‘Rave as Ecology: Plugging in’
in Being in the Body
The School of the Damned, London
Being in the Body was a work in progress publication featuring source images and reference text by Natasha Cox & Renata Minoldo on the occasion of their duo-exhibition of the same name for The School of the Damned, a self-organised alternative educatication programme (May 2018)
The exhibition was a temporary assembled environment that borrowed from communal spaces intrinsically linked to the tactile, somewhere between a ‘wellbeing’ studio and late night club: places where one attempts to reach another level of understanding through the body.
The publication features extracts from my recently published work, ‘Rave as Ecology: Plugging in’, as well as text from Svetlana Boym, Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica, Anna Harpin, and Céline Condorelli.
Edition of 50
Designed by Natasha Cox & Renata Minoldo
Published by The School of the Damned
Printed in London, 2018
“In this sense raves are in fact machines; or what Deleuze and Guattari would call a ‘desiring-machine’. They are an integrated system of technology and labour which produces experience. Rave’s dance floor is an assemblage of psychological, chemical, electronic and corporeal software, rigged up through neurons, electrons, chemicals and sound waves. A decentralised and nonhierarchical cybernetic system, melding technology, matter and affect into a horizontal flow of collective acceleration. Its function as an experience is like that of a factory, constructing intensities that each component plugs in and responds to: lights/wavelengths, drugs/hormones, clothes/textures, mixers/frequencies, dancers/bodies, “a continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end.”
In a rave set acid synths are left to gargle into obscurity whilst relentless break-cuts fold endlessly back into themselves. Tracks evolve without narrative and emotions surge forth without aim; crescendos ascend to infinity and micro-sonic blips dissolve as quickly as they first appeared. Devoid of any clear determination each element is connected to a real-time feedback loop of continuous matter-energy, substituting a progressive and linear perception of time with a cyclic repetition of singular events; what Nietzsche would call the ‘eternal return’. A series of techno-somatic events that flows through you and into the next. Raves are sex without genitals, pleasure without climax. Dial in, jack up and get loose.
So where’s the escape? If anything, to me raving is about plugging into something extra. Something that is always more than one. The contemporary philosopher Timothy Morton would call this mode of perception ‘ecognosis’. The disintegration of anthropocentric boundaries between human and non-human, nature and culture; or the auxiliary dualisms of mind/body, inside/outside. Ontologically speaking, in our day-to-day experience of phenomena we usually run on this default setting: the banal plateau of Kantian epistemology. That there is something fundamentally different about us ‘in here’ and the world ‘out there’—and that we will never access the world ‘in itself’. Being part of rave shatters this assumption.”