Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Underground renegades - The power to change

Energy is ALIVE. Like love and beauty, it is intangible, multi-dimensional and metaphysical. Energy has the ability to inflict change; it is, and has, vigour, force, potency and power. Energy is the spirit of every living soul. Energy is LIFE.

You and I are in a constant process of omitting, attracting, absorbing and altering our own, and others, energies. Like the wind, an invisible force, we feel, capture and create energy. Measurable only by its effects, when given direction energy can revolutionize.

Like culture, Energy is social.

Subsumed within the mainstream culture, a subculture is a potentially potent force of collective energy that resonates through mainstream social consciousness with an alternative, and often apposing force.

In a constant search for self-awareness, we seek reassurance – the need to belong seems to be ever prevalent. We define ourselves by what we are not, finding meaning from, in and amongst others. Self-awareness is ultimately about self-expression, finding ways to capture your own energy and share it with those around you.

Expression is the capturing of energy.

Whether it is through art, literature, music or fashion, we are in a constant state of expression. Through expression, we can disseminate information; creating a new perspective and a separate world of ideas that deviates from social control.

With a vocal delivery of unparalleled intensity, Zack de la Rocha’s energetic performances are fuelled by his passion for political activism. Whether it’s from a stage at Lollapalooza or leading a crowd in a city march, Zack uses the ferocity of words to revolutionize how we think. Zack lives his screaming stanzas every day, sharing the people’s passion for quality riffs, obscure bass lines and relentless rage.

Banksy, a London street graffiti artist, so elusive that has identity has been a well-kept mystery. Characterized by his trademark stencil-style 'guerrilla' art – Bansky chews issues of controversy using public space as his canvass. Albeit his anonymity, Banksy speaks for many - and through his art he captures the energy of a frustrated youth.

Idealistic and driven, the youth are a subculture of dreamers and believers. Not yet filled with cynicism, this is a subculture who demands to be heard; a collective energy exerting vigour and passion whilst on a restless voyage of expression. Dropping beats, not bombs. Banking ideas, not cheques. Persistently questioning and constantly being challenged.

Falling swiftly down the rabbit hole, we can see how politics and youth subculture are interlinked. Consider the 1960’s Hippy subculture, which was extensively involved in anti-Vietnam war efforts. With joint in hand and openness in mind, this group of long haired, bare-footed peace-loving flower children veered brightly, and without haste, away from the existing orthodox.

The Beatniks, a subculture emerging out of the political uncertainty of WW2, described a 1950s US youth subculture who were characterized by their shared distaste of social conventions and expectations. The energy of this Beat Generation was captured and expressed in underground literature by the Beat poets and writers – with Jack Kerouac’s renowned “On the road” becoming a cult classic.

Kerouac, along side writers such as Allen Gingsberg, managed to express, without mercy and without hesitation, the mindset of the 1950 and 1960 social revolutionists. The works’ meaning becomes ever more momentous as time rolls on, and like a photograph it is a rare capture of the energy of a generation.

And the beat goes on…

Echoes of the Beat Generation are witnessed in today’s subcultures, which dispel the same passion and constant questioning as did their predecessors. As Kerouac captured his nation’s voice, so too could Bansky and Zack de la Rocha be capturing ours.

Squeezed into lumo pink skinny’s and peeping out at you from behind a hanging black fringe, the Emo generation embraces, and pays tribute to, their youthful angst. What started as a musical movement, Emo is now, for many, a way of life. A melancholy subculture; emotionally charged, existing only through self-expression. Possibly the forming the genesis of punk rock, The Misfits epitomized Horror Punk – the dark image, iconic fashion and punk rock persona. For The Misfits, it was more than just the music. And this rippled throughout the decades that followed. Today’s Emo subculture has given people a reason to explore who they are; it’s given them an identity, and a somewhere to belong.

We live in a Google generation; part of a cyber culture where we can be whoever we want to be. Bloggers, Face Book, My Space, You Tube, and Twitter. Cyber subcultures are in essence a place for you and me to make our mark and prove our existence, for whatever it is worth. Whether what is said is true or not is of no relevance, you are making the world aware that at that very moment you existed and had something to say. Like all subcultures, the cyber ones are a platform for expression, to bypass conventional ways and express straight to the masses.

Aesthetic performers, parading spectacles and muses to the industry - the Harajuki Kids are a subculture of raw Japanese underground youth energy. Capturing cute and expressing it with vigour and spunk, Harajuku in Tokyo is the Mecca for the super-trendy. A delightful contradiction, their look is an eclectic blend of designer wear juxtaposed with local charity finds. This is a subculture that, albeit its bright and bizarre stylistic features, pertains true to Japanese culture, capturing the essence of beauty with colour, fabric and illusion.

From the social media-aholics, to late-night tech-gaming subcultures, to Hollywood Glam Girls, to those loyal trekkies. From graffiti artists, who see the world through a kaleidoscope of images and words, to local designers that use the streets as their catwalk, to the Underground Poets, who give dazed subway commuters a welcome interlude. Swingers, Skaters, Skinheads and Single Hedonists, the list continues to grow.

Void of any significant direction, many of us exist as wandering vagabonds. In this state of semi-detachment from oneself, the media influences, if not constructs, one’s social reality.

Globalisation, gross consumption and instant gratification - this is where we’re at people! And the need to accumulate power, profit, and external recognition has left much of us in a frantic panic.

What exists is a new culture of “Mass” – mass media, mass consumption, mass everything – driven by profit, fuelled by fear and highly speculative of change. Cultivating out of this global mass culture is very real threat of cultural imperialism; a global cultural dictatorship.

And it could be said that without the existence of our energized youth subcultures, then cultural imperialism could soon be realized. You see, society cannot grow if it is NOT challenged – a developing society relies on the diversity in thought of our underground subcultures.

We existing and emerging subcultures, as we recognize it is these collective energies, these underground renegades, who, by spreading new ideas that challenge the existing ideologies, are the individuals who actually enable society to grow.

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