Between 0 and 1: Remixing Gender, Technology and Music
A new series of events that takes place this month at MoMA PS1, asks about the relationship between algorithms, language and gender.
|Words: JL Allan|
Between 0 and 1 has a long tail, originating partly in a project that fell by the wayside that Bill Kouligas, label head at Pan records (and part of the curatorial team for the events), was involved in, prompted by discovery of an artist book published in the 1980s in Greece which was a dictionary of queer slang, a language invented by a community to protect themselves. Similar coded languages had emerged in Turkey, the Middle East, and elsewhere – the British gay community conversed in Polari, and in the Phillipines a language called Swardspeak emerged.
The MoMA PS1 events are linked to these ideas around language and privacy, but go further, bringing in many voices, experiences, and histories to explore language and privacy, non-confirming gender identities and culture. Involved in the events are musicians, artists, DJs and speakers, in conversations around identity, music and sound.
The purpose of the events is to complicate the conversation, to give it nuance, rather than to simplify. It’s hoped by those who put it together that it will go some way to representing the complexity of the discussion, expanding the dialogue and improving visibility. Without presenting these differences, the complexity of gender identity is lost again.
Following its first weekend of performances, this Sunday’s even is centred around a live performance of Cantos I-IV, an extract from Terre Thaemlitz’s larger multi-media sound work Soulnessless, which, at over 32 hours long, is the longest mass-produced album ever made. Released in 2012 on memory cards and flash drives (with extracts pressed to vinyl) it was four years in the making. The performance will be followed by a panel on community and identity in music with Thaemlitz and New York house DJ Honey Dijon, moderated by artist Juliana Huxtable.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge closes the series on 26 February with a lecture-performance on their destruction of gender binaries and their involvement in the development of experimental music, through their work with COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. Also on the bill are Elysia Crampton, whose ambient electronic music deals with the historic roots of queer identity and South American spirituality, and New York City digital noise musician Dreamcrusher, who describes themselves as nihilistic queer revolt music.
Screenings and talks include Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz’s film To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation (2013), which takes its prompts from the Pauline Oliveros score of the same name, to ask about the power of sound and film to be revolutionary or community building.
Looking closer at the line up the artists are not an easy fit with one another, as people or artists: Thaemlitz has described himself as a non-essentialist, non-op transgendered person, whereas Genesis’s Pandrogeny Project, initiated in the mid-90s with their late wife Lady Jaye and manifested partly in cosmetic surgery, is an ongoing psychological and physical project to be more than one person, hence the pronoun ‘they’.
These events do not so much aim to bring together disparate groups and identities under one banner, but to highlight variation – the idea of the events as public conversations is key to the spirit of the series. All on the bill identify differently, and that’s a crucial part of what the shows are about. Honey Dijon, who DJ’d at the first event, summarized it in a recent interview: “We’re still stuck in this very binary way of thinking about life: good/bad, black/white, male/female, straight/gay. We need to rethink that.”