On Filming Large Objects in the sky

by Oceania AAA, to the second annual conference of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts,
Bologna, May 1998.

In the spirit of consolidation of this conference, this paper attempts to summarise the discoveries of Oceania AAA in its exploration of South London space.

We claim the Postmodern, but where does this comes from ? A few dodgy architects, some arty theorists, but where is the postmodern in reality. For most of the world modernity is still a dream, and even in those countries where its full weight has been felt it is still politically 'more of the same', and 'getting the balance right' . There seems to be little truly progressive use of the new powers available to governments and institutions and even less attempts from the populace to empower itself with these tools.

The mass of the population drift into a media fed oblivion, while those who can't or won't or maybe didn't even understand the question become marginalised, disenfranchised, institutionalised and eventually criminalised. The same old geopolitical and capitalist concerns control us, and even in some of the most developed countries the geosocial patterns or 200 years ago are still clearly evident and in some places are getting worse. The poor areas are still the poor areas today, there is less old growth forest than there was last week and there will be more cars next week.

Over centuries our relationship with the spaces around us has been devalued and our ignorance of our own surroundings, spaces and geography has led to an acceptance of passive identities and predetermined boundaries. We have become voyeurs who look over fences, peer through car windscreens, gaze into TV's and Internet connections consuming vast amounts of easy to digest diluted pap, a pale substitution to the joy of a true communal journey or spatial experience. In its most literal form the 'gamer' sits and stares at a simulation of the view from a space craft whilst engaging with others (in the only way you could imagine a frustrated perceptual cripple would) by simulating their destruction [e.g. DOOM]. The Homeless, Squatters, Protesters, Free Party People, Graffiti Artists, Skaters and even Football Fans all have far deeper experiences of the mapping and performance of space that the so called info rich.

These problems and contradictions of modernity have caused much speculation and there have been plenty of candidates for alternative formulations with varying degrees of success. From the libertarian essayists of the 18th Century to the pirate radio operators and hackers of today the message has remained essentially the same, reveal the truth where hidden (aletheia, honesty), and devalue rhetoric (sophistry, argument). In postmodern theory these are classified into the mechanisms of construction (marketing, propaganda) and deconstruction (intervention, subversion). These mechanisms are recognised for their intentionality and pervasiveness and thus the theory points to a course for action in the building and then demolishing of social systems for our own ends (profit,socialism ,fame whatever) its simply what we do as a species.

So its seems the goal of the media terrorists is to neutralise the delivered mainstream message by tactical means without the insertion of any constructivist message of their own. But where does this leave us? Sounds a bit like MTV without music. Where is the recognition of the spatial and the geometry of power relationships in a theory that constantly tells us that technology collapses space, eliminates distance and speeds up travel ?

In reality the little rhizomatic subversions of the media tacticians are buried and buffered in the zines and web lists. Poetic Terrorism, Art Sabotage, GALA Products,a pile of shit in the foyer of citybank (however noble this idea), these are the total legacy of postmodern thought.

Even this level of resistance has dwindled over the last decade till in the UK It would seem the only real resistance seems to come from groups like reclaim the streets and to less political extent from some of the sound systems (freedom network, united sound systems, free brighton). Most artists have disengaged and the left has largely compromised itself into extinction.

What is missing is not more theorising, not more passive autonomous 'zones', not another pirate radio station but an truly active autonomy, the AAA say that not only must we reclaim the streets but more generally we must reclaim the spaces. We must (re)construct, perform and explore these spaces

These spaces may be conceptual, emotional, physical or political. The may be present, past or future but they are just as much yours to simulate and explore as anyone else's. Our tools may be pyschogeographical, physical, emotional or virtual.

This active reclamation of spaces provides the conceptual ground plane for the exploration of new spaces as an *ongoing* project, one that can finally achieve its full social potential. We are not seeking a utopia but only the realisation of each individuals full potential as autonomous astronauts.

The tools of the postmodern may save the sanity of some individuals who are prepared to study its poetic texts, but what will change through that ? What has changed since the first Temporary Autonomous Zones, the Thousand Antennas...Our way out of this is not simply to disengage as individuals from hyper reality but to actually participate in a new simulation, one that is viral and can act as a capsule for our dreams. This enactment, these performances, the spontaneous generation of Autonomous Astronautics will provide a platform for our own realisations. We may not have spaceship parked out side primed for lift off to another blue planet but we can be sure that when we do it will be crewed by an infected mongrelised race of autonomous astronauts who are prepared to dream.

The AAA goes beyond the ideal of tactical media to subvert dominant media images but also inserts its own simple but powerful idea..


With this simple proposition the AAA intends not only to subvert media by its own positivism but to impact the industrial and political machines through the irresistible force of community dreaming. We say;

No to Reebok and Microsoft, yes to new space industries.
No to Blairism and economic rationalism, yes to weightlessness and exploration.
No to nationalism, yes to autonomy.
No to detournment, yes to engagement.

Whereas the situationists piddle about trying to subvert the mundane and everyday with one single idea we overcome the inherent contradiction of their method.

Neither is this absurdism, if we consider the programmes of the superpowers and their industrial military complexes the idea of spontaneous community based space exploration seems far from absurd.

We are not utopians since we do not predict the future, all we ask is future different from the past, a future without boundaries, without edges, to simply fulfill our destiny in space.

The idea of autonomous space travel itself moves in many directions at once and this is its joy and freedom and its power to capture and infect imaginations. Autonomous space travel is viral, it finds sites for infection across all sectors of the populace, from utopians to spiritualists, from adolescent fantasy to a capitalists dream come true, it confuses and deconstructs yet simultaneously informs and motivates. Since the idea strikes right at the heart of Euclidean logic and thus rationality itself it defies simple explanation, it can even appear mystical. This power geometry paradox is our potential liberation. Astronuauts our mission is clear, to freely journey through space.

Oceania AAA : The Oceania AAA launchpad is located on one tree hill in London, south east 23. It is the site of many previous space programmes and resistance's, from Boudica, Leader of the Iceni to the enclosure riots. It forms the southernmost point of the layline complex centered around Greeenwich and is sometimes referred to as the Honor Oak for the tree that stood at its summit. Elizabeth I performed ancient rites to protect the power of the monarchy as did Alistair Crowley in the graveyard on the northern slopes. It is also believed to be the site of an iron age fort. Throughout English history its has formed an important communications function due to the visibility of its beacons and signals. During the second world war it supported AA emplacements at its summit. Oceania AAA have reclaimed the foundations of this gun emplacement as the site for its launches and broadcasts into space. Operations are controlled from the disused council nursery on the slopes of the hill. Investigation has revealed that before being used to grow plants it was a fireworks factory and the ground is contaminated with propellants, further proof of the astronautical value of this site. To celebrate its reclamation a three sided football field has also been constructed on the southern slopes of the hill.

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