The Puzzle of Königsberg

m46Königsberg’s Berliner Schloss, 1945, shortly after the Red Army took the city from the Germans.


Few images remain of decimated Königsberg (Berliner Schloss, in fact, stayed up until the late sixties), but I was recently intrigued to discover* that Arsenij V Maksimov, the Soviet’s first town planner in the city later renamed Kaliningrad, spent his leisure time painting watercolours of Königsberg, including remnants of the the castle ruins.


In the castle’s stead, from 1970 onwards, construction began on this infamous building, the House of Soviets:



*Thanks to Slovenian artist & architect Marjetica Potrč, part of whose work ‘The Puzzle of Königsberg‘ I saw on display at Melbourne’s NGV.



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Third wave punk: ‘Right’ Grrrl ascends

Women’s rights

Adopting a cultural relativist position on the suitability of a Western normative rights framework when applied to global contexts, it can be argued that the diversity in how gender roles are defined and women’s rights are recognised throughout the globe exemplifies the difficulty in asserting the universality of human rights norms. Moreover, owing to a lack of enforceability of international human rights law, the practical struggle against gendered violations is largely taken up by domestic and transnational feminist movements operating throughout the global North and South.

Third wave feminism

When second wave feminism gained traction in the global North during late 1960s and early 1970s, its prime areas of focus included confronting the structural imbalance and gender division of labour in the workplace and at home, advocating for equal pay and reproductive rights (Krolokke and Sorensen, 2006: 7-8). In the North American context, feminist activists found themselves operating alongside civil rights, gay and lesbian, and anti-war movements, however, white feminists prominent in this era were criticised by women of colour for showing a lack of understanding of the complexities when speaking out on behalf of their oppression (Herr, 2014: 4). Emerging from the embers of the second wave in the 1980s, a rejuvenated feminist movement, its proponents mindful of the earlier backlash, sought to build upon the achievements of the second wave, but incorporate a more nuanced outlook to diversity. Third wave feminism emerged in the context of globalisation which forced feminists to question their own privilege and agency, and to delve variously into areas such as postcolonialism, intersectionality and queer theory (Krolokke and Sorensen, 2006: 19)

Third wave activism

In 1992, Rebecca Walker, American writer/activist and founder of the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, wrote an article in response to the high-profile contemporaneous Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Senate hearings, in which she spoke out against structural sexism, proclaiming that, ‘To be a feminist is to integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into every fiber of my life’ (Walker, 1992). A prime example of third wave feminist activism surrounds the reclamation of women’s bodies and physical appearance from patriarchal societal norms and as a response to a lack of state protection and acknowledgement of sexual abuses and domestic violence (Nguyen, 2012: 178). The movement is characterised by an embrace of women’s individuality and diversity (Dunn, 2014: 322), but arguably the most difficult challenge for third wave feminism, existing amidst ‘unprecedented interrelation between the local and the global, between the West and “the rest’’’ (Woodhull, 2007: 165), has been to define whether Western feminist narratives can hold relevance outside of a white first-world setting.

From its onset the third wave cause in the US was taken up with particular gusto by young women involved in the Riot Grrrl punk rock and activist movement (Hanna and Klein, 1993) which sought, in particular, to empower the victims of gender-specific violations by focusing ‘more on the individual and the emotional than on marches, legislation, and public policy’ (Rosenberg and Garofalo, 1998: 810). Adopting a stance that was ‘anti-all-kinds-of-oppression’ (Rundle, 2005) in a political environment where declaring oneself as a feminist had become unpopular and sometimes dangerous (Marcus, 2010), Riot Grrrl communities confronted misogyny and taboo issues from deep within the private sphere to elevate everyday experiences into the activist realm (Dunn, 2014: 322). This was mostly facilitated at women-only gatherings where members were encouraged to discuss their experiences and express themselves through visual art, writing or music to ‘drive sex-positive first-person feminist expression into the grassroots of everywhere’ (Davis, 2013). Epitomised creatively by the US bands Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy, as well as UK counterpart Huggy Bear (Marcus, 2010), Riot Grrrls tethered their performative activism ‘to assertions of their own desires and pleasures as well as to grassroots political movements against racism and class exploitation’ (Woodhull, 2007: 157).

