On August 2, Death Grips didn’t show up for their official Lollapalooza after-show at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge. While they have always been a band whose sound is haphazardly categorized (“punk noise rap” seems to be a leading contender) everyone can agree they are “disruptive:” It’s a major reason why their fans love them. And while Death Grips didn’t actually perform that night, what they offered as such gave those fans a platform in which to engage in their own disruptive behavior – from tearing up a toy drum set to getting lippy on Twitter.
It is not the first time artists have flipped the script on stage, but a stunt like this always leads to a lot of knee-jerk, armchair analysis. The most ironically-charged of which came from Noisey, a website powered by content barons Vice Magazine, in a piece which explained how Death Grips’ not playing their show “isn’t punk”. But it is precisely these sort of conventions that art and philosophy are blessed to challenge — and something Death Grips is especially adept at.
Such is a key concept of Gilles Deleuze. Therefore – if one must engage in such taxonomy — we should categorize Death Grips as Deleuzian. But if that’s too pretentious for you, at least don’t compare them to punk —Everyone knows that Death Grips are a “UK DIY/Post-Punk” band. (Is calling them a “UK DIY/Post-Punk” band even more absurd than holding them up against a convenient definition of punk? Absolutely. Can I make a more apt comparison – that they are more like a UK DIY/Post-Punk band – and still prove the point that genre signifiers therein are built to be destroyed? I sure hope so!)
I have to admit, the link just above shows my cards a bit. It links to my blog, where even a casual reader (Hi Dad!) can plainly see I have been hugely interested in Death Grips for some time now. And had I been at Lollapalooza hoping to see them, I would have been miffed, too — but only for, like, .1 seconds. Because, as Marilynne Robinson says in the aforementioned Vice’s recent Fiction Issue, “If you’re philosophically attentive you don’t need to seek these things out.” Her point is this: In the corners of your own unique thought, the experiences that happen to you — rather than the sort that are planned out in itineraries, bought and sold like tourism — are more valuable in the long run. That is, you read your life in the events that unfold in the moment, as they will; move on, and repeat.
I say this despite the fact that I live in a mid-size city in which art exhibitions and musical acts of note do not pass through often (Doug Aitken’s cross-country Station to Station isn’t even making a stop). The concept of being there comes up a lot: Why can’t I be there? It sucks they don’t ever come here, etc. But I suspect that sense that we’re always missing out somehow, never in the thick of significance, is emblematic of this moment in contemporary culture.
Mark Bowden’s article in The Atlantic this month, “The Killing Machines: How to Think About Drones,” surveys the psychological effects that drone weaponry has on both our nation’s offense and defense. A 19-year old pilot admits to feeling weird about delivering deathblows without being in any real danger himself. And Bowden muses on the directionless rage that citizens elsewhere, targeted in such attacks — like the Yemeni protesters that recently burned a drone in effigy — must feel when their neighbors are killed by unmanned aircraft.
Welcome to Google Earth. Here, you can (virtually? literally? figuratively?) scream across the sky by way of satellite maps to hover atop Spain’s Prado Museum; one click is the price of admission, then it’s your choice between 14 ultra-high-resolution reproductions of the museum’s best masterworks. It’s part of Google’s Cultural Institute initiative: in particular, the Art Project, which, has resulted in reproductions of art’s greatest hits, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, to be made viewable in ‘gigapixel’ format. That’s around seven billion pixels, son – and it reveals more detail than the human eye or any museum guard would ever allow you. And it’s yet another kind of stimulation than what physical proximity, in real time, inspires. Those feelings are displaced here; for now.
Now, where is my Black Google Earth at?