Some playful, preposterous & plain pretentious penpersonship on “KLF_01_01_2017_WTF_FOUND” and where it sprang from.
image c/o Turboisland, inspired by the event in question. questions c/o Super Weird Substance
>What motivated you to put the video together originally?
The motivation was simple, even though the material was not original(ly).
Both DJs we approached were unable to perform on the date our event wanted to manifest.
This lead us to completely forego DJs.
No one else came to mind that we felt sure would do something exploratory enough to offset the strong possibly that what we were doing was just a pointless exercise in nostalgia. Another solution was needed.
To further explain : The flickering of ideas for the event at The Cube – which it came to come from – bobbed up from several areas . . .
The Cube appears one cold November in 1998, its handlers a handful of artists of somewhat Discordian bent. The project was not expected to last, but 14 years later we find ourselves in 2012 and The Cube still abides.
It is run at every level unwaged, and with no external funding beyond the bar and the door. This is mircoplex freedom.
An opportunity arises to attempt to buy the building – the site of the original Bristol Arts Centre, converted by counter-cultural volunteer force in the 1960s from its previous incarnation of The Deaf Institute (see Ian Breakwell’s archive at Tate online, and mentions in Chris Brook’s IT archive).
The final fly in the ointment towards true independence.
We must raise the seemingly impossible sum of £185,000. Impossibly our campaign succeeds, and on 11/12/13 the target is toppled. It’s April fool’s Day 2014, the documents are signed. A legal charter is established to secure and maintain the freehold of the Cube Cinema as a community arts space in perpetuity.
Full ownership puts us in a new position.
Our structure and mission has always posed questions. Questions about how money can be viewed in a project like ours. So let’s zoom in some more.
The mission has always been to enrich the experience of everyone who passes through the doors, but our resources for play have been expanded.
An idea – not universally approved – that has been floating around for a while seems to have found its time. We should do an event where instead of taking money on the door, we should give money on the door.
The poster would say “£5 on the door“, which – unexpectedly – is what people would get on arriving.
At some point in our roaming thought process, writer John Higgs’ fictional account of the activities of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty between the years 1976 and 1997 and all its wizard tangents and attendant gravity comes into our consciousness.
We like it.
This is the area to explore in relation to our £5 idea. The number 5 is significant. Also roaming this mental territory is Bristol DJ United States of Audio with his “mixumentary”, ‘Embrace The Contradictions‘ (link). A tribute history of supreme cultural manipulators The KLF, released to coincide with 23 years since their music industry exit.
It’s Summer 2015. We approach this DJ to recreate or adapt this work for our live setting. He gracefully declines. For him it exists in a place (the studio) and a time (the 23 anniversary exit earlier in the year). He hips us to some downloadable data, however. This is internet freedom.
We approach John Higgs to give a talk as part of whatever it is that we are doing is destined to become. He likes our £5 idea, and aclines. He will happily come along to be a part, rabbit on, be a fulcrum – that’s the spirit. He tells us that on his travels he has encountered a man whose practice is concerned with burning money.
A new inevitable route reveals itself.
We do not want to do a cash in nostalgia night. This is a cash out night.
We want to explore ourselves, our new boundaries. We intend to use the medium of the emerging interest in a bourgeoning 21st century counter culture feeding on the reappropriated concepts around the gang who stormed into TOTP in 1988 and out of The Brits in 1992. Plus what happened before and afterwards, jamming good with the history of pop and that unexhibitable Major Body of Work in the aftermath. The later perhaps the least explored and understood, despite all the retellings and long shadows of where it led.
We knock up some graphics as we explore. People see them. People want tickets. Our £5 idea is challenged. We want to enrich the experience of everyone who wants to pass through our doors. People want to travel, people want advance tickets. Some are men for whom 23 years or more have passed since they were 17. They have families. They require planning.
We mustn’t lose sight of the seed idea, but we must embrace what blossoms on the road. A solution presents itself. We are exploring money, this is another opportunity for play.
We hadn’t considered advance tickets, but we now consider advance tickets. They shall be set at £10. The idea of £5 on the door remains whether participants have chosen to buy in advance or not.
Some phone up and ask if this is a typo – “£10 in advance / £5 on the door” – when informed it is not, they are kind enough not to ask any further questions.
We try to hold back 23 places. We fail. We end up holding back 5. Our capacity is 105. 100 participants contribute £1K to the proceedings, we will be giving them their 100 fivers back on the door – before giving it all back to source via the fire. The Five get their 5s too, of course. We’re on course.
DJ Food – is an old friend of the Cube project, who has a bit of mischievous previous of active hoaxing in this ideaspace (in case you ever missed a trick). He’s unable to get to Bristol on November 22 2015, but very kindly designs a special Million Pound Mu note to be sold on the night. The proceeds of any sales of this “legal tinder” are to go to Cube’s continued building fund. Having secured the freehold, the place seems to collapse around us like a clown car. (It is 2017 now as we write, and The Cube is in back in good nick).
Back to November 2015, and we have no DJs we can trust to explore and riff on the historic materials in a way that we feel will synthesise something new.