Intersectional activism

Still, the limitations of Riot Grrrl as a feminist movement remained its lack of engagement with queer communities (Davis, 2013) along with the fact that most of those involved were white women for whom discussing difference did not come easily (Marcus, 2010: 121) Indeed, Riot Grrrl meetings reportedly became sites of intense debate regarding by and for whom this strand of third wave feminism was being activated, with white members sometimes uncomfortably reminded of their narrow perspective on the priorities and motivations of women from alternate contexts (Hanna and Klein, 1993: 6). In a broader sense, this marks an intersection where third wave feminist activists and women’s rights advocates generally, face a challenge to overcome what cultural relativists might view as a singular, racialised narrative of women’s rights claims (Barker and Puar, 2004: 609) Taken to its full extent, a feminist focus relying on a particular set of Western norms can be perceived as a form of cultural imperialism when removed from its origins (Ayubi, 2011). On the other hand, an unexpected clash of divergent feminisms or approaches offers the potential for cross-cultural understanding which can breathe new life into women’s rights advocacy (Valassopoulos, 2007: 210).

Pussy Riot

It is evident that despite its roots in North America, the Riot Grrrl movement, has had broader resonance (Davis, 2013; Dunn, 2014: 325). This has been most apparent in the activities of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist music and performance group which has taken a defiant stance against the state and church authorities in their homeland. Following their much-publicised incarceration, the core members of Pussy Riot moved on to campaigning for better conditions in Russian jails; thus extending the struggle for women’s rights into the broader human rights domain (Gentlemen, 2014). Meanwhile, further evidence of third wave feminism’s relationship to globalisation relates to a controversial punk movement in Aceh, Indonesia, which also took cues from the self-empowerment and DIY aesthetic espoused by Riot Grrrl (Dunn, 2014: 324). However, despite representing ‘one of the most potent expressions of third wave feminism’ (Woodhull, 2007: 158), Riot Grrrl’s own political focus remained contained with the context of the global North.

Gender mainstreaming

During the past 25 years, third wave feminism has directed its challenge towards the social constraints of patriarchy on women’s liberty, emphasising female empowerment and outspokenness on structural violence. Its achievements and energy may well have positively inspired women’s rights activists living in the global South, but the movement remains inextricably linked to the development of women’s rights as human rights in a Western liberal context. The question of whether women’s rights should ideally be mainstreamed within broader civil and political rights or upheld as a separate set of gender-based standards remains problematic. Mainstreaming has arguably assisted women’s rights advocates, supported by international human rights law and institutions, to be effective in raising awareness of a basic level of standards for states to protect. However, the limitations of the international human rights framework to maintain relevance in diverse contexts represents a microcosm of the cultural relativity of human rights in general.

*Edited extract from an essay I wrote for Human Rights, Peace and Justice course, University of Sydney, October 2014. A longer version appears here:

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1980: first 15 mins


‘What they know of Sheffield who only Sheffield know?

‘The Sheffield I returned to in 1980 was briefly the most dynamic place on earth and I wrote about it in my fanzine…

‘He was sparky, bright, engaged, unpredictable, funny risqué and everything else you could want. Pulp weren’t as good as Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, New Model Soldier, Artery, I’m So Hollow, Vice Versa, Vendino Pact, De Tian, The Scarborough Antelopes, or even The Naked Pygmy Voles but Jarvis was far and away the best interviewee…

‘By early 1981 the hard-edged abstraction of the early electro scene was falling apart and many from that scene crashed and burned…

‘The indefinable Artery played a memorable concert at The Marples pub one winter night. The lead singer walked out of a second-storey window as the band kept playing. He was waiting for a bus to pass underneath so he could leap on the roof and make a dramatic escape, but none came. He reappeared several minutes later, having somehow worked his way along a narrow snowy ledge to come in at the other side of the building still singing.’


‘I was living in a flat above a shop with a girl who had a bit of a Béatrice Dalle thing going on and was the object of much pining amongst local musicians, including Jarvis. In a bit impress her, he climbed Artery-style out of the window and made his way along the ledge, only to fall twenty feet onto the pavement…’

– Russell Senior, Freak Out the Squares: Life in a Band Called Pulp.


