- Intellect



- Intellect
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C o n t e n t s
Victoria Walters p.7
Richard Ferron p.22
The Nation: Myth or Reality?
Keith Cameron p.6
Crash Cultures
Jane Arthurs and Iain Grant p.10
The |Death of Rock?
Sean Albiez p.24
Rite of Passage
Anthony Nanson p.8
Bangers & Smash
Sarah Chapman p.18
Streetstyle in |Devon p.28
© 2003 Intellect Ltd. No part of this
publication may be reproduced,
copied or transmitted in any form or
by any means without permission of
the publisher. Intellect accept no
responsibility for views expressed by
contributors to iQ; or for unsolicited
manuscripts, photographs or illustrations; or for errors in articles or
Volume 1 Number 2, November 2003
ISSN 1478-7350
Printed at Emtone - 01225 330894
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Dear Reader
It has been a tremendous oppertunity to publish this issue of iQ! New to magazine publishing,
Kate and I have liased with contributors, arts centres and lecturers to make this possible.
Issue 1 of iQ was published in February 2003 by Intellect from their base in the Bristol and
Bath area of the South West. Following the suggestion of its editor we decided to produce,
as part of our Publishing course, an edition from our base in Exeter and Plymouth. As we are
based at the University of Plymouth, we wanted to reflect our university’s enthusiasm for
experimental design, and so recruited the expertise of Visual Arts students. A big thank you to
Mike Endacott for his support. He has listened attentively to our suggestions and turned them
into this new exciting magazine!
We hope iQ’s fiction, poetry, debate and scene will inspire you to engage in the arts, both
theoretically and visually. Using cutting edge photography and digital techniques, we have
tried to present information in an original way. We hope you enjoy this first Devon edition,
and if you have any comments on how to advance iQ please do get in touch.
Many thanks
Emma Catherall
Guest Editors
Emma Catherall, PgDip/MA Publishing
Kate Macefield, PgDip/MA Publishing
Guest Art Director
Mike Endacott, Visual Arts
Pete Langdon, Visual Arts
Sarah Chapman, Lecturer for Visual Arts
All are at the University of Plymouth
Editor and Publisher
Masoud Yazdani
Intellect Ltd
PO Box 862
Bristol BS99 1DE
Tel: 0117 958 9910
Fax: 0117 958 9911
[email protected]
Design Support Gabriel Solomons
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The Nation:
Myth or Reality?
In a Europe, which over
the last decade has seen
the demise of totalitarian
regimes and subsequently splintered up into new
states, the concept of
nationhood and what it
become one of burning
Bosnians, Ukrainians and
Russians have at least
one thing in common,
their wish to keep their
distinct identity and to
distance themselves from
those of another nation.
The British, while wishing
for closer ties between
the member states of the
European Community,
are still anxious not to
lose their sovereignty.
The word nation is
bandied about considerably; we talk of the
Spanish nation, etc. In
many continental countries the concept of the
‘patrie’ is part of their
President de Gaulle when
addressing the nation
would virtually always
allude, in the course of
‘Francaises, Francais’,
thereby reminding his listeners of their national
affiliation. How many
countries have allusions
to common national origins in their national
anthems? e.g. ‘Land of
my fathers’, ‘Enfants de
la patrie’, ‘Deutschland
Keith Cameron
uber alles’. Yet what constitutes a nation? Is it an ethnic division? Is it a political one? a geographical one?
a linguistic one? a combination of all these?
The term is certainly loaded with political force. In
times of threat, when a group of individuals feels in
danger from another, then it would seem that the spirit of the nation is revived and fomented as a unifying
factor of defence. Since time immemorial, ancestors
have been invoked as an encouragement to the living.
Where no knowledge of ancestors has existed then
leaders or would-be leaders have not hesitated to
invent them. During the Renaissance in Europe families employed men of letters to invent a genealogy for
them and their followers, a legacy from the Emperor
Augustus who found a worthy singer of Rome’s past in
There is a strong correlation between political
demands made by minority groups and their economic
and political standing within the greater community.
Linguistic autonomy or rather movements which have
as their avowed aim the maintenance of a minority
language are often associated with political ambitions
which once they are achieved or palliated can lead to
minority languages being left to fend for themselves
and, ironically, to perish. In the former Soviet Union,
Stalin realised the unifying factor of a single language
and tried to impose Russian upon the whole country to
the detriment of local languages. This led to the right
to speak one’s own language becoming one of the proclaimed aims of the emergent independent states. It
will be interesting to see how they fare in the future.
Should we be like Dr Johnson and feel ‘sorry when any
language is lost, because languages are the pedigree
of nations’?
