Sunday, 18 September 2011

I am Post-Modern, Not Rubbish

As someone who has a show called The Radio Hour that last for two – at one time for five, but that was in another city and besides, the Fringe is dead – I hope that I have some sense of playful irony. My Producer Harry sometimes looks at me as if to say “Do you have any idea what is going to happen next?” and the answer is often “no.” Yet after yesterday’s VileArts Radio Hour, I realised that perhaps I’d make a properly post-modern broadcast.

Ever since The Ramones blasted out of NYC, the idea that dumb can be clever has had a hold in popular culture. Whether it is the innocent deconstruction of political dogma by Sacha Cohen when he used to be good – he undermined a fox hunter’s certainty through Ali G’s blunted questions, and Borat was a trip through cultural assumptions made alien – or the underground slang of UK hip-hop, the ancient belief that education needed to be on display in form and function has been dented. Beneath my atrocious research and random connections between guests – serious performance artist and feminist Nic Green to Sean Fae Solar playing sexist raps, anyone? – I’ve been curating a chaotic bricolage broadcast from Glasgow’s arts scene.

There have been plenty of dead-ends. Most of them come from my flirtations with Edinburgh, probably because I don’t really know what is happening there. I try to be too inclusive: yesterday, I tore out the teeth of James MacMillan’s Christus Vinctus by juxtaposing it with Peaches – and this is a piece of music that I adore because it is an unabashed celebration of religious faith.  And I have fallen far from my dream of recreating the feel of late night Radio 3, every time I fade in a blast from Ultimate Thrush, Holy Mountain or Take A Worm for a Walk Week. But I feel justified when I realise that I have just introduced Debussy into a conversation about electronic music. It is a reflection of how I experience the arts: a continuity that constantly asks questions about legacy, influence, tradition and resonance.

Psignal, a man that I am proud to call both friend and collaborator, recently characterised post-modernism as a strategy to break down the established notion of progress. The constant flittering between genre and style needn’t be a facsimile of the great contemporary lie, that gives everything equal worth and refuses to discern quality. By fracturing assumptions about what belongs together, and reviving apparently irrelevant arts, post-modernism is a comprehensive acceptance of the opportunities of global interconnectivity. Sean Fae Solar described his mixing as being like his web-surfing: distracted, intense, dispersed. Yet from this diversity comes something focussed and intense. The Radio Show is an attempt to do something similar.

There are times when I am hugely uncomfortable on air – usually when I am playing something that has explicit lyrics, or when the dynamics of a classical piece seem to have disappeared from the audible threshold. It’s only cognitive dissonance, the most creative state of the mind. When the information becomes contradictory or incomprehensible, the mind is forced to work harder. The Radio Hour tried to do that to listeners. It’s only fair I feel it myself.

And so comes to an end this week’s excuses for being shambolic.

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