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synthpop art: gentlemen take polaroids


Before Depeche Mode’s fruitful partnership with Dutch artist and filmmaker Anton Corbijn, the Mute Records band’s visual identity was partly shaped by photographer Brian Griffin who shot the series of high-concept images which adorn five album releases spanning 1981-1986.


The influence Russian social realist art is strikingly seen in Griffin’s work for Depeche, though apparently the picture taken for A Broken Frame was inspired by German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich.


For 1983’s Construction Time Again the photographer again references the socialist figure of the worker; this time via the political statement of construction worker-wielding-sledgehammer in a otherwise pristine Alpine location.


Some Great Reward’s industrial backdrop ties in nicely with the album’s love-hate themes and sonic embrace of harsh found-sound as showcased on tracks like People are People, Master and Servant and Blasphemous Rumours.


1986’s transitional Black Celebration followed in the wake of songwriter Martin L Gore’s relocation to Berlin. Depeche Mode’s darkest album to date drew heavily on the technological innovation of Alan Wilder, Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones, and was suitably cloaked inside shadowy Blade Runner-esque imagery.

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“I would call what we’re into now a kind of experimental pop that reflects what goes on around us – industry, the electronic age, war – but we don’t want to lecture people about it, just tell them that it’s there.”

Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, Record Mirror, January 1980


The imagery employed to market post-punk and contemporaneous electronic records owes much to design and architectural philosophy, especially the distinct Supremacist and Constructivist art movements which sprung out of Russian Futurism during the 1910s. Most strikingly, the dominant aesthetic of synthpop fetishised a visual language with connotations of state control; under Bolshevism such art work was actually produced under repressive conditions, only permissible for its usefulness to propaganda.

According to Philip Brophy:

‘In many ways, just as the decade from the mid-’10s to the mid-’20s contained the seeds for many of the forceful projections of 20th Century modernism in art and design, that same decade worked as a melting pot of inspiration and influence for punk and post-punk design. This is a harsh generalization, but all the punk and post-punk art and design students were superficially attracted to the `general’ revolutionary feel of this period which encompassed WWI and The Russian Revolution, which in turn spiked many artistic developments that punk and post-punk aped and echoed : Dada’s social anarchy; Futurism’s implosive politicization; the dynamic abstraction of Supremativism and Constructivism ; the functional harmony of De Stijl; and the Bauhaus’ centralisation of all of the above. Furthermore, the resultant differences in post-punk design can largely be attributed to whichever art movement a designer would be more attracted to, as there were many conflicts between and within the aforementioned movements.’


The likes of El Lissitzky, a key influence on Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine (1978), and German typographer Jan Tschichold (denounced by National Socialists as a ‘cultural Bolshevik’) were key sources of inspiration for designers commissioned by British record labels in the post-punk era to produce their acts’ sleeves and often their broader visual identities.

As Simon Reynolds puts it, “The record cover artwork of the period matched the neo-modernist aspirations of the words and music, with such graphic designers as Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville, and labels like Factory and Fast Product, drawing from Constructivism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, John Heartfield and Die Neue Typographie.”


Saville and Garrett – along with fellow designers like Neville Brody and Barney Bubbles – enjoyed much creative freedom in the late seventies. Saville, who studied graphic design at Manchester Polytechnic from 1975-78, went on to become a partner and founder of Manchester’s iconic Factory Records and also served as art director for London’s Dindisc label from 1981-1983. He was driven by the belief that the visual language of new wave music needed to be distinctive, and made his name designing art work for the likes of Joy Division, New Order, Ultravox! and OMD, drawing from established movements.


“Punk itself, as a look, was really only a moment’s aberration,” Saville told Eye Magazine, “For six months, Punk was like the parting of the Red Sea and anybody who was fit and ready enough could run through. By association with certain people in Manchester I got pulled through the gap. But the look of Punk didn’t offer much hope for a fresh graphic language.

“Malcolm [Garrett] had a copy of Herbert Spencer’s Pioneers of Modern Typography. The one chapter that he hadn’t reinterpreted in his own work was the cool, disciplined “New Typography” of Tschichold and its subtlety appealed to me. I found a parallel in it for the New Wave that was evolving out of Punk. In this, as it seemed at the time, obscure byway of graphic design history, I saw a look for the new, cold mood of 1977-78.”

© David Hull. Known Pleasures. 2014.

