♫♪  M.I.A. & The Partysquad - “Double Bubble Trouble”

Cohesion in art requires a certain level of restraint. The best form of restraint is economic. When an artist is bound to what little they have, or to some budget of some kind, the restraint forces creativity to a certain extent, if the artist obviously lets it. It forces them to get clever, get interesting, constantly moving. One’s focus becomes intense, clarity is gained. “Stay hungry,” in other words, and things start making sense, the art becomes itself. But more importantly, if one is successful in this manner, great is the artist who understands that the restraint is what got them there, not just some innate talent or skill as the ego implies.

So what happens if the artist cannot simply restrain themselves economically, by virtue of being at least decently off? Maybe they’ve become successful with their art. Maybe they married into wealth. Maybe they scored a windfall through a grant, winnings, something of that nature. Perhaps it’s a combination of some or all these things, among others. There is nothing necessarily wrong with these things independent of the context of creation. You have to live, somehow, and you got to have money, else you starve. However, without the lack of money being a form of restraint available, restraint becomes an internal discipline of the self, and creating something cohesive hinges on it. And discipline is a necessity. Otherwise, things fall apart and unravel.

Some artists try to maintain restraint by staying within the bounds of their genre. They expand only on the visions they already created. Others actually attempt to practice some form of discipline with their work. This is only successful to varying degrees, and leaves an overall middling experience.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the end result is that, once an artist chances upon wealth, they lose any sense of restraint, and rip loose. Subsequently, everything unravels. Everything they stood for, everything they were trying to do with their art, gone, along with any sense of direction. Even when they call back to those halcyon times where they could make a piece and it actually meant something, the response now becomes stale, and the artist looks like they’re flailing. There is nothing but loose scraps of what once was in the work.

That’s what this video feels like: clips of random smoke ring performance art, kids holding plastic guns (implied to be made from 3D printers, except they’re the same colors as those one finds in a toy store), cheap toy copters meant to be “peace drones” flying over what is essentially another repetitive Kollywood/breakbeat dance routine. A seizure-inducing shoutout to the beginning of one’s career for the last 30 seconds, intending to remind people the importance of the artist’s intent, comes off as sloppy and meaningless. “Yes We Scan?” “1984 Is Now?” What do they even mean, other than lazy appropriations of ideas that sound like filling gruel for a certain sect of the white population?

This would be just an acceptable act of laziness and weak vision, were it not for the fact that the artist is directing the video itself, despite years of crafting interesting and effective art. It’s as if the street, the prime source of material, is lost to the artist. It’s as if one’s place is mere window dressing, especially when the people one surrounds themselves with, from their spouses to their sponsors, are so above and beyond the street that their mere existence is simply to remind these higher-ups that there is such a thing as poor and marginalized people.

So, the question must be asked: Who the fuck are you anymore, Mathangi Arulpragasam? ?? ???

• M.I.A.: https://soundcloud.com/miauk
• Interscope Records: http://www.interscope.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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