This leads us to the obvious conclusion that we in fact never wanted anyone to appear in charge that attendees could hassle about what is happening. This would include – or exclude – DJs. Video editors don’t need to be on display.
There would be many people with specific roles – especially on the door – handing out garments, handing out money, asking the participants to sign money, rubber stamping, handing out matches, ensuring the garments were worn before crossing the threshold, banging money into boards behind the scenes, recording events for their own uncertain projects etc. . . . but none of them would know what was happening beyond their assigned task. None could divulge anything if asked.
Once inside all the announcements and directions for the various activities were triggered at the right moments from pre-recordings. Atmospheric loops also blasted from no known human source.
The screening of the montage was one of these announced activities. All that the first announcement asked of participants was that they assemble in the cinema auditorium.
As stated, in an over-blown and alliterative way, the montage was just constructed in lieu of having DJs in the bar. It was a solution for how to present some historic material as part of the wider proceedings that aimed to be more interesting than just playing the hits.
The video montage element was made in mind of the proscenium arch, the red velvet curtains of a theatre cinema, and an audience of 105 dutifully sporting their given garments. It was only ever conceived as a functional element for that one night. There was more about it.
It flickered into being with a thin pretence of being a found VHS tape, but soon the spell shifted. At moments it was pure cinema on the big screen, others it tripped around the 80s-end/90s-start ideatime – Iannucci as much as Anton Wilson – then suddenly it’s an inappropriate crazed internet scavenging that surely doesn’t belong between red velvet (or ’87 and ’97). Then again – it was just playing the hits.
It was all part of the preparation for the audience to partake in The Cube Cinema’s burning of £1K.
This is not some Smiths night, though we do pay tribute to the The Jams.
This was also just some old videos slapped together to get people in the mood, you dig?
You gotta mine sometimes.
Make mine a 99.
Flame the fans.
(except the contrarians).
It was also the first cinematic surrender of disbelief on the path to the inevitable sacrifice to come . . .
All the above and below is true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.
Just like The KLF existed at one spot in time, our tribute exists on 22/08/2015, and cannot be repeated.
A year later, and these new fivers just won’t burn properly.
>Have you ever had any contact with Bill Drummond or Jimmy Cauty?
No permission of any sort was sought from anyone in the construction of the event or the montage. We can only ever hope to know one thousandth of the shadow that tends to often occult the other activities of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Our work works as a moment’s reflection, and was made sincerely, and with good will, but no permission.
>Why did you opt to begin 2017 by putting it online?
It has not been unusual for us to construct work to be exhibited only once. We have been involved in many never-to-be-repeated events.
Word of the montage element of the evening spread and there were calls from two or three people – maybe five – wishing to experience it. Others wished to re-experience it. This was essentially impossible because the set and setting was so integral.
It was not made to live outside that one point in time, but – somehow – it seemed increasingly keen to.
As things fan out, there is a triune of surprise surfacings over the following 12 months . . . Stroud (SVA), Sheffield (Festival23) and Supernormal (Braziers Park).
Always without announcement that would falsely attribute – or claim – authorship.
23 DVDs were burnt and given freely to the Festival23 Notwork.
The montage remained ticklish. Maybe we should have left well alone, but it seemed it just lived to leak outwards, somehow. Small calls to plough it back online continued to reach us, to push and pull us.
The beginning of a year ending in 7 – after that particular year ending in 6, along with the time passed since 1987 and the distance in revolutions from 1994 – and even 1953 – all seemed to resolutely demand it.
No demands came from Bill Drummond or Jimmy Cauty, who have clearly stated they had zero involvement in the construction of this montage, or have any hand in the further de / re-contextualisation of it in cyberspace.
Of course this timing did come out of our response to our reflections on the works of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, but Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty have plainly expressed they have no interest in anything caroming off their historic works.
An interesting expression pasted on a wall which you can see for yourself if you own the means to revisit the date January 5, 2017, and a road relating to the letter K.
The decontextualised montage of internet sourced content appearing again, but reordered, on people’s internet screens was not part of their – or even our – masterplan. It just seemed, if we were to relent and feed it back in, this was the right time.
Our intentions were as generous as the £5 on the door, and the little £1k potlatch.
It was intended as a gift to all and any to perceive however they may want, if they happened to happen across it.
We didn’t anticipate news outlets and what they might construct.
Frankly – and in all earnestness – we would have been surprised by more than two to three hundred views. The doctored clip we put up immediately after the event (23/08/2016) never did.
It – the full length trundle – intended again to be presented without claim of authorship.
YouTube had recognised the ABBA content immediately and placed a copyright claim preventing it from streaming on some mobile devices. An unrestricted copy bubbled away on Vimeo.
Having any text for a channel name could now be seen as having been a mistake. The spur of the moment “Cale Leth” was changed to the more accurate “Karen Eliot” – but fortunately or unfortunately the moment had already been spurred. What has been bolted cannot be unbolted.
On the 5th day it had hit 23k views.
