In November, Mark Hosler presented the great art, music, appropriation and stories about his unique music/art group Negativland. The posters I saw the week beforehand, for the presentation, didn’t grab my attention and did not feel like going. My friend Nina actually persuaded me to go, and I sure am glad she did. The presentation blew me away; it was weird how I, Jay Hamme, enjoyed a “lecture”. I guess the presentation brought comedy, arguments, anger and questionable ideas of what some people actually do for a living.
Mark Hosler of Negativland presented about how his group gained success on their 1987 album "Escape From Noise", but still didn’t have enough money to support their tour. Mark talked about how in 1988, a 16 year old boy killed his entire family with an Axe, and the fight started over the music he was listening to. Negativland decided to take advantage of this music situation and prank the media. One of his bandmates wrote a fake press release stating “the band would be placed in house arrest until investigations concluded as to whether the track “Christianity Is Stupid” was implicated in (the) murders”. The song sampled phrases from “a 1967 sermon by Rev. Estus Pirkle …(that) included a (real or imagined) visit to a totalitarian nation where public loudspeakers constantly proclaimed ‘Christianity is stupid! Communism is good! Give up!’”. Mark talked about how this actually worked and started a media frenzy with free publicity for the band. Coverage on their connection to the murders were found on the Channel 5 – San Francisco TV News, in BAM Magazine, and multiple other media sources. To hear about how journalists and many of the news outlets in our society neglect to fact-check and how they can give fake news to their audience. When this was happening, Mark said he was “interested in how information went around the country and how people believed their music lead to the quadruple murders”. He also said it was “B.S. to see the news lie to its viewers” and he stated that you can “never watch the news the same way again”.
As time went on, technology changed and Negativland did to. They started using local radio shows to get their music out their and made songs off of the advertisements they would hear on the radio as well. They had the “Over the Edge” Radio Show which featured Live on the Air Mixing. The used callings for mixes, including one that exploited the Truth in Advertising and featured callers named Bob and Chuck asking the radio host for help. The reason they needed help was because they “don’t’ understand commercials” and get “lost in advertising”. With an enormous collection of media, Negativland uses and creates with what they have. The Radio show is “a laboratory” where Negativland experiments with their collection. Mark stated his group “stumbled upon the best things” and the “best stuff is on accident”.
Mark showed us his group’s video called Guns. He said it was first just a record called Gun, but when the technology made it easier to add it with visual art. Mark mentioned that technology can be used “as an umbrella to work in every possible medium”. He felt better about his music mixed with visual work. Mark stated “I like the audio better when video was added to it”. In Guns, tons of different footage was used ranging from news reports to westerns, to cartoons and even commercials. In Guns, footage of Kennedy’s Assassination and photos of the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby were put to Negativland’s music. Also in Guns were countless clips of Toy Gun commercials and Westerns, many including Clint Eastwood.
Negativland had many projects and Mark did talk about a number of them, as you obviously will find on other blogs, Negativland had a huge lawsuit against U2 and their record label that resulted in the destruction of Negativland’s records named U-2. They had a huge hit with Casey Kasem’s radio bloopers and telephone recordings from many angry lawyers. Negativland primarily uses Final Cut Pro and Premier for their new work and had created the project “The Mashin of the Christ” and it was based off of Mel Gibson’s “Passion”. Mark continued to talk about his thoughts on intellectual property, privatization and how it is a “different world therefore there are different tools” for expressing yourself and your art. Along with many other things Mark mentioned his group’s music was stolen by Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch and used for 10 seconds in the beginning of the song “Music for the People”. Also he expressed the thought that there should be a “musical middle class”, Wikipedia is “a collective archive of our memory” and that technology is the driving force in our society.
Mark presented so much information that night that I continue to still visit their site and blog for updates. He recommended the site digitalfreedom.org for public knowledge of digital rights. I recently researched them more and found that their name Negativland comes from a song by the band Neu!, which was a band formed off of Kraftwerk. Imagine that, a connection to my first ever blog, oh how I love computer love.