Fashion Goth Rant

Way back in 2005, when Momus (aka Nick Currie, a former zemi guest), was at the peak of his blogging form, he posted an entry titled Fashion Goth that began:

I’m not into this thing, fashion goth.
It’s probably because I’m not into rock and roll, Romanticism, or Christianity.
I’m not into Asia Argento or Vincent Gallo.
I think their way of thinking is inherently right wing.
I mean, Gallo votes Republican. Fucking fashion goth!

The Fashion Goth Rant was a brilliantly scathing and simultaneously brilliantly funny indictment of the modes of late twentieth century American popular culture and music. Wondering how the rant would sound spoken aloud, I ran the (slightly tweaked) text through a speech synthesis program with the most British sounding voice I could easily find. I happened to be listening to an ambient track at the same time, as was my habit while working, in my ATR days, and noticed a good fit. Here’s how the mix sounded:

I vaguely recall Nick saying he was tempted to include the mix on the ‘Friendly’ album he was planning at the time, but that his FG rant wasn’t friendly enough.

My all time favourite quote from the Fashion Goth Rant, and perhaps all time fave from Momus’ Click Opera blog is the line:

The Marquis de Sade was mounting a critique of the Enlightenment.
What’s wrong with the Enlightenment, girls?

Near perfect deadpan rendition of this by the robotic British voice! And I really love the quasi-mathematical:

When I say “I like X much better”, it’s usually because X has a keen sense of the absurd.
And also because I can’t immediately pigeonhole X’s style.

which serves nicely as a definition of what was great about the anti-rock, post-punk aesthetic of the late seventies and early eighties, Nick’s formative years as an artist.

Click on the link to go the entire text (with images) of Momus’ Fashion Goth Rant.

Artist Dan Graham also considers connections between rock and religion in American culture in the collection of his writings published by MIT Press, Rock My Religion, but from a standpoint that is not anti-rockist. Here’s some related documentary video art with the same title:

Rock My Religion from Diogo Tirado on Vimeo.

Optical Media – F. Kittler

Here’s another book I enjoyed reading this summer, Friedrich Kittler’s Optical Media. The original German version dates back to 2002, but the English translation did not appear until two or three years ago. I was surprised at just how much the general outlook and some of the content overlaps with my introductory course in digital media. What could I possibly have in common with Kittler, who had a background in German literature? One point of overlap is an interest in Marshall McLuhan’s work. Kittler also seems to have explored information theory to a certain extent though he sometimes understandably shows gaps in his understanding of the scientific basis of media technology. Nonetheless, this work provides valuable perspective on the history of image media technology.

Retro-Futurism, continued

For some time I have been meaning to point out an excellent article on the avant-garde Japanese architectural movement of the 1960’s known as Metabolism. The article, by Amelia Groom, is titled Past Futures, was published in Frieze magazine earlier this month, and includes an interview of Pritzker prize-winning architect/theorist Rem Koolhaas by writer/musician Nick Currie (Momus) who was a guest speaker in our zemi in late 2010. Rem Koolhaas has recently published Project Japan, Metabolism Talks, in conjunction with the Metabolism exhibition at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo last year.

The following quote from the Frieze article, a statement by Arata Isozaki (磯崎新) about the Big Roof pavillon at Expo’70, has stayed with me over the several weeks since I read the article:

Okamoto’s tower was allegedly named in reference to Season of the Sun, the 1955 novel by the disreputable current governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, in which the protagonist breaks through a shoji paper screen with his erect penis. The Metabolists’ disapproval of it is encapsulated by Arata Isozaki’s histrionic condemnation in his 2006 book Japan-ness in Architecture: ‘Alas, when at last I saw Okamoto’s tower (looking like a giant phallus) penetrating the soft membrane of the roof, I thought to myself that the battle for modernity had finally been lost.


Here is precisely the meeting of avant-garde modernity with kitsch in an extremely candid and memorable fashion. As we know, Kenzo Tange’s (丹下健三) Big Roof is long gone but the Tower of the Sun (太陽の塔) has become perhaps Osaka’s most iconic landmark. I also found interesting a passage claiming Taro Okamoto (岡本太郎) framed this tension in terms of a simplistic Jomon/Yayoi dichotomy:

Okamoto had pushed for modern Japan to embrace what he considered to be the dynamic, primitive spirit of the nation’s Jomon legacy (c.14,000–300BCE), as opposed to what was perceived as the refined, reductionist and aristocratic aesthetic of the subsequent Yayoi era (300BCE–300CE).

Such simplifying theories of nationality were no doubt influenced by Okamoto’s Surrealist pals during his lengthy stay in Paris in the 1930’s.


As some of you may remember, at the beginning of last year’s zemi class, I handed out a number of a copies of Getting Started with Processing, a very short introduction to programming in the Processing environment by the founders of the project, Casey Reas and Ben Fry.

That short book is probably the best book for beginners to get started with Processing, or P5 as it is known for short. However, I suspect that some of you may have been put off by the fact that the book is written in English. Since a few months ago, the same book, with some additional helpful sections, has been translated into Japanese and is available from Amazon. The book seems to be selling fast, so if you plan to buy a copy, it might be a good idea to do so soon.  If the first run sells out, which I think may be likely, there could be a lag before a second printing appears.

The best way to get started with P5, of course, is to download the program from the P5 community site and start writing some simple programs. The syntax of P5 is similar to C, which most of you have seen in the first year programming classes. However, you’ll soon realize that P5 can be much more fun than C, because it is much easier to get interesting graphical output. Many experienced programmers use P5 as a prototyping tool as they find it is an excellent system for sketching ideas and trying things out. There are lots of libraries for doing all kinds of things such as 3D graphics, computer vision, sound, simulation etc… All completely free, because the developers are believers in open software and sharing. As it turns out P5 is more stable, and much more user-friendly than many expensive software development environments.

It’s possible to get by just with the online documentation, tutorials, and help files included with P5 itself. But having an introductory book does help a great deal. I had a look at the Japanese edition of Getting Started with Processing this afternoon and liked the fact that it includes a glossary of the core P5 functions.

In our era, ignorance of programming is akin to an inability to read and write for someone born after Gutenberg. If your experience with C turned you off, why not give programming another try with P5? I guarantee you that a little effort will reward fun and understanding. These books are available at Amazon, linked to the images above.