Postcards from a PhD
For me late September and early October have been a period of tying up loose ends before studying properly begins. For the most part this has involved finishing a soundwork for the HOARD completion show later this month. HOARD has been a four year long Departure Foundation funded project, an exhibition in situ, loosely themed around the collecting and assembling processes that fuel much art practice. My contribution to this has been as one half of Frauhaus, producing work on the theme of Nuclear Transmissions. Our final transmission will be running on a loop between 9th and 15th October in Leeds Corn Exchange.
While the soundwork is not PhD related, the theme certainly has hauntological elements to it. I’m keen, in my research, to make a clear demarcation between hauntology as a convenient moniker for a subsection of electronic music and the Hauntology of Derrida’s definition. However, while I remain unconvinced by the idea of a direct relationship between the ‘spectre of Marx’ and hauntology as a musical genre its preoccupations with the social and cultural climate of post-war Britain does mean it would be naive to suggest its completely divorced from the influence of communism and its associations. The threatening forms of the cold war and the nuclear arms race in particular are evident, with the early outputs of both Mordant Music and the Advisory Circle, for example, characterised by a preoccupation with civil defence advice relating to nuclear attack.
Putting aside the knowing nods to Protect and Survive (the booklet from which the image accompanying this post is taken) and the ominous sampled continuity announcements, it can be argued that the fall-out, if you’ll excuse the pun, of nuclear threat goes much deeper, that it may be fundamental to the strange ambiguity of hauntolocal music. When Jon Brooks describes the atmospherics of the music he produces as the Advisory Circle as “everything’s fine, but there is something not quite right about it” it’s a phrase that could just as aptly describe both the ambience of most hauntological music, but also of a country quietly being primed for the threat of nuclear attack.
If standing in the dark revisiting a time when dying in a nuclear apocalypse felt like it might be a real possibility is how you get your kicks (and evidence would suggest many people do) then Nuclear Transmissions Phase 4 can be experienced as part of the HOARD completion exhibition. Further information here.