The Industrial / New Wave scene in Barcelona in perspective

April 8th, 2014 No Comments

The Spanish transition represented a very important sea-change for the state’s political and social structure. Among other transformations, a new democratic system was established, which brought with it an unashamed opening-up towards a new way of understanding and making culture. A new generation of young artists faced a challenge previously impossible to imagine: breaking away from the old “clichés”, dismantling the old traditions associated with an oppressive regime and discovering the infinite possibilities that this new social context could offer them.

In parallel, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, in the most “underground” spheres of the music world, an explosion of creativity took place that in retrospect seems evident to me. One of the determining factors was, most probably, the introduction of the synthesiser into the “global” market: a new generation of electronic instruments were sold in specialist shops, and at prices now affordable for the general public. This meant, among many other things, that it was no longer necessary to join up with other musicians to form a band, or go to a recording studio to record a demo, or know how to play guitar to produce a song, or depend exclusively on a record label to release a record. Electronics were within everyone’s reach, punk was almost exhausted and something similar to a “new music” appeared from nowhere, or so it seemed.

New artists, new sounds… although they reached Barcelona in dribs and drabs, they showed a new way of making, understanding and above all listening to music that was total innovation; groups such as UltravoxJoy DivisionKraftwerkTuxedomoonHuman League and so many others, incorporated among their instruments devices such as synthesisers, rhythm boxes and other electronic contraptions with a futuristic aesthetic that captivated many young people who were disenchanted and bored of always listening to the same music… And their discourse, close to the punk movement though more introspective or intellectual, fitted in perfectly with the everyday reality of this generation. We find ourselves in the midst of the Cold War, and the promises of a better world were now being discovered as the fallacies of an industrial society in decline. However, disillusionment was a widely extended feeling, especially among the younger generations. In short, a window opened up with infinite possibilities: a host of different, strange, and unknown sounds were available to disaffected young people who wanted to make a break with the past. And they didn’t need to be good musicians, or have a recording studio, or lots of money or even a minimum of musical knowledge; now they could do it.

An BCNmp7 to discover the new wave and industrial scene in Barcelona 

The aim of this session is to find out and understand a little better how the music scene in Barcelona assimilated this new paradigm: through three pioneering musicians from our city we want to find out what or who inspired them to break with “musical” conventions of the time and how they did it; their relationship and/or connection with other groups and record labels, how they organised their concerts, how they advertised their music, how the public reacted to this “new music”, their perception of the media and the general public towards these “new sounds”, what problems or difficulties they had to face to continue with their projects and, in short, how the introduction of these new electronic instruments led them to do something that, at that time, very few people were doing in Barcelona, and with the few people that were doing it often ignored.

These three artists will be:


Víctor Nubla: one of the most important figures in experimental music in our country. A multidisciplinary artist with an inquiring mind, he is a musician, theorist, essayist, and experimentation activist. A writer, ideologist, programmer, publisher, cultural agitator and the creator, together with Jun Crek, of one of the leading industrial music groups: Macromassa. His career is a fundamental part of the avant-garde scene of Barcelona over the last thirty years.

Gat: musician and founder of leading and pioneering bands in Barcelona such as Ultratruita and later New Buildings, the latter more part of the New Wave movement. He was also founder of the G3G record label in the late 1980s; a project that initially emerged to cover the void existing in the artistic sphere. It was totally committed to the music scene, while far removed from the more commercial canons of the era. Pascal Comelade, Jakob Draminsky, Oriol Perucho, Macromassa, Raeo (Mark Cunningham), Pau Riba, Juan Crek… these are just some of the names that among many others are listed in its wide-ranging catalogue.

J.J. Ibañez: Founder of Badalona-based group Kremlyn in the early 1980s and also a very active artist on Barcelona’s electronic scene in the early 1990s. Kremlyn was a band that could be considered as Technopop which, although not managing to record any albums, was very active between 1982 and 1986. Nowadays we can consider Kremlyn as one of the few Catalan music bands categorised in the Technopop style, especially from Barcelona, with a very genuine and interesting sound. Last year Domestica Records released one of its first live concerts, with a very warm welcome among the younger audience, and an LP with studio songs is planned for next year.

Immediately following this we can enjoy, for the first time in Barcelona, performances by two representatives and heirs of this “new” scene:


Tvnnel: A low and deep voice, acidic and nostalgic lyrics diluted in the coolness of programmed sounds and rhythms. TVNNEL was born in 2013 as a solo project by artist Tono Inglés (Polígono Hindú Astral, Roman skirts). Three synthesisers and a hardware sequencer submerge us in an underground tunnel, where dance and melancholy converge. Trying to move away from “revival” proposals, TVNNEL seeks new paths between electro, synth pop and industrial music. Machine coolness and human warmth combined in an interesting and personal proposal, with a musical idea and a staging that clearly seeks reduction, minimalism, and self-production.

