ps/o3 public housing | structural adjustments | re/developing the new urbanism
Leekon, Spike, TPM, Otto von Schirach, Mannequin Lung, Alejandra y Aeron, Patcha Kutek, G.R.R.L., V8, Scale, and Savath + Savalas
On austerity measures . . .
First of all, thank you from all us in Ultra-red for participating in this Beta Bodega Coalition project. This CDR contains the original Ultra-red track you've agreed to remix plus audio file(s) of site recordings which served as the raw material for the original composition.
In the liner notes for the Mille Plateaux release, "Structural Adjustments," we wrote a text outlining how our collaborations with public housing residents impacted the way we think about music. In 1997, Ultra-red began collecting location recordings of the East LA housing projects, Pico Aliso and Aliso Village. These projects, the largest concentration of public housing west of the Mississippi, were fated for complete demolition and partial rebuild as part of the Housing Authority's plan to "improve" the community. In actuality, the demolition plan displaced all the residents with no guarantees that any would be permitted to return to the new projects. It was obvious that "improving" the community meant improving the real estate by effectively displacing the entire resident population Ð the actual community.
When those of us who are musicians in Ultra-red first visited the Pico Aliso and Aliso Village projects, our minds were focused on the buildings. We asked the resident-activists with the Union de Vecinos, "If you had $50 million dollars [the initial cost of demolishing Pico Aliso], how would you spend it on your community?" Expecting responses along the lines of urban planning or architectural design (e.g., more green spaces, more Laundromats, more bedrooms, etc), we were humbled by answers that consistently emphasized human relationships over buildings.
Listening to the site recordings made in the projects, we became convinced that an audio investigation into public housing should by necessity attend to social space over built space. This realization significantly effected our perspective on electronic music which has long privileged the architectural oftentimes at the exclusion of the social. Working from site recordings that record space ONLY as it is lived by a community of residents, we became increasingly dissatisfied with electronica's fascination with idealist abstractions of architecture, dead cities, blueprint schematics, etc. For us, working with the Union de Vecinos challenged us to rethink the fundamental relationship between the artist and the community. This was especially underscored for us when we examined the language of the Housing Authority whose profound obsession with architecture resulted in a plan for community improvement that necessitated the disintegration of the community. As artists, we wanted to approach our music in a way that identified with the struggle of the residents NOT the cynical bureaucracy of the Housing Authority.
For Ultra-red, this remix project, "Austerity Measures," provides us an opportunity to work with peer musicians around these very concerns. Let us be clear, this is NOT about creating a proper or correct musical aesthetic. We are deeply suspicious about the notions of a correct radical style Ð this should be obvious from our own formal eclecticism. Rather, this is about sound/space as fundamentally social: both in terms of what it represents and how it functions for the listener. It's about a way of relating through sound.
To this end, we thank you again for joining the project. We look forward to hearing the results of your own ruminations on what it means to sonically privilege housing over architecture Ð a most-significantly open-ended, inhabitable, question.
Original recordings licensed from Comatonse Recordings and Mille Plateaux (except "Recordando a chico" and "Vivienda contra autoridad") to Beta Bodega Coalition. Designed in Plex.
Gratis to the following for their participation in the broadcasting of "Austerity Measures:" Steven Castro, Liz Harvey, Lynn Hasty, Jackie Leavitt, Bernd Lennartz, Enrique Rivera, Richard Stovall tech support, Achim Szepanski, Valerie Tevere, Terre Thaemlitz as well as all the musicians who worked to keep these recordings alive. Special thanks to Comatonse Recordings, Mille Plateaux, Beta Bodega and, of course, the resident-activists with la Union de Vecinos.