Craig Schuftan

tom

Culture Club 4

Musing on the future of music in 1986, former Van Halen singer and 80s party dude David Lee Roth was certain of nothing, except that the art of tomorrow would be nothing like the art of today. “It won’t be like anything we’re familiar with, I know that”. So, why, now that we live in the future, does everything look and sound a bit like it’s from 1986? Has the fabric of time been altered somehow? Have we just run out of new ideas? Or does our new-found fondness for synth-pop and shoulder pads have some deeper significance?

To find out, I put on a pair of ridiculous 80s sunglasses, souped up my sports car with one of those flux capacitor things, and risked further damage to the space-time continuum by travelling back to the origin point of the current crisis – the 1980s. There, I found myself in a strange world – a world where people listen to futuristic robot-disco while spending money they don’t have on ridiculous clothes so as to take their minds off the impending apocalypse. Yes, all very strange – and yet at the same time, eerily familiar… 

“It’s not a retro record” said TZU of 2008’s Computer Love. “It’s not even an 80s record. It’s just that we all grew up in the 80s”. Find out what the difference is in the Culture Club’s pocket history of nostalgia in art – from Marcel Proust to Mylo, (via Morrissey).

A time to think about the past by Schuftronics

It used to be that when you asked your favourite artists to name their favourite artists, it was all Nick Drake, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. Now, you’re just as likely to hear names like Madonna, ELO, Prince, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Hall and Oates, and Giorgio Moroder. It seems that these days, more and more musicians are coming out of the closet, and admitting that they love… pop music. 

Everybody talk about pop music by Schuftronics

Playing music is hard work. It’s just as hard as doing the dishes or working in a call center or welding car parts together, or any of those other boring, repetitive tasks we’ve long since outsourced to machines. So the invention of robot rock in the 80s shouldn’t have come as a surprise – but that doesn’t mean it didn’t annoy people.

Machines can do the work by Schuftronics

The 90s was a decade full of bands who sounded great, but looked terrible. It was either plaid shirts and jeans, or alien futuristic bondage-wear – with not a lot in between. But sometime between 2002 and 2005, bands started looking… better

Come as you aren't by Schuftronics

Life is tough. Listening to music can make us feel better about it, but if you think it’s going to bring about any real improvement in the conditions of everyday life, you’re kidding yourself. Pop music is part of the problem. It’s like this;

Work is never over by Schuftronics

Calvin Harris: “That’s what music is about… you’re taking elements from the past which you enjoy, and putting them in a modern persepctive for the youth of today”. Is music really that easy? The answer depends a great deal on which century you happen to find yourself in.

Taking elements from the past... by Schuftronics

Many of these stories were inspired by the work I did as curator of the Neo-80s section in the Powerhouse Museum's The 80s Are Back exhibition. Take a look at the Powerhouse website for mixtapes by TZU and Sarah Blasko, and lots of great essays and articles on 80s music and culture.


redcurtains2
05.02.14

Always music in the air

'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'

Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966

pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room

stardustmusicsoundsbetterwithyou32
22.01.14

Music Sounds Better

'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'

Susan McClary, 1999

stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition

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17.01.14

I Life

"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."

walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd

La perspective Kubrick en 104 secondesw670h372
03.01.14

Infancy and Progress

"The whole human species, looked at from its origins, appears to the philosopher as an immense whole, which, like an individual, has its infancy and its progress … The totality of humanity, fluctuating between calm and agitation, between good times and bad, moves steadily though slowly towards a greater perfection."

Said nobody, at any time in the last one hundred years. Nowadays, our view of the future is more like the one seen from the middle ages than the Enlightenment. But from where he stood in 1750, or perhaps sat, on a chair a bit like the one pictured above, the French statesman and economist Jacques Turgot could look back on the past five centuries and see a gradual transition from primitive agrarians torturing and killing each other over superstitious nonsense, to the confident era of the Enlightenment, with its stupendous advancements in astronomy, medicine and physics.

enlightenment | progress | history | kubrick | 2001

axlyoung
29.12.13

Lost Paradise

'Thus it is well known that a child learns to walk, talk and to know his way around the world just by trying something out and seeing what happens, then modifying what he does (or thinks) in accordance with what has actually happened. In this way, he spends his first few years in a wonderfully creative way, discovering all sorts of things that are new to him, and this leads people to look back on childhood as a kind of lost paradise. As the child grows older, however, learning takes on a narrower meaning. In school, he learns by repetition to accumulate knowledge, so as to please the teacher and pass examinations. At work, he learns in a similar way, so as to make a living, or for some other utilitarian purpose, and not for the love of the action of learning itself. So his ability to see something new and original gradually dies away. And without it there is evidently no ground from which anything can grow.'

guns n roses | axl rose | daniel bohm | childhood | creativity

Rolling Stones
19.12.13

No Satisfaction

'That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence itself is valueless, for boredom is nothing more than the sensation of the emptiness of existence. For if life, in the desire for which our essence and existence consists, possessed in itself a positive value and real content, there would be no such thing as boredom: mere existence would fulfil and satisfy us. As things are, we take no pleasure in existence except when we are striving after something—in which case distance and difficulties make our goal look as if it would satisfy us (an illusion which fades when we reach it) ...'

rolling stones | arthur schopenhauer | philosophy | rock and roll | desire | boredom