Phillipe Laurent (France): plastic artist, musician, and designer active since the early 1980s, he now has a very extensive discography and audiovisual production and is one of the most internationally renowned names on the Minimal-Synth scene. Whether working with graphic codes or digital codes, plastic arts or music, Laurent’s focus and objective is always investigation into people’s perception of signs and symbols. As a multimedia artist, Laurent has always been an innovator, incorporating new technologies to compose graphic and music works. In the 1990s, his work achieved maximum dissemination with a series of concerts in France and Germany through the design of complex pieces that mixed different advanced techniques. His paintings or the illusory effect of typographies on a monochrome background raise a question regarding the relationship between signs and meanings. Philippe Laurent develops abstract ideograms, with the aim of never repeating the same figure twice, in the same way that the writing of a lost continent or of an original language was a code that preceded all other languages and has now been lost. This play on ambiguity sparks a fundamental question on the ontological status of written language in our western societies. Philippe Laurent has developed a wide-ranging personal study of the forms of the first symbols and letters that lead to the “sublimity” of an esoteric alphabet.

More information on the Facebook event:

#MuseumWeek, learning and fun

April 2nd, 2014 No Comments

We must confess that when the proposal of forming part of #MuseumWeek was first put to us we weren’t 100% convinced. It was going to involve a lot of work up front and, above all, would mean covering the social networks to an extent far beyond the reach of our usual work. Nevertheless, we decided to join the initiative because we thought we owed it to our followers: for one week, we would be at their disposal to answer their questions, share their experiences, give them gifts and interact with them in a more personal way.

A week beforehand, we started gathering the information. We met with different departments: Communication, responsible for the campaign #CreativeAnimals (created to promote the 20-year anniversary of the CCCB), which was the subject of the third day; Exhibitions, which held all the secrets of the Metamorphosis exhibition, and the Centre for Documentation and Debate, whose people know everything there is to know about the CCCB. We toured every corner, from the Xcèntric film developing lab to the roof, from where we posted one of our tweets. We reviewed the old photographs archive and we conducted day-by-day monitoring of the exhibition on Starewitch, Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers, in order to document the process… As we explained in a previous post, we devoted the first two days of #MuseumWeek to the #ExpoMetamorfosis, while the three remaining days were devoted to the Centre itself, to the 20-year anniversary, to interesting facts and to history.

Among the following links you’ll find the summary in Storify format of each day of this experience. We have tried to gather a broad range of opinions and comments and thus reflect what have been five days of intense social interchanges. And the fact is that, for us, the #MuseumWeek experience has also been very enriching. It forced us to network between different departments in order to produce the contents. And it allowed us to discover forgotten facts about the Centre, such as its origins, and develop our creativity when considering the third day, dedicated, precisely, to #AnimalsCreatius (#CreativeAnimals).

However, above all, #MuseumWeek was a dialogue with our followers. Their comments and questions have given us a better grasp of their interest in our activities and their curiosity about the Centre itself. Between Monday 24 and Friday 28 March, over 90 people joined our group of followers on Twitter: the “noise” we made on the web has helped us, also, to make new friends. That was not our objective, of course, but it is nice to see how, day by day, our work attracts increasing numbers of people.

Storify #MuseumWeek Day 1: #Adayinthelife

Storify #MuseumWeek Day 2: #TestYourKnowledge

Storify #MuseumWeek Day 3: #MuseumMemories

Storify #MuseumWeek Day 4: #BehindTheArt

Storify #MuseumWeek Day 5: #DidYouKnow

What about you? What was your opinion of the #MuseumWeek experience?

Lucia Calvo and Eva Rexach have been behind the initiative #MuseumSelfie

(Català) Lapsus festival: la culminació d’un projecte

April 2nd, 2014 2 Comments

Ruth de Diego: “Previously we were trying to discover which part of the brain carried out such and such a function, but now we think about networks”

March 26th, 2014 No Comments

The ICREA-CCCB debates on “The Brain” end on Tuesday 1 April with the lecture titled “Lessons from Brain Lesions”, which is to be given by the University of Barcelona researcher Ruth de Diego. We have asked her to explain in advance why study of behaviour patterns and deficits caused by these lesions is useful in neuroscientific research.

The ICREA researcher Ruth de Diego

You are a specialist in psycholinguistics and cognitive neuroscience. Could you tell us what is studied in these two disciplines?

