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Posthuman Grooves

By sampling footage from contemporary sci-fi and action films, the video «Mecha» by Nguzunguzu [1] appears to take the same delight in the spectacle of combat as the Italian Futurists did at the beginning of the last century. «Mecha» revels in the explosive sounds and sights of what one might call hyperfuturism. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here [2]).

Film still from Nguzunguzu (Music), Jude MC (Video): «Mecha» (USA 2013)

We fade into a cinematic dystopia, opening credits for the apocalypse. A flurry of global news reports coalesces into an anchorwoman’s announcement: «Right now, one thing is clear. The world is at war.» And then all hell – if hell is run to a trapstep soundtrack – breaks loose. The beat is metallic, machinic, splintered: a drum machine spurts semiautomatic fire, robotic laughter forms a loopy rhythm, and every so often we hear the thrilling «SHING!» of a blade unsheathed. Sinister synthesized minor seconds oscillate and echo, as if the Jaws theme were being played on a skyscraper-sized panpipe by the giant cyborg who guards this prison.

«By sampling footage from contemporary sci-fi and action films, the video emphasizes that ‹the world is at war.› It analyses the violence and destructive culture surrounding us. Does life imitate art and are we heading along the path of what is prophesied in these films? Or will we choose a more sustainable mode? Sources are sampled for demonstrational use only.»

Jude MC [3], visual artist, producer and director of the «Mecca» video for Nguzunguzu (USA)
Recorded by Thomas Burkhalter

Jude MC’s video, while immersed in the imagery of a dark technofuture, crackles with an energy that can only be called gleeful; feverishly remixed clips from The Matrix, Transformers, and various MechWarrior sources wildly syncopate and accentuate Nguzunguzu’s beats. The video appears to take the same delight in the spectacle of combat as the Italian Futurists did at the beginning of the last century. «Mecha» revels in the explosive sounds and sights of what one might call hyperfuturism: the future’s futurism, where apocalyptic anxiety and technophilia frictionlessly coexist.

Anagrammatic Violence

«Mecha»’s war machines explode into clouds of shrapnel, but the shrapnel quickly recombines into new, more lethal shapes. Here shrapnel acts as a hive mind, violating the laws of physics that govern explosions, pulling together fractal fragments to take down other hosts. These sentient particles are animated, rhizomic, and lethal, regardless of their combination. The same can be said of the beats, which compel our limbs into motion no matter what rhythmic pattern they form. Like an anagram, a word puzzle that shuffles letters to make as many words as possible, «Mecha» shuffles beats and ‘bots into a multitude of affective weapons. Let us call the recombinatory energy that animates these rhythms and images anagrammatic violence. This is violence so depersonalized as to refer not to us, but to the core aggression of the cosmos. And yet we have wrought the machines that are its instruments…

In the end, as the beat subsides, the organic is returned to us in the form of black liquidity, DNA helices, lugubrious low strings, and an android with a soulful gaze. Is the violence of the universe encoded within us? Are we always already contaminated? Have we any power to resist the technological siren song pulling us toward the abyss? Dance to this track, then decide.

This text was published first in the second Norient book «Seismographic Sounds» [4]. Click on the image to know more.

Read More on Norient

> Arie Amaya Akkermans: «Fantasies of War» [5]
> Norient: «Debate: Music and War» [6]