Thursday, September 27, 2007

Negativland- Creative Optimism

This is from a show I reviewed a couple months back. Never got published. For shame.

Negativland-Creative Optimism

Melissa Pocek
Middle East
August 1, 2007

The howling vintage sound clip echoed through the downstairs at the Middle East on Wednesday night. "There is no God," it rang, and then looped back on itself "There is No God"

The openly atheist members of Negativland performed a mostly improvised show as an effort to bring their 25-years-on-the-air "Over the Edge" radio show to the live stage. This underground group, from San Francisco is best known for their projected images and other extraordinary visual devices from mass culture refashioned to say themes that they never intended to say. However, this show had none of their normal visual stage props. Instead, the audience members watched the making of live radio. In case, watching three similarly dressed (matching business attire) middle-aged men making sound affects from monkey noises to rattling chains got to heavy handed, the audience members were given piƱata colored blindfolds and instructed that the blindfolds would enhance their viewing experience- by creating "theater of the mind."

Negativland's religious criticism can be described as hard hitting in a hammed up way. That was the case with the first of several radio skits. A shoddy sounding radio host, Oslo Norway, CEO of One World Advertisement, guided us through the show. "We at Its All In Your Head FM say that when it comes to God, just like radio, humans invented it."

Various tape machines, mixing board, and sound files repeated quotes and snippets about monotheism and then evidence backing up why God is only superstition. Scrapes of interviews from renowned atheist: Sam Harris ("End of Faith") and Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") made for compelling arguments against the existence of God.

After the break, Muslims fundamentalist hijacked the radio show causing the subject matter to get weightier with sound clips on religious fundamentalist terrorist. To counter this material, the Negativlander's kept it comical "We are all Mohammed's now," with "It's a Small World" playing in the background.

Repetition proved to be the theme of the show, and because the group are improvising, every show being performed is different. This Negativelanders were well received by the audience making it known their goal of – "Putting the less back in Godless" was achieved.

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