Is the ‘nation’ therefore myth or reality? Are our own
British characteristics a result of our society or part of
a pattern which has been imposed on us? The boundaries of a nation, can they be justified? Or are they the
result of political activity, which subsequently tries to
provide a raison d’être for their existence? We all
believe that it exists, but is it just a socially accepted
To read more about this topic go to:
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Template Poem
By Victoria Walters
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By Anthony Nanson
The last dance of childhood, the sun going
down, the drumbeat driving it down, and you boys
who would be men dance
to the beat, your six
heartbeats, your twelve
feet stamping on the
earth, the whole valley
spinning, its black edge
spiked with thorn tree silhouettes upon the fading
red. And in the east the
purple night rises, the terror the night brings of
becoming a man in blood
and pain, red pain like
fire, throbbing in your
loins. You stamp and
leap, animal skins flapping round you, as the
fires' heat strikes your
dangling organs and
brightens the beads
strung by slim-fingered
girls, now dancing in the
taunting your courage to
be men.
There is no other
way, no choice; no place
for you in the otherland of
the soul stealer, the
whiskered one who rides
when the sun is high, who
speaks strange tales in
nasal tones, and his
woman and his daughter
with their stiff white
wrapped you wonder how
they breathe, and medicine that sometimes
saves an infant's life –
saved at the cost of its
soul should the mother
whiskered one's madness and away she and her little
one go, over the ridge and never return; no longer will
they chant to the moon or swing their hips in the
dance, they are lost and no longer belong. You must do
what is done: the dance of boys, and then the cutting,
and then the dance of men, down the valley's length,
stamp with your spear and kill the wild beasts.
Dance till the whole world is spinning, up and
down and round and round, till there is stillness at its
centre, your heart, your soul, your manhood to be, spinning so fast you know not where you are, you are one
with the valley, and rough hands are guiding you away
from the women, the girls, and little boys; gone now
your last childhood day. Come to the forest you who
would be men, six hearts pumping in fear, twelve feet
treading the broken leaves, as frogs scream like
crazed demons in the night and stars flash through the
tangled trees; but then the frogs go silent and there is
only the rushing of the stream from the mountain, and
the trees dark, the sky dark, the water flowing dark,
the men's masked faces dark. They are more than men
now, they are lords of destiny and bear the secret of
new life. Sixteen long rains past, women gave you
birth; now is the men's turn.
Rip off your animal hides, your beads, let your
flesh feel the night air, your cold baptism in the mountain-born stream, then kneel dripping upon the earth
and, as the wind slices through the trees, wait for the
knife to slice away your child flesh, a sacrifice to the
wild beasts you will hunt. Let the knife cut, let the
blood spurt on the earth; but do not scream, do not
flinch, for you who would be a man must not act like
a child – unless you would be a child always, never to
nourish a woman with your seed as now you must
nourish the earth with your blood.
Here comes the knife, it cuts, it cuts, you hear
the sharp intake of breath, the barely inheld scream.
Three times the knife cuts. Three men and three boys.
Then the fourth. You feel your whole being in this
drooping flesh. Is there no other way? The fifth, you
hear his almost gasp, you see his blood streaming,
your head is spinning, the dark spiky forest of the earth
is spinning and insect shrieking, you want to dance but
you are on your knees, waiting for the knife, the pain —
Suddenly you stand and men like gods are
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grab a branch,
and dive running into
thorn bushes, arms
thrashing ahead for the
avenues of deepest
black. You must not flee,
not now, at this moment
of moments, but you are
fleeing, you encompass
the world with your
bounding feet, your flesh
presses through the forest mesh, thorns score
your skin, but your legs
are pumping, dancing,
uphill you run – till you
have left behind the mayhem of shouting and you
can slow down, alone
now, find a more careful
way through the thorns,
but flinching in fear from
every squeak and grunt
and patter, for there are
wild beasts here and no
men to fight them.
You climb the
valley wall, but there is
nowhere to go beyond the
rim; you are too drained
of strength to keep walking and at last you flop
down in long grass, a soft
bed for sleep or death,
too tired to care any
more whether wild beasts
come, for there can be no
belonging now, no being,
only dying.
Sunrays on your
bare skin wake you, the
sun rising on the wrong
side of the world. Is it
sunset already, have you
Page 11
slept the whole day, have you woken in some land of
the dead where the sun rises where it should set?
You push yourself upright and your heart floods
earthward with the memory of what is lost and cannot be redeemed. Shiver in the ridge-grazing wind,
then freeze; a figure plods up the grassy slope, running her fingers through the flowerheads, her face
pink and tear streaked: the soul stealer's daughter,
she looks up with glinting alien eyes the colour of the
sky. An instant of comprehension: the sun is rising
after all and this valley before you is the soul stealer's land, see the pink sunglint on his metal roofs.
Two valleys back to back, like worlds reflected in
The girl is alone, no other soul in sight but
two circling larks, and she keeps walking towards
you, nervous like you, greets you in a nasal tone, and
she is trying to smile, but so sad, tears trembling in
her eyes. She tries to talk with you, looks at your
wounds, but she has no medicine, she cannot steal
your soul, offers only a thin white cloth to clean your
cuts, all the time talking and you can hardly understand what she is saying, only that she is fleeing like
you are fleeing, she is running from the whiskered
one who will not let her spirit breathe. Her eyes like
the sky seem to see your soul and to see beyond the
two valleys to a third, other world.