First of all, I am interested in psycholinguistics, by which I mean knowing how we come to understand language. While I was writing my thesis I was attracted to the neurobiological aspects of language and, in particular, how brain lesions can affect our understanding and speaking skills. When we come into contact with a new language, our brain gets to work to extract the regularities of that language, even if we don’t understand a word of it. If we land in Japan, for example, and start hearing this strange language, our brain will start to derive all kinds of statistical information, for example which sounds are most frequent, which ones tend to make sequences, and so on. Studying language is interesting because this is what most identifies us as human beings and because language governs our social relations. Hence, a brain lesion that affects one’s ability to speak greatly limits one’s quality of life.

What is the present situation of brain research?

In the past ten years there has been a second big spike in research and the amount of information we have acquired, in this case with a lot of studies on the brain’s structure and connectedness. Previously, in the more traditional approach, the brain was studied in a way that strongly emphasised localisation so efforts were made to discover which part of the brain carried out such and such a function. However, we realised that we couldn’t talk about isolated zones of the brain performing specific functions but, rather, we had to think about networks of different parts of the brain functioning synchronically, or working together and in a coordinated fashion to perform a certain function. Moreover, we now know that the brain is much more adaptable than we previously thought and that when there is a lesion it has an incredible capacity to reorganise itself and restore connections.

Why is studying patients with brain lesions useful?

It is useful because, by comparing different situations, we can discover a lot about the brain and its functions. Imagine a person who has a brain tumour that has taken a year to develop. In that brain the functioning is not exactly the same as that in a person who has not suffered a lesion because of this adaptability I just mentioned: the patient’s brain has been undergoing a process of restructuration in order to adapt to the pathology.

We use transcranial magnetic stimulation with a device that is brought up close to the outside of the head and, by means of a very powerful magnetic field, it changes the functioning of the neurones in the region it is nearest to by inhibiting or stimulating them. This stimulation induces a lesion virtually. This only lasts a certain time, from a few seconds to a quarter of an hour and, during that time, the healthy person acts as if he or she is suffering from a lesion in that part of the brain. Comparing a simulated lesion in a healthy person, whose brain structure is maintained without alterations, with someone else who has a long-term brain lesion, and who therefore does have alterations, makes it possible for us to discover many things about brain structure and function as well as about specific disorders.

Magnetic resonance of a Huntington patient

What kinds of brain lesions have you studied?

One of the illnesses we have studied is Huntington’s disease, which is quite a rare genetic disorder with a low incidence among the population. In its early stages, Huntington’s disease quite specifically affects a particular subcortical structure, a key area of the brain that has many connections with different parts of the cortex and, accordingly, many associated functions. We also study aphasia, a disorder that affects language comprehension because of a brain lesion. People with aphasia can see the image of a pear and say “banana” for example.

What is the use of studying these diseases?

Studying the whys and wherefores of such behaviour has many uses such as the rehabilitation of patients. Imagine that there are two zones of the brain connected in two ways. As a result of the adaptability I mentioned, if you have a lesion that affects one of them the other one, the intact one, will work to recover its function as much as possible. If we know that one way is obstructed but that the other neuronal network is operating, we can use and reinforce this latter way and design a particular kind of rehabilitation. I’ll give you an example. We have a study showing that there are two main zones of language processing, one of which is more concerned with motor functions like production and speech while the other is more concerned with perception and understanding of language, which is to say it’s more auditory. These two areas are joined by a bundle of connections and it seems that this connection, this ability to transform what we are listening to into a motor sequence, is very important with regard to learning new words. By this I mean that this process of repeating new words, listening to them, hearing them and pronouncing them ourselves – or this loop – enables us to learn. If a patient’s bundle of connections is broken and he or she can’t repeat the words in order to assimilate them, we can help him or her to learn words by turning to another connection that exists, this time a more semantic one. If this other path is taken it’s not possible to repeat words in order to assimilate them but we can accede to the word by giving it sense, connecting the motor and auditory parts of the brain through the structures of meaning. If I train the patient using this method there is a better chance that he or she will understand the word this way than through the obstructed path of repetition.

Would this be similar to mnemonics or the acronyms that are used for studying purposes to assimilate concepts on the basis of unrelated ideas of phrases?

Yes, it would be similar to that. Moreover, all of this has specific uses in the treatment of these disorders because knowing about the alterations in brain structure and functions in patients with Huntington’s disease, for example, enables us to detect and understand individual differences in patients suffering from this disorder. In the case of a clinical trial, we can divide the patients up according to the connections that are affected in each one of them and, by thus grouping them, a much more specific and effective treatment can be offered than if we didn’t distinguish between the different degrees of brain lesions affecting patients.

(Català) Soy Cámara: Pasolini avui, encara als marges

March 24th, 2014 1 Comment