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JACK WHITE – BLACK CAT LACORICE (INTERACTIVE VIDEO, PRESS 3 or B ON YOUR KEYBOARD TO SWITCH BETWEEN VIDEO STREAMS)








AND NOW FOR THE FEATURE ATTRACTION



black and white

WHITENESS

One of the immediate symptoms I noticed when I claimed my friends were turning black and white, was most readily found through web design. Up until the era of facebook’s monotonous white and blue template, people were encouraged to customize their personal pages. Whether it be blogs, myspace profiles, online portfolios, etc. in the colours and graphics they felt represented their own personality. Tumblr culture took it’s lead from the example of magazines, and the infinite online design-feed aesthetic became universalized. The internet was beginning to represent the science fiction backdrops of future societies. Sterile, white washed, devoid of individuality, android’s built by apple computers.

Through white washing then came the perfect backdrop for the pastel movement. Due to the continuity of lightness to white being fairly fluid and easily appreciated, the two naturally go hand in hand. Easter-time themes traditionally used to market to young children and females come to mind. However, rather then take this opportunity to begin my criticism of pastel culture, I would like to address some further issues I’ve continued to consider since writing part one of this series.

What are the theoretical constructs behind white washing?

Gentrification. For anyone who has lived in a gentrified neighbourhood, you understand the physical manifestation as the painting over of a building that ran into disrepair through generational poverty with white. Each new tenant brings a new coat of white paint. Each tenant forgotten under another layer of white-out, like every mistake written in pen.

What is cultural gentrification?

When a mainstream artist takes credit for an entire scene/movement from the underground, where artists are ghettoized and mentally or actually imprisoned by poverty, whether it be in one song because that scene was trendy that year, or in an entire album, or in a photo, or by doing a collaboration with a member of the underground. As an inadvertent/uninentional psychological side effect of this happening, the general populace forgets about the original scene, thus it is erased from their mind. White washed. Something which was as culturally well known and recognized for decades, such as Jungleist, is lost from people’s vocabularies and replaced with a single female artist’s name. It is very common for niche art scenes to be replaced with the names of the individual who brought in the most profit, whether it be an indie-rock genre or a hip-hop subculture, both are subject to cultural gentrification.

Ironically, the most significant example I can think of this happening with was just last year when Taylor Swift “accidentally,” during the promotion for “Blank Space,” posted an empty track to iTunes of white noise (silence = a blank, a voice, a space). This clever promotional trick which attracted the appreciation of ambient-wave artists accredited her as being “hip” and “with it” to naturally critically minded people, thus establishing her “street cred” with propagators of underground music.

Leading up to this seminal moment in her career, there was a growing movement of Chopped + Screwed dissociative music merging with mainstream pop and ambient bedroom air-wave pop all at the same time. There was an exploration of the hidden melodies of white noise, air, and what could be easily be mistaken as silence. People were taking Justin Bieber’s choral melodies and slowing them down a thousand times and realizing it sounded just like the music they were making from within the underground. If you slowed down the chirping of crickets the same way complex melodies that sounded like gregorian chanting emerged from the minisculity of their own heart rate tempos. Yet, following Taylor’s post, no one really paid much mind when a comet was recorded rocketing through the blankness of space.

Why?

Contributions to a cultural phenomenon are a-systematically (unintentionally but still occurring) no longer recognized as significant after a celebrity takes claim of them.

& because there are people in the world who are educated enough to recognize this system of gentrification as a form of profiteering, they intentionally “white wash” cultural phenomenons in order to interfere with their development and stunt their growth. Much like a cow is tied up to create veal. Which is why white-washing and gentrification are so heavily criticized by individuals like myself.