Come this way, let me show you. Along the
ridge to the mountain's spur, to crags and caves
where wild cats lair. This one, she says, I've never
gone inside, but sometimes I've felt a breath of air
blowing through. It is true, a breeze comes from the
cave's maw, its odour organic but not the stench of
She pauses at the threshold, so it is you
who must step ahead into the darkness, then hold
out your hand to lead her between the dank rocky
walls; but she cannot follow with her long skirt dragging in the mud and trammelling her legs, she cannot climb or crawl or dance, so unwrap the binding
fabric, let her body breathe like yours, let her reach
with her arms, thrust her legs, clamber over boulders
and squeeze through gaps; together through the
darkness, the slimy wetness on skin, and ease a way
through, with hands clasping, whispered encouragement, heartbeats thumping inside the mountain,
hardness of rock, softness of flesh, the
crawling dance, pushing forward, ever forward, squeeze upward
and on, breath shorter
and harder like your
hearts' pulse, thrusting, pushing, rhythm
rocking to the beat,
please trust me, have
no fear, just stretch
and pull and twist up
and in and through,
like pain tense and tingling, let the tears
come for what is gone,
let go now, let go and
be free, see the light
through this moment
for ever . . .
Face the dazzling daylight, stumble
out blinking, clutching
the other, to the green
grass of morning, the
sun high, and gaze at
the slopes descending,
the streams converging into sinuous loops
across a great plain,
and beyond the plain,
its scattered hills and
woods and vales,
beyond an immeasurable distance a deep
infinite blue that
merges with the sky.
You lie down in the
grass, no dancing now,
and stare in terrified
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Iain Grant: There are two ways of
dealing with a crash.
held on 25
This is the transcript of a debate
d, Bristol
November 2002 at the Watershe
es edited by
inspired by the book Crash Cultur
Jane Arthurs and Iain Grant.
One, the cars are obliterated, the road
is resurfaced, stratums to be discovered by future archaeologists. This is
what happened in May 1997 on a
section of the M42 in dense fog when
the biggest road traffic accident in UK
history took place. One-hundred-andsixty cars were involved in this pile up,
they burst into flames, and the heat
was so intense the cars melted into the
tarmac. By six o’clock the next morning
the road had been cleared and the road
Two, it’s emphasised, it’s made
obvious, it becomes a race to acquire a
death. It becomes a race to die in
some spectacular fashion. Three days
after Diana’s death in 1997 Daihatsu
began an advertising campaign in the
UK. It pictured their car, their latest
model. Underneath it had this slogan,
‘there are three steps to heaven’,
which took me by surprise, but maybe
they had grasped, getting into a car
and hurtling down the motorway was
the risk of death. Perhaps this is what
driving is all about, perhaps getting into
a car was never innocent, perhaps
For an audio recording of this debate go to: www.iqmagazine.co.uk
1:25 pm
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racing down the motorway knowing
that could happen around the next
bend, maybe that’s part of it. Maybe in
other words, the heaven that Daihatsu
said there were three steps to was not
the heaven you enter by way of death,
but by hurtling at uncontrollable speeds
down a concrete ribbon to a more or
less certain death. Maybe the heaven
was here on earth.
Iain: The Crash is a fertilizing event for
all kinds of reasons, there’s the obvious
connection between death and
sexuality which is played out in it.
There’s the idea of truly bizarre transspecies copulation which sends me into
a frenzy and turns my legs to jelly,
quite apart from that it is something
that has a certain life span, it’s a
collision, it’s chance.
You’ll notice that neither of these ways
belong to the way in which our culture
pays attention to crashes at all. It’s
bizarre. In an industrial civilisation, in a
technological civilisation, the only
address we have to the phenomenon of
a crash, which happens every day on
every section of road on every highway
on every surface of the globe, the only
way we have of paying attention to this
is through the scandal of the accident
investigation. You know what happens
when there’s a crash.
Ben Highmore: Ballard chooses to
couch his Crash in an archaic religious
language. And I was wondering, what
does a culture, a secular culture, look
for that is out of control with its
surroundings having to rely on belief
that has no religious form to it? The
culture we have, look to the television
and the ‘dumbest car chase ever part
three’, it’s kind of a staple diet.
Something like the dumbest car crash
ever, is normally couched in road safety
rhetoric, but nobody watches it for that,
do they? We watch it because we
know we are living on the edge of a
fragile world held together by belief.
You get a flurry of people. It’s like a
magnet. Everyone races towards the
crash scene, grieving relatives,
emergency services, insurance people
working for the corporate people who
must be responsible somewhere down
the line. Everyone rushes to the crash.
Once they get there their sole voiced
concern is let’s learn all the lessons we
can, let’s find out why this happens and
lets make sure it never happens again.
And there’s a bizarreness in this. Of
course this is every day that we recognise, this must never happen again.
What, however, is behind it is the idea
that an accident, the crash, is not an
accident at all. It happened for a reason!
Jane Arthurs: What would happen if
you started from an event rather than
from a set of theories of how we deal
with crashes? What about the crash as
an event as witnessed in Crash films
by Cronenberg and Ballard?
Iain: It’s fascinatingly put, but the
whole idea of an anthropology of a
culture, that there’s nothing but belief.
