Insistent that there be no media presence to record the event, but inviting participation from interested parties, Bill Drummond’s Damascus in London art-music project twisted the rules of internet-age event management.
No photos were allowed, no interviews. But anyone who wanted to become a part of the event was welcome to turn up, take their place, and sing. For som the illogical but comforting act of singing a piece of music in honour of a loved one killed, wounded or trapped in the current Syrian crisis was a an act which, whilst impotent in physical terms, was emotionally and spiritually powerful for them:
‘I’m singing for a… friend of mine, who was injured…in Syria’
For others, the allure of being involved in a Drummond project was enough. The man who burned a million pounds, who played the music industry as if it were a gape-mouthed barbel and whose every public act has exuded a shrewd intelligence and media savvy to be bitterly envied. To be involved:
‘it’s important to be the next person in the chain’.
The17‘s Surround project has its own momentum, carefully stage-managed by Drummond to ask questions of received wisdom and iPhone-age entitlement culture. Rejecting the very tools of media engagement so slavishly embraced by lesser minds, keeping everything elusive (although never exclusive), creating a buzz that has nothing to do with SEO keywords or social networking, Surround is rare, fleeting and undocumented.
Sure, we’ll have scraps of video gleaned from passing phone-cams or CCTV, but nothing that can come close to having been there, having been one of The17 for a day, having been involved in an artwork of true power that is unsullied by the cheapening effects of promotion, marketing, dumbing-down.
All that exists as a record of London’s Surround event – originally planned to take place in Damascus, but owing to the situation in the Syrian capital, moved to a London location and involving a group of UK-based Syrians (see Drummond’s essay for Trebuchet explaining the event here) – is The17’s own podcast of the event.