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Monday 12 October 2009

Who's Streets?

I found a call for recordings for a politically themed musical thing, which always makes me happy because this sort of thing motivates me a lot. It's got an item for consideration, "How do we view the fact that our instruments for organising sounds are linked to instruments designed to control? Is there a relationship between organising and controlling?" (the whole thing is at

So I was thinking I could use some recordings I made of people chanting at the G20 protests in London and then juxtapose that with recordings of military chants that I could steal from YouTube.

And I am astounded, perplexed and unnerved that pretty much, crowds watching troop drills sound exactly like crowds at protests with chanting. I would not be able to listen to a recording and know if I'm watching an implicitly normative crowd cheering for marching at a football game or a bunch of leftists out to reclaim the streets. (I mean, the words are different, but playing recordings for a non-english speaking audience looses that signifier.)

This is kind of worrying because it suggests that there's not so much difference between how these positions are articulated or perhaps even between the positions themselves as they manifest in a public space.

Which manifestations are empowering and which are alarming would only seem to have to do with whether your own advantage is the one being promoted. Of course, I think there's more to it than that. Are we supporting the rights of people who already have power or people who do not? But this suggests that both positions might fill the same needs for observers and participants. And somehow that's disturbing me. Maybe people are more empowered by being reactionary. How can we reach out to them in that case?

Speaking of protests, there's one today about biofuels and I don't know whether or not I want to go. Burning acres of rainforest to grow soybeans for fuel has a worse carbon footprint than burning a whole lot of petrol. Is there a role for non-waste oil biodiesel in a green, sustainable model for fuel? I don't know. I really believed in biodiesel.


Nick said...

George Monbiot says that biofuels could be great if they're made strictly from plants that grow on non-arable land. Otherwise, a situation where we have to decide between food and fuel is a potential disaster.

I bet that biofuel could be easily tested to figure out what plants were used to make it--is that right? 'Cause then the solution might just creating a blacklist of crops that can't be used in fuel...?

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

It would take more than that in that you would need to know the fuels were being grown on non-arable land, which involved more than just being made from non-edible plants.

Algae may still work as a fuel source, which would potentially solve several problems

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