Our belief really has nothing to do with
it. In a sense the increase in powerfulness of the technologies around us is
quite simply the recognition that this is
truly a secular age, that the belief
systems by which we sought to justify
our hold on the world have shattered
and left nothing in their place. In their
stead, however, comes a power wholly
invested in the machines themselves,
which is physical. There is for the first
time, if you like since extremely
primitive times, a world which is
controlled by fates, by necessary laws,
by unalterable things, where our beliefs
don’t matter. The only thing that makes
a difference is that now we are more
powerless than the primitives were,
because we no longer believe in magic.
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Page 14
David Roden: I want to move to models
of agency, the relation of the subject
with the technology. I suppose the
major ethical question is, if in a sense
technology enlists us in some kind of
desire in action, which we can’t articulate, are our actions are built into the
Iain: One reason that crashes are the
significant things that they are, i.e. one
of the reasons why people bother to
resurface roads so quickly, is that they
do take place in a conjunction of two
powerful symbols of modernity. Ballard
goes on about the car, but the car is
more than symbolic of modernity; car is
symbolic of freedom, car is symbolic of
reasoning determining our actions.
The car makes us the cause of our own
effects as it were. A vehicle like any
technology makes it possible for
humans to have massive effects on the
world. Place is no longer subject to
whim or accident, but absolutely
subject to determination and direction,
and therefore grounds agency. When a
crash occurs, it’s a collision between a
sense of agency, between the possibility of an idea of freedom and a kind of
animism attaching to objects. Did I
crash because I wasn’t fully in control
or did I crash because this car took on
a life of its own? I suppose my position
on this is fundamentally opposed to
that conception of agency.
Our essential passivity in the face of
events has vanished from discourse
surrounding our politics and our ethics,
precisely because it’s an embarrassment to their very possibility. How can
we found a politics based on passivity?
Since when is doing nothing an acceptable response to anything? The very
criteria of legal responsibility presuppose the efficacy of our individual
responsibility. So in part the crash is
not only a collision between the culture
of abject passivity on the one hand and
impossibility of the concept of agency
through the grounding of freedom. So
instead of looking to explain the crash,
in terms of these things, we go for the
passive view that you have suggested.
Karin Littau: One thing one could do is
to look at different moments when
technologies are invented and see what
kinds of effects they have had, rather
than seeing those technologies as a
great human achievement but seeing
how they changed the ways in which
we see, the ways in which we think, in
which we write. If you look at the
effect of print technology on the individualisation of us and how this is in
turn linked with Lutheranism and equally then with the internet, the effects of
those technologies, how they changed
the way we are, the way we feel, how
in effect they change our bodies.
Michelle Henning: I’m not connecting
this in any clear way but the relationship about gender in that sense, in
terms of sensory responses to the film
image or to the experience of crashing
has been left out. Also what about the
Ballard film? When he talked about
those car designs, they were predominantly designed by men, and based on
certain images of both male and
female bodies. But the whole thing of
the camera tracking the car and the
eroticisation of the car, what you could
read from that was actually a lot about
A member of audience: What I’ve
heard today is this idea of technology
interacting with us, as a society. We
seem somehow to be at its mercy. I
completely disagree with this. I just
turn it off! I’m in control of it, it is not
in control of me!
Iain: I have never heard of a clearer
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Page 15
statement of that position. There are
several things that I think are so keenly
important about what you suggest. Yes
we can turn things off but the scope of
our arms is restricted, i.e. the whole
thing can’t be turned off unless, as it
were, we blow up the lot, in which case
do we fulfil our own will or the
catastrophic will of the machine? It
does become circular at a point. Either
we blind ourselves to what’s going on
immediately beyond arms reach or we
allow the technology to take us places
that technophobes tell us it inevitably
will or where it’s inevitably going as a
matter of physics.
Tom Gunnig: This brings up a number of
things, that are key. One is that there’s
not just one technological environment
but that it’s multiple and that one of
the ways that I think we deal with one
technology is by mediating it through
another. It struck me that one of the
most interesting things in the Ballard
film is that he looks at the car and he
goes ‘and so we realise that we eternally think the future has fins’. There’s
this realm of historical change and
actual fashion change where always
the future is what wasn’t last week, it
is always going to be reacting against
itself. I think you’re absolutely right, we
can never turn the system off, but the
idea that it’s a totalising system, which
interacts and changes within itself, is
something that is really important to
keep in mind.
Michael: My friend who’s a psychoanalyst said that if he had somebody who
came to him for therapy and thought
that they were really having a conversation with a computer, he’d say he
couldn’t help him. He would need
somebody who knows about madness!
So in the analogy with cars, ‘did I
crash that car or did it crash me’, at
what point actually does our unarticulated relationship to technology pass
over into something, which is a kind of
collective madness? It’s very easy in
one’s individual life to believe that you
can turn it off, but in our collective life
it’s not so easy.
Iain: Is it broaching madness to
suggest that we really have no control
whatsoever, the car crashed me so on
and so forth, whether the extension of
that concept constitutes mass psychosis,
or is it simply a question of realism?