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capital city


Several years after the 1989 fall of communist regimes, Zagreb native Slavenka Drakulic observed that in Central and Eastern European cities the more things were supposedly changing the more they remained visibly the same. Here she describes her impressions having alighted a train in Budapest:

“I arrived at midnight. From the railway station, I walked down Rákóczi U’tza , then József Körút Boulevard toward Nemzeti Hotel. The boulevard, the shopping centre of the city, was not only empty but almost dark. Or so it seemed to me because I experienced the ‘light shock’ that usually happens when one enters any Eastern European city from the West. The contrast in such that for a moment it has to cross your mind that either the city has had a power failure or there is danger of an attack from the air. The street lamps in Budapest were casting a yellowish light, and besides, every second one didn’t work at all. The shop windows were not lit, most of the neon signs were off, no streetcars passed by at that time, only a car or two – a ghost city.

“Living in a country where life functions in pretty much the same way as in Prague (or Budapest), all I could see was the saving of expensive electric energy, bad bulbs that burn out too quickly, broken lamps that take years to replace. I admit this might give a romantic impression of the city…but it is surely unintentional – has anyone ever heard of a romantic communist regime?”

‘Inner sepia’

Drakulic argues that Central and Eastern European time “runs differently”.

“As layers and layers of illusions are peeled away – the illusion of beauty, the illusion of power, the illusion of importance, even the illusion of meaning – time profoundly changes our view of life itself. The Austro-Hungarian Empire built up its signs of wealth and power for four hundred years. They slowly decayed, fading away. Then for almost half a century the communists tried to destroy the past and replace it with their own symbols – they faded even more quickly. Now the new governments are again changing the names of streets and squares, destroying old monuments and replacing them quickly with new ones, taking history and memory as their own little playground. The nostalgia and hopelessness of the Central European soul, its sadness and cynicism – the inner sepia, if you wish – all stems from this. So, I guess, we are something else, after all, something visibly different. In our cities, ‘renewal’ does not renew, it only points out the passing of time, the fact that there is no progress, that history repeats itself endlessly.”

– Slavenka Drakulic, ‘On the Quality of Wall Pain in Eastern Europe’, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed

See also Thomas Dolby’s Budapest by Blimp:

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paranoid android

“Walking, they were walking / Through the rainy days, looking at all the faces

/ But no-one ever noticed them”

Ultravox!, Quiet Men, 1978


Late seventies’ television series like The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic WomanBattlestar Galactica, Blake’s 7 and Logan’s Run, as well as films such as Star Wars, Alien and The Black Hole, variously embedded robots, androids and cyborgs within public consciousness.

But while Kraftwerk’s influential The Man-Machine (1978) came off the production line during a period when screen content was dominated by commercial fantasies set in outer space, it’s an LP which owes its inspiration to earlier sci-fi works. Shiny and accessible – and arguably presenting a less cohesive concept than its predecessor Trans-Europe Express – the ideas behind The Man-Machine were heavily influenced by Fritz Lang’s seminal 1927 film Metropolis (featuring the gynoid Maria) as well as the four band members’ own mannequin-esque on-stage personas.

David Buckley writes that, “Against the backdrop of technology advancement, US-Soviet space-race rivalry, and the liberation of popular culture by countercultural progressives, Kraftwerk began making music during a time when the future of mankind seemed to be being radically re-directed.”

“Expressionless and statuesque, Kraftwerk initiated a completely new performance idiom, and building on ‘Showroom Dummies’ from the previous album, their reinvention as robots was logical,” he adds. “It paved the way for a new wave of pop performers who would affect an air of emotional dislocation, staring blankly out on an audience to be neither greeted nor even acknowledged.”

we are the robots

Already David Bowie had rejuvenated experimental rock and pop by making synths, together with recognisable sci-fi themes and characterisations, intrinsic to his creative process (for instance, 1974’s Diamond Dogs included the Orwell-inspired tracks Big Brother and 1984, while three years later Low‘s cover art was sourced straight from the artist’s turn as an alien in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth). Now the Dűsseldorfers’ measured stillness, perfected for The Man-Machine, became a blueprint for UK synthpop acts seeking to distinguish themselves from the conventions of guitar rock.

With the release of The Man-Machine Kraftwerk drew sci-fi and technology in close to our world as they set out to create the sound of past and imagined global cities; in so doing they helped establish a sonic and aesthetic language for a sci-fi fetish of communist states.

