Friday, November 03, 2006

"Shop as usual. And avoid panic buying."

Last night I finally got to see my media splice'n'dice heros: Negativland.

Negativland are difficult to categorize. They have been putting out records for over 25 years, but they can't be classified as a "band." They have a long-running radio show (now online and downloadable) called Over The Edge, but they're not DJs.

They are, I suppose, multi-media geeks. Studio producers extraordinaire. The kings of cultural cut'n'paste.

Picture if you will a stage. On the stage are three radio production mainstays:
stage right=turntables'n'mixing board
front center=special effects board and microphone
stage left=three cart machines and dozens of carts. (A cart is is an endless loop cartridge that looks like an 8-track tape and is/was heavily used in radio to air advertising, promos and station jingles.)
Behind them loomed a large "On Air" light.

These are the weapons of Negativland.

Our three media manipulators came on stage looking very much like the info techies they are, wearing slacks, dress shirts and ties, with photo IDs bearing the Universal Media Netweb logo clipped to their breast pockets. We had been handed blindfolds upon entering the show to enhance the aural experience of "radio listening," but few bothered to use them, myself included. I was too interested in seeing them recreate their radio show live, and besides, I could always close my eyes if needed.

The show, a scathing look at Christianity in America, was called "It's All In Your Head." I thought they were brilliant. Having worked in a production studio in college, I know just how difficult it is to get things right on a first take. Negativland did it flawlessly, and seamlessly, for two hours. They plundered everything from Baptist children's songs to the 700 Club to right-wing conservative Christian radio call-in shows, all manipulated to reversal of context, with delightfully wicked results.

Our boys certainly know how to push buttons, figuratively and literally.

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