And I think these two questions are
connected in the following way:
One reason why belief is effective is
because there is no doubt when there’s
belief, so that for example, the explanations that anthropologists give of
primitive religions in so far as they are
animistic, in so far as they are magical,
is not the belief as Freud said in the
omnipotence of thought, it’s the belief
that thought is a component of the
world around us, thought is a naturalistic event to be naturalistically
explained. And this is fascinating in so
far as it both mirrors and is distinct
from our own view of the accident.
The primitive explanation of the
accident is that it is no accident at all
but a highly bizarre and improbable
collision of two necessary tracks of
objects. How else could a crash have
occurred unless something had caused
these two entities to come together in
this very space at that very moment, to
think otherwise is to think the absolutely improbable. So the primitive view of
the crash is that ‘something’ caused
this buffalo, in this place, running at
that speed, towards this man, moving
at that speed, at this time. What ‘that
something’ is we don’t know.
In so far as ‘that something’ is an element of the natural world, in so far as
it is necessary and deterministic, then
you know the only way that you can
1:25 pm
Page 16
affect it is by encouraging or discouraging it. When it works it’s
called magic, when it fails it’s also called magic! What persists
in both instances is belief.
In so far as we occupy a secular world we tend to think that
politics is the very contrary of theology, what is theological can
have no effects on politics, as it belongs to theories of another
world and other classes of entity. It’s absolutely not true to any
political theologian. The conjunction of politics and belief, the
conjunction of politics and religion provides a way of tackling
the world which is infinitely more imaginative but not at all
imaginary. This is the contrary side of belief. This is belief that
overrides reason. This is belief that says the world is reshapeable and what’s more we’re going to do it. There is no hesitation
there. This is a question of belief we are not prepared to
tolerate. So in so far as we live in a culture that is not prepared
to tolerate that conjunction of irrationality coupled with politics
and theology, then we are never going to grasp how it is that
belief can have any effect whatsoever.
Jean: There are plenty of forms of belief that can coexist with
doubt, so I don’t think you are at all right. I’m worried about
technology with a capital T, I simply don’t know what it means.
What is or what is not a Technology and they’re so different,
and sometimes contradictory in their implications, and the idea
that there’s some kind of grinding logic that we are just
irresistibly carried along this tide by it, is one that doesn’t seem
to make any sense to me. How do we talk about car crashes
and build good wells in villages in Africa and say the same thing
about all of them? I think you have to be really careful here.
But it’s also agency. I decide not to drink and drive but if we
just completely give up on the idea of any kind of intermediate
level of agency which is neither not drinking and driving, nor
some global active resistance which supposes that you can just
switch it off, then I think one thing that goes completely out of
the window is politics. I think unless we find some space which
raises all the philosophical differences about agency, I think we
are just in danger of losing any possibility of any rationale for
any politics, call it political theology if you like, but we need
something in there and for me that was one of the things that
cultural studies used to think it was about. I wouldn’t want it to
Iain: Just a question in response, it’s rhetorical but is addressed
to everyone. Do we think if we really stop believing in agency it
will disappear if it’s a real thing?
Jane: Anybody want to take up the challenge?
Crash Cultures:
Modernity Mediation
and the Material
Edited by Jane Arthurs
and Iain Grant
Paperback: £14.95
Order from:
1:25 pm
Page 17
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1:25 pm
Page 18
intellect books
new for 2003
Art & Design
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Art & Design
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Cultures and Settlements:
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Bangers &
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In the middle of a rural landscape stockcar enthusiasts have carved out a tarmac
heaven where old write-offs are given a
colourful new lease of life. These petroleum
fuelled occasions are full of fraternity and
robust competition in equal measure.
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Sarah Chapman, photographer and artist, teaches part
time on the Visual Arts programme at the University of
Plymouth. The work illustrated here is drawn from a
recent photographic documentary which explores the
culture of stockcar racing and aims to capture the frenetic atmosphere and sheer visual impact of this vivid
and entertaining sport. Recent exhibitions include
‘Essential Maintainance’ at the Exeter Phoenix gallery
(April 28th - May 24th) and a summer 2003 show at
the Blink gallery in Soho, London.
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The Death of Rock?
Sean Albiez
s rock dead?
Not according to the
NME. In November 2002
the paper included a free
CD, ‘The New Rock
Revolution’, which heralded a new dawn for ‘rock’.
McNicholas wrote ‘Once
in a generation something so revolutionary
happens in music that
afterwards nothing is
ever the same again.
Right now, that’s exactly
what’s happening’.
tered with revolutionary rhetoric around key historical
moments. Whenever rock (and roll) seemed to be limping to an early and deserved grave, upstart musicians
forged a new sound that reinvigorated rock music.
Is it? Anybody noticed?
The bands featured on
the compilation included
some half-decent US and
UK bands (The Von
Bondies, Radio 4, Black
Rebel Motorcycle Club,
The Coral, The Music) as
well as New Zealanders
The Datsuns. The music
was neither new (being
variously ‘sourced’ from
PiL, The Jesus and Mary
Chain, NY post-punk ‘nowave’ and ‘mutant disco’)
nor revolutionary. Despite
the NMEs attempts to sell
through t-shirts) the
‘rock’ public remained
unmoved. Everything was
still the same, the marketing hype failed, and
NME sales fell inexorably
while Kerrang!’s rose.
