Camp Bisco Encounters


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I was at Camp Bisco, an electronic music festival in upstate New York, two summer’s ago where I met a guy who called me cat for the entirety of our friendship. He said I reminded him of his cat who died and he gave me a hug because he thought I was it’s reincarnation or something.   It was the night of the second day of the festival, the down day of jam bands and dropping acid, and we were sitting next to each other in the grass behind a pool of people thrashing in front of Amon Tobin’s brain tickling ‘cube’ show.

The guy had purple and green dreads, wore a very dirty white shirt that said “LOVE” with an American flag colored hand giving the peace sign in place of the “o,” which I found funny and nonsensical, and he carried around a stack of flyers in his back pocket with information about a community called “rave light love” or “love light love.” He was an enigma, with some beautiful and earnest questions about grass.

He was talking about how the blades of grass lay down to go to sleep. Then when the laser lights glaze over the field and the vibrations from the speakers rattle the earth, the blades of grass swell up from the soil and begin to dance. He asked me if I thought the grass blades thought they could dance before the music came and whether I thought they could dance before this very moment of watching it happen. Probably not.


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I never  thought too much about the ability of grass blades to dance after that one instance of fascination with the sight of it at Bisco; but thinking back now the guy’s questions seem to resonate heavily with Heidegger, Marx, and Deleuze, which also has a lot to do with Jane Bennett’s thoughts about vibrant matter. Heidegger reviews modern technology as a way of revealing the kind of concealed potential within something. Insofar as technology brings forth this understanding of something, it is the only entity, which can do so and prior to it doing so, we (as humans) cannot know of what is actually unconcealable by way of technology. Perhaps we can, in a strange way, think of the lsd as transforming the body into a kind of machine for revealing the potential energy of the blades of grass insofar as the visuals of unconcealment are real to that person which experiences them. And “for Heidegger true thinking is never an activity performed in abstraction from reality” (xiv).

Here I want to go on a bit of a tangent from the dancing grass, and discuss Deleuze and Marx’s theories of control and how in a lot of ways the rave (electronic music) scene, which is heavily defined by drug consumption and altered states of consciousness, manifests a kind of rebellion. Marx insists that “the transformation of the means of labour into machinery and of living labour into a mere living accessory of this machinery, as the means of its action also posits the absorption of the labour process in its material character as a mere moment of the realization process of capital…In machinery, objectified labour materially confronts living labour as a ruling power and as an active subsumption of the latter under itself…” (693). If we understand the control of “machines” in the form of computers and more accurately the Internet, the rise of the rave scene and popularization of drug consumption, can be seen as a way of razing cultural norms and constraints through seeing the world and reacting and interacting in an almost anarchical way–reordering and redefining reality–and understanding it apart from how we are told to.

Deleuze posits this idea of a society of control, whereby digital constraints have replaced visibly enclosed ones, which defined the disciplinary societies of the past. This new society of control is guided by computers: a “technological evolution… that can be summed up as follows: nineteenth-century capitalism is a capitalism of concentration for production and for property.” In this new society there exists a shift from the factory to the corporation and as a result “Even art has left the spaces of enclosure in order to enter into the open circuits of the bank.” In response to this, can be understood the rave scene—which gathers together (in larger numbers at music festivals like camp bisco)—to take back a sense of creating the world in a different way and understanding things in the world not as mere products of machine but as having intrinsic potential and vibrancy. 


Deleuze, Gilles. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” Gilles Deleuze. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.

Heidegger, Martin. “The Question Concerning Technology.” The Question concerning Technology, and Other Essays. New York & London: Harper & Row, 1977. 3-35. Print.

Marx, Karl. “The Fragment on Machines.” The Grundrisse. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. 690-712. Print.

~ by jh2716 on September 25, 2013.

3 Responses to “Camp Bisco Encounters”

  1. I would go back to this because of the pictures that you used.

  2. I would go back to read this article. The picture of the rainboots on the grass is very well shot and framed. The image is what makes me curious about the article

    Evan Lin

  3. I’d read because I love the title and love the first image

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