PLANETART on Thu, 10 Sep 2009 16:10:34 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] tekst van Bruce Sterling over Atompunk

Why Atompunk?

by Bruce Sterling

Why “punk”? Because anyone can do punk, you can do punk yourself. All the tools are there: to search, to find, to cut, to paste, to sample, to remix, to pastiche, to connect high-tech and low-life. It costs us nothing but the eff ort, and requires no official permission.

Why “atom”? Atom is a world: the fantastic world of the Atomic Age. Hectic and feverish, spacey and radioactive, it was an “age” that lived and died like a doomed punk poet, in only twenty years.

In the quiet ticking of atomic clock, the Atomic Age is close to us. But in cultural time, in the assumptions of what is possible, in what life means, in what is our reality, the Atomic Age is pre-postmodern. It’s archaeo-futuristic. It has broken the chain-reaction of historical causality. It’s like the dark side of the Moon.

The past is an alien world, yet Atompunk is just a jet-trip away. There is not a computer, not a cellphone to be seen, and yet there is Sputnik. Dayglo. The nuclear arms race. The dark colossus of the Soviet Union, of totalitarian megaprojects orbiting the skies and covering half the world. Mutual Assured Destruction: an engineered end to all of history, the fiery consumption of all of it, in the searing blink of an eye!

Time ended the Atomic Age: it broke it and set it loose from history, like a bubble of kitsch and half-forbidden memory, like the glass paperweight in Orwell’s atom-age book of 1948, the futuristic “Nineteen Eighty Four.” Atompunk is not afraid of past or future, because it is cosmotemporal: Atompunk can live gleefully in two, three, fi ve times at once. And Atompunk does it with style.

For a few brief days of carnival, in the ancient Dutch city of Enschede, Atompunk can carry us outside the timestream. Transcending history, it jams a pitchfork in the dung-heap of world heritage. Sunlight touches something hidden, and the sorrows of the moment rot away.

Atompunk. Watch us stare into the abyss, and make it our funhouse mirror!

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