BLACKNESS

People of ghetto’s, whether they are synthetic/cultural and psychologically imposed, or real – reproduced from generational poverty and imposed financially by actual breathing human oppressors, live in the dark. They are in shadows. The underground are associated with darkness, thus blackness. People of ghetto’s come in every ethnic complexity imaginable, so before we label this an issue of race, let’s call a spade a spade and name it as poverty. People of poverty who are actively experiencing the precursor to gentrification, living in the degrading buildings that will be white washed, and producing underground movements which the mainstream is waiting on harvesting, are trapped in halls of mirrors of sorts. They don’t necessarily recognize that all the other little ghettos that exist simultaneously sporadically over landmasses but all within the same network of economics, are accessible to them to collaborate with and break out of the shell of apartheid.

There is a prejudice within the “hipster” art-rock scene which I grew up within that contemporary hip-hop artists are lacking in self-awareness. They attribute merit to hip-hop based on hipster trends, or what they see on Fresh Prince of Belair. They covet “vintage” sonars, but scoff at real hard hip-hop. They don’t even listen to the words, they just look for sounds that they like. Art-rock as I mentioned in part 1 derives it’s meaning from the meaninglessness. I assigned this to blackness, which theoretically is appropriate, but racially reversed. It is a white-theory (non racial) imposition of value onto African people. Therefor the entire root of Black art is an imposition by white. That is why Black Art, such as Jazz, was curated by racist Germans in early New Orleans history. The black clubs, where Africans performed, were ran by white racists who considered the talent to be their servants. It also gave them the freedom to be immoral in the dead of night behind closed doors. The playground of the white underworld.

Therefore, the white sponsored black art is actually, rather then a financial endorsement, a form of slavery, because the artist remains impoverished, performing for the wealthy slave owners, but protected by their loyalty to preserving the secrets of what goes on behind closed doors.

Which is why I find it astoundingly offensive and insane when underground artists criticize hip-hop for being lacking in self-awareness. They are so lost within the hall of mirrors trying to identifying what is black, what is white, what is a reflection, what is an inversion, what is real, what is not, that they are forgetting that they are the new slaves of mainstream music.

They have the audacity to consider themselves hard as they mention Kendrick Lamar’s name in public, but wouldn’t touch the place he comes from with a 600ft long pole. They wear their social-justice movements on their sleeve to hide the fact they are truly terrified of real, poor, black people. They cannot name a single contemporary of Kendrick’s because they feel like anyone who hasn’t been validated by pseudo-intellectuals (who claim to represent the African community) haven’t ‘made it.’ Anyone who remains poor is perceived then as lacking self-awareness. Real contemporary hip-hop is labeled as “dead” but only because of racist prejudices that label poverty as contagious and real hip-hop impossible to navigate. As if touching a black person will somehow leave a mark on your own powder complexion.

- And yet their own gentrified studios are just waiting on them to be harvested by the predatory animals that swoop down and eat the baby turtles before they’ve even reached the ocean. The landlords wait patiently until you give up on your pipe dream, and use some spare change left over from all your hard earned rent money to white-wash the dirtied walls all over again.

The system repeats.

That is where inception really starts to occur.

You have members of responsible families who throw away their own mind’s development in childhood, between the ages of 12-19, by leaving school to become artists. They make these life altering decisions before they’ve really finished expanding their brain’s potential to develop complex rationalizations. They allow themselves to become drug addicted, when they didn’t need to resort to drugs for enjoyment of life, because they were given life’s luxuries like family vacations and air conditioning and parents who didn’t abuse them. They throw it away to become like the “cool” poor people that formulated underground movements in order to better themselves. They become validators of bad behaviour, and instead of thinking critically about the problems at hand, drugs and sexual abuse, they contribute to them and stunt the development of the underground even further. Therefor the middle-upper class kids who move into the gentrified studio lofts of artists of days gone by, become the artists themselves. They live like ghosts, haunted and driven by memories of other people who lived there before. They don’t just do it because it makes sense aesthetically, they do it because they were possessed by the effects of white-washing.

