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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Invisible Life

The Free B92 team organized a real 24-hour "live-aid" concert on the Internet.

"It's difficult" is one of the expressions which is in frequent use nowadays. Whichever way you look at it, nothing in this country is easy, but making a musical event for 50,000 people from a shelter is a point at which enthusiasm and madness become one and the same, and difficulty and impossibility become merely conditional categories.

The action which we want to discuss here was conceived of and realized only because it was possible completely in keeping with the aesthetic and practice of new cultural movements the Internet has not only become a medium but a part of the realization. The existence of this channel to the world bore forth an idea which was realized on May 15, 1999, marking a new breakthrough into the future of culture.

Thus for yet another time it was proven that what a group of people imagine, they can also realize if they are persistent enough. Luckily the group of people in question are a group of musical diehards who made up the music department of Radio B92, with the unofficial organization Free B92 under which they work serving as an initiative for perpetuating a way of thinking in the cyber-world. Net-aid is only one of their pop culture actions which are taking place at this time. (The next one has been announced for June 15.)

NOW YOU SEE THAT IT'S POSSIBLE: The idea of making an even of the type Live Aid on the Internet is probably the next breakthrough which needs to take place in the further evolution of this medium and the meshing of pop culture with the world's communication network. The only thing that was not planned is that the action which has already become part of Internet history, if only as a channeling for some "big" event of this type, would be initiated in Belgrade. Admittedly, this is not all that important because events on the Internet do not happen "anywhere in particular", but what is relevant are the motives and the time frame which made Belgrade the center of this cultural crossroad.

The motive for world's famous musicians and DJ's to gather at the Free B92 site was very clear the slogan for the whole event was "a protest against violence as a way of solving political problems." It is also clear why such an initiative from this part of the world has caused such a response, as well as that we can all agree on this basic human objective, with the only difference being how ready and willing we are to do so. The fact that the web master directed attention to the state in which independent media in our country find themselves in at the present moment (May 15 was the tenth birthday of Radio B92, whose original editorial staff is no longer producing programming) was still of a secondary nature. The primary idea of the action was "active togetherness." DOES THE WORLD IMAGINE ELECTRIC SERBS?: The musicians who participated were inspired by the idea itself the possibility of contributing with their art to making those whose lives are presently being threatened not to feel abandoned. The democratic nature of the Internet has introduced into the sphere of pop culture the smallest possible difference between the individual/consumer and the creator/producer. The medium whose principal quality is duration, with the possibility of logging in and logging out at one's discretion, gave everyone the opportunity to participate in the same objective of planetary togetherness in which hits to the site are equally as important as the content itself. 50,000 people from the whole world who participated in the 24-hour happening would probably describe better what it meant to them to have such a famous group as the Sonic Youth play for them, or that the Macedonian group Anastasia wrote a special song for this occasion, or the very presence of a star studded group of DJ's from the whole world some of whom were guests to Belgrade in previous years, while some of whom just heard about the place (Milles Holloway, John Acquaviva, Charlie Hall, Blim).

Slightly pathetic but real and true, the last words in this event were spoken by Mike Watt, the conscience of the American alternative rock scene, who finished the even by playing live from California. It was one sincere "Together!", the summing up of everything which happened on May 15 in a 24 hour period in the cyber- world, in Belgrade and everywhere else.

Dragan Ambrozic

Source: Vreme

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