A new Negativland album in election year—I love it. Even better, it’s a sing songy album… something they’ve yet to do. All you culture jamming freaks need not worry, though. They’ll still get you pondering simple things like existential notions. But, rather than gathering friends in a smoke filled basement while their videos play on loop, you can get everyone together for a subversive themed karaoke party.

That is if they enjoy eccentric toe-tapping electronic folk-pop noise songs about things like meat, pants, milk, cows, trucks and even love. Check out the inspired tune “Richard Nixon Died Today”:


The fifteen songs and two instrumentals were written, composed and performed by Negativland’s Mark Hosler, with contributions from the rest of the group, and with well-known San Francisco noisemaker Thomas Dimuzio contributing lots of rather unexpectedly normal sounding instruments, arrangements and production.

The albums artwork was created from found materials. Each indivdual piece of art on the cover is meant to illustrate a song on the album. To finance this release, each one-of-a-kind piece of work is for sale via Negativland’s web site (negativland.com). Support the cause…

We sent Negativland member Don Joyce a few random questions, here’s what he had to say.

But first lets watch their video, Our Favorite Things

Ok, on to the interview….

Name three “culture jamming” icons, to you. I’m against all “best of” lists of any kind. Not one of them is ever true. The beauty of life is in its diversity, not in boiling it all down to a few things that would inevitably bore everyone if that’s all there was. Everything is ALWAYS much more interesting than practically nothing.

“Christianity is Stupid.” What about other religions? Every religion that puts its faith in the supernatural is stupid. There is nothing supernatural and faith is being sadly wasted on wishful thinking and institutionalized lies. And look at the world wide problems this nonsense causes!

Who do you think you are? DJ

Have you driven anyone insane? Try as I might, not yet.

What do you fear most? Drowning.

What is your worst addiction? Cigarrettes and CDs.

Who or what is your worst enemy? Ideologies of all kinds.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Lost love.

Who or what has been your greatest influences? Duchamp, Dada, Surrealism, Collage, Pollack, Warhol, Elvis, Cage (His philosophy, but not his music), Beatles, Varese, radio, noise.

What would you like people to say about you and/or your work when you’re gone? “Let’s take another listen.”

Who is your art for? This is discoverable only by those it appeals to.

What do you consider to be the symbol or your success? I once was given a free car just by asking for it.

How do you overcome a creative block? A sledgehammer.

What turns you on? Live mixing on the radio.

What pisses you off? No show

DRM is… Unfeasible.

To learn more about Negativland’s history, jump to next page:
Since 1980, the 4 or 5 or 6 floptops known as Negativland have been creating records, CDs, video, fine art, books, radio and live performance using appropriated sound, image and text. Mixing original materials and original music with things taken from corporately owned mass culture and the world around them, Negativland re-arranges these found bits and pieces to make them say and suggest things that they never intended to. In doing this kind of cultural archaeology and “culture jamming” (a term they coined way back in 1984), Negativland have been sued twice for copyright infringement.

Okay, but what, you still ask, is Negativland exactly? That’s hard to answer. Negativland definitely isn’t a “band,” though they may look like one if you see their CDs for sale in your local shopping mall. They’re more like some sort of goofy yet serious European-style artist/activist collective -an unhealthy mix of John Cage, Lenny Bruce, Pink Floyd, Bruce Connor, Firesign Theatre, Abbie Hoffman, Robert Rauschenberg, 1970’s German electronic music, old school punk rock attitude,surrealist performance art, your high school science teacher… and lot’s more.

Over the years Negativland’s “illegal” collage and appropriation based audio and visual works have touched on many things – pranks, media hoaxes, advertising, media literacy, the evolving art of collage, the bizarre banality of suburban existence, creative anti-corporate activism in a media-saturated multinational world, file sharing, intellectual property issues, wacky surrealism, evolving notions of art and ownership and law in a digital age, and artistic and humorous observations of mass media and mass culture.

While it is true that, after being sued, Negativland became more publicly involved in advocating significant reforms of our nation’s copyright laws, Negativland are artists first and activists second. All of their art and media interventions have intended to pose both serious and silly questions about the nature of sound, media, control, ownership, propaganda and perception. Their work is now referenced and taught in many college courses in the US, has been written about or cited in over 150 books (including No Logo by Naomi Klein, Media Virus by Douglas Rushkoff, many legal journals, and various biographies of the band U2), and they often lecture about their work here and in Europe. Negativland is now on the advisory board of a Washington DC based intellectual property lobbying group called www.digitalfreedom.org.

Since 1981, Negativland and an evolving cast of characters have operated “Over The Edge,” aweekly radio show on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California. “Over The Edge”continues to broadcast three hours of live, found-sound mixing every Thursday at midnight, West Coast time, with online access. In 1995 they released a 270 page book with 72-minute CD entitled Fair Use: The Storyof the Letter U and the Numeral 2. This book documented their infamous four-year long legal battle over their 1991 release of an audio piece entitled “U2.” They were the subjects of Craig Baldwin’s 1995 feature documentary Sonic Outlaws and created the soundtrack and sound design for Harold Boihem’s 1997 documentary film The Ad and The Ego,an excellent in-depth look into the hidden agendas of the corporate ad world and the ways that we are affected by advertising. Their 1997 all-cola focused epic, Dispepsi, also tackled some of these same topics. In 2002, and to very mixed reaction, they unleashed the dark and noisy book/CD project Deathsentences of The Polished and Structurally Weak, which combined destroyed sounds with images of things found inside of wrecked cars in automotive wrecking yards. 2004 found Negativland working with Creative Commons to write the “Creative Commons Sampling License,” an alternative toexisting copyrights that is now in widespread use by many artists,writers, musicians, film makers, and websites. In 2005, they released the elaborately packaged No Business (with CD, 15,000 word essay, andcustom made whoopie cushion), and debuted “Negativlandland” – a large visual art show of over 80 piece’s of their “fine art” works, video, and home-made electronic devices, at New York City’s Gigantic Art Space.

More recently, Negativland have been touring a new performance piece called “Its’ All In Your HeadFM”, a two-hour-long audio cut-up mix about monotheism, the supernatural God concept, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs. Christianity and Islam are the featured religions, as Negativland asks its audience to contemplate some complex, serious, ridiculous, and challenging ideas about human belief in a show best described as“documentary collage.” In late 2007, Negativland released Our Favorite Things,a feature length DVD collection of their many years of collaborative film work, and in 2008 they surprised themselves and everybody else by putting out a toe-tapping all-songs project called Thigmotactic.

Negativland is interested in unusual noises and images (especially ones that are found close at hand), unusual ways to restructure such things and combine them with their own music and art, and mass media transmissions which have become sources and subjects for much of their work. Negativland covets insightful humor and wackiness from anywhere, low-tech approaches whenever possible, and vital social targets of any kind. Foregoing ideological preaching, but interested in side effects, Negativland is like a subliminal cultural sampling service concerned with making art about everything we aren’t supposed to notice.

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