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Margaret Noble: Remixes George Orwell's "1984"

img  Tobias Fischer

Your project aims at „continuing the dialogue of George Orwell’s text, 1984“. What, to you, is the ongoing relevance of the novel?
At any given moment, all you have to do is look at the public media online, TV and elsewhere to find Orwell's story looming in our society. Surveillance comes in all forms from traffic cameras, to ATM card transaction reports to search engine consumer tracking. The law of the government hand aka Big Brother can be tracked in so many ways. For example, how our students are educated or how our food sources regulated or how our health care is administered. The other Big Brother in society is large corporations which control much of how we receive  information and what choices our politicians make. Torture is also rampid and still questionable as to the success it offers in gaining accurate information. Finally, one only has to ponder the Noble Peace going out to someone waging war. "War is Peace" - George Orwell


You mention „uncomfortable, satirical and reflective tensions“ ...

Sonically speaking, there are compositional tensions played in the instrumentation to effect this experience in the listeners. The album also has recordings of war, water boarding, political debates, propaganda, surveillance cameras, pesticide spraying, NYSE closing bell and much more.


The basis for the work is a radio broadcast from 1950 and there don't seem to be any direct literary quotes from the novel in the piece. In which way, then, is the album directly a remix of „1984“?
In track 2, there is a reading of Orwell's text by me. This will also be true for the tracks on war, torture and a few more in development. Here's a list of quotes I will be using from the record and reading:

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time...You had to live-did live, from the habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

"Freedom is Slavery"
"Ignorance is Strength"
"War is Peace"

"As long as a country is at war, its citizens will put up personal deprivation. But, citizens must think that it is a just war, that the enemies are devils whom they are morally obliged to exterminate."

"His sole concern was to find out what they wanted him to confess and then confess it quickly. He confessed to the assassination of eminent Party members, the distribution of seditious pamphlets, embezzlement of public funds, sale of military secrets, sabotage of every kind. He confessed he was a religious believer, an admirer of capitalism, and a sexual pervert. He confessed that he had murdered his wife, although he knew, and his questioners must have known, that his wife was still alive."

"He had still, he reflected, not learned the ultimate secret. He understood how but he did not understand why. One thing he did know was that he was not mad. Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad."

"If all others accepted the lie which the party imposed--if all records told the same tale--then the lie will pass into history and became truth."


Where exactly did the original broadcast come from?

This was an adapted 1950's radio recording of 1984. I picked it up at Ebay. What is interesting is that the record announcers portrayed the big scare as communism for big brother and the commercial content was mostly the United States steel industry. Vinyl is always more special to me, it is real, it is tangible and a piece of history. Also, the packaging design and inserts are always fascinating!


For the remix, you're „transforming an original vinyl recording into a postmodern soundscape“. How would you describe this transformation process from your perspective?
It started out as a hunt and study. What can I lift from the record? What can I find in the world to parallel the narrative? How can I put these pieces together in a way that designs an experience for my audience that is provocative and engaging? Then pieces are laid down to become segments, then segments become compositions.


One of the formats for the release of the finished album will be a graphic arts companion book. What kind of images will be included in the book and how does it relate to the music?
The book has chapters that resonate each track's theme. They are also designed to create an experience for the audience but using iconography instead of sound.


To many people, it seems inconceivable that Sound Art arrive at tangible statements at all. In which way, do you feel, can sounds be „political“?
Indeed, Sound Art is very misunderstood. But, the expression of it is as vast as film. Sometimes it is deconstructed and sometimes it is full fledged composition. In my case for this album, the tracks are mostly full fledged compositions and there is enough content to be clear that there is more then just sonic abstraction in the work.

Homepage: Preview Margaret Noble's 1984-project on international public radio
Homepage: Support this project through Kickstarter

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