We believe the idea(s) we were knowingly and unknowingly exploring are best served by not revealing the particular person or persons who did construct and gift the montage to the world. We all should be able to work out it was not ever anything to do with Bill Drummond or Jimmy Cauty. The narrative has been expertly Guarded. Beyond that, the work is there freely for any and all to experience. All else is of no one’s concern. We do not feel the work wills it.
New Year’s Day, 2017. Nu-discordian fulcrum John Higgs, who had been a crucial part of our event on Nov 22 2015, shares the link with no secrecy of origin and the views shoot up and out with wild conjecture budding everywhere.
The idea of a KLF comeback comes alive. Rubs the ashes from its eyes, spreads like wifi. Wings flap, squawks echo out and out – all quite quite tracklessly.
We Watch The WWW Foundation Churn A Million Clicks.
This was not our intention.
If it had been, what would have been edited and released would have been significantly different. Maybe more convincing. Maybe less convincing though attempting to be more convincing. Whatever. That would never be something we would ever have conscioned in the first place. This was no joke.
We now know, possibly to one thousandth of a degree – but of course almost definitely to a much much lesser degree – what Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond experience when being accused of hoaxerism.
The widely repeated idea that pop band The KLF would return in 2017, and that this uploading was meant to signal that – or anything – is ambrosially absurd.
We can’t help but get giddy at being inadvertently woven right back in to the thing we were interested in bouncing off. It’s 5 days into 2017 (230 away from Aug 23). Cally taps his cameraphone. Whatever forces beyond our control that sent the ball flying into the air now feel a new pull. Leave it to the experts. Media(ochre*) manipulations on Guard make the exponential views suddenly plummet. Peter’s out. There’s no hint of disappointment in our eyes – we weren’t ever out to be robbing, son – just another twist to Observe. Still, giddy we observe as a flicker tickles . . . could it possibly be history swerved towards a moment where the need was felt to hire a plant to quiet us?
Now the narrative narrows and focusses, though still not all catch the truth. But it is more clear, and consensus grasps it as we’d always caught it. Wheels turn but you can’t fool The Children of The Revolution; the chart pop phenomena The KLF is a project that exists from Aug 1990 to Feb 1992, with the exemplarily disappointing comeback for 23 minutes in 1997. The perfect parenthesis, the unexcelled footnote. We advise reading Bill Drummond’s account in his book 45, if that concept still confuses.
Still glistening wet with paste – and with no secrecy of origin – the poster in digital form works its protective magic; reposted and pasted by posters onto screens all across the cyber-place, our little footnote in the tale swallows itself.
That summit up, Montgomerie?
>At the end of the video Drummond says that “they were things that have been there forever; they were there before I was ever there and now they’re still there” – what do you think he’s alluding to?
Artists – and Others – have been saying this for years. It’s all true.
>Were you looking for a response from Drummond and Cauty when you put the video out?
No. We weren’t looking for anything from anybody. Well maybe for people to stop asking us to put it on-line, but beyond that, nothing.
>Aside from the contract they signed, why do you think 2017 is a good year for The KLF to return?
2017 is not a good year for The KLF to return. It’s not a bad year, or an indifferent year – it’s simply impossible. The KLF exists between 1988 and 1992, and always will. You might as well book Pérotin for the Pyramid Stage.
People of 2017 returning to The KLF may possibly be a good idea – if done right – no denying that more accessible than ever in the modern age is the oppotunity to saunter to a forever present pleasant sleepy shore. Sure, there can be value in archaeology when approached with ideas and angles, but yearning that what you think the past was should be what the present is, is well dangerous. A dangerous well cos nostalgia’s a sad and sorrowful temptation, especially in times of chaos. Many concur the collision of the concepts “great” and “again” got us into our present confusions. Avoid.
Any nostalgia for the now old output by now old people who disdained not looking to the new then – never mind now – will only confuse us. Now and Forever. What a contradiction.
There’s much confusion. There seems to be many people happy at the thought of The KLF returning, but those people can only really return to them. Maybe some perhaps shouldn’t. Though that’s not for us to say.
The spirit of The Jams, and The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu though – that’s another kettle of ballgames. We felt we felt the flow, but then what do we know?
What we know is this : 23 / 08 / 2017 does add up (you can do the maths).
August may be informed by things ancient, but you can bet yer bottom bullseye it won’t be archaeological.
The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have made the first official statement relating to The Moratorium they declared in the WNLA’s Bulletin, Viscocity all those years ago.
So we know nothing, you shouldn’t listen to us.
But do listen to The Jams. They’ve always been there.
>How would you envisage their return?
>As you mentioned, the coverage has been somewhat confused.. Is there anything you’d like us to add into that confusion in the name of Operation Mindfuck?
As a cinema we are constantly surprised how many people – even seasoned film buffs – never knew Stan Laurel was Clint Eastwood’s biological father.
Watch KLF_01_01_2017_WTF_FOUND_VHS (link below) . . . (And also seek out Jonathan Harris‘ ‘MONEY BURNER’S MANUAL’ and ‘BURNING ISSUE’ Magazine).
account by DJ FOOD
account by Jonathan Harris The Burner, who deserves an article just to himself.
*International Scott Brown(?)
Watch KLF_01_01_2017_WTF_FOUND_VHS [VIMEO] . . .