Art & Photography / AnOther Thing I Wanted to Tell You

Chicks on Speed’s Melissa Logan on Digital Anxiety

We speak to Melissa Logan of irreverent feminist electro-clash group Chicks on Speed about the ever blurring boundary between the digital and physical world

Editioned print series Golden Gang (a short film produced by
Editioned print series Golden Gang (a short film produced by Photography by Alex Murray-leslie, Melissa Logan and Steve Arron Hughes (2014)

“When it comes to the digital world and technology there are sides for good and bad, progressive and regressive. It’s just the phenomena of people spending so much time on their machines that they becoming extensions of their actual bodies. You can’t even say real and unreal any more, but rather the digital world and physical world. There’s a blurring of the lines between the two, where things on the web touch the physical world.

"I think the fear of not being watched is bigger than the fear of being watched"

Angela Richter is a theatre director and she’s been conducting interviews with Julian Assange for about the last three years, since before he went into the embassy. From her hundreds of hours of material, she found this very special interview where he talks about God, which we’ve featured on the record. Religion is not something we’ve ever brought into our work, except in a very sarcastic way, so it was interesting to work with that subject matter. In the end, the discussion about God was really about information, that in religion you have people saying ‘I know what the real way is, so you have to listen to me because I have a direct connection to God’. And this is also what happens with information, that there are people who hold and also stop information; it’s exactly this idea of taking secrets, and releasing them. It’s easy to get scared looking at the Snowden files but actually I’ve decided there’s more anxiety about no one looking at you at all. We live in such a transparent way, and I think with Facebook and things, we’re on them so that someone will watch us and so we can communicate. I think the fear of not being watched is bigger than the fear of being watched.”

Melissa Logan and Alex Murray-Leslie founded the irreverent feminist electro-clash group Chicks on Speed while at art school in Munich in the late 1990s. Straddling music and performance art, they became known for madcap performances that often took place in public to bemused onlookers, variously got up in wacky costumes or naked, in a homage-cum-pastiche of the work of their feminist forbears. Having previously worked with the likes of Peaches, Le Tigre and Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon, the “chicks” have recently turned their attention to the digital world on their new album Artsravaganza. Title track Utopia, released this week, addresses the ongoing potency of Thomas Moore’s idea in our digitised world and Julian Assange even makes a guest appearance on the album. Alongside six specially developed audio-visual apps, Artstravaganza – conceived as a Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work – continues ideas about the democratisation of artistic expression that have always been central to their work. They may not be jumping around the streets so much these days, but their aesthetic is as anarchic as ever.

Artstravaganza is out October 3; Chicks on Speed will be performing at MoMA PS1 on October 12

Bar 68, curated by Alex Murray-Leslie and featuring art works by Douglas Gordon and Assume Vivid Astro Focus, has opened in Barcelona

Text by Laura Allsop