Mannequin Licker is a project exploring ideas of distribution and dissemination within an environment where almost all public and private spaces are threaded by invisible arcs of communication that are both stationary and mobile. These reinforce the opportunity for social engagement by opening up previously unavailable communicative networks, but also drastically alienate us from each other by encouraging individualism and an autonomous mobility. I am attempting to call into question received notions of the media and the mediators at a time when the primary communicative devices through which publics can be constituted can no longer be ascribed to specific physical, or indeed imagined locales. By distributing/offering a file containing the album solely via the free Bluetooth network to mobile phones or personal mobile devices it is not only an attempt to engage with the transitory and nomadic nature of new media, but is also an investigation into the creation of communities and how the definition of a community remains open as a locus of political struggle. While trying to avoid any sense of “aesthetic evangelism” [Grant Kestler] I wish to focus on disrupting the idea of the community as a prescribed integrated social formation (as seen and longed for by both lefty and conservative institutions), and rather try to engage with the instability and unpredictability of the community in order to open a dialogue that is freer and less prescriptive/exclusionary/authoritarian in its desire for some sense of collectivity/belonging. In other words, treating the community/public sphere as something that is elusive and unstable, and not a unified entity that exists simply to be imposed upon.
How this method of distribution, the associated website, and the social act itself illuminates and engages with a multidimensional space of flows; flows of capital, information, technology, organizational interaction and of images, sounds and symbols will be key to deciphering the success of the project. These concepts offer a framework of multilayered flexibility that allows an understanding of the tensions surrounding the introduction and dissemination of music in new technologies. For example in the past tape swapping, CD burning and the Internet have facilitated the growth of local production and distribution, resulting in an uncontrollable piracy that has long challenged the record industry’s ability to control the marketplace. By distributing my own material for free to devices that also have the capacity to redistribute it, there is an embedded conceptual prompt to initiate and encourage a proliferation of distributive events.
This is a little dry, but it will do for starters, and I’ll be picking up on parts of this and dismantling/building upon them as we venture forward.