Week 10: Politics as Art – The Manifesto

This week we explore The Manifesto, selected historical and contemporary examples, including web/technological manifestos and how these may be of relevance to how you approach the creation and production of music. Whether or not you consider yourselves political or creative (I would argue that everyone is both), the fact is you are either already participating or preparing to participate in the music industry. You will all have some engagement with your peers, and ‘the public’. It is crucial to know where you stand in relation to other musicians, producers and journalists and to be able to communicate what you do or don’t stand for.

Then – fun! We will go an a field expedition to see the Next Wave Festival Keynote lecture by Sydney artist Deborah Kelly. In Kelly’s cross-media work lies the energy and activism that provides a much-needed antidote to the widespread apathy and safety in mainstream society.

Manifesto man.i.fes.to (noun): a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer (from the Webster Dictionary Online)

The manifesto has featured throughout the history of politics, religion, art and technology. Arguably, today the term has communist or anarchist connotations, but here are a select few examples of the manifesto from both sides of the political spectrum:

Explore the links above or research other known manifestos and write a blog post about your findings – are these concepts still relevant?

Let’s look at a few interesting examples:

The Futurists (1909 – 1944)

Futurism was an international art movement founded at the turn of the 20th Century in Italy. Futurism became interlinked with the Mussolini’s Fascist dictatorship in Italy in the lead-up and during World War II. The futurists worked to push their radical views across painting, sculpture, cinema, music, sound art, and architecture. The Futurists championed:

  • speed, noise, machines, pollution, and cities
  • the ‘new’ over the traditional or classic
  • war and violence
  • youth
  • technology, autonomy, aggression

A Futurism resource can be found here: http://www.unknown.nu/futurism/manifesto.html

From the hyper-masculine, we go to the cyber-feminist…

Donna Haraway – The Cyborg Manifesto

Donna Haraway is currently a professor and chair of the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Born in 1944, Haraway is most famous for her essay ‘The Cyborg Manifesto’ in which she uses the metaphor of a cyborg to challenge feminists to engage in a politics beyond traditional notions of gender and ‘the natural’ and ‘the essential’.

The Cyborg Manifesto (via Standford University)

From radical feminism, we step back to the early godfathers of of electronic music/sampling…

Musique Concrete (1948 – )

In 1948, Pierre Schaeffer composed Etude aux Chemins de Fer (Railroad Study), the first recorded assemblage of sounds.  Schaeffer coined the term ‘musique concrète’ to describe a music made ‘concretely’ by working directly with sounds, as against music made ‘abstractly’ by working with symbols for sounds (as in a musical score). In 1951, he organized the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète, the focus of which was working with tape recorders (via EMF Institute).

Dogma 95 (Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg 1995)

The ‘Vow of Chastity’ for filmmakers who included Danish directors Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Soeren Kragh Jacobsen. The manifesto of Dogme 95 stated that its films must only include:

  • Shooting on location (no imported props or sets)
  • Sound and image produced together
  • A handheld camera
  • Natural light
  • No optical work or filters
  • No superficial action (murders, weapons)
  • No temporal or geographic alienation
  • No genre films
  • No signature

Love or hate Dogme 95 films including The Celebration, Breaking the Waves and The Idiots, this manifesto focused on ‘creativity through restraint’ and marked a strong departure from the glitz, budgets and celebrity of Hollywood.

An article from BrightLights film journal on Dogme 95.


Some of you may already know about Wikileaks.org and have seen the Dateline (SBS) feature on Julian Assange or read about him in the Age on the weekend. Assange is an enigmatic figure with no fixed address, who’s involvement in Wikileaks has exposed leaked documents from (amongst others): the US Government, the Church of Scientology, and the Swiss Bank. WikiLeaks’ biggest coup to date was obtaining ‘Collateral Murder‘ classified military documentation of the unprovoked killing of Reuters staff and innocent children in Iraq (please note, this is actual documentation and may be distressing to some).

(From the Age Newspaper, May 22, 2010):

It [Wikileaks] acts as an electronic dead drop for highly sensitive, or secret information: the pure stuff, in other words, published straight from the secret files to the world. No filters, no rewriting, no spin. Created by an online network of dissidents, journalists, academics, technology experts and mathematicians from various countries, all with similar political views and values apparently, the website also uses technology that makes the original sources of the leaks untraceable.

Assange claims that WikiLeaks has to date leaked more sensitive documents than the world’s press combined.

Some more manifesto links from Sean and I:

More Manifesto links


write your own Manifesto and post it on your blog. What do you stand for and believe in? Silly or serious, construct a Manifesto


~ by eugerino on May 24, 2010.

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