To be continued.

chanel
Words and art by @CHRISTIEARCADE

Have you ever had a personal mantra you repeated to yourself, for years? One that came out of nowhere more significant then a voice in your head? Maybe it was a line you read on the side of a bus, but it stuck. I don’t remember when it started, but I do remember how quickly it became significant.

“Please don’t turn black and white.”

I feel like I was still living in my childhood bedroom at the time it started to repeat. I had painted that room a Starry Night blue, a sky mauve, one night while listening to Modest Mouse. The walls would have been littered in a collage. The shelves overflowing with books. Every surface of every table piled in art supplies, artifacts from my wild life, even the spine of a deer.

Maybe I was already in the second phase of living in the basement when the mantra came to me. After Drew I started to throw everything away. I took all my drawings and bound them into books. i started to order all the pages into narratives. I set up my desk like it was an office. I painted endlessly. On my wall hung a banner that read “like thunder,” in the book of death laid a drawing of Ye surrounded by lightening which I composed after waking from a dream in where he asked for my power, my lightning, my electricity.

I painted flowers. Everything diluted in grey. Pastels on decaying textures. Nothing was black and white.

I had this friend who I never heard from anymore. What can you expect from someone who becomes internationally recognized. I wasn’t surprised. When I met him he was a pychobilly rocker. If you picked up a copy of NOW you would see his face on the front cover sitting in the barber shop chair. With hair like elvis, and his suits so skinny I wondered if there was a department on Augusta set aside for him specifically. Everything he did was in black and white. We used to write letters. Writing in itself is black and white.

I had this other friend who I heard from every day. He discovered loft music. We used to laugh at the simplicity of the embodiment of a chair. Everything he did was in ambience. The music we listened to was perfect for the moments when the sunlight flooded his south facing apartment. Everything he did was airy, and light. Though light is fundamental to colour, that doesn’t mean you can see it with the unaided eye.

They had two very different messages. My first friend was concerned with people’s passivity when listening to music. They like melodies, carousels, circles. They want completion, structure, tradition. His message was a strong affront on the establishment. He wanted you to find the chaotic nuances and fluctuations in tempo that the ear wasn’t accustomed to due to the nature of popular music in their own right beautiful. We used to crowd into tiny rooms just to hear the shriek of his band. I felt like we had to travel to far off distant places just to put on his shows because they radiated so loud that it would wake an entire city with it’s might.

My other friend had a different kind of message, in that there was no message at all. No lyrics, just the haunting echoes of keys or guitar medley. Something so common place to the practice of hip hop already. He stripped the lyrics and presented the back track as an art form of it’s own.

By contrast, one had a message that was so strong that it was the penultimate message of all. The other a message so leached of any actual significance that it derived it’s salience from the meaningless of it all. One you could hear, the other you couldn’t. One hard, one soft. One black as the dark of the night when it was safest to gather and play. The other white because it filled the spaces between the dust that floats in sunlight while you sit in glass cages.

Please don’t turn black and white.

I remember I was working as a cashier at Zeller’s as I waited for my high school credits to finish up. I was 19 and for the finally playing by the rules again. I grew my hair long for the first time since middle school and let it lighten in the summer sun. I took out my piercings. On weekends I worked the rock shows in the city, as I mentioned before, doing my managerial things. I saved up all my minimum wage pay to produce albums. I would stand in one place for 8 hours as a time ringing in Hannah Montana merchandise, Olsen twin fashion, Jonas Brothers fan fictions, looking side ways at High School Musical signage, wondering, what the fuck are the dumb-ass theatre kids doing getting money before me? Did our society really prescribe more significance to the work of children scripted by adults over the children of genuine talent who create for themselves, by themselves? Is this what my friend died for?

