By Matt King
Critical response to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” arrives nearly dead at the scene. TalkFine warn us about the limitations of language – it reproduces rather than originates, and so what should this response reproduce? The concerns of the video can be traced to Lawrence Lessig, mash-up artists, language and affect theorists, scientific modernity’s interest in rationalizing and technologizing our experience and aesthetic modernism’s interest in making it new, viral videos, and beyond. Yet to reproduce and retrace these lineages would seem to be missing the point. TalkFine ask us to reflect on the nature of originality, but only briefly. Ultimately, they ask us to dance, to feel, to be affected by and into creativity. After all, “the only true originality is feeling.” The narration gives way to the visual and musical flow. This flow offers not new ideas but fresh experience, which is to say familiar experience presented in a fresh way.
My role as critical responder suggests to me that I should make a gesture toward interpreting meaning, uncovering connections. Observe the juxtaposition of narration and images highlighting processes of reproduction against songs that frequently focus on love interrupted or otherwise gone awry. Read the images of trees and root structures across Deleuze and Guattari’s understanding of arboreal and rhizomatic systems and how these systems organize the communication of ideas and energies. Challenge the sense in which creativity operates according to a progressive development and evolution. At the moment, such responses seem inadequate to the video. It wants to be startin’ somethin’, and I best not be getting in its way. Instead, I’ll share what the video inspired me to reproduce. The mp3 below takes a selection from the mash-up created by TalkFine for the video as well as a selection from their original song “Circus Girl.” It also takes parts of Lawrence Lessig’s 2007 TED talk and throws in some guitar and heavily processed singing saw. The vocal overlay is a collection of dream narratives recorded by friends. In “The Power of History,” Don DeLillo argues that the novel can serve as a “dream release, the suspension of reality that history needs to escape its own brutal confinements.” TalkFine offer a history of creativity, but they also offer the dance release from the brutal confinements of reproduction. The mp3 below offers a corresponding dream release. I hope it makes you feel something.
Experiment in Dreams by Matt King