This transformation occurred when the cultural weight
placed on the shoulders of showbiz rock and roll
became too great and required an intellectual antimainstream ordination. By the late 1960s, rock music,
through The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan et al was
said to have caused a ‘revolution in the head’. That is,
youth culture had the false consciousness of consumer society, parent culture and mainstream politics
lifted from it - by opening the doors of perception a
new society could not only be imagined, but also built.
Rock, it has been argued, was central to this revelatory cultural moment, but others suggest that it merely
soundtracked social transitions and changes that were
happening anyway. Whatever, Psychedelia and protest
music became associated with revolutionary counterculture. With the increasing amplification of rock, the
growth of festivals, increasing numbers of music magazines and papers, and the introduction of rock radio,
rock became increasingly audible and visible throughout the 1960s. It did so on the back of frenzied commercial exploitation that did not sit easily with rock
artists (who had greatly benefited from it!). The antimusic industry and anti-mainstream rhetoric of rock
(borrowed from the 1960s political folk movement) has
been a feature of rock ever since, but one that each
generation feels it has discovered for itself.
But what constitutes a
‘rock revolution’? The history of rock music since
the 1950s has been lit-
When revolutionary Elvis joined up and turned out to be
an all-American-God-fearing-boy after all (the first
‘death of rock’!), a bunch of scouse lads took black
rhythm and blues and the cool of Gene Vincent to
Hamburg, and returned with a sound that was to shake
up the USA and inspired the 60s British invasion. This
‘Britishification’ of US culture by a mutant AngloAmerican music seemed revolutionary in itself, but the
greatest rock revolution is said (by rock journalists and
academics then and since) to be when the AngloAmerican axis transformed rock and roll into ‘Rock’.
Pop and rock music has also been viewed by cultural
critics as a mere product of a mind-numbing corporate
music industry. Despite some suggesting 1960s rock
1:27 pm
marked a revolution of
perception, others argued
the music industry had
figured out how to sell
revolution to consumers
who had grown out of the
rock and roll of their
youth, and who were hungry for more weighty
music that they could call
their own. So the revolution of 60s rock was also
marked by a revolution in
the music industry. The 7”
single was no longer the
primary format - album
orientated rock became
the vehicle for music that
maybe took itself far too
Early rock and roll had a
certain ‘authenticity by
association’ for the rock
audience - it had a heritage in black rhythm and
blues and country, and
this heritage was reaffirmed in the late 1960s
when The Band, Neil
Young, The Beatles, The
Byrds and others turned
away from Psychedelia to
a simpler blues and country based rock. In some
respects, ‘gutter pure’
rock was felt to have
been sullied by the LSD
fuelled manic drive
towards innovation and
the celebration of individual genius. Rock was
supposed to be about ‘the
street’ - or at least about
music created from
‘three chords and the
Page 27
On the other hand Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake &
Palmer and other rock bands of the 1970s felt that
rock should be about conceptualism, complexity and
have an art aesthetic - it should aspire to be a new
revolutionary ‘classical’ music that replaced the old.
Progressive rock therefore had competing and contradictory drives - both to ‘smash the system’ of old
cultural values while employing the tools and attitudes of elitist culture (such as the symphony
orchestra). Progressive rock intended to have a revolutionary project, and some bands more than others
(Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson) did make
music that assaulted the audience and mainstream
culture. However, it was felt by rock critic Lester
Bangs that progressive rock betrayed everything that
rock was supposed to be about. In the film ‘Almost
Famous’, ‘Bangs’ suggests that the early 1970s
marked the death of rock.
John Rockwell in the Rolling Stone Illustrated
History of Rock and Roll elaborates on this suggesting ‘There is a morphology to artistic movements.
They begin with a rude and innocent vigour, pass into
a healthy adulthood and finally decline into an overwrought, feeble old age. Something of this process
can be observed in the passage of Rock & Roll from
the 3-chord primitivism of the 50s through the burgeoning vitality and experimentation of the 60s to
the hollow emptiness of much of the so called progressive or ‘art’ rock of the 70s’. However, progressive rock itself contained the seeds of the next revolution that for some resulted in the undisputed
death of rock music, and for others marked its
Punk Rock, it has been suggested, looked at the
walking corpse of rock music as represented in progressive rock, and decided to emphasise the
Dionysian rather than cerebral pleasures of rock.
