldn’t picture replacing any of us – not in an arrogant way, but I couldn’t see how you’d bring other people in and it still be The End as we know it.

Was it a hard decision to make?

Layo – It’s still not an easy decision, I’m going through a lot of different emotions. On the one level I want to do other things with my life, and it’s a good moment to start embarking on that – you can stay in something too long. But the loss will be huge on another level – it’s my life. Of all the things I do, there’s nothing that I get as much pleasure from as everything to do with The End. The idea of not working with everyone here, of not being involved with the creation, feels very odd. But I also feel it’s a good thing – I think it’s wonderful to be able to open a place, run it, and close it all on your own terms.

My father and I built this place alongside Mr. C, and my sister and I ran the place. The pride that I feel in doing this with them is beyond words. We did it as equals, but we all learnt from one another along the way. In a very traditional sense it was like a family business, but the business itself was anything but traditional.

Zoe – Of course it was a hard decision – I don’t really remember my life without The End in it. But I also feel quite excited – on a personal level. It’s been a very tough decision, I can’t yet really picture what it’s going to be to close the doors on the last day, it’s an impossible emotion to try and reach. At the moment it’s a really day by day thing.

I do know however that it has ended up being a family affair, by default not by design, and this is one of the things that will stay with me the most. Layo and I will always have that to share – it’s something very unique.

So tell us a bit more about the actual sale…

Zoe – Well it wasn’t a purely financial decision – it was about beginning again for us. We felt that we’d done what we could do here, and we wouldn’t want to be in a position where we’re just repeating ourselves. So the choice we were faced with was either how to develop The End, or how to let go.

Layo – We’ve had offers for the club before, and yes, this was the best one. But I wouldn’t say that it’s so good that it makes this a purely financial issue – it’s a circumstantial issue, coupled with financial. If it was seven or eight years ago, an offer like this wouldn’t have been accepted. It’s a lot to do with the timing.

Can you tell us anything about the closing parties?

Layo – Well you know us, and you know what we do. We’re speaking to all the key people and we’re not going to go out on anything other than the most massive bang. Because of the nature of how we run the club, with all the different nights and promoters, it will be a whole series of parties. They’ll begin with Sven Vath at the 13th birthday in December, and run through to the final party on 24th January. There will be different closing parties for different nights and promoters, with different DJs for different crowds, and then a very grand final weekend.

Zoe – We may be closing, but I see the final parties as one long celebration.

What are you going to miss?

Layo – I’m going to miss the warmth, the creativity and the humour of the office and the venues. I think that the working rapport will carry with me more than anything else, for the rest of my life. I will desperately miss playing at the club. God knows how many times I’ve played here – the first Saturday of the month for thirteen years. I will miss the feeling of being part of The End, with the DJs and promoters, that whole creative energy. I’ll miss working with my sister which I’ve enjoyed immeasurably. And I’ll miss the power to have a meeting, get ideas together with a group of people, and just decide that we’re going to do it. It’s not that easy to do in life. But I’ll miss it all when it’s gone.

Zoe – First and foremost, the people I work with. For me, without doubt, the thing I’ve enjoyed the most here is developing the team and the personal relationships. The rapport, respect and admiration that I have for people like Liam and Ty amongst others, I can’t really find words for what they’ve done for the venues, and the wider team. There are people who aren’t here now that still come back – when we had AKA’s 10th birthday recently people flew in from abroad. It’s very moving for me that it’s captured their heart so much.

I suppose I’ll miss everything – the dynamics, the banter with the security team, the spirit of the place, the street, the atmosphere, the whole culture. Turning the corner onto West Central Street, or standing on any of the dancefloors and seeing people having a fantastic time, time and again. It goes on and on.

Some people are going to find it a great loss to London…

Zoe – It’ll feel like a void but other things will come through though, new venues. The scene is always evolving but I imagine they’ll always remember The End & AKA.

Layo – The End is a very unique place. When The End is rocking, there’s very few clubs in the world that even get close to it. And that’s on a lot of nights, in a variety of different ways – from house and techno, to drum & bass, to nights like Trash and Durrr, to the afterhours parties. That’s very special – I don’t know many clubs that can do that, and I think it’ll be a loss to London.

I’ve only played in a few places around the world where I feel people put in the same level of love that’s put in it here, from reception to the managers, to the bar staff, to the sound guys. It’s very rare that you get that, and there’s almost nowhere in the UK that comes close. I do believe the old saying about nature abhorring a vacuum, and I do believe that someone else will create something. But that’s the nature of it – things come, things go, it’s always moving.

What would you say to the regulars from the club – whether they’ve been here from day one, or joined us in the last few years?

Zoe We set this up as a business, but it’s also about this mad culture of creating a lot of fun for people. The energy to do that comes from the public – we give them the platform in which to have the fun, and we’ve been very lucky, to this day, to have such a fantastic audience. So I hope that everyone will understand our reasons for going, and that The End has moved on. And of course… thank you.

Layo – There is nothing to say but thank you. I hope you will remember some of your time spent here, and that your memories give you as much pleasure as mine do for me.

Published: 1/09/2008