I noticed that girls were dressing differently then they did when I was there age. Suddenly everyone wore black from head to toe. Normal looking girls had studs in their noses. I noticed that a lot of parents, even ones without any money, spent a lot of money on their children’s enjoyment of this experience called life. My band got on the radio for the first time. I was sitting outside the store smoking cigarettes telling a co-worker how thrilled I was. Our CD release details were getting air play on a station with millions of listeners. He looked at me like I was a lost soul. “So what, that doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day.” I don’t think I ever spoke to him again. Months after the party the station was still repeating the ad on air. I felt like it was a favour from friends I’d never heard before. But then again one of our buddies was interning at the time if you want an explanation.

The last time I went into that building before it was turned to a Target was to buy bath towels for my college dorm. Please don’t turn black and white I repeated while looking down the aisle of terrycloth. I chose the teal ones with green swirls and walked away forever. I’d made it out alive.

I noticed that my friends were turning black and white. Their clothes, their posters, their art, their photos, their everything.

I decided to try it. I was sitting in my blue and amber dorm, over looking the terracotta spires of Casa Loma peaking out from the green tree foliage, painting a bottle of Chanel No* 5. I couldn’t do it, I added pink roses and green stems. The perfume sat gold inside the bottle. My roommate was in the bathroom getting reading for a party. I turned down The Weeknd, put out my joint, and asked her what was her perfume. I recognized it. “It smells exactly like this sample of BCBG girl’s discontinued “Star.” It’s Dolce Gabbana’s “The One.” It’s a gold scent, I realized. I love gold perfumes, I began repeating.

I would walk through the black and white counters of the cosmetics department at the boutique I worked at after school and on weekends to find the Dolce Gabbana kiosk and spray myself with The One. When I took the escalators that spiralled up the floors of the store to my post at Dorthy Perkins, where I sold Chanel knockoffs for girls, I wondered why our store hadn’t been remodelled completely in black and white to the same extent as the other locations. I mean, we were in the ritziest strip in the city. I looked up at the tower on Charles as I would leave after a long day. I would take off my black uniform in my white washed bedroom. I would sit in lectures in the warm, low light, as a sallow looking Michael Stipe sociology wizard repeated to us wisdom from the prophecies of Aristotle.

I started to think back to when I was in grade 4, home alone, sick, watching a TVO program on Greek democracy. We were learning about it in class that very week, but nothing really made sense to me yet. Two men in white togas stood on the stony beach holding stones of black and white. When they had to vote on an issue they would drop a stone into a vessel. The original democracy was measured in black and white. A time when the majority ruled. When the interest of the people was the collective good, and the right for citizens to decide for themselves on issues of importance. When the people had the right to decide what the issues were.

Please don’t turn black and white.

I knocked over a stack of course readers that had piled to the ceiling to reach my set of paintbrushes. I started to paint flowers again. I dusted off my acoustic guitar and started to envision cathedral chambers. I walked to the music store and stood staring at the pastel teal stratocasters. I turned my head and noticed the gold dials on a black and white Les Paul edition Gibson. I picked it up and struck a chord that struck one right back in my heart. I’d never owned an electric before, it was my time. “Ok”, I forfeit, “this time I will choose black and white.”

I’m sitting in my bedroom on my black and white macbook looking at pastels everywhere. Everything has been pastel washed. When did this happen? When did the world stop being black and white? Is it my time?

I start to write an essay on the dangers of attracting girls down dark alleys to shows where predators lurk by the prolific pink washing that was occurring.

I felt like my love for pastel had been turned against me.

I start to write. Suddenly the conversation changes. Everyone is crying black and white. Everything is black and white. Everyone is turning black and white. Everyone is taking sides. Everything is black and white.

When did the world invert itself. Why is the measure of democracy suddenly the issue. Why are we no longer weighing in on the issue, but issuing the weight?

Why are we behaving like black and white isn’t a choice. Why are we confusing it with ethnicity.

Why is everyone changing the subject.

Nothing is black and white.

Silence followed.

I put my pen down. I waited. Now it’s time. I repeat.

Why are we pastel washing everything?

To be continued in part 2.

run the jewels love

I have literally,

nothing,

to say.

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