And yet, some areas of progressive rock contained
such desires. Van Der Graaf Generator’s Peter
Hammill released the solo album ‘Nadir’s Big
Chance’ in 1975. It was a call to arms that not only
questioned the excesses of progressive rock, but
also did so with a proto-punk noise that seems now
astoundingly prescient. King Crimson, through
Robert Fripp, influenced many artists (including
Cobain) who produced
awkward and incendiary music that was as
far removed from Yes
as can be imagined,
and yet is still called
Arguably punk didn’t
aim to destroy ‘prog’
as such, but wanted to
destroy the complacency of the ‘Old Grey
Whistle Test’ school of
rock (Nils Lofgren,
Peter Frampton) and
the pomposity of stadium rock - with Led
Zeppelin (non-Prog) as
guilty as ELP (uberprog).
rock music by simplifying it and speaking
to the audience in a
prosaic and direct
romanticism of prog
ridiculed by punk, and
the music bore little
relation to symphonic
rock. However, it was
far from a workingclass rebellion against
the middle-class occupation of rock by proggers. The Sex Pistols
may have been working class Londoners,
but the organising
forces behind punk
and its spread were
school and higher educated entrepreneurs
1:27 pm
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Westwood or, outside the capital Tony Wilson and the
Buzzcocks). Their predecessors were equally a mixed
bunch of college kids slumming in the rock dives of
New York - whether Patti Smith, Television or the
Talking Heads. And Johnny Rotten/Lydon was a prog
rock (Peter Hammill), dub reggae and Neil Young fan
whose musical tastes were not dictated by his working
class background.
Punk, through the Pistols, momentarily shocked some
of the UK public in 1977, and later the USA - but by
1978 punk had been fully co-opted by the music industry with novelty punk hits such as Jilted John’s ‘Gordon
is a Moron’ (a precursor of Linkin Park) outselling punk
bands who were ‘keeping it real’. And sadly for those
who believe that punk changed the world, it has to be
noted that despite Morat’s claims in the 2000 Kerrang
Punk special that ‘way back when dinosaurs (Emerson,
Lake and Palmer, Genesis et al) ruled the earth, it was
the Pistols who drove them to extinction’, the only
thing dead in 1978 was punk.
Far from the whole world going punk in 1976-77, punk
was a minority taste. Punk could not commercially
compete with Pink Floyd, Genesis or Yes, pop/rock
artists ELO, Abba and David Soul, and disco in the late
70s and early 80s - The Pistols were extinct well
before Pink Floyd. The progressive dinosaurs remained,
on the whole, undefeated and arguably reinvigorated
by punk. Yes, Genesis and Phil Collins (regrettably or
otherwise) in one way or another found their greatest
commercial success in the 1980s. Therefore, the longterm impact of punk in Britain is arguably over-amplified and ironically, in the post-punk era, Johnny
Rotten/Lydon and his new band PiL pursued a distinctly ‘progressive’ path in an attempt to bury punk.
So in what sense was punk a revolution? Like the
1960s counter-culture, maybe punk propagated for
some a new ‘revolution in the head’ which only played
itself out in the 1980s through the growth of indie and
alternative rock - and many bands inspired by punk
(The Smiths, New Order and the Cocteau Twins) did not
actually play punk rock.
By the 1980s, any claim that rock was the primary
experience and vehicle for youth cultural expression
became unsustainable. As suggested previously, disco,
as well as ska, reggae,
Motown, northern soul
and funk, had been central to club and dance
culture that was all but
ignored by rock critics
(unless, that is, a rock
artist (Bowie and Young
Americans) showed an
interest in these forms).
From the 1950s onwards
pop and dance music had
been sidelined as inauthentic music industry
ephemera, and yet was
the experience of the
majority of the record
buying public. Rock, by
placing itself at the pinnacle of popular music,
swathes of music culture
to footnotes in the histories of rock.
When NY Electro, Detroit
Techno and Chicago
House hit the clubs and
streets of Britain in the
1980s, British youth was
continuing its long term
obsession with music
from these contexts (New
York Disco, Chicago electric
Motown and soul) - this
was not a ‘dance revolution’. What was revolutionary was that there
were magazines such as
The Face and ID who
were documenting the
fleeting club scenes, and
bringing them to a
national audience. In the
1970s, sociological studies suggested that dance
1:27 pm
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musics, since the 1960s, had appealed to British working class youth, whereas rock was the primary experience of middle-class youth and students. By the 1980s,
this social stratification of tastes was unclear (if it
was ever really true). Bands such as New Order enacted the shift from guitar based rock into music that
could encompass aspects of Hi NRG and Electro. It
could be argued that Manchester club the Hacienda
educated its audience into an acceptance that rock
and dance boundaries were meaningless, resulting in
the cross-over music of the Happy Monday’s
‘Madchester’. Dance culture, through house, techno,
acid and rave became a mass movement by the early
1990s (that is, mass because of the scale of its organisation - 10,000 people dancing in a field), and it
seemed apparent that youth culture had diversified
into a range of lifestyle choices. Rock no longer could
claim to be the central experience of youth - as
Lawrence Grossberg suggests ‘people no longer
danced to the music the liked, they liked the music
they danced to’.
