I don’t remember the first, but the very last time was probably 1995-96 when I heard Basic Channel then Thomas Brinkmann for the first time. For a brief moment, I thought, this music could go anywhere. There was an excitement then that isn’t really possible today.
After that it didn’t really happen in music anymore. The next time I became dimly aware there was something fundamentally “different” culturally was in 2009 when I came across Ryan Trecartin’s youtube channel. In music there was OPN, James Ferraro, Holly Herndon and the whole vaporwave thing. Then also the videos of Jon Rafman. One could call this “new”, but that would be merely correct and not true. For while this was definitely the art that most needed to be made it was the very opposite of exciting or inspiring because it simply exposed our changing relationship to technology and the crises that now assail us at every moment and that govern every aspect of our lives. The very essence of this crisis, of course, was the collapse of newness as a phenomenon. The future became no longer a site of possibility (much less a site of transformation) but the site of the closing down of all possibilties other than neoliberal fascism and the liquidation of everything as infinitely replaceable commodities or – which is the same thing - data. The future became, in other words, something that had already happened. Temporality in the current understanding basically did a 180 which is what gave things like MAGA its resonance.
So basically, I don’t see “newness” as an authentic possibility today. I do see “different” things emerging in various marginal practices (or “backloop strategies”, to borrow a term from Stephanie Wakefield), but there still isn’t a world where these practices make sense. The best we can hope for is that artists and other reconfigurers can gather these practices and give them a world, or which is the same thing, a language, a space to shine, while leaving them truly as themselves – such a post-crisis world would then generate its own temporality in which something like “newness” can once again make sense. The world itself would not be “new”, because it would mark a complete break from anything familiar against which “newness” could measure itself (and it would, more likely than not, revive things not seen in the West for thousands of years.) However, in this world, newness and its attendant excitements and seemingly limitless space of possibilities would once again be granted a space in which to unfold.