In England is Mine Michael Bracewell traces the key precursors of a robot aesthetic which “provided metaphors for individualism within a bland society”, emphasising the historical position of the robot as both a physical and political threat:

“Imported from Germany and Eastern Europe, there was a mythology of robots both as sinister (in the Gothic, Frankensteinian sense of the self-awakening monster) and political, in terms of allegories of Fordism, Communism and Bolshevism. The female robot in Metropolis had raised new notions of sexuality, combining eroticism with political allegory to make a Goth-Futurist morality tale that was equally concerned with emotional and sexual relationships. There was also Karel Ĉapek’s ‘Robot Play’ of 1920, Rossum’s Universal Robots, which not only provided the word ‘robot’ but told the story of an army of robots who unite to destroy mankind, thus becoming a critique of totalitarian communism. Peter Wollen, in his essay on ‘Robot Kultur’, has linked the robot eroticism in the latter half of Metropolis with Gramsci’s notion of industrialization prompting a sexual crisis: the libido is placed at odds with the need for efficiency in the factory.”

The term ‘robota’ (meaning ‘serf labour’) was coined by Czech writer Karel Čapek’s brother Josef, as detailed in the memoir of author and architect Ivan Margolius:

‘“Apparently, [Josef] Čapek had the idea for the artificial beings not through the famous Prague automaton, the Golem, supposedly created by Rabbi Yehuda Löw ben Becalel at the end of the 16th century, but while riding on an overcrowded Prague tram. Suddenly it struck him how modern conditions made people uncaring about the usual comforts of life. They stood squashed in the tram, not like sheep but like machines. He started to think of people not as individuals but as machines, and during the journey he reflected on an expression which would indicate a being able to work but not think.’” (Vítězslav Margolius in Ivan Margolius, Reflections of Prague)


A 1921 review of R.U.R. from The Observer.

Though subsequent usage of the term ‘robot’ suggests otherwise, in Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R.) the artificial beings are actually biological entities assembled by humans, as serf labour, from a variety of components, rather than actual mechanical devices. Karel Čapek’s play, which was successfully exported to the UK and US during the twenties, centres on non-human factory workers who, fed up with their lot, turn the tables on their bosses through drastic industrial action which ultimately leads to the extinction of the human race.

The science-fictional portrayal of non-humans has since varied greatly; be that in comics and mangaliterature and radio or television and cinema, as well as within the realm of pop music.

electric dreaming

Prior to Kraftwerk’s re-released single The Model surging to the top of the UK charts in February 1981, the door to the mainstream for synthpop was emphatically kicked in by Gary Numan when, firstly as the frontperson of Tubeway Army and then flying solo, he scored #1 hits in both June and September 1979. A mixture of sinister androgyny and fragile otherness Numan seemingly appeared out of nowhere to perform live on the BBC’s Top of the Pops program, posing a grammatically specific question.

Are ‘Friends’ Electric? was the lead single from Tubeway Army’s second LP Replicas, a concept record which uses the written and visual language of sci-fi to communicate a human race alienated in their own near-future world.

These days a trained pilot, Numan (nee Webb) grew up near London’s Heathrow, not far from long-time Shepparton resident JG Ballard. It was while working on the self-titled debut of his then-punk/glam band when, so the story goes, he experienced an epiphany of sorts after stumbling across a Minimoog in the recording studio. Attracted to the possibilities of electronic sound Numan began to introduce such elements into his milieu, complementing existing other-wordly influences (Philip K Dick is quoted in Tubeway Army’s opening track Listen to the Sirens).

Inspired by an unfinished Numan sci-fi novel, Replicas soars. Whereas Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire applied sci-fi themes and electronic sound to post-industrial Manchester and Sheffield respectively, and John Foxx to a past-its-prime London metropolis, the less-political Numan reinterpreted such reference points to create a futuristic fantasy world. Alongside ‘Friends’ sit concept-laden gems like Praying to the Aliens, The Machman, Me! I Disconnect From You and Down in the Park, alongside the straighter glam rock of You Are in My Vision and It Must Have Been Years.

