avant pop


 

 

ESSAYS

::: alt-x

::: shaviro's doom patrols

::: in memoriam to pomo


INTERVIEWS

::: larry mccaffery

::: ron sukenick


EXAMPLES

::: kathy acker

::: j. g. ballard

::: blade runner

::: david bowie

::: william burroughs

::: david cronenberg

::: cyberpunk

::: samuel r. delany

::: don delillo

::: philip k. dick

::: ray federman

::: william gibson

::: mark leyner

::: thomas pynchon

::: tom robbins

 

The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed the rise and proliferation of the Avant-Pop.

A term appropriated by literary critic Larry McCaffery and surfictionist Ron Sukenick from a Lester Bowie jazz album by the same name, the A&P is a multi-media mode of expression that splices the avant-garde's obsession with innovation, experimentation, and radicalization with a deep pop sensibility. The result: an extreme postmodern fusion and confusion of the traditional distinctions between "high" culture and "low."

In retrospect, one can trace the A&P's lineage back at least as far as Thomas Pynchon's and Andy Warhol's early works and the Pop Art movement in the Sixties.

Taking many forms, the Avant-Pop surfaces in everything from William Gibson's cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (Ace, 1984), which merges unusual techniques (surreal images, info-dense sentences, the introduction of astounding new vocabularies) with conventional genre science fiction conceits, to David Blair's cult film WAX, or: The Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991), a disruptive serio-comic narrative shot through with a compu-TV vision about cross-sexual reincarnation and the Gulf War told by Mesopotamian bees (which turn out to be the souls of the dead).

Common to all A-P creations is an MTV-ized aesthetic that embraces speed, shock, high-tech, massive irony, data-thick consciousness, and (always ambivalently) the vast media-scape itself—a spectacular tele-geography on which A-P artists have teethed.