Sunday, January 15, 2012

"DJ Spooky, Occupy Wall Street, and the Frictions of Radical Chic"

From the Village Voice:
It was an unlikely marriage from the start.

When DJ Spooky invited the Occupy Wall Street Library to hold a book-party / dance-party at the chichi Vandam club Work in Progress, it was an open question how the revolutionary politics of the occupation and the glitz of the downtown nightclub scene would mesh.

The answer is: Not at all. The collaboration ended early with harsh words between the librarians and the club's management, as the occupiers packed up their books and left just as DJ Spooky was beginning his set for the club's well-dressed patrons.

Since the occupation's November eviction, when the New York Police Department lost, destroyed and mangled much of the collection, the library has become a sort of talisman of virtue and martyrdom for protesters, a symbol of the movement's commitment to community and knowledge in the face it's enemies disregard for and hostility to free speech.

When the city removed the barricades blocking access to the park this week and protesters flooded back in, the library moved back in within an hour, becoming a rallying point once again when security guards told the protesters the books were not allowed in the park.

For Paul Miller, who as DJ Spooky has built a career on self-consciously remixing and re-purposing archival material, the partnership with the Occupy Wall Street library made sense.

"Occupy Wall Street is a movement of fragments," Miller mused before his set, placing a donated book, his own Rhythm Science, on the library's table. "This whole library project is kind of sampling text."

Miller doesn't claim to have followed the Occupy movement very closely. "I travel too much. I'm mostly in Europe and Asia," he said. The idea for the evening came out of emails with Stephen Boyer, one of the movement's librarians, who was recently accepted to the European Graduate School where Miller is on the faculty.

At Miller's direction, flyers billed the free event as "Occupy the Library -- books and dance featuring DJ Spooky and the People's Library." Librarians promoted the event on their website, urging other occupiers to attend. The library would serve as outreach for the movement to a heretofore untapped demographic, while soliciting book donations for its collection.

But last night, things turned sour early. More than 50 library supporters were kept outside in the pouring rain and ultimately turned away as bouncers determined they didn't fit the look the club was going for....MORE
HT: Mathbabe whose link-line was pretty funny.