In the 1990s rock seemed to gain a new lease of life
in the US and UK through Nirvana and ‘grunge’ but it
became difficult for these artists to come to terms
with the fact that the challenging music they were
making was given the corporate tag ‘alternative rock’,
and by 1992 was the mainstream rock format of the
US music industry and MTV. The British response to
grunge was the guitar orientated Britpop ‘movement’
which was deeply nostalgic, retrogressively nationalistic and a throwback to 1960s British rock. In the USA,
after the breakthrough success of Korn and the
Deftones a new form of hard rock that embraced elements of Hip Hop culture became the primary format
of American rock as Nu-Metal. Through carefully honed
marketing and presentation, these bands seemed to
represent a new anger, an alternative to mainstream
thought and lifestyles, but in the final analysis are corporate rock for the noughties. Nu-Metal is sanctioned
rebellion - in the case of bands such as System of a
Down, anti-capitalist anger marketed through a capitalist corporation - capitalism will sell anything as long
as it can be packaged with a free sticker and fold-out
poster for the teen-angster.
Kerrang may now be the
biggest selling weekly magazine, guitars may be flying out
of music shops (and DJ decks
and groove boxes left languishing on the shelves) but
this does not necessarily
mean this recent revival of
‘rock’ is a vital authentic
expression of an oppositional
culture, as opposed to dance
or any other culture. It is a
lifestyle choice. Rock may
have kidded itself that it was
once the voice of a generation, but in the present it is
the inarticulate voice of a generation without a script. Punk
(at least punk not represented
by Blink 182 and Sum 41) may
remain as an oppositional
space with its own independent network, and there may
well be evidence that in the
field of electronic music there
are ‘dance’ artists creating
independently minded work
(Alec Empire) that ask difficult
political questions. But we
first need to work out what it
means for rock to be alive
before we can suggest it is
dead. Maybe rock was never
about politics anyway, but was
always really about the pleasures of noise, dance and
youthful insolence. In this
sense, it still fulfils the same
pleasures enjoyed by the kids
who trashed cinemas in the
1950s while watching ‘Rock
Around the Clock’, and isn’t
quite yet on its way to the
emergency resuscitation unit.
SEAN ALBIEZ is subject leader of BA Popular Culture, University of Plymouth. Forthcoming publications
include: 'Know History: Lydon, Cultural Capital and the Prog/Punk Dialectic' in the journal Popular Music
(Summer 2003); 'The Day the Music Died Laughing: Madonna & Country' in Madonna's Drowned Worlds:
New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations (UK, Ashgate 2004); 'Sounds of Future Past: from Neu! to
Numan' in Pop Sounds (Germany, Transcript Verlag, Autumn, 2003). Main research interest is the history of
electronic popular music in the UK, US, France & Germany from progressive rock to techno.
1:27 pm
Page 30
in Devon
illustration by Mike.E
Bill, 20
Studying Popular Culture
at the University of Plymouth
Popular Culture
Popular Culture will be useful for those exploring
employment opportunities in the creative and
cultural industries (music, film, arts, television
etc.) by providing a contextual understanding of
the contemporary cultural terrain. It will also
support practical work in other areas by providing a broad grounding in issues and debates at
the heart of the investigation of contemportary
popular culture.
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Page 31
Bob, 21
Studying Visual Arts
at the University of Plymouth
Visual Arts
Recent graduates have exhibited photographic
artwork nationally, for example at the ‘Five
Princelet Street Gallery, E1’. Another has recently
become an in-house designer for Tate Modern. The
Visual Arts course has also seen many graduates
become website creators, including a recent graduate who now works for ‘Sony Complete
Entertainment’, while others have progressed to
higher degrees and further research.
1:28 pm
Page 32
Doris, 20
Studying Art History
at University of Plymouth
Art History
A degree in Art History combines the best
of both worlds. As a subject in the
humanities, it appeals to the employers in
business and industry who value communication skills, intellectual creativity, selfreliance and powers of analysis.
Vocationally, it helps prepare students for
work in galleries and museums, auction
houses, arts publishing, heritage and
related arts organisations. Many of our
graduates have found jobs in all of these
fields; some have gone into teaching and
others have undertaken higher degrees.
1:28 pm
Page 33
The University of Plymouth is planning a number of exiting new developments,
including the concentration of it’s academic activities on to the Plymouth
campus in the city centre. This will bring together related disciplines and provide
enhanced facilities to enrich the student experience. Arts & Humanities courses,
currently based at the Exeter & Exmouth campuses, will be moved to the
Plymouth campus in September 2004. The University, however, has a specialist
theatre teaching space in Exmouth, and so Theatre & Performance will not be
moving until 2006, when new facilities will be ready. We will be working very hard
to ensure the transition to Plymouth is smooth: for instance, there will be
orientation visits and assistance with finding suitable accomodation.
The School of Arts and Humanities is a significant provider of humanities and creative arts
courses in the reigon. It offers a wide variety of subjects and a range of different approaches to
undergraduate and postgraduate study and research. Undergraduate courses in the School of Arts
and Humanities are organised in a group of subjects known collectively as the combined arts
scheme. This is uniquely different from many you will find in higher education. It is
I a modular scheme in which you can negotiate your own pattern of study. We
offer a wide range of choices, and guidance to help you make those choices.
Admissions, University of Plymouth, Faculty of Arts & Education
Tel: 01392 475009 / 475010
Fax: 01392 475012
E-mail: [email protected]
W eb: http://www.fae.plym.ac.uk
1:24 pm
Page 2
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