Bennett Hogg

creative projects and academic research

payday loans

ARCCADDE (ARchives and Creative Collaborations for Artists in the Distributed Digital Environment)

ARCCADDE is the acronym for a web-based system that I am in the process of developing in collaboration with Pedro Rebelo and Franziska Schroeder from SARC Belfast, which we are hoping will also lead to involvement with Edinburgh University Music Department, and the CETL-partner institutions of the Universisties of the North east consortium.  The idea of curating musical performances where the participants are not all in the same geographical location has been happening for some time, and I’ve been involved in this sort of thing since some experiments with Norwich School of Art in 2005.  ARCCADDE’s name references both the Passage de l’Opera (passage is French for what we’d call an arcade, if you didn’t know) that features as the location for the first half of Louis Aragon’s classic early surrealist novel Paris Peasant, and, more importantly for me, Walter Benjamin’s huge, unfinished project on the Paris Arcades known as “The Arcades Project” (in German either Passagenwerk or, perhaps more accurately Passagenarbeit).  The Arcades Project of Benjamin is a massive collation together of fragments, either copied from other texts, or written himself in the form of glosses, aphorisms, sketches of ideas, stream of thought.  The subject matter is the Paris Arcades and their cultural, political and epistemological milieu, but there is also a strong sense that the very structure of the text is informed by the structure of the Arcade – a semi-public space through which to pass; a working space; a social meeting point; a site for the flaneur; display and concealment (the shop front and the brothel).  In Benjamin there is also the sense of a creative approach to archiving – the pedantry and completeness of the traditional archive structure is creatively subverted, in that fragments selected from the archives (mostly from the Biblioteque National in Paris) are juxtaposed together into “convolutions” as Benjamin calls them, “constellations” of ideas that resonate and clash with each other, nest inside of one another, polarize epistemological panoramas, freeze historical moments in “dialectics at a standstill”.

ARCCADDE, then, is – on first encounter – a virtual space for performance, for the transitory encouter of artists through collaboration, and the establishment of a working space that allows for personal and public realms to communicate through porous boundaries.  In addition to streaming audio (and possibly video, too) from disparate, distributed locations (in “real time”) it will be possible to stage live events at each of the “terminal points” of the distributed network.  These live events will be substantially different at each terminal, linked together only through the electronic/electroacoustic material circulating through the web-based network.  This is crucial to the politics of the project – I find the globalism and anonymity of much of the rhetoric about the internet problematic.  For me the internet should be about confronting and encountering and being transformed by difference!  The local needs to be maintained and nourished so that audiences at each “nodal point” will have their own version of the “piece” which can, in any case, never exist in any one definitive version.  The distributed performance, and each of the “terminal” performances will then be stream in parallel through a web-radio interface, up to five separate channels at once, which will maintain this insistence on the local and particular by allowing listeners at home to construct their own version of the performance live by mixing between the different versions, browse the different venues, and otherwise intervene and participate in the making of their own “local” or “domestic” version of the event.  In this sense, we’re aiming to start working with a notion of the musical work that is adapted (and adapting) to the creative impertaives of the internet – despite an avalanche of naive political dogma as to the democratisation and transformation of culture that the internet makes possible, the vast amount of music on it is still in the form of a fixed, finished and commodified object that we can buy.  There are some exciting changes afoot here, though, such as the announcement that WFMU in New York are making available a forum through which artists can post and download their work with the express aim of creative reappropriation and remaking.

Finally, all materials from each performance event will be archived in such a way that anyone wishing to access the material will also have to do so through a “creative” interface – undermining the notion that an archive is simple a dead repository of things that happened in the past, and instead presenting an explicit opportunity for the creative aspects of engaging with musical materials to be placed into the foreground.  In this way, we’re hoping to build, as Benjamin did, the sort of archive that is both resonant with its subject matter, creatively composed from constallated fragments, and which acknowledges how it is touched by – and needs to resist – the politics of its time.