nothing here but a Gesamptkunstwerk for the Terminally Online

[UNLOCKED] bonus 016 - 15th September, 2019

G’day loyal subscribers, Austin here. Welcome to your fancy-pants bonus instalment of the Nothing Here newsletter. This time around I’d like to share some research material/process chat and point you towards some ambient music I’ve been working on.

It’s all a bit of a shambles, so let’s jump right in…

CREEPER 002 or “A Bliss Gaze” 

I’ve started putting together the second issue of Creeper Magazine. The first issue was relatively successful (we only lost, like, a little bit of money), and everyone who contributed did an incredible job, but I think this next one can be even better/weirder. My goal for Creeper 002 is to shift the focus away from straight narrative and move further into that unstable liminal zone between fiction and non-. I’m talking Theory Fiction, Conspiracies, Modern Folklore, Urban Myth, Non-Non-Fiction etc. etc.

The ‘Real’ Weird.

I’ve approached some interesting potential contributors re: CREEPER002, and many of them are active in the “Cave Twitter” or “Accelerationist/Theorycel” corners of the internet, which is chock full of bizarre characters, compelling aesthetics and unusual ideas. Part of the Official Creeper Mission Statement is to make tangible some of these more amorphous online subcultures, to give them a physical form and help document them in case they disappear into the digital ether…  

But it’s definitely a weird experience lurking around these spaces; I can’t say that I agree with everything I read there (there’s a lot of edgelordish, NRx and anti-humanist content in the discourse, which I generally don’t fuck with), and a lot of the super-deep philosophy talk is wayyyy over my head (these are the sorts of people, for example, who regularly share in-jokes and memes about Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason). But while I would never (and could never) claim to be an intellectual, there’s definitely a uniquely satisfying frisson that results from engaging with this world of challenging ideas and extreme personalities. Where else are you going to find Nyx Land and her Gender Acceleration Blackpaper? Or Maggie Siebert interviewing Nick Land about In The Mouth of Madness? Or Mike Crumplar writing about Lana Del Ray’s cultural connection to Incels for Jacobite? In a way, I guess I’m a bit of an interloper, stealth-raiding these niche, sometimes “problematic” hyper-intellectual spaces to see how radical ideas might be deconstructed and repurposed for new stories, new aesthetic horizons and new ways of thinking about the world.   

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As part of my research into different aesthetic approaches for Creeper 002, I’ve been reading a bunch of old Black Metal zines from the early 90s, primarily found via this extensive archive. John “Solvent Image” English, my Creeper co-creator, mentioned wanting a visually starker approach for the next issue, so I’ve been experimenting with sampling images from these zines and manipulating them in GIMP and Glitche. There’s something pleasing to me about the way the grainy B&W photocopied zines react to digital processing and filters…

(Also, if you’re reading this and you want to get involved w/ Creeper 002 in some capacity, please let me know. I’d love to throw some ideas around with the N_H community and see what weird shit is on your mind!)

HVY-2P0 or “Gesamptkunstwerk for the Terminally Online”

This project, currently codenamed HVY-2P0, is possibly the start of an experiment in storytelling via social media platforms. I’ve long been interested in condensed narratives, and the idea here is to create a sort of janky gesamptkunstwerk inspired by our labyrinthine, hyperkinetic digital culture. I’m trying to make something that can be satisfying on an initial, surface-only level (aka the default mode of online consumption – something relevant to those with decimated attention spans… like mine), but I’d also like to aim for something that rewards a more invested audience.

Part of what I want to try here is a synthesis of fragmented flash fiction/deconstructed genre tropes/Spychedelia-meets-poetry, accompanied by a visual language of iconic/ironic font use and sampled imagery (including extensive use of processed Creative Commons photography). A lot of this approach is currently born out of necessity – this is a one-man-band and these are just demos, for now at least -  and at the moment I’m only making this stuff as prototype/proof of concept. Hopefully, if this project has legs I can rope in some talented co-conspirators. We’ll see.   

Included below are the first set of images I worked up this week, which cumulatively represent hours of me drinking wine and yelling at my computer until I had something I could maybe (?) show someone who knows what the fuck they’re doing.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with:

The plan is to combine these text-heavy images with motion graphics, animation and field recordings/soundscapes/procedurally generated music. I’m not sure what (if anything) will come of it all, but I’m certainly enjoying myself at the moment. Which brings me to the next thing…

   

SLEEP AGENT ((PODCAST DEMO)) or “The Melatonin Ronin”  

Related to the above is another proof-of-concept I’ve been working on, this time for a podcast. The idea behind SLEEP AGENT is to create short, 20ish-minute “Ambient Adventures” delivered regularly via RSS - a mix of procedurally-generated electronic music, manipulated samples, atmospheric drones and foley/field recordings.

A few years ago I went through a stage of experiencing extremely complex, vivid and quite bewildering “Spychedelic” dreams; they were mostly benign, but always imbued with a humming baseline paranoia – webs of opaque connections just out of my grasp, warped noir landscapes (mainly abandoned shopping centres, for some reason), shifting identities, omnipresent surveillance and so on. I want to capture this ParanoiaLite™ and create gently surreal sonic adventures designed to be consumed in that state halfway between consciousness and sleep (I think the podcast could also useful as background music for writing, which is how and why I listen to ambient music).  

Over the last week I made this demo to see if the concept could work. I used generative music app Wotja, an RC-3 Boss loop pedal, a bass guitar/amp, the generative drum app Different Drummer, the (truly incredible) open source Synth One, field recordings (some I recorded myself and some sourced from FreeSound.org), and then I edited everything together in Audacity.      

If you’re interested, you can find an MP3 of the Sleep Agent podcast demo here (direct MP3 download). The link is active for 14 days, apparently. I’d love to get some feedback on this, so if you have time to listen and have any notes, please let me know! I’m happy with this one, and I think it’s possible there might even be an audience for it.

(Outrageous I know.)

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Ok, that’s all from me this time around. Thanks for hanging out and letting me show you these strange experiments. If you have any interesting projects of your own to share, or you have an idea for potential collaboration, or maybe you just have some comments, feel free to get in touch. As always, a sincere thanks for your time and attention. They’re our most valuable resources, so I don’t take it lightly that you’ve spent yours here.

Look after yourself, and I’ll talk to you again soon.