Blast Theory are currently here at Cambridge Junction as we open Rider Spoke tonight, as part of the city’s Velo Festival, celebrating the Tour de France coming to Cambridge on Monday. Liat was writing her questions for the Long Live the Vortex! blog and had a PDF of BLAST open on her laptop… All these memories came flooding back of writing my university Literature dissertation on that great pink magazine. I knew Blast Theory were named after BLAST but I would never have realised that yesterday was the hundredth anniversary of its publication.
In the interview, Matt writes “Anyone stumbling on a copy can see just how exciting it is at a glance.” This was true for me: I was looking for another book in the university library on another topic I was beginning research on, when I stumbled across BLAST and was so drawn to it that I scrapped my previous research and started again, ending up writing about the comparative impact of BLAST amongst other modernist ‘little magazines’.
There’s something so emphatic and unabashed about it, with the BLAST and BLESS manifestos at the core of it. Thick block-capitals assured assertion of the beginning of something; something new; something different – shouted with a provocative English wit that insults and praises in equal measure. (That it wasn’t that original in Europe, the contents were a bit hit-and-miss, and Vorticism didn’t last very long didn’t matter.)
It’s a bright thick, 160+ page tome with thick fonts and dense writings. The politics are suspect, sometimes worrying; it’s obnoxious, occasionally misogynistic (and Wyndham Lewis was famously an anti-Semite), but despite that it’s an unabashed manifesto on the power and future of art. Art needs manifestos because politics has them, and if we’re to use art to make change, then we need to start being sure of ourselves and stop WHISPERING. But always reserve the right to change one’s mind.
I also highly recommend this recent book as a start, 100 Artists’ Manifestos
Guest blog by Daniel Pitt, Arts Producer at Cambridge Junction.