Like Foxx, Numan shed his band in 1980 and embarked on a solo career, soon returning to No.1 with Cars; easily dismissed as a parody of Kraftwerk’s man-machine aesthetic, Numan became synthpop’s first bona fide pop star. Subsequently, Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes topped the charts in August 1980, followed by Soft Cell’s Tainted Love (September 1981) and The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me? (December 1981).

By 1980, having released two solo albums, The Pleasure Principal and Telekon, Numan had retired from playing live and took an 18-month hiatus from music, after which his popularity waned. Having since made a resurgence with Nine Inch Nails-style industrial rock, the artist has sought to downplay the influence of sci-fi on his early career:

“To be honest I only ever wrote a handful of songs that were remotely connected to Science Fiction and they were all nearly 20 years ago,”  he tells “The ‘Replicas’ album, or bits of it, one or two things on ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and one or two things on ‘Telekon’. I would say about 15 songs, maybe 20, out of a total of well over 300 to date have anything to do with Sci Fi. I think because I became successful with electronic music, a newish thing 20 years ago, and a song called ‘Are Friends Electric’ (it was that song that launched me in the UK anyway) I was given a Sci Fi label that stuck long after I’d moved on to other things. 
I do love technology though. I’m fascinated by all things techy. I do enjoy science fiction movies and TV shows as well but it honestly doesn’t cross over into my music or the way I see the world.”


Reflective, synth-driven music exploring concepts of identity proliferated in the early eighties, and an inordinate amount of tracks delve into the inner psyche of the troubled, dislocated or manipulated individual; for example, Visage’s Fade to Grey, Blancmange’s Running Thin, OMD’s The New Stone Age, Talk Talk’s Mirror Man, Depeche Mode’s Puppets, Yazoo’s Happy People, Tears for Fears’ Start of the Breakdown, Soft Cell’s Metro MRX and Japan’s Ghosts.


After the glam guitar pop of two 1978 albums (containing tracks titled European Son, Communist China and Suburban Berlin), south Londoners Japan moved in a more electronic direction for Quiet Life (1979), Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980) and, finally, Tin Drum (1981). The memorable single Ghosts featured on this latter communist China-themed album across which David Sylvian’s vocals delicately complement intricate programming and voice samples, fetishising all things red; “We’re young and strong in this Party / We’re building our visions of China,” Sylvian proudly asserts on Visions of China.

Meanwhile, Leeds duo Soft Cell’s early recordings, later compiled as The Bedsit Tapes, are heightened modernist fantasies which stack up squarely in the kitchen sink of Thatcher’s Britain. Metro MRX’s  “favourite mutant”  is variously described by singer Marc Almond as “a cog in the machinery”,
 “impersonal and straight-faced”, “not a clone but a look-alike” and, more worryingly, “the city’s full of him”.

Cold War themes were by now de rigueur within the synthpop strain of post-punk, and increasingly the protagonist tended to be the grey suited-man of communism – Party and secret police operatives,  cunning and dangerous – alien to the West but everyday elsewhere*.


As Bracewell notes, “Grey was also the shade of film noir and pre-War Europe (on the style index) as well as the eerie hue of half-life, after-life and indecision”.

“The ghostly non-colour of urban mist, had popped up in Gary Numan’s founding vocabulary in reference to the ‘friend’ of ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’, who was ‘dressed in a long coat, grey hat, smoking a cigarette’.”

Drawing on the political legacy of the robot as dissenting figure, the pervading electro-pop aesthetic plugged into a fetishised, unknown, communist East. Inevitably artists of this era coveted new meaning or identity, their own seemingly blunted amidst the dehumanisation of right-wing politics. The banality of daily existence was salved with creative imaginings of mythical characters inhabiting an idealised urban environment.


*Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic has first-hand experience of living in an individual-less society, which she describes thus in Cafe Europa: Life After Communism:

“I grew up with ‘we’ and ‘us’ in kindergarten, at school, in the pioneer and youth organisations, in the community, at work.

“I grew up listening to the speeches of the politicians saying, ‘Comrades, we must…’ and with these comrades, we did what we were told, because we did not exist in any other grammatical form.

“As a consequence of this ‘us’, no civic society developed. The little there was, in the form of small, isolated and marginalised groups, was soon swallowed up by the national homogenisation that did not permit any differences, any individualism.”

New Life indeed.

© David Hull. Known Pleasures. 2013.

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